French weapons are being used by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in Yemen, according to a classified military note revealed yesterday which contradicts public statements from France’s government.
The note from the French military intelligence service, published by new investigative media outlet Disclose, concluded that the UAE and Saudi Arabia had deployed French weaponry from artillery to ships in their war against Huthi rebels.
Under pressure for years by rights groups over the sales, the Paris government has always insisted that the arms are only used in defensive circumstances to deter attacks by the Huthis.
France, the third-biggest arms exporter in the world, counts Saudi Arabia and the UAE as loyal clients in the Middle East and has resisted pressure to stop the arms trade -- unlike Germany, which has suspended sales.
Rights groups have regularly accused Paris of being complicit in alleged war crimes committed in Yemen where around 10,000 have died and millions have been forced to the brink of starvation.
“The government can no longer deny the risk of complicity in war crimes,” the head of Human Rights Watch in France, Benedicte Jeannerod, wrote on Twitter in response to the revelations yesterday.