The French Connection to autocratic regimes
Emmanuel Macron, the French President and vociferously staunch defender of human rights, In his recent tour of the Persian Gulf, however, failed to broach the subject altogether.
Instead, Macron brought with him a large delegation of French ministers and top-level business executives to finalize lucrative arms deals with the United Arab Emirates and whitewash the image of Saudi Arabia; two of the worst countries in the world in terms of human rights.
Macron's visit to the UAE in early December coincided with the country’s 50th national day anniversary and concluded with a controversial weapons deal.
The United Arab Emirates and France signed a $19bn arms deal for 80 Rafale fighter jets and 12 military helicopters.
It was the biggest international order ever made for the warplanes. The deal came despite opposition from rights organizations for the prominent role of Abu Dhabi in the bloody Saudi-led campaign against Yemen.
Abu Dhabi has also been embroiled in the Libyan crisis where it has civilian blood on its hands. In just one case on November 18, 2019, the UAE carried out an unlawful drone attack on the Al-Sunbulah biscuit factory in Wadi al-Rabie, Libya that killed 8 and wounded 27 civilians.
After a visit to the United Arab Emirates and a short stop in Qatar, Macron landed in Jeddah to be the first major Western leader visiting the Saudi Crown Prince since the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
With his visit to the Saudi kingdom, Macron has been accused of putting 'deals' before human rights, though he seems not to be disturbed at all by the accusation.
He also failed to mention the destabilizing role of France in the region, spurring an arms race through selling weapons to the regional autocratic states.
Along with the UK and the US, France has faced scrutiny over its continued arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition; a coalition that has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 Yemeni children and displaced nearly 700,000 Yemeni families while causing one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern history.