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PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron has determined to host the ruler of oil wealthy Saudi Arabia for dinner in Paris, days after lecturing African leaders for failing to face as much as tyranny on the planet.
On Thursday evening, Macron is welcoming Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also referred to as MBS, on the Elysée Palace for a working dinner. The invitation has sparked fierce criticism from all corners.
Some are questioning Macron’s hypocrisy in lending his political capital to assist rehabilitate the de facto Saudi ruler who acquired widespread condemnation following the homicide of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. The brutal killing contained in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul the place Saudi brokers used a bone noticed to dismember the physique despatched shockwaves by means of the worldwide group.
The crown prince’s French go to is a part of his first journey to Europe for the reason that killing — reportedly ordered by bin Salman himself.
“There isn’t any excuse for giving this man a cross and receiving him and rolling out the crimson carpet to him as if none of that is occurring,” stated Ahmed Benchemsi from NGO Human Rights Watch, referring to the continued human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia.
Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cenzig, informed AFP she was “outraged that Emmanuel Macron receives with all of the honors the executioner of my fiancé.”
For Macron, the gear-shift couldn’t be extra jarring. Throughout his four-day journey to Cameroon, Benin and Guinea Bissau, Macron lashed out in opposition to Russia’s “international hybrid struggle” which used info, vitality and meals as weapons, and lectured African leaders on “their hypocrisy” in refusing to take sides over the struggle in Ukraine.
“Russia is likely one of the final imperial colonial powers — it decides to invade a neighboring nation to defend its pursuits,” he stated Wednesday in Benin. Throughout the go to, Macron hoped to reset relations with French-speaking African nations and warn them in opposition to falling underneath Russian President Vladimir Putin’s despotic affect.
However again in Paris, Macron is ready to interrupt bread within the presidential palace with one of the crucial reviled leaders within the Center East, who has additionally come underneath intense criticism over the struggle in Yemen, the place he’s accused of utilizing hunger as a weapon of struggle.
The Élysée denied Macron was two-faced in his method to diplomacy. “It’s not being hypocritical, it’s about being environment friendly,” an Elysée official stated forward of the go to.
“The president desires to weigh in and be helpful, attempt to resolve the issues France and Europe faces and assist de-escalate [regional] crises … and the one approach of doing that’s to talk to everyone,” he stated.
Final December, Macron grew to become the primary Western chief to go to the crown prince, utilizing his stature to pave the way in which for bin Salman’s return to the worldwide fold. The struggle in Ukraine and the West’s scramble to safe different vitality sources have accelerated MBS’s return to the worldwide diplomatic order after years of efforts to isolate the crown prince.
U.S. President Joe Biden, who three years in the past vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “international pariah,” was photographed fist-bumping the crown prince throughout a go to to Jeddah final month. This week, bin Salman acquired a crimson carpet welcome throughout a go to to Greece, which concluded with the signing of a number of bilateral agreements.
Wallowing in oil
The dinner date on the Elysée has additionally provoked the fury of Macron’s vocal opposition, from each ends of the political spectrum.
“The federal government’s vitality coverage is driving us off a cliff and they’re able to do something to proceed to wallow in oil,” stated Sandrine Rousseau, a Inexperienced MP from the left-wing NUPES coalition, citing human rights violations, ladies’s therapy and Saudi Arabia’s struggle in Yemen.
Proper-wing opponents accused the president of being inconsistent and taking an ethical stance solely when it fits him.
“It proves that the one factor that issues is realpolitik… At the least we admit realpolitik is what we do, we don’t faux,” stated Jean-Philippe Tanguy, a lawmaker for Marine Le Pen’s far-right Nationwide Rally, mentioning sanctions in opposition to Russia for instance of what he referred to as Macron’s “ethical diplomacy.”
“So long as we’re led by [the current government] that makes use of morality to have an agenda that’s not ethical in any respect, we can be within the absurd state of affairs of claiming that Vladimir Putin is an authoritarian chief, which is true, and that the Saudi prince is our buddy,” stated Tanguy.
The assembly comes as Macron and different Western leaders are struggling to change into impartial of Moscow by securing vitality from different suppliers amid Russia’s struggle in Ukraine. However this hunt for vitality suppliers with clear information on points like human rights and local weather is proving unattainable as most of the world’s main oil-rich nations stay poor on these fronts.
Earlier this month, Macron hosted in Paris the president of the United Arab Emirates, with whom he signed a diesel provide settlement.
Diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia — the world’s high oil exporter — are key for Macron as he’s making an attempt to convey oil costs down, notably by placing stress on OPEC nations to extend oil manufacturing.
Earlier this month, bin Salman stated Saudi Arabia gained’t be capable of enhance its manufacturing capability past 13 million barrels per day by 2027, and warned in opposition to “unrealistic” environmental insurance policies which hurt fossil vitality.
Talks with Saudi Arabia are a part of broader efforts to search out different vitality suppliers that are placing Western nations — which frequently depict themselves as human rights defenders — between a rock and a tough place. Final week, European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen flew to Azerbaijan the place she secured a deal doubling gasoline provide to Europe and described the nation as “reliable.” The transfer was criticized by human proper teams and MEPs, who pointed to President Ilham Aliyev’s bribery scandals and human rights violations.
“Not elevating any of those points within the title of financial pursuits, that’s referred to as cynicism,” stated Benchemsi, from Human Rights Watch. “It’s dropping these values that Western governments, together with France, faux to defend.”