France’s weapons sales to Saudi Arabia rose 50 pct in 2018 despite the government calling for an end to the “dirty war” in Yemen, figures released on Tuesday showed, Reuters reports.
An annual government report showed that total arms sales rose 30 percent to 9.1 billion euros in 2018, driven by a sharp increase in sales to European allies.
France sold about 1 billion euros worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, with the main item being patrol boats. A partial naval blockade of ports controlled by the Houthi movement is one of the tactics used by a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen that has been criticized by campaigners for worsening a humanitarian crisis.
“With such transfers revealing a geopolitical alliance with these regimes and total violation of international commitments, one can only expect worsening conflicts in Yemen or the Horn of Africa, where the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are beginning to redeploy in partnership with France,” said Tony Fortin at the Paris-based Observatory for Armament.
The French government says its arms sales are governed by strict procedures that are in line with international treaties.
“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,” Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said in a preface to the report.