According to a recent bombshell report by the independent investigative news website Disclose, French military intelligence was implicated in the death of innocent Egyptian citizens by the armed forces. As per leaked files, the French military was involved in at least 19 Egyptian military air operations against civilians between 2016 and 2019. As shown in the report published on Sunday by Disclose, French President Emmanuel Macron was aware that the military cooperation entailed potential crimes but did nothing about it. Investigators strongly believe that the classified materials came from his presidential office.
The collaborative mission, dubbed Operation Sirli, was tasked with gathering intelligence on suspected terrorists’ movements along Egypt’s border with Libya, where a civil war is brewing. “However, the [French] members of the squad rapidly realized that the intelligence provided to the Egyptians was being utilized to murder individuals accused of smuggling,” according to the Disclose article. The secret documents demonstrate “how this military co-operation exercise, kept hidden from the public, was diverted from its primary objective — that of terrorist activity surveillance — in favor of a campaign of arbitrary killings,” as per the report.
Despite objections from French military intelligence as well as the Air Force, Sirli began in 2016 under previous President Francois Hollande and has continued during Macron’s presidency. Response from France’s defense minister acknowledged the two nations’ intelligence and counterterrorism cooperation within hours of the story’s release. Former defense minister Jean Yves Le Drian should be brought to parliament for an explanation, said the left-wing party France Insoumise.
Since the report’s release, the Macron administration has remained reticent, stating just that investigations are ongoing while recognizing the existence of collaborative activities between the two countries. France is one of Egypt’s primary weapons providers. Last year, Macron bestowed the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour to Egypt’s authoritarian president Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, praising him for “fighting violent Islamic fanaticism,” drawing outcry from campaigners who have denounced his record on human rights.