Saudi Arabia

France opens terrorism probe into Saudi Arabia Dakar Rally blast

France — Link

An explosion damaged a support vehicle for the Sodicars Racing team as it left a hotel in Jeddah last Thursday and the driver, Philippe Boutron, suffered serious leg injuries.

When French PM’s communications chief served Saudi interests

France — Investigation

Mayada Boulos, communications advisor to French Prime Minister Jean Castex, was in charge of a PR campaign to promote Saudi Arabian interests during her previous job with advertising and public relations group Havas. The campaign was on behalf of a foundation created and chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the kingdom who a US intelligence report released last week said had approved the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Antton Rouget reports.

Attack on ceremony at France's Saudi consulate wounds at least 3

International — Link

An improvised explosive device struck the Remembrance Day ceremony, attended by representatives of France, Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, the French embassy in Saudi Arabia said.

The historic significance of the Karachi Affair trial verdict

France — Analysis

On Monday June 15th 2020 a Paris court handed prison sentences to six men found guilty of organising a vast political funding scam involving kickbacks on French weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in what has become known as the 'Karachi Affair'. It was the first time in France that a criminal court has established that a presidential election campaign – in this case involving Édouard Balladur in 1995 – was funded by kickbacks from state arms deals. It is, says Mediapart's Fabrice Arfi, an object lesson in the weaknesses of a democracy in the face of corruption.

Former French minister and LVMH exec among six found guilty of political funding scam


A Paris court has handed prison sentences to six men found guilty of organising a vast political funding scam involving kickbacks on French weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The kickbacks, secretly transferred in cash sums, were to finance former French prime minister Édouard Balladur’s 1995 presidential election campaign. The men, who were on Monday given jail terms of between three and five years, include former minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres and Nicolas Bazire, a senior executive at luxury goods group LVMH. The verdicts end the financial chapter of what has become known as the “Karachi Affair”, an ongoing judicial saga that centres on the murders of 11 French naval engineers in Pakistan in 2002. Karl Laske and Fabrice Arfi report on the conclusions of the sentencing magistrates.  

Art for sale: how Saudi Arabia is buying French culture

International — Investigation

Saudi Arabia has forged a major partnership with France to develop the huge site of Al Ula in the north-west of the country, an ancient area which is set to become a major tourist and cultural attraction. An exhibition about Al Ula is running at the Arab World Institute in Paris until March 8th. As Antoine Pecqueur reports, culture is becoming a geopolitical Trojan Horse for the Saudi Kingdom as it seeks to boost its international standing, with France as one of its key partners. Meanwhile French businesses are queuing up to get involved.

The Paris-Dakar car rally gets lost in the sands of Saudi propaganda

International — Opinion

The Paris-Dakar Rally, often now known simply as the Dakar Rally or Dakar, has been held most years since 1979, and this rally through desert sands is one of the most high-profile motor sports events on the planet. The 2020 rally, which began on Sunday January 5th, is taking place for the first time in Saudi Arabia. Mediapart's Middle East correspondent René Backmann argues in this opinion article that underneath the media din and razzmatazz, the event is nothing more than a PR exercise by the Saudi regime to persuade people to forget its despotic, fundamentalist and brutal nature, as well as the scale of its crimes.

France's shameful silence over Khashoggi murder trial verdicts

International — Opinion

The trial in Saudi Arabia of 11 men accused of murdering journalist Jamal Khashoggi in November 2018 ended on December 23rd with the death sentence pronounced against five of the defendants. “These verdicts are the antithesis of justice: the hit men are sentenced to death, potentially permanently silencing key witnesses, but the apparent masterminds walk free,” said UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Agnès Callamard. In this opinion article, Mediapart Middle East specialist René Backmann denounces the lack of reaction to the verdicts from France, which the very same day loaded three armed vessels, the first in a deal for 39, onto a freighter bound for Saudi Arabia.

The French-made warships blockading Yemen's starving population

International — Investigation

Video evidence that warships sold by France to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have played an active role in the maritime blockade of Yemen, contributing to the starvation of millions of civilians in what the UN has described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, has emerged in an investigation partnered by Mediapart. Meanwhile, a UN report earlier this month warned that the legality of arms exports to belligerents in the conflict in Yemen by countries including France, Britain and the US “remains questionable”, and that “states may be held responsible for providing aid or assistance for the commission of international law violations”. Antton Rouget and Yann Philippin report.

Interview: UN investigator details evidence in Khashoggi murder, calls for probe into Saudi ruler

International — Interview

In a 100-page report published last week on her investigation into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Agnès Callamard, concluded that “Mr Khashoggi has been the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law”, and recommended that Saudi Arabia’s ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, should be investigated for his responsibility in the crime. In this interview with Mediapart, she details her investigation and its findings, and and calls on states to take a "serious" stand on press freedom.

Crackdown on journalists over exposé of French arms used in Yemen


Two journalists from the French online collective Disclose, dedicated to investigative reporting, have been summoned for questioning this month by France’s internal intelligence agency, the DGSI, following their revelations of the massive use of French-made weapons in the devastating war in Yemen. Together with a journalist from state broadcaster Radio France, they are officially suspected of “compromising national defence secrecy”, an offence that can carry a five-year jail term. In reality, the journalists exercised their professional duty to inform the public of a confidential military report that demonstrates how the government has concealed the truth of the deployment of French-made arms in Yemen by a Saudi-led coalition accused of war crimes.

Yemen: the war of starvation

International — Investigation

Weapons sold by France to the Saudi-led coalition offensive against the Houthi rebellion in Yemen are being used to starve millions of the country’s population, a strategy the United Nations has described as a method of warfare that “may constitute a war crime”.

Yemen: the secret French arms shipments

International — Investigation

Amid the ongoing war in Yemen, France continued to supply weapons to, and also signed new contracts with, Saudi Arabia, all of it behind a veil of secrecy.

The war in Yemen: France's hidden role in a vast humanitarian tragedy

International — Investigation

An unprecedented leak of secret documents from France’s military intelligence agency, the DRM, has revealed the massive use of French-made weapons, like those also of the US, the UK and Germany, in the ongoing civil war in Yemen. The contents of the leaked documents are detailed here in three exclusive reports published simultaneously by Mediapart and its partner Disclose, a newly founded independent, not-for-profit online magazine of investigative journalism, which reports how these weapons have been used against the civilian population in a war that has wreaked what the United Nations describe as “one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world”.

How France helps maintain Saudi navy as it blockades Yemen

International — Investigation

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.