“Egypt and Saudi Arabia are desperate to buy two Mistrals,” an unnamed official French source told France’s leading daily, Le Monde. “King Salman of Saudi Arabia wants to build a fleet in Egypt which could project regional power in the Red Sea and Mediterranean,” said the source. “Some countries in the region have displayed a marked interest in the Mistrals with the aim of establishing a [regional] maritime force.”

The report of Egyptian and Saudi interest in acquiring the two French-made warships came a day after French President François Hollande attended a ceremony marking the inauguration of a major Suez Canal extension in the Egyptian port city of Ismailia Thursday.

Speaking to reporters in Ismailia, Hollande said France would have “no difficulty” finding buyers for the Mistrals originally bound for Russia. […]