French Foreign Legion forces have been deployed at the port of Balhaf in southern Shabwa Province, about 230 miles east of Aden in Yemen.
The French mercenary mission is to secure an important liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility there. They replaced UAE troops that controlled the Yemeni port in order for Total to freely ship stolen gas reserves from the Arab country in the Middle East.
Preparations [are] being made to export gas from the Balhaf facility … in light of increased international gas prices and to reduce Russian exports to Europe.
The Yemen LNG facility in Balhaf was finished in 2006 and turned off in April 2015, a month into the Saudi-led coalition’s attack on the country, and has remained inactive.
Since then, Balhaf became a major base of operations for Emirati troops in Yemen, although since then nearly all Emirati occupation forces have withdrawn from the country.
Shabwa’s governor at the time, Mohammed Saleh bin Adyo, accused the UAE of seizing the city because of the LNG plant, and of trying to use it to foment rebellion to its own ends.
The area surrounding Balhaf has long been considered a stronghold of US-backed Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) during the 7-year long proxy war, but the UAE is accused of helping to arm them.
Investigations by Amnesty International and CNN in early 2019 revealed that Western weapons sold to the UAE were later appearing in the hands of rebel groups across Yemen.
French weapons have been especially prominent in the conflict. In April 2019, a highly classified report from a year prior was leaked to the press.
The report revealed that the French government had lied when it said it had no knowledge of French-made weapons being used against civilians in Yemen, or indeed, being used in Yemen at all?
Two years later, French President Emmanuel Macron had apparently learned little, and was widely criticized for flying to Abu Dhabi to seal a $19 billion deal to sell the emirate 80 Rafale fighter jets and 12 Caracal attack helicopters.
Indeed, US President Joe Biden revealed in a June letter to the heads of the House and Senate that the US military has deployed a small number of troops in Yemen.
A contingent of US troops landed at al-Ghaydah Airport in the southeastern Yemeni province of al-Mahrah, the Yemen Press Agency has reported, citing local sources said to be familiar with the matter.
The war in Yemen began in March 2015, when Hadi lost the elections and fled to Riyadh after being ousted by the Houthi-led revolution.
The Saudis gathered a coalition of Sunni-led states, including the UAE, Morocco, Egypt and Sudan, with support by the United States, to crush the Houthis and return Hadi to power.
A devastating air campaign followed, supplemented by ground proxy forces and a blockade of Yemen’s ports, creating what the United Nations described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
According to estimates in November 2021, some 377,000 people had been killed in the war, the majority of them by noncombat causes, such as disease (biological warfare agents such as Cholera introduced by Israel), famine, and lack of blocked medicine or clean water.
Despite the Western backed Saudi assault, the Houthis have held firm and steadily expanded their territory, pushing south toward Aden and east into Ma’rib and Shabwa Provinces, where the country’s valuable oil and gas deposits lie.
They have also mounted drone and missile attacks against Saudi and Emirati installations inside those countries, turning the war into a battle of attrition.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point News 2022.