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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 1/11/20

Why would Iran shoot down a civilian plane over Tehran?

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This opinion piece will contain speculation or "conspiracy theory," and so you can move on if you don't like that sort of thing...

I'm not claiming that Iran fired any missiles at the Ukrainian passenger plane; that's the New York Times and Bellingcat. But, assuming their video shows unaltered footage of Iranian anti-aircraft SAMs shooting down Ukraine Flight 752, then we must ask the obvious question: WHY?

The very first possible reason screams out, and that is that Iran must have thought it was an attacking warplane over Tehran, and with only moments to decide, they shot quickly. But, why would the Iranian military think that a civilian plane was an attacking warplane? That is the big question in this possible scenario, and it represents a major threat to civil aviation worldwide.

Other civilian airliners around the Middle East have been put at risk recently in the following way. In December, 2018, Russia accused Israel of using civilian airliners as cover for their attacking warplanes:

"The provocative actions of the Israeli air force ... directly threatened two airliners," Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

In another incident, Israeli planes attacked Syrian ground targets in a way that the Russians said caused Syria's air defense missiles to strike a Russian surveillance plane that was in the same area. This air defense response killed fifteen Russian airmen.

"The [Russian] spokesman accused Israeli pilots of "using the Russian airplane as a cover", putting it "in the line of fire coming from Syrian air defence systems".

These two precedents establish that military strategists are always looking for ways to game the enemy into using his anti-aircraft missiles against him, so to speak. Getting the enemy to shoot down the wrong plane is a standard military ploy, and perhaps a war crime.

Civilian planes are identified by their radio signatures. They continually broadcast data identifying them as friendly, or, in the case of military aircraft, they can turn off transponder signals and be unknowngiving away as little information to the enemy as possible.

Radio jamming has been around since the second World War. It is not impossible that the Ukraine jet was targeted for some sort of radio jamming in order to confuse the Iranians into thinking it was an attacking enemy warplane and quickly shooting it down. The incident would clearly be blamed on Iran alone, as the "conspiracy theory" is nearly impossible to prove, and the Iranians aren't going to admit to shooting missiles at all, just as they have denied the use of missiles ever since the incident occurred.

This scenario seems plausible enough. While pundits allude to Iran making a "mistake," this absolves any conspirators who may have engaged in deliberate radio jamming in order to bait the Iranians into shooting down the wrong plane. The propaganda value of casting the Iranians as monsters, and also angering Ukrainians, Canadians, and other nations which had civilians on board, are clear motives to inspire such a crime.

Lastly, it makes no sense that Iran would warn the US about its missile launches hours in advance in order to avoid casualties, while deliberately shooting down a plane load of innocent civilians on the same day.

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Joe Giambrone is an American author, freelance writer and filmmaker. Non-fiction works appear at International Policy Digest, WhoWhatWhy, Foreign Policy Journal, Counterpunch, Globalresearch, , OpedNews, High Times and other online outlets. His science fiction thriller Transfixion and his Hollywood satire (more...)
 
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7 people are discussing this page, with 19 comments  Post Comment


Mohammad Ala

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Short answer: Mistakes happen.
Reasons: Tension in the region. Killing people. Over 800 military bases near or close to Iran.

Long answer:

The shooting down of the Ukrainian plane is a catastrophe, it was a mistake of course, no one is disputing that it was a mistake.

In my opinion recent events in West Asia must accept partial responsibility for creating tension in the region by killing people, Iran mistook the 737-800 for a Cruise Missile just as US Navy mistook the Iran Air Airbus for an F-14 Fighter Jet in 1988 killing 400 Iranians and non-Iranians, this has happened before and it will happen again in future unless the International Aviation Organization implement new rules to stop civilian aircrafts flying over areas where there are conflicts.

A Malaysian Passenger Plane was shot down over Ukraine by pro Russian fighters in Easter Ukraine a few years ago. There are other cases.

Submitted on Sunday, Jan 12, 2020 at 2:03:27 AM

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Richard Pietrasz

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You remember, or at least looked it up, which is difficult to do without knowing what one might need to look up. The parallels with the shootdown of Iran Air 655 are striking, of course. The reason the two disasters are not mirror images is that USA was the aggressor of the war in both cases, USA was not threatened in 1988 but only its invader warship, and in 2020, Iran had been been threatened for over 16 years with nuclear attack by Israeli warships supported by US warships.

Submitted on Sunday, Jan 12, 2020 at 11:19:22 AM

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There are over 800 military bases near Iran.

"A deliberate radio jamming in order to bait the Iranians into shooting down the wrong plane. The propaganda value of casting the Iranians as monsters, and also angering Ukrainians, Canadians, and other nations which had civilians on board, are clear motives to inspire such a crime."

Submitted on Sunday, Jan 12, 2020 at 2:38:40 AM

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Becky Comstock

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Hundreds of Iranian protesters demanded Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei step down on Saturday after Tehran admitted that its military had mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian plane, killing all 176 people on board.

"Commander-in-chief [Khamenei] resign, resign," videos posted on Twitter showed hundreds of people chanting in front of Tehran's Amir Kabir university.....

.....Demonstrators on Saturday ripped up pictures of Soleimani during the protests.

Seems to me there's a lot of ordinary Iranian citizens who are tired of being oppressed, imprisoned or killed, and put last on their oppressor's 'things to care about' list.

