Israel-UAE Opens Nazi-type Concentration Camp in Yemen


Over the past few years, the United Arab Emirates has been pursuing a plethora of agendas in Southern Yemen, whether directly or via backing the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC). 

Among Abu Dhabi’s primary objectives in Yemen are taking control of the country’s western Red Sea coast; the Bab-el-Mandeb, a strait located between Yemen, Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa, and Socotra, an archipelago near major shipping routes.

But this hegemonic ambition has never been just limited to taking strategic locations.

The story of Balhaf is a case in point; a major oil facility in Shabwah Governorate turned by the Emiratis into a detention center, among other things.

The existence of the Balhaf prison was first announced by the United Nations in September 2019.

Two months later, Armaments Observatory released a detailed report about the facility which the Emiratis had turned into a military base and a secret prison.

Balhaf: A dirty game

Over the past few years, the United Arab Emirates has been pursuing a plethora of agendas in Southern Yemen, whether directly or via backing the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC).

But what made the story strange was the silence of France since the revelation. Given that Total SE, a French multinational oil and gas company, was the biggest shareholder with nearly 40% of stake, critics say the silence is significant.

The fact that they’ve taken over a gas plant essential for the country’s energy supply, and for its economy, and turned it into a detention camp where torture is being reportedly carried on is just an indication of the brutality of this occupation force in Yemen.

Gearoid O’ Colmain, Journalist & Political Commentator

Based on witness accounts, the report also accused Emirati soldiers of treating prisoners inhumanely. The UAE had already been accused of running a secret network of prisons across Yemen.

But I think having prisons in other countries, particularly in Yemen, it’s difficult to tell what’s happening in Yemen because there’s a war. So, I mean, it’s much easier to hide political prisoners, torture. It’s much more difficult for human rights agencies to tell what exactly is happening. And it’s much easier for the authorities and the occupation forces to deny that that these abuses are taking place. So I think having a detention centre in Yemen is advantageous for the United Arab Emirates in that sense. Remember that the United Arab Emirates, is a country that presents an image of itself as a modernising country; it’s highly invested in technology. And, you know, Dubai is a major city in the world, major modern city, so it would not work to have this kind of brutality on its own shores.

Gearoid O’ Colmain, Journalist & Political Commentator

But what made the story strange was the awkward silence of France since the revelation.

Total SE has 40% stake in Balhaf

Given that Total SE, a French multinational oil and gas company, was the biggest shareholder with a nearly 40% stake, critics said the silence was significant.

The French parliament has called on Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to answer questions about the alleged existence of a UAE-built military base and detention center in the vicinity of Balhaf.

French lawmaker Clementine Autain has accused Emmanuel Macron’s government of covering up crimes committed by the UAE at Balhaf.

The UAE has gradually become a crucial partner for France.

“Despite their small size and low profile, the Emiratis play a key role in France’s international strategy.” 

French Historian, Sébastien Nadot

UAE worth enough for France to ignore atrocities

A rich federation with a big appetite for arms purchase, the UAE is worth enough for the French to look the other way when the Emiratis are violating human rights at Balhaf, or anywhere else.

In fact, France’s silence could be explained by its lucrative partnership with Abu Dhabi, especially in military cooperation and arms purchases.

(The) United Arab Emirates, of course, have been relying on French technology. They have the tanks, the current tanks and Mirage planes which they’ve been supplied with by the French. The French, continue to maintain those, those military technologies that they’re using that that equipment that they’re using. And of course that is a key to their to the, to the war because the equipment, most of it has been bought in the West, in particular in France. And so the French are heavily involved in this whole scenario here, where essentially the country’s energy supply is … is now being used as a torture and a prison centre.

Gearoid O’ Colmain, Journalist & Political Commentator

Despite public outrage, arms deals have been getting bigger over the past decade between Paris and Abu Dhabi, according to the 2020 report to parliament on arms exports.

“What we fear today is that these arms could be used to commit those violations and potentially war crimes. We call today through this legal study, for the opening of a real debate, and equally an immediate suspension of the sale of arms from France to those two countries engaged in war in Yemen.”

Aymeric Elluin, Amnesty International

The first French multi-service military base in the Middle East is located in Abu Dhabi “housing around 700 military personnel, the base includes an air base, a naval base capable of receiving a French aircraft carrier, and an army base.”

Well, since 2010 under Nicolas Sarkozy, President Sarkozy, the French have upped their investment in other countries, in particular, the United Arab Emirates. They even have a military base in the United Arab Emirates, so they have been very much involved in supplying and modernising the United Arab Emirates, technology, their military technology. And so that is the main reason that means that that partnership is quite extensive and quite deep. They’ve even allowed the United Arab Emirates to have major exports paintings, for example,  have been exported temporarily to the United Arab Emirates, in exchange for, you know, continued military contracts, so these military contracts are extremely important for France. I already mentioned Mirage planes, Leclerc tanks and many more, much more technology. This is a multibillion dollar industry.

Gearoid O’ Colmain, Journalist & Political Commentator

French presence in UAE is strategic for Paris

According to Emma Soubrier, Arab Gulf States Institute, “For France, a presence in the UAE is strategic and will allow easy intervention to prevent possible disturbances affecting access to (Persian) Gulf oil.”

Two-thirds of Yemenis lack access to safe water: Red Cross

The International Committee of the Red Cross in Yemen says the Saudi-led coalition’s aggression against the Arab country has deprived two-thirds of Yemenis of access to potable water and basic health services.

