“Green light for aggressors”: HRW calls on France to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Egypt

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Human Rights Watch called on France to halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, accusing the European country of fueling “atrocities against civilians”.The call came on Wednesday after the release of France’s latest arms export report, which showed that Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Egypt – in that order – had received the largest arms deals from the country.

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Arms sales and transfers from France to Saudi Arabia in 2019 amounted to about $ 1.6 billion, while those to Egypt totaled $ 1.1 billion, according to the report. dollars.

HRW said the figures “illustrate the deep contradictions of French diplomacy”.

Saudi-led war in Yemen

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia emerged during the same period as the world’s largest importer of arms, said SIPRI.

HRW also highlighted the kingdom’s role in the war in Yemen, citing Riyadh’s “gross and documented violations” against international humanitarian law.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has been waging a military campaign in Yemen against the country’s Houthi rebels, with the aim of restoring the government of exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

The conflict, which the United Nations cites as the cause of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, has killed tens of thousands of people and brought the already impoverished country to the brink of starvation.

As the war continues to rage, 13 million Yemenis are at risk of starvation.

The crackdown on the Egyptian government

As far as Egypt is concerned, HRW called France’s arms sales to Cairo “shocking and appalling”.

The group said it had documented “serious abuses and war crimes” committed by the Egyptian military during operations in northern Sinai.

“Under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt suffered the worst crackdown on fundamental and fundamental rights in decades,” said the HRW statement.

In October Amnesty International released a report that French-made armored vehicles had been used by Egyptian government forces to “disperse the protests and crush dissent” during the crackdowns from 2012 to 2015.

France, Russia and Germany have all increased their arms sales to Egypt considerably in recent years.

“Green light to the aggressors”

HRW said France’s decision to continue selling arms to Saudi Arabia and Egypt not only helps them physically commit rights violations, but legitimizes their actions by giving “effective green light to attackers ”

Arms sales to the two countries “undermine France’s credibility in its role in promoting international law and universal human rights values ​​at a time when they are facing serious attacks around the world”, continues the press release.

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“It is more than urgent and necessary that France reconciles its actions with its words, and stops fueling terrible violations of rights with its arms sales”.

Global arms sales to the Middle East have been increasing for years. While Saudi Arabia appears to be the largest buyer of arms in the region, the United States is overwhelmingly its number one exporter.

According to Sipri, between 2015 and 2019, total U.S. arms exports were 76% higher than that of the world’s second largest arms exporter, Russia.

Half of all US arms sales during this period were made in the Middle East, and half of them were destined for Saudi Arabia.

Last month, U.S. Senate top Democrat Bob Menendez warned that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had pursued another arms deal with Saudi Arabia despite last year’s deal, which received vehement bipartisan opposition.

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