Egypt has signed a contract with France to buy 30 Rafale fighter jets, its defense ministry said in a statement early Tuesday in a deal that investigation website Disclose said on Monday was 3.75 billion euros ($ 4.5 billion).
President Emmanuel Macron said in December that he would not make arms sales to Egypt conditional on human rights because he did not want to weaken Cairo̵
Egypt’s Defense Ministry said the deal would be funded through a loan to be repaid for at least 10 years, but did not disclose the value of the deal or further details.
Referring to confidential documents, Disclose said an agreement had been reached in late April and an agreement could be sealed on Tuesday when an Egyptian delegation arrives in Paris.
This deal would be a further boost for the Dassault-made (AVMD.PA) warplane after a € 2.5 billion deal was finalized in January for the sale of 18 Rafales to Greece.
The Egyptian agreement also reportedly covers contracts for missile provider MBDA and equipment provider Safran Electronics & Defense (SAF.PA), which are worth an additional 200 million euros.
France’s Ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Armed Forces were not immediately available for comment.
France was the largest arms supplier to Egypt between 2013-2017, including the sale of 24 warplanes with the possibility of 12 more. These contracts dried up, including offers for more Rafale jets and warships that had been in an advanced stage.
Diplomats said it had just as much to do with funding issues because of fears about Cairo’s long-term ability to repay state-backed guaranteed loans, rather than concerns Paris had with the human rights situation in Egypt.
Benedicte Jeannerod, Director of Human Rights Watch for France, directly condemned the agreement.
“By signing a mega-arms deal with (Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-) Sisi’s government, while the latter presides over the worst repression in decades in Egypt, the extermination of the human rights community in the country and commits extremely serious violations under the pretext of the fight against terrorism “France is only encouraging this ruthless repression,” Jeannerod told Reuters.
Indicate that the financing of the agreement would be up to 85% guaranteed by the French state with BNP Paribas SA, Credit Agricole, Societe Generale and CIC, which financed the original agreement and rejoined. Banks were not immediately available for comment.
Concerned about the political vacuum in Libya, instability throughout the region and the threat posed by jihadist groups in Egypt, both countries have cultivated closer economic and military ties since Sisi’s rise to power.
Rights organizations have accused Macron of keeping a blind eye to what they say increases Sisi’s government violations of freedoms.
French officials reject this, saying that Paris follows a policy of not openly criticizing countries against human rights in order to be more effective privately in each case.
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