No one can fail to be moved by the stance of Ukraine in resisting Russian aggression or angered by the sight of people, some young children being killed, maimed or having to flee their homes. It’s right the Isle of Man government has (in conjunction with the UK) denounced the aggression.
It’s disappointing therefore that on one hand we have done the right thing and yet in another conflict we have done the reverse.
I refer of course to the conflict in Yemen where a cruel bombing campaign has killed and injured thousands. There is an uneasy peace (since March 2022) there at the moment but this could break down at any time and up until a year ago aircrew trained in the UK some of whom shared the training facility the Isle of Man grants at our civil airport here bombed indiscriminately. The League has been a persistent critic of the training of foreign aircrew fat bases in North Wales and parallel use of facilities in Mann.
The UK media revealed three years ago that indeed the Royal Saudi Air Force received support from both serving and retired personnel provided via an arrangement with BAE systems. A RAF person quoted at the time said that the RSAF ‘could not function’ without the systems control and servicing.
The RAF still sustains the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a despotic country which tramples on the rights of women, exploits minorities and where there is abuse of migrant workers. It’s a truly awful regime in whose prisons torture is practiced and where public executions are carried out.
While the Isle of Man gives carte-balance to the RAF to extend the training it offers to foreign aircrew to the Isle of Man we run the risk of ending up in bed with the devil.
Certainly when it came to the training of Saudi personnel we did so.
The Isle of Man quite rightly last month held a minute’s silence for those who died in Ukraine. When will there be a minute’s silence for all those who died in Yemen, a war that looks dangerously close to being reignited.
The Isle of Man is a small country and I suppose the government feels it must to a certain extent ape the UK government. However we should be conscious to maintain a moral compass, something the current Chief Minister and his predecessors have lost.
John Stuart Mill famously said:
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
Image: ‘Cake for the cameras’ – The RAF with their Saudi chums in December 2022 – following a deployment by Typhoon aircraft to The Kingdom.
The Celtic League adopted a resolution criticising the RAF training of RSAF aircrew at facilities in Wales and Mann at its AGM in Carhaix, Breizh in 2019. The Director of Information speaks about it in this report.
(Asst) General Secretary Celtic League (1st March 2023)