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United States downplays Egyptian-French fighter jet deal

media French Rafale jets in hangars. Reuters/Benoît Tessier

Egypt is looking to limit its historical dependence on American-made military equipment by diversifying its purchases, starting in France with possible future deals further east in Russia or China.

Egypt’s decision to purchase 24 French Rafale fighter jets is a move away from the country’s traditional strategic partnership with America.

US-Egyptians relations have been strained since the ousting of military president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and the ensuing debacle over leadership.

Brutal repression of Morsi supporters led Washington to partially freeze aid to Cairo in 2013 – an effort to diplomatically balance America’s defense relationship of arms to the country.

This crackdown on Morsi supporters played into what human rights group Amnesty International calls “alarming” abuses.

Amnesty has criticised France’s decision to sell the jets and a frigate to Egypt for this reason.

Egypt has indicated that it will continue to look for alternatives to a solely American defense supply; the country is strengthening ties with Russia and has also indicated that it could look to China in the future.

According to US State Department spokewoman Jen Psaki on Friday, “I wouldn’t say there’s a concern from this end.”

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