Attention, sensitive visit. Emmanuel Macron, goes this Saturday, December 4 to Jeddah, on the west coast of Saudi Arabia, to meet Crown Prince Mohammed ben Salman, the strongman of the kingdom much criticized since the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in 2018. On an express tour of the Gulf, the French president will be one of the first Western leaders to visit the Saudi leader since this murder, perpetrated at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
That “Does not mean that we are complacent”
To justify this visit, the Head of State deemed it necessary to speak to Saudi Arabia, “Leading Gulf country in terms of size”, to can “To work for the stability of the region” and discuss in particular the situation in Lebanon. “Who can think for a single second that we are helping Lebanon, that we preserve peace and stability in the Middle East if we say: ‘we no longer talk to Saudi Arabia, the most populous country and the most important to the Gulf? ‘ “, he asked.
But this “Does not mean that we are complacent”, he also assured, Friday, December 3, alluding to this assassination. “This does not mean that I endorse, that I forget, that we are not demanding partners”. “I note that Saudi Arabia organized the G20 in the following year (the Khashoggi affair, editor’s note) and I did not note that many powers boycotted the G20”, he again noted. “We have always been clear on the subject of human rights or this affair”.
Pleading the cause of Lebanon
Faced with MBS, Emmanuel Macron intends in particular to plead the cause of Lebanon where the economic crisis was worsened by the diplomatic crisis that began in October with several Gulf States, foremost among which Arabia, which had frozen its imports.
These efforts should take advantage of the resignation, announced Friday, December 3, of the Lebanese Minister of Information, George Kordahi, at the origin of the crisis for having criticized Riyadh’s military intervention in Yemen.
Complaint in Paris
At the same time of this presidential trip, a complaint was filed Friday in Paris with the constitution of civil party against the heir princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, in particular for financing of terrorism.
The plaintiffs, victims of the war in Yemen, accuse the two countries of having established a « alliance » with the jihadist group Al-Qaida, explained their lawyer Joseph Breham.
Saudi Arabia, an ally of the United States, has been intervening in Yemen since 2015 at the head of a military coalition in support of the government against the Houthi rebels, politically supported by Iran, enemy of Washington and regional rival of Riyadh. The Emirates withdrew their troops from Yemen in 2019 but remain a member of the coalition.