News ID: 89864
Publish Date : 04 May 2021 - 21:34

Rights Group Slams France Over $4.5bn Deal to Sell Fighter Jets to Cairo

PARIS (Dispatches) – France’s decision to sell 30 Rafale fighter jets to Egypt has been condemned by Human Rights Watch (HRW) for "encouraging ruthless repression” under Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Egypt’s defense ministry announced in a statement early on Tuesday that it had signed a contract with France to buy the jets, in a deal that the investigative website Disclose said was worth 3.75bn euro ($4.5bn).
President Emmanuel Macron said in December he would not make the sale of weapons to Egypt conditional on human rights because he did not want to weaken ‘Cairo’s ability to counter terrorism’ in the region, a comment that drew the ire of critics.
Macron, who made the comments during a visit to Paris by Sisi, was criticized by human rights groups for inviting the Egyptian president to France despite the widely documented repression of political opposition in Egypt.
Egypt’s defense ministry said the deal would be financed through a loan to be repaid over at least 10 years, but did not disclose the value of the deal or further details.
France was the main weapons supplier to Egypt between 2013-2017, including the sale of 24 warplanes with an option for 12 more. Those contracts dried up, including deals for more Rafale jets and warships that had been at an advanced stage.
Diplomats said that was as much to do with financing issues over 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, Human Rights Watch director for France, denounced the deal outright.
"By signing a mega-arms contract with [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-] Sisi’s government while the latter presides over the worst repression in decades in Egypt, the eradication of the human rights community in the country, and undertakes extremely serious violations under the pretext of the fight against terrorism, France is only encouraging this ruthless repression,” Jeannerod told Reuters.