French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian yesterday called on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to end the conflict in Yemen which he described as a “dirty war”.
Le Drian’s calls come days after French Armed Forces Minister, Florence Barley, said that all her country’s efforts and those of the international community are focused on stopping the conflict in Yemen, using the term “dirty war” for the first time, AFP reported.
France has come under repeated attacked by rights groups who have called on it to stop supplies arms to Saudi, which they say are being used in its war in Yemen.
Yesterday, a French rights group sought to block the loading of what it said were munitions onto a Saudi Arabian ship docked in southern France.
“The Bahri Tabuk is due to load French weapons for Saudi Arabia, one of the main belligerents in the Yemeni conflict. ACAT is …. mobilising and calling on civil society and local networks to prevent these munitions from going to Saudi Arabia,” it said.
Defence Minister Florence Parly told lawmakers she had no information on the shipment and that in any case, France had a partnership with Saudi Arabia.
Citing sources, online investigative site Disclose said yesterday the cargo to be loaded at the port of Marseille-Fos included munitions for Caesar howitzers.
Disclose in April published classified French military intelligence that showed weapons sold to Saudi Arabia, including tanks and laser-guided missile systems, were being used against civilians in Yemen’s war.
Four of its reporters have been questioned by France’s internal DGSI intelligence agency over the leak, which the government has said is unacceptable. Rights groups have accused the French government of trying to intimidate the press and curb its freedoms.
French President Emmanuel Macron has defended arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE arguing the two countries are crucial allies in the fight against Islamist militants. He has rejected allegations that French-made weapons are used offensively in Yemen.