Visit of the Saudi prince to France: radio silence at the Elysée

Visit of the Saudi prince to France: radio silence at the Elysée

Many media are reporting on the visit of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday (July 28) to Paris for a dinner with the President of the French Republic. The Élysée remains silent.

[Mise à jour : l’Elysée a communiqué sur la tenue d’un dîner de travail entre Emmanuel Macron et Mohammed Ben Salmane quelques heures après la publication de cet article.]

The meeting between the two heads of state does not appear on the official agenda of President Emmanuel Macron. The Saudi Foreign Ministry, in a statement, said Mr. bin Salman would meet the French president “ to discuss bilateral relations and ways to strengthen them in various fields, and discuss issues of common interest “.

The crown prince had become persona non grata since the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Mr. Khashoggi, a fervent critic of Mohammed bin Salman, had been assassinated and dismembered in the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Turkey by a Saudi commando. A report from the US Intelligence Directorate, published in 2021, confirmed that the prince himself approved the assault on the journalist.

Mohammed ben Salman the infrequent

In a Twitter thread, Agnès Callamard, secretary general of the NGO Amnesty International, castigated a ” Prince of Shame, a murderous prince, an almost-king who represses and assassinates “.

She highlights the arbitrary detentions of journalists and human rights defenders, and adds: “The rehabilitation of the murderous Prince will be justified in France as in the United States by arguments of realpolitik. Against soaring oil prices, record inflation, results of the Russian invasion of Ukraine – what can our human rights arguments do? »

Saudi Arabia also remains the leading buyer of French arms, according to a count by university media The Conversationdated January 2022.

In June, the associations Sherpa, Mwatana for Human Rights and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) filed a complaint before the Paris Court of Justice against the French arms companies Dassault Aviation, Thalès Group and MBDA France.

In question, their possible complicity in alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Yemen, which may have been committed as a result of their arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates “.

Crossing the Rubicon

With the war in Ukraine, the price of a barrel of oil has soared and the European Union has been trying since February to convince the member countries of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Saudi Arabia is a major player and is the world’s third largest oil exporter.

As of December 2021, Emmanuel Macron had crossed the Rubicon by becoming the first Western leader to meet Mohammed bin Salman since 2018. Joe Biden also spoke with the crown prince during a diplomatic trip to the Middle East.

The arrival of the inheriting prince in Paris, not confirmed by the French authorities, must take place in the wake of his state visit to Greece, where the installation of an electric cable linking the two countries has been announced. The visit is the Saudi leader’s first to a European country since 2018.

A data transfer cable project was also discussed, known as ” East to Med data Corridor », making Greece a regional digital hub between Europe and Asia.

Emmanuel Macron had, in the same vein, welcomed the Emirati President Mohammed ben Zayed during a state visit on July 18 and 19. If the Élysée had underlined the importance of strengthening ties in security and defense“, associations had denounced the actions of the Emirati regime against civilian populations in Yemen and Libya in particular.

No agenda has been released for the dinner between the French and Saudi leaders. If the question of oil production will probably be raised, the vagueness remains total.


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