France blasts ‘dirty’ Saudi-led war, but keeps arms flow
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France blasts ‘dirty’ Saudi-led war, but keeps arms flow

“Yes, it’s a dirty war, yes it has to be stopped, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates must stop” the fighting, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Inter radio on Tuesday. “Yes, we must be extremely vigilant with arms sales to these two countries, which is what we are doing,” he said. France is among the top weapons exporters to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, two key members of a coalition waging war on Yemen since March 2015. Tens of thousands have reportedly died since the onset of the warfare, which seeks to restore the former Yemeni officials, who are close to the Saudi kingdom. Paris spurns accounts blaming it for selling weapons that are being used against civilians in the Arab world’s most impoverished nation. It also insists that the arms are being deployed in the service of “self defense.” Last month, Disclose, an investigative reportage website, published findings from a classified French military note that said French weapons were being used in the war. Three Disclose reporters were subsequently questioned by France’s domestic intelligence agency, a move that drew protests from press freedom advocates, AFP reported. Disclose has also reported plans for loading weapons onto two France-bound Saudi-flagged vessels. Pressure resulting from the first disclosure, which came earlier in May, prompted Riyadh to decide against picking up the cargo. Later, the whistleblower said another Saudi Arabian cargo ship was set to arrive in the south of France on Tuesday to pick up munitions for French Caesar cannons. The cargo, it said, would be loaded at the Mediterranean port of Fos-sur-Mer, near Marseille. “I learned about the imminent arrival of the Bahri Tabuk cargo ship this morning,” the French news agency cited Pierre Dharreville, an MP for the Fos-sur-Mer region, as telling journalists, and calling for a “moratorium” on arms deliveries to Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, the spokesman for Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, which has been defending the country against the Saudi-led invasion, welcomed Le Drian’s remarks, Lebanon’s al-Manar television network reported. Echoing rights groups, he said Paris should put its words about the Saudi-led war into action by stopping its arms sales to the Saudi regime.

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