Abu Dhabi is visibly formulating a regional strategy of influence with a focus on the creation of commercial and military port facilities stretching from the Horn of Africa to the Mediterranean.

 “In general, Paris does not want to strike any false note that might spoil its intimate friendship with Abu Dhabi, believing that this symbiotic relationship will in the years to come always lead to success.”

Jalel Harchaoui, Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime

Given the military background of Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed, the French have little, if any doubt, that the UAE will continue signing big arms deals with them.

The idea that France supports human rights, that it has concerns over rights, is really a myth. The Human Rights discourse is really part of the foreign policy agenda of the French. It’s about presenting a positive image of France as a moral order, as a moral power, when in reality they have never been interested in human rights, the main interest is in Power Projection and economic exchange and exploitation, in particular, of developing countries, and the Gulf, the Gulf states allied with Israel and the West, are key to that objective.

Gearoid O’ Colmain, Journalist & Political Commentator

Balhaf mirrors the inhumanity of the Emiratis

Located on the Gulf of Aden coast in the southern part of Yemen, Balhaf mirrors the inhumanity of the Emiratis who have turned Yemen’s major source of income into a secret, macabre prison and the greed of the French who seem to have preferred petrodollars to anything else in the world.

Military base, checkpoints and secret prison: a report points to the “militarization” of Total’s infrastructure in Yemen

 by Observatoire des armaments

Paris, Thursday, November 7, 2019 – A report published today by the Armaments Observatory and SumOfUs, in collaboration with Friends of the Earth, traces the militarization of Total’s activities in Yemen since the 1980s. Open sources and testimonies collected report the configuration of Balhaf, the gas liquefaction site operated by Total, as a military base (since 2009) and a secret prison (in 2017 and 2018). The report also questions the role of the French government, an actor in the militarization of the site, and guaranteed the multinational’s gas project.

Despite the mobilization of NGOs and the work of the media, the government continues to deliver arms to the Arab Coalition engaged in Yemen. After the failure of the Nadot resolution, the parliamentary groups refrain from playing their drawing rights to launch a Commission of Inquiry. The Armaments Observatory and SumOfUs, an international NGO that acts as a citizen counter-power to multinationals, therefore sought to know whether Total’s presence in Yemen could partly explain this political blockage. In collaboration with Friends of the Earth on the financing and climate impacts part, they carried out investigative work to trace Total’s control over Yemen’s hydrocarbon resources, supported by successive French governments.

The report shows the interweaving between the military strategy of the French State and Total’s energy policy in Yemen since the 1980s and more recently in East Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, etc.). The positions of the company, which crystallize in areas in conflict, are always supported by the establishment of a militarized infrastructure (gas site looking like a military base, checkpoints, etc.) and the military policy of the French State ( training of special forces and Yemeni coast guards, intervention of private military companies, investment by the navy of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean…). According to the authors of the report, this “militarization” will go as far as hosting a militia (from 2016) and a secret prison (from 2017).

The existence of a military base and a prison in the town of Balhaf has already been mentioned by other reports; this confirms their presence on the site managed by Total and provides detailed evidence for the first time. He also questions France’s dependence on hydrocarbons and its implications for foreign policy.

According to the authors, the Yemen LNG site is partly in the hands of the United Arab Emirates, accused of war crimes by the UN. The report is based on several testimonies of arbitrary detentions and inhuman and degrading treatment – such as torture and deprivation of care – committed by Emirati soldiers. Several elements also show that the French government should logically be aware of what was happening on the Total site between 2017 and 2018.

“  These new revelations should push French parliamentarians to take responsibility. While French policy in Yemen is carried out in the name of the war on terrorism, under the military cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates, our revelations show that there is an urgent need to launch a parliamentary commission of inquiry to shed light on the involvement of France and French companies in the war in Yemen. According to a YouGov poll conducted for SumOfUs in March 2019, 7 out of 10 French people are in favor of strengthening the role of Parliament with regard to arms sales,  ”adds Eoin Dubsky, campaign manager at SumOfUs.

“  It is fundamental to put in place real parliamentary control of defense policy, in particular the strategic partnerships established with countries such as the United Arab Emirates. This could be the function of a permanent parliamentary committee, which would regularly examine France’s military cooperation agreements and report on them,  ”declared Tony Fortin, research officer at the Armaments Observatory.

The report also reveals that the French state is now financially exposed if the gas liquefaction site is not restarted because it has granted a public export guarantee for the construction of Yemen LNG. ”  We find ourselves in an ubiquitous situation where it is public money that could pay off part of Total’s debts with the banks for a gas project transformed into a military base, with the complicity of the State »Comments Cécile Marchand, climate campaigner and public actors at Friends of the Earth. France’s export aid is currently being discussed in the National Assembly as part of the 2020 finance bill. The authors of the report ask the deputies to seize this opportunity to put an end to the public guarantees granted to the oil and gas industry.

If you would like to receive a hard copy of the report, send us a check for 10 euros (payable to the Observatoire des armements, 187 Montée de Choulans, 69005 Lyon) with your contact details and we will send it to you by post. …

Operation Shabwa: France and Total at war in Yemen?
1983-2007 • The exploration and the lookout
2007-2019 • The conquest and the grip
Who will have the courage to launch a commission of inquiry?

Jean-Claude Mallet, from the highest ministerial spheres… to Total
How are arms sales controlled?
An explosion in French arms sales in the Middle East since 2014
Gas, a transitional energy?
French financial support for Yemen LNG
How to act?


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