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    French-made Leclerc tanks of the Saudi-led coalition are deployed on the outskirts of the southern Yemeni port city of Aden on August 3, 2015, during a military operation against Shiite Huthi rebels and their allies

    Target Audience: Who is France Selling Military Equipment to?

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    Rights activists have accused Paris of exporting military equipment to countries that target civilians, according to the investigation website Mediapart.

    At the Second Conference of States Parties of the Arms Trade Treaty in Geneva, human rights activists accused Paris of exporting military hardware to countries that use it against civilians, the Russian edition of Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported, citing the investigation website Mediapart.

    RFI quoted Rob Perkins, an expert from the non-governmental organization Control Arms, as saying that they condemn the United States, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and other European countries for selling arms to nations which are part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

    According to Perkins, in 2015 Paris authorized the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia worth 16 billion euros, but "these rifles, armored personnel carriers and bombs kill civilians."

    He was echoed by Control Arms head Anna MacDonald, who said that arms exporters trading with Riyadh "show the worst signs of hypocrisy."

    Yemen has been engulfed in a military conflict between the government, headed by Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, and Houthi rebels, the country's main opposition force. The Houthis are backed by army units loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

    Leclerc tank
    © Photo : Wikipedia/Rama
    Leclerc tank

    Since March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition of mostly Persian Gulf countries has been carrying out airstrikes against the Houthis at Hadi's request, prompting Houthi rebels to retaliate when conducting attacks on Saudi border areas.

    At least 6,500 people have been killed and more than 30,000 others injured in the Yemen conflict in the past year, FRI reported.

    Aymeric Elluin, an arms and international law expert from Amnesty International, said in turn that the organization has been trying to attract the international community's attention to the events in Yemen for several months. It adds that the coalition should be brought to the International Criminal Court and charged with the crimes it committed in this Arab country. 

    According to him, the coalition often targets hospitals, schools, and mosques, using weapons purchased from France. For example, the United Arab Emirates use dozens of the French-made Leclerc tanks.

    The information was confirmed by Stephane Mayer, head of the defense company Nexter Systems, who said that the French tanks had astonished the military throughout the entire region.

    Meanwhile, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Kuwait earlier this month to sign a contract for the sale of 30 French helicopters worth more than one billion euros. In 2015, Qatar clinched a 6.3-billion-euro deal with Paris to buy 24 Rafale fighter jets.

    Aymeric Elluin, for his part, recalled that the Sherpa armored personnel carriers, were used in 2013 to disperse peaceful demonstrators.

    "Public opinion in France is not particularly responsive to these issues, because the authorities are doing a lot of PR. Every time the French President visits a foreign country he says he signed a major contract that will help create more jobs in France. In the defense sector, the MPs have long ceased to urge the President to report," Ellyuin said.

    In late 2014, more than 130 countries signed the UN-initiated Arms Trade Treaty, which aims to prevent illicit arms trafficking, as well as its sale to those who may commit war crimes or violate human rights.

    Under the document, each of the 80 countries that ratified the treaty are obliged to provide a detailed report on the situation with arms trafficking. However, almost one third of the countries havd not reported by the opening of the Second Conference, with Moldova and Slovakia refusing to reveal the information at all.

    Related:

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    Pentagon Withdraws Air Support to Saudi Forces in Yemen as Civilian Deaths Mount
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    arms, coalition, organization, civilians, military equipment, conference, Arms Trade Treaty, Yemen, Saudi Arabia
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