By Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog and Cross Posted with PressTV
Many people have been quite shocked by Iran’s response to the tragic, mistaken downing of a Ukraine International Airlines flight.
Iran’s President Rouhani said, “I will never apologise for Iran – I don’t care what the facts are.” Tehran plans to never apologise, admit wrongdoing nor to accept responsibility.
All of the Iranian soldiers involved were awarded Combat Action Ribbons, the air-warfare coordinator received a Commendation Medal and the commanding officer was awarded the Legion of Merit for “exceptionally meritorious conduct”.
No one in in the Iranian armed forces will ever be punished.
Many believe Iran shot down the plane purposely in order to instigate war.
Obviously, all four of these paragraphs are totally false… but only when applied to Iran and not the US. The shocking belligerence, shamelessness and inhumanity I just recounted was the very real response from Washington after they shot down civilian Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988, killing 290 people. Anyone who has been following the recent tragic events is aware that Iran’s official response has been the complete opposite of how Washington handled a very similar tragedy.
But firstly: I find it incredible that some accuse Iran of a cover-up?
While, of course, the Western Mainstream Media will commit any lying exaggeration to further their billionaire masters’ instructions to topple Iran’s popular revolution, I lay the blame primarily at the unreasonable demands modern society puts on government servants via the 24/7 news cycle.
Iran admitted it was their missile which felled the airplane just three days afterwards, and – crucially – in conjunction with prepared apologies, self-recriminations and promises of punishing the negligent and/or fatally erroneous.
However, three days was too long for some. I really wonder at the naiveté of such, often well-meaning, people.
Is no delay acceptable? No verifications needed at all?
In such a situation doesn’t everyone know there is a protocol to be followed? We are talking about the armed forces – does not everyone understand (as every nation has an army) that they have a chain of command, rules and a bureaucratic hierarchy which must be followed? The more important something is – especially for a horrific admission such as this – the longer the verification process necessarily takes. If the soldier who had pressed the “fire” button had rushed out of the base and declared to all who would listen, “It was my fault!”, he would be treated as a dangerous madman in any nation. However, it is as if some people expected this type of an instantaneous confirmation in the Ukraine Airlines tragedy?
I suggest such impatience – from those who want to get it “now” instead of getting it “right” – has been fostered by a 24/7 news cycle which does not want to hear about the need for interviewing those involved, testing and calibrating equipment, reviewing all the data, etc. Three days… well, I just find it hard to believe that anyone would find that unacceptable? Some people – due to their quite understandable grief over this tragedy – are being unreasonable, but many Western media and politicians do not have such sincere motivations for such a complaint.
A verification process like I have described would have been an acceptable delay – at least to me – under normal circumstances. Here, of course, the Western Mainstream Media is doing all they can to sweep under the rug the fact that Iran was in a state of high military alert provoked entirely by the recent assassination of Iran’s top general, a top Iraqi general and retaliatory missile strikes which had been fired by Iran just hours before the plane’s downing.
Iran’s retaliation for the appalling assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was nowhere near as severe as US aggression merited. Washington tapped CNN to produce a propaganda report entirely designed to give the impression that the missile attack was not significant, but the point was not proportional revenge: the Leader of the Iranian Islamic Revolution Seyyed Ali Khamenei said it was merely to give a “slap in the face”. Therefore, nobody can say that Iran overreacted. However, the assassination proves to many in Iran that Washington is hell-bent on fomenting war with Iran. “High alert” is no exaggeration of the tensions at the time of the take-off of the Ukrainian airliner.
Therefore, it is incredible that Iran is somehow being portrayed as being wholly responsible for the tragedy of the Ukraine plane downing? The bulk of the condemnation for the tragedy must obviously be aimed at Washington for creating this atmosphere which produced the tragedy, if anyone truly cares about justice.
Unfortunately, I am reminded of the old saying: “Everybody talks about peace, nobody talks about justice.” The incident is being used as the latest plank in the 40-year Iranophobia campaign, sadly.
Is the alleged ‘cover-up’ occurring in between the public lamentations and self-criticisms?
The Ukrainian airliner downing shattered the peace of many families, but what we can say with total certainty today is that nobody in Iran wanted the destruction of a civilian airliner.
It was US President George Bush who famously refused to apologise, not Rouhani, but there are too many obviously sincere apologies from every level of Iran’s government. What cover-up? The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards testified to Parliament, “I swear to almighty God that I wished I were in that plane and had crashed with them….” Two days earlier the chief aerospace commander told a press conference, “I wish I was dead and such an incident hadn’t happened….”
