France will sell Rafale warplanes to the UAE

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The is buying 80 upgraded Rafale warplanes in a deal the French Defense Ministry said is worth 16 billion euros ($18 billion) and represents the largest-ever French weapons contract for export. But it’s not all: France will also sell sell 12 Airbus-built combat helicopters to the . The contracts were signed as French President Emmanuel Macron visited the country, as France and Gulf countries have long been concerned by Iran’s nuclear ambitions and influence across the region, particularly in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Macron declared that the signed contracts will contribute to the stability of the region and enhance a common fight against terrorism. The Emirates Air Force will become the first Rafale F4 user outside of France. Abu Dhabi also hopes to buy American stealth F-35 fighters after diplomatically recognizing Israel last year.

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Human rights groups disregard the deal between France and the UAE. “France’s support for the UAE and Saudi Arabia is even more objectional as their leaders have failed to improve their countries’ disastrous human rights records domestically, although their public relations efforts to present themselves as progressive and tolerant internationally is in full swing,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement. This is not necessarilly the opinion of experts in politics. “This is a hot topic,” a French official said. Gulf tensions will be discussed, the official said, in particular the revived talks about Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.