Paris, Doha in $7bn Rafale deal; delivery by mid-2018

Updated 30 April 2015

Paris, Doha in $7bn Rafale deal; delivery by mid-2018

PARIS: Qatar has agreed to buy 24 Dassault Aviation-built Rafale fighter jets in a deal worth 6.3 billion euros ($7 billion), the French government said on Thursday, as the Gulf state looks to boost its military firepower amid regional instability.
France will start delivering Rafale fighter jets to Qatar from mid-2018 at the rate of 11 per year, the French Defense Ministry said on Thursday.
Tensions in the Middle East with conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Libya, as well as concerns of Iran’s growing influence in the area, have fueled a desire across Gulf states to modernize their military hardware.
The contract — the third this year for Dassault after deals to sell Rafale jets to Egypt and India — also includes MBDA missiles, and the training of 36 Qatari pilots and 100 technicians by the French army, a French Defense Ministry official said.
“The president spoke to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, who confirmed his desire to buy 24 Rafale combat planes,” President Francois Hollande’s office said.
Hollande will travel to Doha on May 4 to sign the contract before heading to Saudi Arabia as an honorary guest at a summit of Gulf Arab leaders.
The Rafale sales have lifted French arms exports this year to about 15 billion euros and have been a welcome boost for Dassault, which had been under increasing pressure to sell the plane overseas after years of failures.
The French government said last year that it would slow the pace at which it takes delivery of Rafale jets to just 26 over the next five years instead of 11 every year.
Dassault has resumed discussions over potential fighter sales to the UAE, the official said. A senior French diplomat said the talks with the UAE were “going pretty well.”
A leading European defense analyst, however, said the Qatar deal could weaken the Rafale’s chances of being chosen by the UAE, and boost the chances of the rival Eurofighter Typhoon.
“If recent history is a guide, now that Qatar has gone for Rafale, that should kill the Rafale’s prospects in the UAE,” said Francis Tusa, editor of Defense Analysis.
“It is possibly the only the good news for (Eurofighter) Typhoon, which has been languishing as both Rafale and Gripen have seen significant export sales recently.”
The Eurofighter is built by Airbus Group, Finmeccanica and BAE Systems.


Lebanon’s foreign minister resigns amid economic crisis

Updated 03 August 2020

Lebanon’s foreign minister resigns amid economic crisis

  • Nassif Hitti submits resignation to the prime minister and leaves government house without making any comments
  • Hitti’s resignation is a blow to Hassan Diab’s government

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s foreign minister resigned on Monday, becoming the first Cabinet minister to defect from his post amid the severe economic and financial crisis striking the country.
Minister Nassif Hitti’s submitted his resignation to the prime minister and left the government house without making any comments.
A career diplomat, Hitti became foreign minister in January as part of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government. He was was reportedly unhappy with the government’s performance and lack of movement on promised reforms.
Local media reports said he also was angered by Diab’s criticism of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian following his visit to Beirut last month. Diab had said Le Drian “did not bring anything new” and was not properly informed about the reforms implemented by the Lebanese government.
It was not immediately clear whether his resignation would be accepted and whether one of the other ministers would assume his responsibilities in caretaker capacity until a new minister is appointed.
Hitti’s resignation is a blow to Diab’s government, which has struggled to implement reforms amid an unprecedented financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.