France announced on Tuesday that it would start delivering 30 Dassault fighter jets to Egypt from 2024 under a € 4 billion ($ 4.8 billion) deal, as it bolsters links with a partner that she considers essential in the fight against Islamist militants.
In December, President Emmanuel Macron drew criticism from rights groups when he said he would not subordinate the sale of arms to Egypt to human rights because he did not want to weaken Cairo’s ability to counter militancy in the region.
The Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, declared that the agreement, confirmed on Tuesday, illustrated the “strategic nature of the partnership” between the countries and would guarantee 7,000 jobs in France over three years.
“Our two countries are resolutely committed to the fight against terrorism and work for stability,” she said.
The Egyptian military has expanded its national status and influence under the leadership of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former army chief who has served as president since 2014, carrying out operations against militants in the Sinai Peninsula.
Benedicte Jeannerod, Human Rights Watch director for France, said Sisi’s government was chairing Egypt’s worst crackdown in decades. “By signing a mega-arms contract … France is only encouraging it,” she told Reuters on Monday evening. Read more
The agreement also covers contracts for the supplier of missiles MBDA and the equipment manufacturer Safran Electronics & Defense (SAF.PA) for an additional amount of 200 million euros.
France concluded more than 7.5 billion euros in armaments agreements with Egypt between 2010-2019, including 24 from the same warplane, the Rafale, in 2015 during its first export sale .
However, contracts had dried up, with diplomats citing concerns over Cairo’s long-term ability to repay state-guaranteed loans and the cooling of relations between Macron and Sisi.
A French official said funding for the deal would be finalized on Tuesday with a maximum of 85% guaranteed by the French state.
“We view Egypt as a credible customer,” the official said, highlighting his track record with France when asked about fears of a possible default, and saying there was an ongoing dialogue with Egypt on human rights.
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