The deal, confirmed separately by the two countries, will bring Egypt’s fleet of advanced warplanes to 54, just behind the French Air Force. The sale takes advantage of France’s policy not to make its economic and defense cooperation with Egypt conditional on human rights progress.
The wife of jailed Palestinian-Egyptian activist Ramy Shaath said France should use the sale as leverage to push for improved human rights and the release of prisoners.
“It’s never too late. The planes have not yet been delivered, ”Céline Lebrun-Shaath told The Associated Press. “The strategic partnership between France and Egypt is important but must be based on shared values and respect for international law. ”
“The implications of the failure of French diplomacy are the unjust imprisonment of my husband for 670 days,” she added.
Shaath, the son of a former Palestinian foreign minister, was arrested in 2019 but has not been charged, and his French wife has been deported.
The Egyptian military said the purchase of the Rafale would be funded by a 10-year French loan. The value of the agreement was not given.
The Geneva-based MENA Rights Group, which advocates for rights and freedoms in the Middle East and North Africa, said the agreement “clearly shows that the plight of the many human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience currently incarcerated does not have much weight ”.
Egypt’s first purchase of 24 Rafale in 2015, then valued at € 5.2 billion ($ 5.93 billion), made it the largest overseas buyer of the delta-winged warplane. , versatile but hard to sell.
Prior to Egypt’s purchase, the Dassault Aviation fighter had been on the market for years, and in service for the French Air Force since 2006. Other sales of several billion euros (dollars) followed, including to India and Greece.
Dassault said the new order was proof of a “strong bond” between Egypt and the manufacturer.
France’s defense ministry said the deal would create the equivalent of 7,000 jobs in France for three years and “further strengthens the strategic and military partnership between France and Egypt.”
French President Emmanuel Macron said in December, during Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi’s visit to Paris, that “disagreements” over human rights would not stand in the way of economic and defense agreements.
El-Sisi oversaw the toughest crackdown on critics in Egypt in living memory, jailing thousands of Islamists along with pro-democracy activists, overturning freedoms won in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, silencing criticism and imposing draconian rules on rights groups.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.