The United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a contract with France to buy 80 Rafale military fighter aircraft for €16 billion, French officials said.
Armies minister Florence Parly hailed it as an “historic contract”, stating it showed a “strategic partnership that is stronger than ever”.
She said that in addition to the fighter jets, the UAE signed a contract for the acquisition of 12 Caracal helicopters, assembled at the Airbus site in Marignane.
“This is excellent news which will perpetuate hundreds of jobs in France,” Parly said.
However, Human Rights Watch said France is promoting these sales even though the UAE has played a prominent role in the Saudi and UAE-led coalition’s atrocity-ridden military operations in Yemen.
The UAE also took part in the latest conflict in Libya, which ended in June 2020, where UAE forces killed civilians in unlawful air and drone strikes, while also supplying abusive local forces with weapons and ammunition.
Yet, the Gulf country ranks as France’s 5th largest arms customer between 2011 and 2020.
The rights group went on saying that France’s arms sales to and protection of dubious military partnerships in the name of counterterrorism and at the cost of human rights will remain a stain on Emmanuel Macron’s diplomatic record.