Literally Standing at a Weapons Show in Paris, France's Macron Says Questions About Arms Sales to Saudis Are Off Topic

Sounding much more like U.S. President Donald Trump than German Chancellor Angela Merkel in terms of holding the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) even slightly to account for the recent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi or the ongoing carnage in Yemen, French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday refused to answer questions about his country’s pending arms deals with the Saudis and told reporters to get used to it.

“This has nothing to do with what we’re talking about. Nothing. So I won’t answer that question. I’m sorry but as long as I’ll be in office this is how it will be, whether people like it or not,” he told reporters in Paris while—notably—attending a naval weapons show.

Described as “visibly irritated” by Reuters, Macron was asked a followup question about the Khashoggi affair by another journalist, but only said: “It’s not because one leader says something that I must react to it every time. So I won’t answer that.”

Russian journalist Angel Petrov, summed up the situation this way in a tweet: “#Macron evades a question on Saudi arms sales. #Spain’s congress refuses to block weapons deals with Riyadh. #Germany’s acting otherwise for obvious reason. Short of judging anyone (one should, though), Europe’s inability to act with one voice is once again on display. #Khashoggi.”

Like the leader of other nations who have consistently supplied KSA with weapons and military support, Macron has defended the ongoing arms sales despite global outcry about the Saudi’s human right abuses and their ongoing assualt on Yemen.

As Reuters notes:

Macron has sought to play down the importance of trade relations with Riyadh, saying that Saudi Arabia was not a major client of France. 

However, from 2008-17 it was the second-biggest purchaser of French arms, with deals totaling more than 11 billion euros ($12.6 billion) for tanks, armored vehicles, munitions, artillery.

And so who else is arming the Saudi military?

While Macron made be committed to his position and not interested in answering questions about it, a poll earlier this year showed that full 75 percent of the French people supported suspending weapons sales to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as they continued their assault on neighboring Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East.

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