Last week, on October 14th, the Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, with his Qatari counterpart, HE Dr. Khalid, signed a declaration of intent for the Qataris to base a Hawk squadron in the UK. Dr. Khalid, a former fast jet pilot himself, also had a flight that day in one of the Typhoons of 12 Squadron – which was stood up as a joint UK-Qatari squadron in July 2018. Chief of the Air Staff, ACM Sir Mike Wigston (congratulations on the overdue K in the recent Queen’s Birthday honours list) retweeted the news with enthusiasm.
The reasons for such co-operation are not difficult to discern - it brings in valuable foreign currency into the Ministry of Defence’s budget, and it helps project the UK’s influence in the Gulf.
Yet only a fortnight earlier, ACM Wigston had tweeted his support for the UK Armed Forces ‘ stance regardingf National Inclusion Week “An inclusive culture is performance enhancing for the RAF
as well as the right thing to do.” The RAF has rightly been at the forefront of becoming gender neutral in its HR policies, and promoting LGBT (possibly with a few more capitals) interests – it makes sense to have our armed forces composed of those best for the job, regardless of sexuality. See here.
Strange then that the RAF hierarchy is keen to cement the bond with Qatar which (like several other Gulf states) has very poor human rights record, when viewed through the prism of Western democracies. Same-sex relations are punishable with imprisonment. See for example here.
Am I alone in viewing the Service’s morality as being inconsistent?