On November 12th, 2018, Jean-Yves Le Drian insisted on French television that he was not aware of evidence supplied by Turkey regarding the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi killers. Yet no fewer than seven French diplomats and intelligence agents have contradicted this claim by France's foreign minister. Thomas Cantaloube, Lucie Delaporte, René Backmann, Nicolas Cheviron, Matthieu Suc and Rachida El Azzouzi investigate.
by Thomas Cantaloube, Lucie Delaporte, René Backmann, Nicolas Cheviron, Matthieu Suc and Rachida El Azzouzi
French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking on Friday during a visit to Armenia, said he was still waiting for more facts about the fate of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared after entering Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul earlier this month, before deciding on France's response.
While French President Emmanuel Macron visits Armenia is attending a summit of the world's French-speaking countries, grouped together under the 'Francophonie' cultural umbrella, Saudi Arabia, under the spotlight for human rights abuses, has withdrawn it application to join the club.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman concluded a three-day official vist to France on Tuesday, when a series of draft deals were signed with French companies for petro-chemical, agriciultural, waste treatment, healthcare, tourism and cultural projects worth a total of 14.58 billion euros, which are expected to be finalised during a visit to the Saudi kingdom later this year by President Emmanuel Macron.
The ultra-wealthy Saudi prince Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal, the owner of the George-V hotel in Paris, remains in detention in Riyad, one of a number of prominent people in the regime who faces claims of corruption. Prince Al-Waleed is an important figure in France and not just because he owns a prestigious hotel here. The billionaire is a key player in a partnership between the French public sector financial institution the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC) and a Saudi investment fund. One of his advisers was also a supporter of President Emmanuel Macron's En Marche! party. As Karl Laske reports, this helps explain why the Élysée is keeping a close eye on what happens to the Saudi prince.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) last Friday announced a ban on all women and girls travelling with Tunisian passports to the Gulf state on its national airline Emirates and sister carrier Etihad, citing fears of a terrorist attack. While the ban was lifted after just hours, following outrage in Tunisia and from passengers stranded worldwide, the Tunisian government responded at the weekend with a ban of all UAE flights to and from Tunis. But the events are far from an anecdotal spat, for behind the row is the far deeper conflict of a power battle in the Middle East. Lilia Blaise reports.
A degree of mystery continues to surround what appears to have been a forced sojourn of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Saudi Arabia last month, to the backdrop of heightened tensions in the Middle East centred on the Saudi kingdom’s rivalry with Iran. French President Emmanuel Macron played what Hariri has called a “historic” role that secured his departure from Riyadh, but the financial difficulties of the Lebanese politician’s extensive business interests may also be part of the complex plot leading up to the November events. Karl Laske reports.
Lebanese prime minister Saad al-Hariri, whose prolonged stay in Saudi Arabia since announcing his resignation on November 3rd was described as a hostage-taking by the Lebanese president, is expected to fly to France after intense diplomatic negotiations between Paris and Riyadh.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday said Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri must be 'freely' allowed to leave Saudi Arabia, where he has been staying in mysterious circumstances since announcing from there earlier this month that he was stepping down from his post, so that he can 'clarify his situation in accordance with the Lebanese constitution'.