(MENAFN - The Journal Of Turkish Weekly) >On Saturday April 16 2016 French President François Hollande began his 4-day tour of the Middle East in Lebanon where he called for the settlement of the country’s institutional crisis. Here he promised Lebanon “100 million euros in the next three years” to help the country cope with the influx of refugees. He also committed “immediate support to strengthen Lebanon’s military capabilities” against the jihadist threat after a major €2.2 billion contract concluded in April 2015 (the so-called “Donas”) that would have supplied French arms to Lebanon thanks to Saudi funding was canceled by Riyadh. In January sources close to the French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s indicated that deliveries would begin again in the spring.
On the second stop of his trip Hollande accompanied by thirty French business leaders arrived in Egypt on Sunday April 17 2016. Francetv Info reports that Hollande’s primary intent during his visit to the country was to seek Egyptian President Abdel Al-Sisi’s help in setting up a national unity government in Libya. However the establishment of trade agreements also occupied a prominent place on the agenda of the visit. In a French-Egyptian “business forum” the heads of major French companies and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will sit down with their Egyptian counterparts and sign various “sectoral agreements” particularly in the areas of urban transport renewable energy and vocational training.
France is also one of the main arms suppliers of Al-Sisi’s regime which in 2015 bought 24 Rafale fighter jets a multi-mission frigate and two Mistral assault ships from Paris after the latter cancelled their sale to Russia due to its activities in Ukraine. According to Francetv Info the two presidents could announce Egypt’s intention to purchase four warships and a military communications satellite. France was quick to express its support for then Army Chief Al-Sisi’s ouster of democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 entering into major arms contracts with the country ever since. Since then the regime has violently repressed all opposition.
The issue of human rights was also on the program. Upon his arrival Hollande declared that “Human rights are also a way to fight against terrorism.” He said that this fight “requires firmness but also a state and a state of law” emphasizing that “this is the meaning of what France evokes when it speaks of human rights. Human rights are not a constraint.”
France 24 reports that Hollande will also reveal a French-led conference that will aim at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which also directly involves Egypt. The outlet also reported that Hollande said “the initiative of France is to gather the international community around this process that must lead to peace” after a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last Friday while also noting that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was scheduled to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories in late May. It also noted that this French initiative fails to convince. Initially planned to take place before the summer the conference will most likely not take place until the fall.
In Jordan Hollande is expected to visit French troops stationed at the Prince Hassan Airbase which acts as a base from which French planes engage in airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.