I ran has chosen to accept responsibility for the shooting down of the Ukraine Airlines aircraft leading to the deaths of 176 persons. It must have been a difficult decision, but it displays unexpected maturity, although the space for deniability was small given the amount of evidence mounting up. As also mentioned in news reports, this is not the first time such an incident has happened and almost all major powers have committed the same mistake at one time or another. India shot down its own helicopter, only recently, during the post Balakot incursion by the PAF.
Hopefully, Iran will review its policies following this incident, particularly as the Suleimani related deaths also included those killed in stampedes at his funeral. Very obviously, Iran can pick a fight but the overall repercussions at every level are proving very expensive for it. It has suffered enormously owing to US led sanctions against it, the price for which has been paid, of course, by its people in terms of lost quality of life and development, despite the nation being a major producer of oil. Protests have broken out in the country seeking punishment for those responsible for the downing of the aircraft, which mostly had Iranian passengers. But who are actually responsible – those who made mistakes in a highly volatile situation, or those who created the problem in the first place? In the long run, people will seek accountability from the decision makers who have taken a confrontationist stand with the US ever since the dawn of the ‘Islamic Revolution’. How long will people accept the principle of ‘natural’ animosity between religious beliefs?
It is a fact that there has been gradual reform in Iran over the past few years, fuelled by people’s desire for a better life. The conservatives have been making concessions in recognition of the international reality. Will this latest disaster accelerate the process, or aggravate the anti-US sentiment, thereby strengthening the establishment? Publicly, Iran has sworn to attack the US in many ways, but it should read the signs and desist. It is clear that even continued passive aggression by the much more powerful US will create further difficulties. This reality needs to be realised and every opportunity taken to re-integrate with the world community. A beginning can be made by recognising the international community’s concerns about its nuclear programme, giving its friends like the EU, India, etc., the opening for positive intervention. Otherwise, continuing with the present policy will only lead on to greater disasters.