*Al-Attiyah addresses RUSI, holds discussion session at British Parliament
A joint Qatar-UK operational squadron will play a vital role in securing the skies during the FIFA 2022 Qatar World Cup, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah has said.
The establishment of the joint operational squadron was agreed between the two countries in December last year.
Delivering a speech at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), he said the squadron will ensure "mutual combat readiness, further our joint actions in combating terrorism and advance our strategic efforts towards the stability of our region and beyond".
The minister said: "This squadron will also play a vital role in securing our skies during the 2022 World Cup, which despite people's fruitless efforts, will be hosted by Qatar".
He said his current visit to London was aimed at further advancing and solidifying Qatar-UK strategic military-to-military relationship.
"We have recently signed a landmark defense cooperation agreement with the UK concerning the purchase of (24) Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft. This agreement builds on the historic friendship that joins both nations and further advances the strategic defence partnership that aims to serve our common security objectives."
He said RUSI has been a trusted partner in providing training courses to Qatari diplomats since 2014, and fondly recalled his days in the UK as a trainee fighter pilot. "It was here in the skies above RAF valley in Wales that I flew as a young fighter pilot in training."
HE Dr al-Attiyah highlighted Qatar's contribution to the fight towards countering extremist ideology and eradicating terrorism in all its forms. "We have provided operational and technical support to our allies and have joined in the fight to ensure that groups that violate international laws, commit gross systematic abuses of human rights and terrorise entire communities are brought to justice.
"We have also taken the fight beyond the battlefield, by funding educational and developmental programmes all across the Arab region and beyond. Educational organisations such as Educate a Child, that has made a commitment to providing access to quality education for tens of millions of children around the globe, have achieved immensely towards fulfilling their commitment and realising their objectives through operating in 54 countries and providing to date around nine million out of school children access to quality primary education."
The minister spoke about the effects that the recent arbitrary measures taken by the so-called quartet have had on Qatar.
"As most of you are acutely aware by now - on the 5th of June of last year, the Qatari government and its people were ambushed by the decision of three Gulf states to cut their economic, political, military and social ties with Qatar. These extraordinary measures did not stop there. Qatar’s only land border was shut down and our people were forcefully separated from their families in those neighbouring countries."
Talking about the gross human rights violations perpetrated by the blockading countries, he said the recent release of the United Nations' Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights report has outlined the violations, reinforcing Qatar’s assertion of the illegality and inhumanity of their actions towards the people of Qatar.
HE Dr al-Attiyah said he was standing before them as a very proud man. "I am proud by the level of commitment that the men and women of Qatar have demonstrated towards upholding our country’s sovereignty and freedom. I am proud of their dignity and resolve during these hard times."
Talking about the attempts of the siege nations to slight Qatar, he said no country should be measured by the size of its land or its population but the contributions that the country has made towards the advancement of humankind through disciplines such as the arts and sciences.
"We measure it by the values of human rights, tolerance and the rule of law that a country is committed to achieving and upholding. And it is through that yardstick that we measure ourselves in Qatar."
The deputy premier and minister of state for defence affairs also held a discussion session at the UK Parliament, which was attended by a number of members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, representing all the British parties.
Several regional and international issues were discussed during the session, especially the current Gulf crisis.