French Foreign Legion to Secure South Yemen Gas Exports

France negotiating for access to Yemen

It may sound like a bad adventure movie, but the French Foreign Legion could find itself in Yemen trying to stabilize and control areas.

Recent fighting and removal of local government figures in South Yemen’s Shabwa Province could be portending a deeper involvement, as France is reportedly negotiating for access to the area.

France is interested in the potential of gas exports from Balhaf. Europe could use more exports with Russia cutting off supply to supply to central Europe.

Though Yemen isn’t a large exporter of gas in the best of times, it virtually exports nothing during the ongoing war. France seems keen to try to boost it from nothing to something.

With all the complications and combatants in Yemen, especially in the south, adding the French Foreign Legion hardly seems to be a recipe for success.

The French Foreign Legion is an Army corps of foreign nationals, historically used in French overseas adventures. They have been used sparingly in the decades since the end of colonial Africa.

It remains to be seen who France aligns with, as the Saudis and UAE are the powers in the region in the question. The Saudis support the government, the UAE the separatists, and generally the UAE has prevented exports from Shabwa lately, though it isn’t clear they’re committed to that.

Much of the media coverage of Shabwa fighting has emphasized its energy resources, seemingly bolstering interest in intervention. Though it is unlikely they’ll ever get gas out commensurate with the cost of entering Yemen, such an obvious problem rarely gets in the way of such operations.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.