That having been said, let us try to make some sense of the events that have transpired in the last fortnight.
#Metrojet #Flight9268, operating under code #7K9268/ #KGL9268, crashed on 31 Oct 2015. Within hours, we had a statement from the British Prime Minister’s office that "...there was a STRONG POSSIBILITY that the flight had been brought down by a bomb". Remember, that at this point in time, the investigators had not even reached the accident site and absolutely nothing was known about cause of the accident. "Intelligence Chatter" about a bomb and celebration upon the plane’s downing in ISIS communications were cited as the reasons for this belief.
The next day, even as an investigation team was being assembled, statements from the US White House were issued in support of the British PMs remark with none less than President Obama himself agreeing that this was a "Possibility". Carefully chosen words. Never stating or agreeing that the bomb was the cause; always using non-committal words like “possibility”, “probability”, “likely", etc. to keep the option of backtracking open. And yet, the US and the UK proceeded to order a stop on all flights to/from Sharm el Sheikh airport in Egypt. They then proceeded to send in scores of empty planes to evacuate all British nationals from the city. Tourism, however, is Sharm al Sheikh’s sole source of income! The economy of Sinai Peninsula, already hovering close to a breaking point, plummeted to a new low with job losses and unemployment impacting the poorest the worst. And not a single UK or US investigator had as yet joined the international investigation team!
It is a point to bear in mind that the south Sinai area, famous for its beaches and diving, has around a third of the country’s total hotel rooms. It is so tourism-focused that visitors who do not plan to travel to other parts of the country do not even need a visa to enter Egypt here. Tourists from Russia and UK make up the bulk of the tourists here. There were about 250,000 UK visitors to Egypt last year and this year, at the time of this accident, there were an estimated 20,000 UK tourists in the resort who were subsequently ordered by the UK government to pack-up and return home.
After initially denying that there was any bomb, suddenly a few days later, Russia also ordered the evacuation of its citizens. Around 70,000 Russian tourists were evacuated in next couple of days with their checked bags traveling in separate flights. The economy of the peninsula was dealt a crushing blow. And yet, there is absolutely no evidence of any nature of bomb on the crashed flight!
So, what is going on here? Well, it was merely a couple of months back that Egypt announced a huge gas discovery. The mouths of western powers were watering at the prospect of this gas! But they had a problem: the government in Egypt was not listening to them; it wasn’t towing their line! Worse, it was cooperating more with Russia than with the West. They needed a puppet in control of Egypt and this was an opportunity. Blame the attack on ISIS; after all, who cares? All is fair in love and war, is it not? They are a bunch of terrorists and have killed too many already. Who cares if another 224 are added to that long list? But doing so created a very interesting possibility. Much like Saddam Hussain's WMDs, they could now create terror paranoia and order the evacuation of their citizens. They could cripple Egypt's tourism industry.
The logic was, that the Egyptian government, under pressure, would succumb to their demands, and ensure that the final investigation report included bomb as a cause, or at least as one of the likely causes. Through this, in the name of fighting terrorism, they could now have an excuse for greater interference in Egypt. An interesting spin-off would be the ability to now use this incident to blame Russia on its policy in Syria and put the Russian government under pressure to change its strategy of supporting Assad! Brilliant plan. Game, set and match? Wait, not yet! Our Russian friends can also think and they thought this through a bit more than their Western counterparts. Using the tag-line of intelligence cooperation and sharing by the UK, Russia announced the evacuation of its own citizens. But unlike the western leaders, Putin did not stop at that. He went a step further and banned Egypt Air flights into Russian territory. Et tu Brute er...Putin? No. He was sending his own message to the Western and Egyptian governments. If the Egyptian government did succumb to western pressure and declare that Flight 9268 was brought down by a bomb, he would destroy Egypt's economy! After all, the single largest tourist group in Egypt comes from Russia! UK is a close second, but not as close as to be significant. What are 20,000 UK tourists when compared to over 70,000 Russians? Stalemate.
Brilliantly played my friends, but, I have a problem! The purpose of an accident investigation, any accident investigation, is to find out what happened, why it happened and how we can prevent another from happening. The last objective, of preventing another from happening, is the only objective that justifies the effort and the expense invested in an investigation. Unfortunately, in this case, by playing politics over an accident, the leaders of the UK and USA have destroyed all possibility of the real truth ever emerging! Accident investigations need to stay grounded in facts and science. And the facts as well as science of this accident just do not support any conjecture at this point in time. This is the time when investigators are going through a painfully laborious process of piecing together the evidence and trying to make sense of this terrible tragedy. This is the time when they need to be left alone, free from external pressures and stress, to arrive at the truth. Justice for the 224 souls lost will only come when the true reason is found and fixed. If it happens to be terrorism, by all means we will need to look at how to fix that. If it happens to be the failure of repairs that were conducted earlier, then that needs to be fixed so that proper procedures are developed to ensure that another aircraft does not go down for the same reason. Keep in mind that there have already been two aircraft that have gone down due to failure of repairs to the tail section following a tail strike. We can go around the world fixing security at airports and evacuating tourists but other aircraft will go down due to botched tail section repairs!
While the world was still struggling to come to terms with this tragedy, we had yet another that captured the media’s attention. The weekend attacks in Paris have shaken all to the core, but wait, there is another perspective here. I want to know: How come the "intelligence" that had such confident "intercepts and chatter" about ISIS celebrations and plans to bomb aircraft operating out of Sharm el Sheikh, knew nothing about the impending attacks in its own backyard? Forgive me for arriving at this conclusion, but this "intelligence" does not appear to me to be very "intelligent"! After all, this is also the same "intelligence" that whipped frenzy over Saddam Hussain's WMDs and instigated two gulf wars. And where are Saddam Hussain's WMDs? I believe we now call them ISIS!
Here is a very interesting and thought provoking article written by an international expert on racial studies, Mr. Pranav Kohli: http://thestudentspost.com/when-will-we-be-part-of-your-humanity/. The author makes a very interesting observation. I quote, "However, what many did not seem to notice was that on the same day as Paris, Baghdad and Beirut were also struck by ISIS terrorism. While the attack on Baghdad left 26 people dead and 60 injured, the bombing of Beirut left 43 dead and 200 injured. Yet Baghdad and Beirut received a mere fraction of the media attention and global solidarity extended to Paris. … The absence of a similarly scathing condemnation by President Obama, in this context, almost makes it seem as if “humanity” was attacked only in Paris. … This comment is part of a long and established discursive and structural tradition that considers the lives of Western, white people as more valuable than those of people of colour."
In the last few days, I have heard much about why youth, even those living in the western societies, are radicalized! Why such events do not stop! Why...!!!! Here is one interesting view that answers why...
The Erring Human.