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Iran says France ‘destabilizing’ the region with weapon sales to Gulf states

Tehran says record arms deal signed by Paris with Abu Dhabi for 80 Rafale fighter jets and 12 helicopters is regional ‘source of turmoil’

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) is greeted by Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan during his tour of the French pavillion at the Dubai Expo on the first day of his Gulf tour on December 3, 2021 (Thomas SAMSON / AFP)
French President Emmanuel Macron (L) is greeted by Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan during his tour of the French pavillion at the Dubai Expo on the first day of his Gulf tour on December 3, 2021 (Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

TEHRAN — Iran on Monday accused France of “destabilizing” the Gulf region after Paris signed a record arms deal with the United Arab Emirates for 80 Rafale fighter jets.

“We must not ignore France’s role in destabilizing the region,” foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a news conference.

“We expected France to be more responsible,” he said. “The militarization of our region is unacceptable and the weapons they sell in the region are the source of turmoil.”

France clinched the order for 80 Rafale fighter aircraft during a visit Friday by President Emmanuel Macron to the UAE.

During the visit, Abu Dhabi also inked a deal to buy 12 Caracal military transport helicopters, for a total bill of more than 17 billion euros (more than $19 billion).

The UAE was the fifth biggest customer for the French defense industry, with deals worth 4.7 billion euros, from 2011 to 2020, according to a French parliamentary report.

A French Rafale jet fighter takes off from France’s aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle, Dec. 9, 2016 (Stephane de Sakutin, Pool Photo via AP, File)

France has faced criticism after some of these weapons were used in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition that includes the UAE is fighting Iran-backed rebels in a war that has created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Khatibzadeh also complained that “billions of dollars worth of weapons are being sold to Arab countries” without sparking global concern while Iran’s missile program is condemned by world powers.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh during a press conference in Tehran, on February 22, 2021. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

His remarks came as UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al-Nahyan was on a rare visit to Tehran, as the two countries seek to ease relations downgraded five years ago.

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