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Egypt and Italy in talks on $9.8bn arms deal

February 11, 2020 at 11:21 am

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (L) meets Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) at Al Ittihadiyah Palace in Cairo, Egypt on January 14, 2020. [EGYPTIAN PRESIDENCY/HANDOUT/Anadolu Agency]

Egypt and Italy are close to signing an arms deal worth $1.3 billion, noting this deal might be part of larger one that worth $9.8 billion, the New Khaleej revealed yesterday.

According to Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, the deal is about supplying Egypt with European Multi-Purpose Frigate (FREMM) warships from Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri.

The newspaper noted that Egypt plans to announce the news on 25 April – the anniversary of liberating Sinai.

In addition to the frigates, the newspaper pointed out that Egypt is waiting for four other frigates and 20 Falaj II patrol boats.

The US bought Sisi for $9bn, but the Egyptian people cannot be swayed

Rights groups have repeatedly condemned international governments who continue to trade with Egypt following the military coup of 2013. The Egyptian regime has targeted human rights defenders in an unprecedented crackdown that has seen 60,000 political prisoners locked up in jails.

The Italian oil giant Eni’s investments in the north African country stand at around $13 billion. In 2018 trade between Italy and Egypt hit $7.2 billion.

That same year Egypt’s purchase of Italian arms hit $77 million, higher than the previous five years and also much higher than arms purchases in the years prior to the January 2011 uprising.

A number of observers have pointed out that Egypt is purchasing large numbers of Italian arms to compensate for Italian student Giulio Regeni’s murder. Regeni was tortured to death four years ago by members of Egypt’s national security agency.

Many believe Italy is using political pressure as leverage to secure better deals.