French warplanes have on Wednesday carried out sorties in the Gulf of Aden, off of Yemen’s southern coast, Yemen News Portal reported.
This coincides with a fierce conflict between several parties over the Balhaf LNG plant, which is owned by France’s Total, which holds more than 39 percent of its shares and is currently controlled by the UAE, while China is entering as a vital port operator in the Arabian Sea.
Air traffic maps in the Gulf of Aden showed French military aircraft flying off the coasts of Abyan and Shabwah.
The aims of the French moves, which follow the French parliament’s questioning of the government over the UAE’s conversion of the Balhaf facility in Yemen into a prison and torture facility, are as of yet not officially known.
However, its timing indicates that it is part of international moves to control this strategic area in the Arab region, especially since the French flight came days after China announced holding naval and aerial exercises in the Gulf of Aden.
The move coincides with the conclusion of Hadi’s authority in Shabwah an a recent agreement with a Chinese company to operate the port of Balhaf.
The French presence has reinforced fears that the conflict in Yemen will turn into an international war, especially in light of France-Turkish rivalry in Shabwah, not to mention a British and US deployment and the ongoing Saudi-Emirati offensive.