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Iran owns up! What Next?

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on January 17, 2020 with No Comments

Protesters and riot police are facing off in various cities in Iran as angry demonstrations are taking place across the country as leaders acknowledged having shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing 176 people. The protests are the most recent spillover from escalating regional tensions between the United States and Iran that built up to President Donald Trump’s decision to kill a high-ranking Iranian general and Iran’s firing missiles at US bases in Iraq in response.

Last Tuesday Iranian forces let loose a missile onslaught at Iraq’s al-Asad airbase that hosts American and other coalition troops. The missiles were retaliation for the targeted killing of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), by the U.S. on Friday, Jan. 3. Within hours of the attack on al-Asad airbase, reports emerged that a Ukrainian flight PS752, a Boeing 737-800, crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport. Iranian authorities immediately claimed the aircraft was attempting to return to the airport in response to an engine fire. However, other reports indicated presence of punctures in the skin of the aircraft as possible signs of a strike by a surface-to-air missile. Surface-to-air missiles do not always bring down a target by striking it, but are known to use a proximity fuse to detonate a blast-fragmentation warhead that propels the fragments and missile debris at the target. The “punctures in the skin” theory could stem from this property of the Surface to air missile.  Various reasons emerged until last Saturday, when Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake.” Iran’s military too came admitting the same. It claimed that it had accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, blaming human error because of what it called the plane’s sharp, unexpected turn toward a sensitive military base.

The claim does call for an investigation of various authorities, organizations including the airlines, and Boeing, which would always be involved in investigating the crash of an aircraft it manufactured. An investigation of this magnitude is a loaded exercise, and it will further test the ongoing tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Iran’s admission did not come easy. Tehran initially tried to shift some part of the blame on the Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA) and a part on the United States for its “military adventurism.” UIA faced criticism for flying over Tehran shortly after Iran launched missiles strikes on US troops in neighboring Iraq. Hours before the UIA flight took off, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibited American pilots and airlines from flying over Iran. While other international airlines are not bound by orders from the FAA, however, a caution could have been exercised by UIA by avoiding the area all together.

Iran admitted its conduct in a carefully worded.  Compare this will Donald Trump who has never taken responsibility for the mess that he has been going through.  He is just as responsible as the person(s) who fired it.  Had he not decided to assassinate Iranian general in Iraq, the Iranian military would not have been panicked and fired on a civilian aircraft.

The crashed flight included passengers from Ukraine, Canada, Afghanistan, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Germany. Now that Iran has owned up to the cause of the crash, authorities from these countries should join hand and impress upon Iran to clear the way for international investigators to enter the country and get down to the nitty gritty work of gathering and analyzing evidence. It is even more crucial for Iranian authorities to treat the victims’ bodies with dignity and allow grieving relatives to be reunited with their loved ones.


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