By Jess McHugh @McHughJess firstname.lastname@example.org on September 27 2015 2:32 PM EDT
Egypt purchased from France Wednesday two Mistral-class helicopter carriers similar to the one pictured. The agreement was the latest in a string of arms deals struck by the two countries. Getty Images
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said this weekend that Middle Eastern countries have to band together to battle the growing terrorist threat that has engendered a “ferocious war” in his own nation. El-Sissi spoke to the Associated Press just days after he announced that Egypt was buying two French warships.
With the Islamic State group assuming control of vast swathes of Iraq and Syria at the same time Egypt has been beset by bombings and other terrorist attacks, el-Sissi has made building up his country’s military a top priority. The Egyptian leader told AP the military “has always been a factor for stability” in his nation.
Egypt recently expressed its interest in buying two Mistral-class helicopter carriers from France after a purchase agreement with Russia went up in flames last year. Both ships were built for Russia in what would have been the first major arms deal between that country and a Western power since World War II. After Russia annexed Crimea and allegedly backed pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, however, France scrapped the deal in late 2014. Since then, it has lost millions of dollars in upkeep costs while looking for a buyer. Egypt purchased both ships Wednesday, reportedly paying $1.1 billion.
Since last year, Egypt also has ordered a Fremm multipurpose frigate and four anti-submarine Gowind-class corvette from the French shipbuilder DCNS and 24 Rafale fighter jets from the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation, Defense News reported Sunday.
Analysts have indicated the increasing number of Egypt’s armament deals with France represents a concrete step by the North African country to decrease its reliance on U.S. defense capabilities. “The reality is that Egypt isn’t going to try to conquer Libya or Yemen,” AP quoted IHS Janes analyst Ben Moores as saying. “It’s not trying to change those countries. It’s just trying to keep a lid on them.”