51 deputies signed an open letter asking the Quai d’Orsay to put pressure on Abu Dhabi to stop using a Total site in Yemen as a military base, and possibly a prison where torture would be practiced. EWL deputy François-Michel Lambert, one of the signatories, returns to the case at the microphone of Sputnik.
A gas liquefaction site in which the French company Total is the main shareholder with 40% is used by a foreign country in Yemen, according to 51 French MPs in an open letter to Jean-Yves Le Drian. This is the site whose construction was supported by the French state with a credit guarantee of 216 million euros. The parliamentarians claim that the site houses a military base and a secret prison attributed to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The plant’s activity was frozen at the beginning of the war, in 2015. The facility previously accounted for up to 45% of Yemen’s tax revenues and also brought significant revenue to Total.
Foreign Affairs asked to react
One of the deputies who signed the letter, François-Michel Lambert, co-president of the Liberté Écologie Fraternité (LEF) party, did not hide his concern and told the Press:
“It is clear that we cannot close our eyes to French responsibilities in this matter. France has relations with this part of the world in a role-playing game where things are not necessarily the clearest”.
Beyond even the humanitarian considerations which, according to him, should already be of concern in this affair, there is above all a question of management of public money which it is essential to clarify.
“In our role as parliamentarians, we are there to control government action and the management of public funds. In this case, there are 216 million euros of public money that have been mobilized to support the project”, explains François-Michel Lambert.
“I don’t think the French are happy that more than a fifth of a billion euros of public money is being used to make a prison occupied by foreign forces in the country where the site is located and where it is believed there is torture,” he said.
“In this particular case, the taxpayer’s money is not used for France: it does not indirectly serve the interests of France through the economic performance of Total. Nor is it used in a co-development process as is done in other countries.
The signatory of the letter believes that France could have made better use of these 216 million euros instead of letting them serve the interests of a foreign power.
“It is one thirtieth of the budget of the Hospital Plan. This is money that was not put into hospitals and is being swallowed up in a project that is no longer the original project and is becoming a prison. Denouncing this is our role as parliamentarians,” the elected representative protested.
François-Michel Lambert therefore hopes that France will hold its ground on the question of the profitability of the money injected, as well as on the humanitarian aspect which also worries the signatories of this open letter.
“We hope that French diplomacy will put pressure on the United Arab Emirates to restore the rule of law. The site is on Yemeni territory, it is owned by Total, which is the main shareholder up to 40%, and it is occupied by a foreign force, which France is also helping. It is probably occupied with the direct or indirect help of French military means. We are in a particularly paradoxical situation and I would say, if there were no human dramas, that it is ubuesque”, insists our interlocutor. (SN)
by Basit Abbasi