The French president Emmanuel Macron and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohamed bin Salman, meet tonight in Paris for a “working dinner” that has been denounced as An operation to launder the monarch, accused of being behind the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
MBS's visit to the French capital is the second stop on a small European tour that began with a meeting with the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. That tour is part of an “international rehabilitation” just four years after the reporter's execution scandal led the West to promise to make Riyadh a pariah.
Macron did not want to miss Bin Salmán's return to Europe and has organized a meeting at 6:30 p.m. at his official residence, the Elysée Palace, in which issues such as the supply of energy and control of the nuclear program of Iran, the biggest regional rival of the Saudis. Macron's team has assured that the president would ask him about his involvement in Khashoggi's death and that he would show his concern about the systematic violation of Human Rights > in Saudi Arabia.
The Crown Prince, Mohamed Bin Salman, talks with the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis
This visit comes less than two weeks after US President Joe Biden's trip to Saudi Arabia, which The turn on the international scene of MBS, in the midst of the war in Ukraine and in the face of the increase in energy prices. “I am deeply concerned about this visit because of what what it means for the world and for Jamal (Khashoggi) and people like him,” he said. To AFP Agnes Callamard, secretary general of Amnesty International (AI),which describes Bin Salmán as a man “who does not tolerate dissidence”. An investigation by the UN the journalist's death as an “extrajudicial killing for which Saudi Arabia is responsible”. US intelligence claimed that Bin Salman “approved” The operation against Khashoggi, but Riyadh denies it.
Both the French opposition and civil organizations have denounced that Macron has met with the Saudi monarch. Reporters Without Borders(RSF) has reminded the French president that, in addition to being behind this execution, his guest “has detained at least 27 journalists”. Paris has defended itself against criticism. “If we want to face the consequences of the energy and food crisis and if we want to have a weight in the region, the only way to do it is to talk to the main actors”, they have pointed out from the Elíseo.
Double measuring stick
The Khashoggi assassination provoked a This sparked global outrage not only at the removal of a major dissident from the Saudi regime, but also at the manner in which it was brought to an end. with him. Khashoggi was strangled and dismemberedwith a saw on October 2, 2018 at the Saudi consulate. “Mohamed bin Salman's visit to France, or Joe Biden's visit to Saudi Arabia, does not change the fact that he is a murderer,” he said. Callamard, who at the time of the murder was the UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial crimes, when she began the investigation. the investigation.
That it is received by world leaders “is even more shocking, if possible, since many of them expressed their condemnation (of the assassination) and committed themselves not to integrate MBS into the international community“, denounces Callamard, who speaks of a “double standard”.
Despite the history of Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses, many western powers see in Riyadh a fundamental partner for energy issues, defense, and for its firm opposition to the ré Theocratic regime of Iran. Callamard expressed his concern that “values would disappear due to the increase in the price of oil”.
The French president s already met He met Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia in December 2021, a visit that created controversy. In addition, in the last few days Macron has also received in Paris two leaders allied with Saudi Arabia, the Egyptian Abdul Fatah al-Sisi and Mohamed bin Zayed, from the United Arab Emirates. to human rights activists, but Macron traveled next to Guinea Bisau, Cameroon and Benin, three countries in Africa that are not seen as exemplary democracies.“The war in Ukraine has put the energy-producing countries back in the center of the game, and they are taking advantage of it,” he said. Camille Lons, researcher at the British International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). “This gives them political clout which they use to reassert their importance on the international stage,” he added.
Khashoggi's fiancée shocked
Hatice Cengiz, the sentimental partner of Jamal Khashoggi, an American journalist assassinated in 2018 in the Saudi consulate. In Istanbul, she said she was “shocked” and “outraged” by the visit of Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohamed bin Salman, to France for a “working dinner” with French President Emmanuel Macron. .
Khashoggi, a columnist for the newspaper 'The Washington Post', attended on October 2, 2018 to the Saudi consulate. in Istanbul to pick up some papers so he can marry his fiancée. However, he was never heard from again, his remains have not been found and the Turkish and Western intelligence services suggest that the order to kill him could only come from the highest echelons of the Saudi kingdom. ;.
“I am shocked and outraged that my fiancé's executioner is received with great fanfare at the Elysee. It's a shame!” She said on her official Twitter profile, referring to the arrival of Bin Salman to Paris this Thursday.
Due to said visit, the human rights organization Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), together with the Open Social Justice Initiative (OSJI) ) and the NGO TRIAL Internacional, have filed a criminal complaint in France against Bin Salmán.
Specifically, the text, presented this Thursday in the French courts by DAWN, an organization created by Khashoggi himself in June 2018, contemplates in its 42 pages that the Saudi crown prince he is an “accomplice in the torture and forced disappearance” of the journalist, which implies “crimes subject to internal prosecution” in France.
Thus, the complaint argues that Bin Salmán does not have immunity from prosecution because, as crown prince, he is not head of state. “French authorities should immediately open a criminal investigation against bin Salman for his role in Khashoggi's gruesome murder,” said DAWN Executive Director Sarah Leah Whitson.
In fact, the Saudi crown prince He also faces a civil lawsuit for Khashoggi's murder in the United States filed by the journalist's fiancée, as she has reported in a statement from the organization.
“Great initiative. Tremendous initiative. If our policies drop and fluidize the values of our society, then let us resort to other institutions: those of justice in the first place, to protect them. Let us do justice to Yamal Khashoggi”, has valued the outstanding human rights expert and UN rapporteur Agnes Callamard.
On the other hand, according to the newspaper 'The Washington Post', French officials have defended the dinner scheduled for this Thursday in Paris and have reported that Macron plans to discuss the murder of Khashoggi and concerns about Human Rights in Saudi Arabia.
Given the current crisis due to rising prices, a situation aggravated by the war in Ukraine, a French official, on condition of anonymity, has stressed to the chain The French BFM announced this Thursday that France “must talk to the oil-producing countries.” This Thursday night after the crown prince met on Tuesday with the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in the Greek capital, Athens, to promote bilateral cooperation in the framework of the first stop of his European tour.
Furthermore, these contacts on European soil took place after the meeting of the Saudi crown prince and his wife. with the president of the United States, Joe Biden, in the framework of his tour of the Middle East in mid-July, in which he reiterated his innocence in the case of the murder of the journalist.