October 20, 2015
Guest blog post by Olga Aymerich, previously working for NATO (Political Affairs and Security Policy), OSCE (External co-operation), and the EU (EU Delegation to Lebanon), as well as in think tanks such as Carnegie Middle East Center.
Are you aware the French government is fueling a war? It is, a war that has already killed more than 2000 civilians and wounded more than 4000 since March 2015.
Last friday, a Dutch draft resolution asking for an independent international inquiry into human rights violations by all parties in the Yemen war was eventually withdrawn at the UNHCR. Instead, a resolution appointing a national commission of inquiry was accepted. France, together with the United Kingdom, was one of the main supporters of the accepted resolution.
This resolution can only be described as partial since it is based on a decree issued by the exiled Yemeni government headed by President Hadi, which is one of the parties in the conflict. President Hadi is backed by Saudi Arabia, which has been leading a military campaign in Yemen to influence the result of the civil war.
And the French decision to support a partial biased inquiry did not come as a surprise. But why should France support a biased partial inquiry instead of an international and independent one? It is simply because France has been benefiting from the war in Yemen since its beginning through the sales of weaponry to Saudi Arabia.
Only a few weeks after the beginning of the airstrikes, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius rushed into Saudi Arabia in an official visit to claim France support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. This visit took place only a few days after France signed a USD 7 billion military deal with Qatar to provide the emirate with fighter jets. Qatar is also an active member of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has been increasing its military expenditure the recent years till reaching more than USD 73 billion by 2014, and France has become one of its main suppliers.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), France increased arms transfer to Saudi Arabia from 89 million USD in 2010 to 175 million USD in 2014. This is a 96.9% increase in only four years. In November 2014 alone, Saudi Arabia signed a deal buying French weaponry for a worth of 3 billion USD, which made the French arms trade bloomed. Already in 2010, France was by far the main EU arms export to Saudi, with EUR 2168 million exports, far ahead of the second export, Italy, with EUR 435 million.
Despite Saudi Arabia multiple human rights violations, France has increasingly become a closer ally of Saudi Arabia and is seeking to increase Saudi investment in the blooming French arms trade.
And this is not stopping. Yesterday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on a visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia together with Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, signed contracts for a value of 10 billion euro. Shipyards, patrol boats, and spy satellites are on the Saudi wish-list for future contracts with French companies.
But at which cost? Are the French people really aware of what their government is doing?Blogactiv Team