Submitted on Sunday, Jan 12, 2020 at 5:49:36 AM

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Mohammad Ala

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"Ordinary Iranian citizens..".. are tired of illegal sanctions which have been imposed upon them for more than 40 years. Many children, elderly, and ill citizens have suffered the most.

Tensions in the region of West Asia has been high and will remain high as long as Western countries, Russia, and recently China take advantage of these citizens and drain natural resources.

Submitted on Sunday, Jan 12, 2020 at 6:43:36 AM

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Richard Pietrasz

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It is unclear how many in Iran have died due to US sanctions imposed because USA had thousands of nuclear weapons and verbally demanded Iran had none. It is credible the number of infants and young children dead due to the embargo might exceed 100 in this year alone, even if it is only the 12th day of the year.


When it was revealed by epidemiologists that USA caused more or less a hundred thousand deaths of infants and young children in the first five years of the US war against Iraq, the official US response was "the price is worth it".

Submitted on Sunday, Jan 12, 2020 at 11:28:36 AM

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Joe Giambrone

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"When it was revealed by epidemiologists that USA caused more or less a hundred thousand deaths of infants and young children in the first five years of the US war against Iraq, the official US response was "the price is worth it"."

That was 500,000, not 100,000. That was my last day supporting the Democrats, a party of war criminals.

tu.be/bntsfiAXMEE


Submitted on Sunday, Jan 12, 2020 at 10:40:24 PM

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Richard Pietrasz

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You are correct. When I typed out the comment, I intended to write 100K/year, but somehow left out the full unit. The reason I prefer to use rate statistics in stuff like this is that the totals are always rising. The total number of infants and young children due to US war in multiple countries in the last 3 decades is almost certainly far more than 2 million.

Submitted on Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 7:21:25 AM

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nelswight

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Reply to Becky Comstock:   New Content

not very broad intellectual concern, methinks, Beck

Submitted on Sunday, Jan 12, 2020 at 3:39:06 PM

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"Hundreds."

Enough said.

Submitted on Sunday, Jan 12, 2020 at 10:33:38 PM

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There is more to be said:

Iran: More than 100 protesters believed to be killed

Submitted on Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 3:04:33 AM

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"There is more to be said:
Iran: More than 100 protesters believed to be killed"

And still not one shred of evidence, not one photo, not one corpse. Amnesty always has something to say about America's enemies, but never on America's atrocities (of which there are literally millions of victims).

And it's been known for a long, long time.

Is Amnesty International Biased?

And lastly, your comments are completely off topic.

Submitted on Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 9:58:27 AM

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This is no more off topic than your "Enough said". However, I am glad to have the link to the article exploring Amnesty International bias, although the recent bias I've noted is adoption of an alarmist position on warming/climate change, including promoting the Climate Strike thing, as though it's a proper human rights issue. Giving Greta T. the 2019 Ambassador of Conscience Award, AI's highest honor, was mind-boggling, but then I discovered that they had allied with Greenpeace a few years ago. They've now lost me as a monthly donor.

It is somewhat surprising that there doesn't seem to be photo or video evidence of the killing of protesters in any of the various reports, just statements and at least one photo showing riot police teargassing protesters. It seems impossible to get reliable information from Iran at this time. I sure don't trust the Iranian government to be open or truthful.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 3:31:31 AM

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The most obvious answer is: Piss poor command and control. No central command over ride. No radar to detect or differentiate an object approaching the site as opposed to an object launched from within the site. Inability to differentiate between a commercial aircraft and a military aircraft. Lack of communication between civilian and military aircraft functions. Iran should be 100% peace oriented because it's war making capability is non existent.

Submitted on Sunday, Jan 12, 2020 at 5:37:43 PM

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Joe Giambrone

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Well, isn't that a whole lot of ignorant guessing?

And that's the problem.

One plane was shot down. Not the rest of the civilian aircraft. The question remains why that one was treated differently.

Submitted on Sunday, Jan 12, 2020 at 10:36:11 PM

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According to the Iranian spokesman, the timeline was too short for adequate decision making. This is very believable. For the missile battery commander to have had sufficient information to make the correct decision, he* would have needed to have had a duplicate air traffic control station with a dedicated human controller to interpret the situation, in addition to his existing threat radar information. Even if he had that station and controller, the information overload problem would have been so intense the only way he could have handled it is by mentally shutting down one or more information channels.

It is also important to remember that the status of the war between USA, UK, and Israel against Iran, was at a point where an attack against Tehran was reasonably possible, and quite possibly a nuclear one. Israel and USA have been threatening Iran with nuclear attack for over 16 years, and have been very public about it (even if few in USA have paid attention. Israel has its own ability to carry out a nuclear bombing without US approval or assistance (beyond helping Israel develop its submarine nuclear missiles, and continuing to provide a surface warfare shield for Israeli submarines).

The commander of the Vincennes only had a crew of 330 to defend. The Iranian commander had over 10 million people under threat.

*Possibly she, but I really doubt it.

Submitted on Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 8:08:46 AM

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A Russian aviation journal is claiming Iran's air defense system was hacked. They do not divulge where the info is coming from, however:

The reason for the destruction of the Ukrainian Boeing 737 was the American means of electronic warfare


Submitted on Sunday, Jan 12, 2020 at 10:46:23 PM

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Israel has hacked Iran before, so this possibility is within the range of believability.

Submitted on Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 8:11:25 AM

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Joe Giambrone

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Iran released a statement indicating communications systems were "disrupted" at the time and also indicating possible "jamming." Not enough info to determine.


Submitted on Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 9:48:20 AM

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