12/03/2021, 17.00
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UAE buys French fighter planes and helicopters worth almost US$ 20 billion

The contract includes 80 Dassault Rafale aircraft and 12 Caracal helicopters. The deal was inked by French President Macron and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Human rights groups and NGOs note that the UAE military have killed civilians in Yemen and Libya.

Dubai (AsiaNews) – France today signed its largest overseas weapons sales. Abu Dhabi and Paris inked a deal worth €17 billion (.20 billion) that includes 80 French-made Dassault Rafale fighter planes and 12 Caracal (Super Puma H225M) helicopters.

The contract was signed on the first of President Emmanuel Macron's two-day visit to the Gulf, with stops in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

In a statement French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly called the contract “historic,” which, according to a statement by the French presidency, “cements a strategic partnership that is stronger than ever and directly contributes to regional stability”.

For the multirole fighter aircraft, this is its most important international order since it entered into service in 2004, further confirming the close military ties between Abu Dhabi and Paris, with the UAE as one of France’s top customers.

So far UAE leaders have not spoken about the contract, which has instead raised more than one eyebrow among human rights groups and NGOs.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) noted recently that the UAR played a "leading role" in the atrocities, such as bombing schools and hospitals, committed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition in the war in Yemen, causing the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians, including children.

The same goes for the conflict in Libya, where UAE forces have killed scores of civilians in illegal air and drone strikes, while supplying weapons and ammunition to local armed groups.

The latest arms purchase casts a further shadow on the UAE, which in recent years has tried to show, even show off, Islam’s compatibility with the principles of tolerance and brotherhood.

With the publication of the Pandora papers by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the UAE’S darker side has come into the spotlight.

The ICIJ investigation found that the UAE has become a tax haven for the very rich tax and corporate groups where it is possible to do business and manage assets in complete anonymity, as well as launder dirty money, without paying taxes and benefiting from local protection.

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