Correspondent in Paris
After thirteen years of very tough negotiations, Emmanuel Macron and the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates (WATER), Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, have signed this Friday an industrial, military and political agreement of a strategic nature, the sale of 80 Rafale fighter jets, for an amount of tens of billions of euros.
That agreement, unprecedented for Dasault, the great French arms builder, is the first concrete result of President Macron’s tour of the WATER, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, to discuss and lay the foundations for greater bilateral cooperation on arms, terrorism, regional stability and commercial exchanges. With striking prudence, Macron and his interlocutors have avoided addressing the ultra-sensitive issue of human rights.
The agreement for the sale of 80 Rafale fighter jets, built in France, is the final fruit of thirteen years of very tough negotiations, in which Nicolas Sarkozy, François Hollande and Emmanuel Macron have participated successively, which has ended up concluding negotiations that the UAE have led with an iron fist.
A decade of negotiation
When Sarkozy began the negotiations, which ended on Friday, the UAE used very different pressure arguments: leaning towards other suppliers, European and North American, considering other alternatives, putting buts of all kinds on Dassault, the French constructor.
Hollande resumed the negotiation, facing the same problems, without being able to overcome the resistance and delaying maneuvers of some eventual clients who behaved with fearsome efficiency.
Four years ago, Emmanuel Macron in turn assumed a negotiation that began a long decade earlier. And he decided to extend the field of negotiations. From the French perspective, it was necessary to expand the field of dialogue and possible understanding: common fight against terrorism, regional security, military cooperation, new commercial relations.
The Gulf countries, starting with Saudi Arabia, found the global project suggested by Emmanuel Macron suggestive.
For the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia it is a question of opening up to an arms supplier that has its own industry, in permanent competition with the big builders in the USA.
For France, this is an important strategic move. A multimillion dollar contract for a great national builder. Privileged relations with great regional powers. A unique position within the European Union (EU), reaffirming the essential ambition to defend the industrial and strategic sovereignty of France and Europe.