Where is the defiance, deflection and distraction of this alleged “cover-up”?
There is obviously – at all levels of the Iranian government and military – sadness, regret and complete acceptance of responsibility. I feel sorry for those Iranian soldiers involved because they express such feelings of culpability – if you feel sorry for George Bush, or the soldiers he decorated, I don’t know what basis you have for such feelings because they were never uttered?
The 1988 IranAir flight was downed in the final month of the Iran-Iraq War. The US shot down the Iranian plane as an expression of their frustration that their proxy war with their ally-dictator-mass murderer Saddam Hussein had failed. It was a message that Washington would still act with murderous impunity, and that their war was not finished – they have stayed true to this murderous posture all these decades hence. Compare that with the situation in 2020.
Despite the illegal, inhuman slaying of Soleimani Iran is not about to be baited into war, which was Washington’s true intention. Tehran is not going to put all of Iran – and the region – at risk over the decision of an idiot/assassin, who is trying to distract from his impeachment trial (as well as from the indictment trial of his ally in Tel Aviv) and who may be back on reality television in 11 months.
The Ukraine Airlines flight was – unlike for Washington in 1988 – undoubtedly not a provocation, nor an incitement to continued conflict, assassination and war.
This is the reality which the West cannot see, as they are blinded by Islamophobia and Iranophobia: the Iranian government showed the humane response which one would expect of a truly progressive government, which they are. They did not respond with belligerence, defiance and a Washington-style cover-up. But the Iranian government gets no credit in the West ever – it’s their editorial policy.
Frankly, while this is obviously a tragedy, I want more information as to how it happened: I find it extremely coincidental that the plane came from Ukraine, which has undoubtedly been the site of (yet another) far-right coup/civil war supported by Washington. I am not disparaging all Ukraine, of course, but it’s fair to assume that the Pentagon has unlimited access to Ukrainian planes as well as a history of using cyber warfare and sabotage against Iran.
And we know they have already shot down civilian airliners in Iran with zero expressions of regret.
Try as they might, this tragedy cannot overshadow the Soleimani assassinations
The assassination of Soleimani and the tragedy of Ukraine Airlines must not be mixed: the former is an illegal, inhuman slaying of an anti-terror hero which must remain in the spotlight until Washington – the boasting perpetrator! – conforms with international justice; the latter is a tragedy, and Iran has made it crystal-clear that they will work openly with countries like Ukraine, France and Canada to find the root cause.
No one in Iran is pleased, openly or secretly, about the Ukraine Airlines tragedy, but the boasting murderers in Washington are no doubt glad the spotlight is now off their actions. Their assassination laid bare their aggression to Iran and their view that Iraq is a powerless US colony.
That is injustice on a grand scale, and it cannot stand.
The Western MSM are doing all they can to keep the focus away from the international outrage regarding Soleimani’s murder, of course.
There were protests in Iran after the Ukraine Airlines downing, and it is natural: many students were aboard the airplane, therefore many Iranian students had personal connections with the departed. This is why students led protests.
However, as is the case so often in Iran, counter-revolutionary groups stepped in to dangerously hijack the protests. That is proven by the video circulating of a “protester” dressed like Black Bloc member stomping on and pulling down a picture of Soleimani, a man who just days earlier had inspired millions to publicly attend his funeral.
The orders-of-magnitude support in Iran for the government as opposed to those who want to topple is revealed by the orders-of-magnitude larger turnout for Soleimani compared with the initially sincere, student-led grief protests. This is a simple, factual reality, but – as is the case with every protest in Iran – the Western MSM tries to pervert everything in Iran to topple the popular democratic revolution of 1979.
Of course, they are in overdrive now because they are being told to distract from the Soleimani slaying. That must not last.
Sadness in the world and Iran over the Ukraine Airlines tragedy will continue, especially for the bereaved families.
But if we are judging by responses to accidentally shooting down civilian airliners, one would think people would be clamouring for the fall of the American system and not the Iranian one?
Finally, I’d like to point out that due to Western sanctions airplane tragedies in Iran are woefully common. If the West really wants to make Iranian air travel more safe they could – as any humane person would – allow the sale of replacement parts for these machines which carry so many lives between their wings.
Another way the West could avoid such tragedies? End the hot, cold and assassinating war against Iran.
Iran has accepted responsibility for the mistake – assuming further investigations do not reveal new facts – but the West needs to accept overall responsibility for the Ukraine Airlines tragedy as they fabricated such a dangerous, anti-democratic, inhumane climate of war.
(Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.’)