A secret report from the French Military Intelligence reveals Saudi incompetence and widespread use of French and US weapons in the war in Yemen. Details contained in the 15-page report have been released by Disclose. Illustrated maps and graphics published by the investigative news organisation shows details of the war, which the French government wish to conceal, namely the detailed list of French weapons that are part of the arsenal employed in the conflict in Yemen.
Entitled “Yemen: security situation” the report shows that French arms including tanks and laser-guided missile systems sold to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been used to target civilians. The report contradicts the claims of the government of President Emmanuel Macron who insist that weapons sold to Riyadh and UAE are used solely for defensive purposes.
The report confirms what observers of the war have argued all along, that the military capability of the Gulf coalition has been created and sustained almost entirely by the global arms trade. The Intercept which was given exclusive access to the report said that in addition to the US, the UK, and France, the report mentions radar and detection systems from Sweden; Austrian Camcopter drones; defensive naval rockets from South Korea, Italian warships, and even rocket launcher batteries from Brazil.
According to the Intercept the report harshly criticises Saudi military capabilities in Yemen, describing the Saudis as operating “ineffectively” and characterising their efforts to secure their border with Yemen as “a failure”. And it suggests that US assistance with Saudi targeting in Yemen may go beyond what has previously been acknowledged.
Despite the claims of French officials that “arms possessed by coalition forces are placed for the most part in defensive positions, outside of Yemeni territory or under coalition control, but not on the front line,” Disclose found that French battle tanks, fighter jets, radar systems, armoured troop-carrying vehicles, helicopters, and truck-mounted howitzers were being deployed to the front line, in combat operations in Yemen, including in civilian zones.
Swathes of Yemen’s population live under the threat of the French-made arms. Disclose found that French tanks have taken part in several major coalition offensives including the assault on Huaydah. In October 2018, French-made tanks are reported to have rolled in the direction of the port city in Western Yemen to aid the Saudi-led coalition. In the battle for control of Hudaydah, French tanks are said to be responsible for 55 civilian deaths.
French fighter jets are reported to have been deployed in Saudi-led coalition strikes totalling 30,000. Despite the insistence of French officials who claim that there are not responsible for any of the 8,300 civilian deaths, Saudi fighter-bombers used technology designed and maintained by French engineers.
Another revelation that is likely to be a source of great embarrassment for Macron is the use of vessels made in France to enforce a blockade. Disclose said that while officially, the Saudi and Emirati navy vessels are enforcing a UN embargo against shipment of arms for Houthi forces, in reality, they are blocking supplies of food, fuel and medicines destined for more than 20 million Yemenis.
It was suggested that the French may be in violation of international law. According to Disclose, France, has signed up to the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which imposes upon it, like all other signatories, the prohibition of “any transfer of conventional arms” if it has knowledge that they “would be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians protected as such, or other war crimes.”