Iran’s admission of its tragic mistake over the downed Ukrainian airliner reminds us who the real barbarians are
Tehran’s admission of responsibility over the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752, just after it took of from the capital’s Imam Khomeini Airport not long after Iran had launched a missile strike against two US military bases in Iraq in retaliation for the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, marks an extraordinary denouement to one of the most telling and tragic episodes of recent times in this already tortured region.
It is rare indeed that a state embroiled in conflict should admit and apologise so fulsomely for such a tragic event as the accidental shooting down of a passenger airliner — doing so in the full knowledge that it will be weaponised against it by its adversaries at a time when its back is quite literally against the wall, beset on all sides by hostile forces and with its economy placed in a sanctions straitjacket after Trump unjustly and unilaterally withdrew from the P5+1 nuclear deal in 2018.
Iran is not and never has been the aggressor in this scenario. It is instead the victim of the aggression of Washington and its allies in the region and beyond. Moreover, the inarguable context to this horrific tragedy was the assassination of Iran’s supreme military commander, General Qasem Soleimani, a man who more than any other was key in the struggle against Daesh and other Salafi-jihadi groups in Iraq and Syria, leaving the Iranians with no choice other than to respond. This they did in the most calibrated fashion, purposely ensuring that there were no casualties incurred in the missile strike which they unleashed in retaliation.
None of this, of course, will do much to comfort the loved ones of the 176 innocent civilians who perished in the Ukrainian passenger airliner in the aftermath. But the fact that they now know the truth at least allows them to grieve without the anguish of having to witness the politicisation of their deaths.
What is now to be hoped is that this turn of events focuses the minds of people in the West when it comes to appreciating that the status quo is unsustainable in this war torn region. The continued presence there of US forces is malign, feeding not stabilisation and security but destabilisation and heightened tensions. Serious efforts at de-escalation and diplomacy must now occupy the space that is currently dominated by sabre rattling, threats and military pressure and aggression.
Trump and the neocons in Washington not Rouhani or Khomeini in Tehran are the real enemies of peace and stability. The crisis of leadership exists in the US not in Iran when it comes to matters of war and peace. Trump, Pompeo and Pence et al. are thugs in tailored suits. They are white supremacists and Orientalists for whom Iran and the Iranian people sit close to the bottom of the ladder of human worth that informs their warped and diseased worldview.
Iran’s admission of responsibility is not the action of a barbaric state. It is the action of a government that values the sanctity of life, and which places a premium on the dignity that should be afforded the dead. It is difference between a cultured people and one reared on genocidal violence and racism.
Here let us not forget that after the USS Vincennes brought down Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988, with the loss of all 290 passengers and crew on board, not only did Washington refuse to apologise, the ship’s captain, William C. Rogers, was later awarded the country’s Legion of Merit medal for meritorious conduct and outstanding service.
In the last analysis, the real hotbed of extremism in our world today is Washington not Tehran.
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