Washington, US: France supplied Saudi Arabia with satellite images that allowed its forces to strike at insurgents in Yemen in 2009, Washington Post reports.
Paris began supplying the data following a visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Riyadh in November 2009, the report said. At the time, Saudi Arabia was fighting a war against Shiite Huthi rebels across its frontier with Yemen.
The Huthi land-grab sparked the biggest mobilisation of the Saudi military since the 1990-91 Gulf war.
Saudi officials asked Washington for satellite images to strike the rebels while minimising civilian casualties, but US officials refused, fearing it could violate the rules of war by getting involved in a border dispute. But France, fearing mass casualties from inaccurate bombing, agreed to help.
Using the satellite intelligence, the Saudis were able to track the rebels. “Saudi warplanes then attacked with devastating effectiveness,” the report said, adding that within weeks the Huthis were requesting a truce, “and by February this chapter of the border war was over.”
The Saudis now want their own satellite capability and will soon request bids from Western companies for such a system, the Post said.