A defense loan agreement between the Egyptian Ministry of Defense and a number of French banks has been approved by Egypt’s newly elected parliament, state-owned Ahram Online reports.
Led by Crédit Agricole for Companies and Investment, the French banks are to provide loans worth billions of euros to Egypt with the aim of propping up the country’s armed forces, a parliamentary report cited by Ahram Online stated.
“These banks will provide a cash loan of 3375.54 million [3.375 billion] euros, representing 60 percent of the value of French military equipment that will be delivered to Egypt,” read the report.
The report also disclosed, “The total value of this equipment is estimated at 5625.9 million [5.625 billion] euros, with Egypt to pay the remaining 40 per cent.”
Explaining that the loan is necessary in strengthening the capabilities of the Egyptian military, spokespersons from a number of political parties represented in Egypt’s parliament said that their MPs voted in favor of the loan agreement.
MP and former intelligence officer Sameh Seif Al-Yazal said that “as far as I know this equipment aims to beef up the army’s powers against terrorist groups in the Sinai peninsula.”
Alaa Abed, the spokesperson of the liberal-leaning Free Egyptians Party held the same position, saying that his party hopes that the agreement will aid Egypt’s armed forces to combat terrorism in the restive North Sinai Peninsula.
MP Nemaat Rashad from the Sinai called on the parliament to send delegations to the peninsula in order to get a better idea about “what is going on there.”
“Sinai is going through hard times and every day a police or army officer is being killed at the hands of terrorists. Parliament should hurry up and send a delegation to Sinai to explore what is going on there,” Rashad said.
Egypt has recently sought to diversify its sources of military supplies, particularly following the United States’ temporary withdrawal of military cooperation as a result of the overthrow of former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, which was spearheaded by current president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
In addition to France, from whom Egypt has bought Mistral warships and Rafael fighter jets, Russia has become one of the main suppliers Cairo has turned to for its military needs. Russia has supplied Egypt with a range of equipment, including MiG-29 fighter jets, a Molnya missile corvette, Tor and Buk surface-to-air missile launchers, Antey-2500 surface to air missile systems and, recently, 46 Ka-52K attack helicopters.
Most recently, Egypt signed a joint military cooperation agreement with Cyprus on Monday, which is the latest in a string of agreements with the small island country.