France signs mega arms deal with United Arab Emirates as Macron visits Gulf

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FILE - French <a class=President Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, ahead of a meeting at the Elysee Palace , in Paris, Wednesday June 21 December 2017. Still reeling from the recent rapture of the agreement on submarines by Western allies, French President Emmanuel Macron is visiting the energy-rich Arab countries of the Persian Gulf on Friday December 3, 2021, with the aim of concluding a lucrative arms deal and strengthening France’s leadership role in renewed international efforts to revive the Iranian nuclear deal with world powers. (AP Photo / Thibault Camus, File)” title=”FILE – French President Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, ahead of a meeting at the Elysee Palace , in Paris, Wednesday June 21 December 2017. Still reeling from the recent rapture of the agreement on submarines by Western allies, French President Emmanuel Macron is visiting the energy-rich Arab countries of the Persian Gulf on Friday December 3, 2021, with the aim of concluding a lucrative arms deal and strengthening France’s leadership role in renewed international efforts to revive the Iranian nuclear deal with world powers. (AP Photo / Thibault Camus, File)” loading=”lazy”/>

FILE – French President Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, ahead of a meeting at the Elysee Palace , in Paris, Wednesday June 21 December 2017. Still reeling from the recent rapture of the agreement on submarines by Western allies, French President Emmanuel Macron is visiting the energy-rich Arab countries of the Persian Gulf on Friday December 3, 2021, with the aim of concluding a lucrative arms deal and strengthening France’s leadership role in renewed international efforts to revive the Iranian nuclear deal with world powers. (AP Photo / Thibault Camus, File)

PA

France on Friday announced multibillion-euro deals to sell fighter jets and helicopter gunships to the UAE, in a bid to boost military cooperation with its main ally in the Persian Gulf amid their concerns municipalities concerning Iran.

UAE buys 80 upgraded Rafale fighter jets in deal that France’s defense ministry says is worth € 16 billion ($ 18 billion) and is France’s biggest arms deal never made for export. He also announced an agreement with the United Arab Emirates for the sale of 12 combat helicopters built by Airbus.

They are offering a boost to the French defense industry after a failed $ 66 billion contract for Australia to purchase 12 French submarines that ultimately went to the United States. in Yemen.

The UAE’s contracts were signed during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the country on the first leg of a two-day visit to the Persian Gulf. France and the Gulf countries have long been concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and influence in the region, particularly in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

France has particularly deep ties with the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven sheikhs from the Arabian Peninsula. France has a naval base there and French fighter jets and personnel are also stationed at a major facility outside the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.

Speaking to reporters in Dubai, Macron said these were important contracts for deepening defense cooperation between France and the United Arab Emirates, which will contribute to the stability of the region and will strengthen a common fight against terrorism.

In addition, “it is important for our economy because the planes are made in France”, he declared.

Macron and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and postman leader of the United Arab Emirates, were present at the signing of the Rafale contract.

Manufacturer Dassault Aviation has said the UAE is purchasing the improved F4 version of its Rafale multirole fighter jet. This will make the Emirates Air Force the first user of Rafale F4 outside of France, he said.

Dassault Aviation boss Eric Trappier called the sale a “French success story” and “excellent news for France and its aviation industry”.

The purchase marks a significant step forward for the UAE’s military capabilities in the oil and gas-rich region. Charles Forrester, senior analyst at Janes, said the fighter “will dramatically improve the UAE’s air power capabilities in terms of strike, air-to-air warfare and reconnaissance.” Israel last year.

Dassault said the Rafale would offer the UAE “a tool capable of ensuring sovereignty and operational independence” and that it would begin delivering the planes in 2027.

French defense officials were jubilant. Defense Minister Florence Parly said the Rafale agreement “contributes directly to regional stability”. The additional sale of Caracal helicopters also illustrates “the density of our defense relationship,” she said.

Human rights groups have said the weapons the UAE is providing to its Gulf allies could be used “for unlawful attacks or even war crimes” in Yemen as well as in Libya, a conflict in which the United Arab Emirates have been accused of being implicated by proxies.

“France’s support for the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia is all the more reprehensible as their leaders have failed to improve their countries’ dire human rights records at the national level, although their public relations efforts to portray themselves as progressive and tolerant internationally are in full swing. Watch said in a statement ahead of Macron’s trip to the Gulf.

Macron’s keen interest in forming personal relationships with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and his Saudi Arabian counterpart Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman makes him a welcome guest in the region. The two Gulf leaders appreciate a certain pragmatism when discussing democracy and human rights – issues on which their countries have come under heavy criticism from rights groups and European lawmakers – while seeking answers. business opportunities.

A few months after Macron’s election in 2017, he traveled to the United Arab Emirates to inaugurate the Louvre Abu Dhabi, built as part of a $ 1.2 billion deal to share name and art. of the world famous museum in Paris.

In September, Macron hosted the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi at the historic Fontainebleau Castle outside Paris, which was restored in 2019 thanks to a donation of the United Arab Emirates of 10 million euros (11, $ 3 million).

The United Arab Emirates and France have also increasingly aligned themselves with a common distrust of Islamist political parties across the Middle East and have supported the same camp in the civil war in Libya.

A senior French presidential official who spoke to reporters ahead of the trip on the usual condition of anonymity said Macron “will continue to push and support efforts that contribute to regional stability, Mediterranean in the Gulf “.

Tensions in the Gulf will be discussed, the official said, in particular the resumption of talks on Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, following the withdrawal of then-US President Donald Trump from the agreement.

“It’s a hot topic,” the French official said, adding that Macron discussed the issues during a phone call Monday with the Iranian president. He will speak about the call and the issues – including the talks on the nuclear deal in Vienna – with the Gulf leaders, who are “directly concerned by this subject, like all of us, but also because they are neighbors ( from Iran), ”the official said.

France, along with Germany and the UK, believe the 2015 nuclear deal – with minor adjustments – is the way forward with Iran, analysts say. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have fiercely opposed the West’s deal with Iran, though they have now both launched talks with Tehran to calm tensions.

“Although the Gulf countries did not like the West’s deal with Iran, the prospect of it acrimoniously collapsing is also bad for them and arguably poses more serious risks,” he said. said Jane Kinninmont, London-based Gulf expert in the European Leadership Network think tank. .

“Their view has always been that the West should have gotten more out of Iran before sealing the deal,” Kinninmont said. “But if the West leaves with nothing, the Gulf countries begin to understand that their security will not improve as a result.”

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