How France helps maintain Saudi navy as it blockades Yemen

By and Eva Thiébaud

A Mediapart investigation can reveal the extent to which the  publicly-owned French defence contractor Naval Group has been overseeing the renovation and modernisation of Saudi warships. This vital maintenance work has been taking place as the Saudi navy enforces a punishing blockade on Yemen as part of the ongoing conflict there. Meanwhile lawyers warn that any company that helps or supports the Arab coalition military effort in Yemen could potentially be seen as being complicit in possible war crimes. Eva Thiébaud and Thomas Clerget report.

Reading articles is for subscribers only. Subscribe now.

“I've been sent to Jeddah in recent years to work on the Saudi navy's frigates,” says Guillaume, an engineer who has spent several months in all in the country's main port city, on the shores of the Red Sea. “It's a strange life. You divide your time between a luxurious compound with a pool, traffic jams and working on the dockyard where you renovate warships.” Another technician, Quentin, has also worked on the site repairing French-made ships which were sold to the Saudi military years ago. “Many things in Saudi Arabia are quite shocking," he says. “Money flows … particularly to renovate these ships, which were in a deplorable state.”