France is selling Egypt more Rafale fighter jets under a contract that has drawn condemnation from human rights groups.
Ignoring Egypt’s human rights records, France will continue to provide its air force with 30 more warplanes, bringing the total to 54. This means Egypt’s fleet of the advanced fighter jet will be world’s largest, second only to France itself.
The value of the deal is kept secret but the Egyptian military said France will finance the deal with a 10-year loan.
The deal shows that the government of President Emmanuel Macron has no intention of conditioning its weapons sales on the buyer’s human rights record, something rights advocates say only shows Paris’ double standards as a self-proclaimed pioneer in this regard.
In reaction to the news, Celine Lebrun-Shaath, the French wife of jailed Palestinian-Egyptian activist Ramy Shaath, said she expects Paris to use such deals as leverage to force Cairo into improving its record.
Egyptian security forces took her husband, the son of a former Palestinian foreign minister, into custody in 2019 and sent her back to France. He has been kept in detention ever since without trial.
“It’s never too late. The planes have not been delivered yet,” Celine Lebrun-Shaath told The Associated Press. “The strategic partnership between France and Egypt is important but should be based on shared values and the respect of international law.”
“The implications of France’s failed diplomacy is my husband’s continued unjust imprisonment for 670 days,” she added.
The Geneva-based MENA Rights Group, which campaigns for rights and freedoms in the Mideast and North Africa, said the deal “clearly shows that the fate of the many human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience currently in jail does not carry much weight.”
Macron said in December, when Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi visited Paris, that “disagreements” over human rights are not going to hinder cooperation between the two sides.
El-Sissi Rose to power by toppling Egypt’s first ever democratically elected president and has overseen the toughest crackdown on dissidents.
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