The terrorist bombing of a Russian civilian airliner, flight 9268, by the so-called Islamic State in the Sinai 19 minutes after take-off on 31 October, with the tragic loss of all 224 people (at least 24 were children) on board, caused a strange reaction around the world. This could not be ignored in the way that the western media and politicians ignore the daily atrocities of the IS, Nusra and other jihadi terrorists in Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, Mali and elsewhere,, but the overwhelming sympathy that was extended to the victims of the later Paris massacres was conspicuously absent..
Edward Lucas, a journalist for the Economist and a notorious anti-Russia hawk, wrote of the invited Russian involvement in Syria’s war against jihadi terrorism: “Brilliant tactics, lousy strategy. As the likelihood rises that an islamist bomb killed 224 people on the Russian Metrojet airline, that would seem a suitable epitaph for Vladimir Putin’s intervention in Syria – and, indeed, for his 16-year rule over Russia, in which the storyline has mattered far more than the facts.” (Vladimir Putin’s showmanship in Syria has left him without a strategy, The Telegraph, 7 November 2015)
In Russia, President Vladimir Putin declared a day of national mourning and tributes to the dead filled the airwaves and newspapers, but no minute’s silence, or mass public shows of sympathy and solidarity were to be found in the western imperialist heartlands. Most British newspapers focused overwhelmingly on the supposed plight of British holidaymakers temporarily stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh, after Britain immediately halted all flights to the popular Red Sea resort.
Even before the airline explosion there had been gloating from some commentators to the effect that IS would be bound to take revenge on Russia for the clinical way that its pilots have dealt with all brands of jihadi terrorists in Syria.
The US defence secretary, Ashton Carter, said at a meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels just days before the Russian aircraft was bombed: “They have initiated a joint ground offensive with the Syrian regime, shattering the façade that they are there to fight Isil … this will have consequences for Russia itself, which is rightly fearful of attacks. In coming days, the Russians will begin to suffer from casualties.”
The regional backers of IS – Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar – were also making threats around the same time. In Saudi Arabia, a statement by 55 leading islamist clerics urged “true muslims” to “give all moral, material, political and military” support to the fight against Assad’s army as well as against Iranian and Russian forces. As Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchical dictatorship, this could not have happened without the express consent of the country’s rulers, who, in any case, have made no secret of their massive fomenting of terrorism in Syria.
Meanwhile, a senior Qatari source warned: “Russia has created a Frankenstein in the region which it will not be able to control … with the call to jihad things will change. Everyone will go to fight. Even muslims who sit in bars. There are 1.5 billion muslims. Imagine what will happen if one percent of them join.” (Russia will pay the price for Syrian airstrikes, says US defence secretary, The Guardian, 8 October 2015)
In an audio message from the IS Sinai branch, which has been involved in many battles against the Egyptian army, the West-created terror organisation insisted, in the face of some initially expressed doubts, that it had brought down the Russian plane: “Find your black boxes and analyse them, give us the results of your investigation and the depth of your expertise and prove we didn’t do it or how it was downed … die with your rage. We are the ones with God’s blessing who brought it down. And, God willing, one day we will reveal how, at the time we desire.”
As much as IS wants to stop the very effective Russian destruction of its forces in Syria – hoping (incorrectly) that the Russian people, cowed by terror attacks, will decide to leave the Syrians to their tender mercies – this action was also undoubtedly aimed at the Egyptian secular government, with which it has been at war in the Sinai, and which is financially dependent on tourism. The suspension of civilian flights to Sharm el-Sheikh by a number of countries has dealt a considerable blow to the faltering Egyptian economy.
The western press was very quick to accuse the airport security at Sharm el-Sheikh of laxity and corruption – a charge rejected by the Egyptian government, although the army has now taken a central role in this security. The accusation that bribery of officials could get your luggage aboard a plane with fewer checks was likewise rejected by the Egyptian authorities, who pointed out that similar ‘fast-tracking’ procedures occur in airports around the world.
It is clear that the Saudis, Turkey and Qatar are displeased with the fact that sections of the western imperialists seem at present to be backing away from confrontation with Russia, and that the cries of “Assad must go” have become somewhat muted in certain circles.
The fight of Syria and its elected government for survival is not yet won, but asking Russia to intercede against the foreign jihadis has certainly put the hard-pressed Syrian people in a much stronger position. The Syrian Arab Army, working in close coordination with the Russian air force, is now winning victory after victory against the medieval IS scourge that is bent on slitting throats and burning people alive in its bid to take power and create a fundamentalist ‘islamic caliphate’ (super-state) that embraces the entire region.
Meanwhile, those who claim that the Russian intervention, which is cooperating with the legitimate Syrian government, has caused the instability in the region must explain to us why they think that US and EU’s criminal and uninvited bombing of Syria has not!
Those who tell us that the short time that Russia has been attacking IS positions in Syria is the reason why a Russian civilian aircraft has been blown up must tell us why, after more than a year of supposedly attacking IS positions, no US plane has been attacked by IS? Especially when those very same people have, at the same time, also been telling us that Russia is not actually attacking IS at all, but rather the so-called ‘moderate opposition’ – a mythical creature more elusive than the unicorn.
It must also be remembered that the Russians were asked by the popular elected government of Syria to intervene – and have been greeted as heroes by the Syrian masses. By contrast, the western forces and their Turkish, Saudi and Qatari puppets have shoved their brutal armed forces into the country without the smallest regard for the country’s sovereignty or for international law, and seem to have only hit civilians and essential infrastructure!
Those who hope that the Russian people and their government will bow to terrorism should study the history of terrorist attacks on Russia and her people ever since the demise of the Soviet Union, as well as Russian history generally. The demand and resolve of the Russian people to overcome the terrorists and their backers will surely only grow in strength.
For our part, we express our deepest sympathy to all the victims of IS and jihadi terrorism around the world, and give our utmost support to all the brave forces, whether Syrian, Russian, Iraqi or others, who are putting their lives on the line by standing up to them and their imperialist backers.