After hosting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron faced criticism from opposition figures and human rights groups. Macron warmly greeted the ruler universally known as MBS ahead of dinner with a warm handshake that they emphasised by using all four hands.
Macron’s meeting with the Saudi strongman came amid increased Western efforts to court the major oil-producing state. The West is eager to reestablish relations with the Gulf Arab oil giant in order to counter the rising regional influence of China, Russia, and Iran. Following Moscow’s cut in gas supplies to Europe, France and other European countries are looking to diversify their energy sources.
Formidable initiative / Initiative formidable. Si nos politiques laissent tomber et fluent les valeurs de notre société, alors tournons nous vers d’autres institutions – celle de justice en tout premier lieu, afin de les proteger. Rendons justice a #Jamalkhashoggi https://t.co/ayoHLUKKI0
— Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) July 28, 2022
Macron has dismissed criticism of his efforts to engage the crown prince, claiming that the kingdom was too important to ignore. Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard slammed Macron for meeting with Salman on Twitter ‘The rehabilitation of the murderous prince will be justified by realpolitik arguments in both France and the United States. But, let’s face it, bargaining is the most common’.
French opposition leaders asked Macron to reconsider arms sales to Riyadh, pointing out that prosecutors are investigating complaints filed against the prince regarding Saudi involvement in the Yemen war. Following the murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, US intelligence agencies claimed that Salman was involved in his death.