Alwaght – French Foreign Minister on Tuesday called on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to end a bloody aggression on Yemen.
Jean-Yves Le Drian described as a “dirty war” the Saud-led military campaign on Yemen that has claimed lives of tens of thousands of people and plunged the country deep into what the UN calls worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.
The French top diplomats demand came while Paris has confirmed on Wednesday that a new shipment of weapons will head for Saudi Arabia, despite reports that Riyadh is using the arms in the Yemen war.
French Defence Minister Florence Parly told BFM television the weapons would be loaded onto a Saudi cargo ship scheduled to arrive Wednesday in the French port of Le Havre.
She refused to identify the types of arms, but reiterated France’s stance that they have been used only for defensive purposes by Saudi Arabia since it began its Yemen offensive in 2015.
“As far as the French government is aware, we have no proof that the victims in Yemen are the result of the use of French weapons,” Parly said.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement. Ever since its onset, the aggression has killed tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians
The UN has warned that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.
According to a December 2018 report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has claimed the lives of over 60,000 Yemenis since January 2016.
A number of Western countries, including the US and Britain, and France, are also accused of being complicit in the ongoing aggression as they supply the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment as well as logistical and intelligence assistance.
Pressure has been mounting on the French government after the investigative news site Disclose leaked a classified military note last month detailing the use of French tanks and artillery in Yemen war. Disclose alleged the new shipment included eight truck-mounted Caesar howitzers, though a government source told AFP this week that such cannons were not part of the delivery.
The revelations prompted arms sales watchdog ASER to file a complaint with the Paris administrative court on Monday, calling for an urgent end to French arms shipments to the Persian Gulf.
“The court has between 72 hours and a month to rule on our complaint. Technically, if the shipment is still in French waters, the court can halt the delivery,” said Benoît Muracciole, head of ASER, in an interview with FRANCE 24.
According to Muracciole, the French government’s strategy is to continue the sale of weapons while feigning ignorance of whether or not they are being used against civilians.
“Knowledge of war crimes being committed is crucial,” said Muracciole. “The truth is France has been aware of war crimes in Yemen since they were documented by the UN.”
France 24 cited Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against Arms Trade NGO as saying that “The Saudi regime is one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world, and has inflicted a terrible humanitarian crisis on Yemen. The destruction would not have been possible without the complicity and support of arms-dealing governments”.