France Defense Minister Praises Military Cooperation With Egypt

France Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian met Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi at a Cairo meeting on Sunday. The French minister said that France appreciates Egypt’s pivotal role as a main pillar for security and stability in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, according to Al-Ahram, an Egyptian state-owned newspaper.

Le Drain said that Egypt is one of France strategic partners in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, stressing that his country supports Egypt’s pivotal role as the main source of security and stability in the region.

France Minister of Defense also praised the military cooperation between both countries on the War on Terrorism in the last two years, according to al-Youm7, a pro-regime Egyptian newspaper.

The meeting was also attended by Egypt’s Defense Minister Sedky Sobhy, which witnessed a discussion on the latest developments in the region including the Syrian and Libyan civil conflicts, said Egyptian presidency spokesman Alaa Youssef.

During the meeting, Al-Sisi stressed the importance of international joint efforts to reach political solutions for these crises.

Al-Sisi also praised the strategic partnership between Egypt and France, especially in the military field, and agreed with the French defense minister that the two countries should intensify ongoing efforts to combat terrorism.

Earlier this month, Egypt received the second Mistral-class warship that Cairo bought from France in 2015.

The ship is the second of its kind sold by France to Egypt, with the first delivered in June to Alexandria from the French city of Toulouse.

Last September the contract for the two Mistral aircraft carriers was finalized at a value of 950 million euros.

In May 2016, an Amnesty International report condemned EU countries that violate the EU suspension on arms transfers to Egypt, saying that almost half of European Union (EU) member states have violated the sanctions.

The report reads,” After hundreds of protesters were killed in a show of grossly excessive force by security forces in August 2013, 12 out of 28 EU member states have remained among Egypt’s main suppliers of arms and policing equipment. It is feared that EU Foreign Ministers could soon decide to scrap the current, already insufficient, suspension.”

According to Amnesty’s report, EU states authorized 290 licenses for military equipment to Egypt, totaling more than €6 billion (US$6.77) in 2014 alone. The items have included: small arms, light weapons and ammunition; armored vehicles; military helicopters; heavier weapons for use in counter-terrorism and military operations; and surveillance technology.

The EU countries who have been supplying arms to Egypt through exports or brokering since 2013 are: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and the UK.

It seems that security matters undermine human rights violations by Egypt’s authoritarian regime as France appreciates Egypt’s pivotal role in countering terrorism and fighting the Islamic States group affiliates such as the Sinai Province. In addition, France views al-Sisi regime as co-partner in two major files Libya and illegal migration.

Both al-Sisi and France support Gen. Khalifa Haftar, the head of a militia known as the Libyan National Army (LNA). In the same context, France and other European countries believe that Egypt can assist in monitoring the illegal migration that constitutes a real threat to Europe as it allows smuggling ISIS elements through the borders to launch terrorists attacks on European borders.