Egypt has signed a contract with France for the purchase of 30 Rafale fighter jets, its defense ministry said in a statement on Tuesday, in an agreement which, according to the investigation site Disclose, represented Monday 3, 75 billion euros (4.5 billion dollars).
President Emmanuel Macron said in December that he would not make the sale of arms to Egypt conditional on human rights because he did not want to weaken Cairo’s ability to fight terrorism in the region, a commentary which aroused the ire of critics.
Egypt’s defense ministry said the deal would be funded by a loan to be repaid over at least 10 years, but did not disclose the value of the deal or further details.
Citing confidential documents, Disclose said an agreement was reached in late April and a deal could be sealed on Tuesday when an Egyptian delegation arrives in Paris.
The deal would give the Dassault-made warplane (AVMD.PA) another boost after a € 2.5 billion deal was finalized in January for the sale of 18 Rafales to Greece.
The Egyptian deal would also cover contracts with missile supplier MBDA and equipment supplier Safran Electronics & Defense (SAF.PA), worth an additional € 200 million.
French ministries of finance, foreign affairs and armed forces were not immediately available for comment.
France was Egypt’s main arms supplier between 2013 and 2017, including selling 24 fighter jets with an option for 12 more. Those contracts have dried up, including deals for more Rafale jets and warships that were at an advanced stage.
Diplomats said it had as much to do with funding issues as fears about Cairo’s long-term ability to repay state-guaranteed loans, rather than Paris’s concerns about the human rights situation. man in Egypt.
Benedicte Jeannerod, director of Human Rights Watch for France, outright denounced the agreement.
Disclose said that the financing of the transaction would be 85% guaranteed by the French state with BNP Paribas SA, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale and CIC, which funded the original agreement, signing again. Banks were not immediately available for comment.
Concerned about the political vacuum in Libya, instability in the region and the threat of jihadist groups in Egypt, the two countries have cultivated closer economic and military ties since Sisi came to power.
Rights organizations have accused Macron of turning a blind eye to what they say are growing violations of freedoms by Sisi’s government.
French officials reject this and say Paris follows a policy of not openly criticizing countries on human rights in order to be more effective in private on a case-by-case basis.
(1 USD = 0.83 euros)
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.