The United Arab Emirates on Friday signed an agreement to purchase 80 Rafale fighter jets, a record order for fighter jets that entered service in 2004, during a visit to Dubai by French President Emmanuel Macron.
The business success came on the first day of the Gulf President’s express tour of Qatar in the evening to meet with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
He was expected on Saturday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s largest port city, for a sophisticated meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman (MBS), whose international image has been severely tarnished by the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoki in 2018.
The thirteen-year effort to achieve Raphael’s victory in the United Arab Emirates was a growing rich country with geopolitical influence building close ties with Paris.
This command “The largest military deal with French elements in our historyAfter recording it with Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Saeed Al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, Emmanuel Macron was welcomed, MBZ says. And for him, it shows that the Emirates cares about France. “A determined partner“And”Reliable“, who”Holds its obligations“.
17 billion euro deals
In all, the volume of military contracts concluded on Friday – including 12 Karakal helicopters and arms purchases from MBDA missile manufacturers – amounted to more than 17 billion euros, including 14 for Raphael alone. Elysee.
The Rafale aircraft will be delivered by the Dassault Aviation Group between 2027 and 2031 and is intended to replace the 60 Mirage 20009 acquired by Abu Dhabi in 1998.
They will be upgraded to F4 standard, a project worth nearly two billion euros under development “Technical, industrial and strategic leap“By 2024.
This Order to Emmanuel Macron “Very good for France“Because she”Creating jobs“In the country and allows”Guaranteed the stability of the Raphael production chain until the end of 2031“According to the Ministry of Armed Forces.
Weapons used in Yemen
Prior to the deal, Emirates was already the fifth-largest customer in the French defense sector with orders worth 4.7 billion in the 2011-2020 decade.
In recent years, Paris has been criticized for using some of these weapons in the conflict in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and its allies are suspected of involvement in war crimes.
In France, four months before the presidential election, the announcement of this milestone agreement was hailed by political leaders, especially on the right, as strongly condemned by environmental candidate Yannick Jodot. “France is ashamed of us for arming authoritarian regimes that denigrate human rights and its wealth is built on fossil fuels“.
Eight billion more than other contracts
In Dubai, other Franco-Emirati agreements have been signed, particularly the powerful sovereign property fund Mubatala, which has pledged to increase its investment envelope in French companies to eight billion euros.
Before the Saturday stage in Jeddah, Mr. Macron defended the merits of his meeting with Mohammed Ben Salman in the face of criticism from NGOs and human rights defenders.
“If we say we are helping Lebanon and maintaining peace and stability in the Middle East, ‘Is Saudi Arabia the most populous and most important country? Won’t we talk to the Gulf anymore? ‘“, He asked.
“I agree, I forgot, that does not mean we are not asking for partners“But it is”The right to act for the good of our country and the region“, According to him.
Negotiations around Lebanon
In the face of the MBS, the French president wants to argue the reason for Lebanon, where the economic crisis was exacerbated by a diplomatic crisis that began in October with several Gulf states, the first of which was Arabia, which froze its imports.
These efforts should benefit from the resignation of Lebanese Information Minister Jorge Kordahi announced on Friday in the wake of the crisis, criticizing Riyadh’s military intervention in Yemen. “Since this will help to start a dialogue with the Saudi authorities regarding Lebanon, Mr. The French want me to resign before Macron’s visit to Riyadh.“, He explained.
Welcoming his resignation, Emmanuel Macron really expressed his confidence. “All Gulf states could be re-engaged in relations with Lebanon“.”We are not at the end of the road yet, but hopefully the next few hours will allow us to progress“, He added.
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