Yemen’s Ansarullah slams France over arms deal with Saudi Arabia, UAE

Yemen’s Ansarullah movement spokesman has rebuked France over supplying Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with arms used against Yemeni citizens calling that ‘hypocrisy to evade crimes.’

 “The persistence of French President (Emmanuel Macron) on selling arms to Saudi Arabia on the pretext that they are not used against (Yemeni) civilians is a clear hypocrisy to evade crimes,” Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network cited Mohammed Abdul-Salam as writing on his official Twitter page on Friday.

The Houthi official then called on France and other countries to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have been involved in an atrocious military aggression against Yemen for more than four years.

“The move is an attempt by France to evade responsibility for the crimes being committed against Yemeni people,” Abdul-Salam noted.

Meanwhile, a Saudi cargo ship that had been expected to pick up a hugely controversial shipment of French arms from Le Havre port in the Normandy region of northwestern France has not docked there and left without its arms cargo.

According to ship tracking data and comments from a local French official to Reuters, the Bahri Yanbu is now sailing towards Santander in Spain.

On Thursday, two French human rights groups had sought to block the loading of weapons onto the Saudi vessel.

It came weeks after investigative website Disclose published leaked documents, showing Saudi Arabia was using French weapons, including tanks and laser-guided missile systems, against civilians in Yemen’s war.

Faced with strong criticism, Macron admitted that the weapons were indeed being used in the war; but only within Saudi Arabia’s border.

“I would like to say here that what we reiterated was the guarantee for them (the arms) not be used against civilian populations,” he asserted.

Back in March 2018, French law firm Ancile Avocat said France’s arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE could be in contravention of its international commitments – primarily the Arms Trade Treaty, which Paris ratified in 2014. 

“The French government has authorized exports of military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in circumstances where these weapons can be used in the conflict in Yemen and could be used to carry out war crimes,” it said in a report.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

According to a December 2018 report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has claimed the lives of over 60,000 Yemenis since January 2016.

The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN said in a report in December 2018 that over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.

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