Despite the fact that Egypt already has the largest air force in Africa, France is selling 24 fighter jets to Egypt. This is to combat threats according to President of France Francois Hollande. The domestically built Rafale fighter jet aircraft is a hard sell, as it is advanced, it is expensive. Deals with Libya, Brazil, Switzerland, and Morroco have all deemed unsuccessful, France has found an actual buyer.
According to Hollande, in a statement, Egypt needs these jets to uphold stability and to be secure. However, Egypt may just be trying to mix things up a little bit. In 2013, Washington suspended Egypt’s supply after the President Mohamed Morsi was kicked out by the military.
U.S. and Egypt relations took a turn for the worse when the new president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi took over, militarily, and claimed Morsi’s followers as terrorists of which hundreds of supporters of the former president have been sentenced to death or killed. This caused the U.S. to seize part of the aid, and required Egypt to put forth democratic reforms.
The relations have been restored, but things are still on the not great side. The new President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, military leader of takeover in 2013, is reminding the U.S. that they do not rely on U.S. exclusively. This deal between France and Egypt for the jets is a prevention of blackmail and a message to the U.S. Apparently, the U.S. has a monopoly on what Egypt buys, militarily.
Egypt faces threats on several fronts, on the one side Islamist Insurgents – have pledged allegiance to Islamic State, and on the Western side Islamist groups have a foothold there, and in Libya militias have formed and fears of it spreading across the border are present.
Egypt does not need the Rafale aircraft according to Robert Springborg, a professor at France’s science Po and Egyptian military expert. The Egyptian air force already has as much as 230 F-16 fighter jets as he told Le Monde newspaper.
France has been trying for the past twenty years to sell some of the Rafale aircraft. The deal was estimated at $5.9 billion, or $240 million per plane. France is giving Egypt a large discount, and so it is still unknown how much or how little Egypt will be paying.
Egypt will proceed with buying weapons from the U.S. but not as a sole supplier. According to Mathieu Guidere, Arab affairs expert, Egypt will also buy from Russia, maybe even China and France, according to Abdel Halim, former president of the national security commission at the Egyptian senate.
France’s long-awaited deal is to be followed up by a deal with India for 120 planes. The bargain planes that Egypt is buying is supposedly to entice India. The President of Egypt, Sisi, met with the President of Russia, Vladmir Putin; this was when Putin made a visit to Cairo. In the past year, Putin has made two visits to Cairo for talks of Russian weapon supplies. The two, Sisi and Putin, have been reported to be speaking about Cairo’s first nuclear power plant built by Moscow.
By Jacob Dowd
Photo by Airwolfhound – License