A former Yemeni foreign minister said that France is preparing to secure the Balhaf facility in Yemen’s unstable Shabwa province for the export of gas.
France could be gearing up to help protect a gas facility in Yemen to allow for exports in a bid to cut Europe’s reliance on Russia, according to an ex-Yemeni foreign minister.
Abubaker Alqirbi tweeted in Arabic on Tuesday that “information is coming in” about “preparations being made to export gas from the Balhaf facility” and that this “could be the reason for events in Shabwa” and moves made by France.
Yemeni government forces recently clashed with UAE-backed southern separatist forces in gas-rich Shabwa province, where Balhaf is located, last week, leading to dozens of civilian and combatant casualties.
Drones and artillery, believed to belong to the UAE, have fired on government positions located on an important road between Ataq and a city in the neighbouring province of Hadramaut, according to pan-Arab news website Arabi 21.
France is negotiating with countries in the region and factions participating in Yemen’s war, according to the information cited by Alqirbi.
The aim is to see gas exports restart at Balhaf “in light of increased international gas prices and to reduce Russian pressure on Europe”.
This has been a major concern since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
Paris could “provide protection for the facility through the French Foreign Legion” – part of the country’s military in which foreign citizens serve.