17 billion euros of fighter jet sales between France and the UAE strengthen the Gulf Alliance

French President Emmanuel Macron (Emmanuel Macron) hopes to deepen relations with an important China-ASEAN friend, and thus won the largest overseas order for its Rafale fighter with the United Arab Emirates.

When visiting Dubai on Friday before the meeting between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Macron consolidated the deal during a ceremony with the UAE’s de facto leader, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Nahyan , As part of broader economic and security negotiations.

The transaction of more than 17 billion euros involves 80 Rafale jets and 12 Caracal helicopters manufactured by France’s Dassault Aviation and Airbus. Macron called it “the largest military contract in our history.” After the news of the transaction came out, Dassault’s stock price soared 9%.

The contract follows Gust’s order from Croatia, Greece And Egypt this year.Its value surpasses the French naval group’s share of 56 billion euros Submarine contract According to the Ministry of Defence, Canberra was scrapped in September.

In recent years, as Macron and Sheikh Mohammed have aligned on many issues in the Middle East, the relationship between France and the UAE has been strengthened.

In Libya, both countries support the general Khalifa Haftar, who controls most of the eastern part of the country. Their relationship with Turkey is full of challenges, and they have deep distrust and concern for Islamic movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

The UAE also supports France’s efforts to combat jihadists in the Sahel countries of sub-Saharan Africa through funding and assistance to the region.

Rafale fighter jet made in France. The transaction was made when the UAE tried to buy a U.S.-made F-35 jet under scrutiny in Washington © AFP via Getty Images

The French Presidential Palace stated that the two leaders “reaffirmed their joint support for the Libyan elections and the withdrawal of mercenaries,” referring to the withdrawal of foreign fighters as part of the ceasefire agreement promoted by the United Nations. Libya will hold its first round of presidential elections on December 24. Macron also called on the UAE to strengthen its humanitarian work in Lebanon.

Following the example of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries withdrew their ambassador from Beirut in October, ostensibly because of the Lebanese minister’s comments on Saudi-led intervention in the war in Yemen, but also because of concerns about the influence of Iran’s powerful Hezbollah on political and military movements.

Abu Dhabi is a long-term customer of France’s Dassault Company-it has purchased the Mirage 2000 fighter-France has long been one of the major security suppliers in the UAE and the United States.

The Rafale deal was reached after ten years of negotiations. At the same time, the UAE tried to purchase American-made F-35 jets. This was agreed to by the Trump administration and was censored in Washington. Due to concerns about the risk of Abu Dhabi’s use of Huawei’s 5G telecommunications network and the transfer of technology to China, the Biden administration expressed concern about the F35 transaction.

Charles Forrester, an analyst at the defense consulting company Janes, said: “France has proven itself as the United Arab Emirates and some other Arab countries are more willing to be partners in defense and security.” He added The flexibility of French manufacturers to allow buyers such as the UAE to integrate homemade weapons and equipment into their aircraft makes their offers attractive and makes Gulf countries safer on supply chain issues.

The Rafale deal was not immune from criticism, including after Macron’s Egyptian order that he would not condition human rights requirements because he did not want to undermine efforts to combat Islamic terrorism in the region.

Human rights activists slammed the arms trade in Egypt, saying that France was only encouraging the Abdul Fatah Sisi regime, which led the crackdown on civil society.

Human Rights Watch also criticized the UAE’s agreement because the country has been part of the Arab League led by Saudi Arabia, which is fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The UAE withdrew most of its troops from Yemen in 2019.

Macron stated that he is an “enthusiastic defender” of an agreement that will promote French industry and employment. He said that France can play a role in the Middle East and has the “power to provide balance.”

“We can’t take action to help Lebanon, help Iraq, we can’t take action to combat terrorism in the region… If we don’t put ourselves in a position where we can talk to everyone and build trust and strategic relationships with our partners,” Macron told reporters.

Macron supports efforts to bring about a peace agreement between the Yemeni insurgents and Saudi Arabia.

Additional reporting by Samer Al-Atrush in Riyadh

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