Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's crown prince, right, and Emmanuel Macron, France's president, Paris 2018 (Christophe Morin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
France’s weapons sales to Saudi Arabia rose 50 per cent in 2018
This was despite senior French government officials government calling for an end to the war in Yemen
In May Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to end the conflict in Yemen, calling it a “dirty war”
French Armed Forces Minister, Florence Barley also used the phrase “dirty war” to describe the conflict in Yemen
An annual report on French arms sales showed that France sold approximately €1 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia
The main item sold was patrol boats. A partial naval blockade of ports controlled by the Houthis in Yemen is a tactic used by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen that has contributed to the humanitarian crisis
The French government claims that its arms sales are governed by strict procedures that are in line with international treaties.
Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly: “Maintaining economic relations with these countries means keeping a presence in key regions for our security interests and our energy supplies. It is also about fighting terrorism and protecting our nationals on the ground”
France is a leading arms exporter, with sales boosted in recent years by overseas contracts for Rafale fighter jets, including to Qatar and India
France sells naval vessels, tanks, artillery and munitions to the Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE
NGOs have protested France’s involvement with regimes that are complicit in the Yemen offensive
Overall French arms exports to the Middle East increased to €4 billion from €3.9 billion in 2018, and form part of an expanding sector of the French economy. Total arms sales rose by 30 per cent to €9.1 billion in 2018, with a significant proportion of the sales going to European customers. France is competing against American arms exports
Notable sales to the Middle East included Qatar, which ordered Rafale-fighter jets and helicopters worth €2.4 billion euros.
Sales to Egypt plateaued at approximately €270 millions and UAE custom fell significantly