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Same situation, different reactions

January 14, 2020 - Tuesday 4:01 AM by Allan Nawal

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The world was quick to condemn Iran for shooting down a Ukrainian airliner on Wednesday last week, killing all 176 people on board.

The incident came as tension rose between Tehran and Washington over the killing early this month of Qassem Soleimani, a ranking Iranian general.

Initially, Iran said it appeared the plane encountered technical problems but eventually admitted that it was unintentionally shot down.

The plane, which took off from Tehran was heading for Kyiv. Shortly after takeoff, it was hit by a missile.

The Iranian government said the plane had flown near a military airbase and was mistaken for a hostile target.

After all, the Iranian government said that it was on the highest alert because of the prospects of a US attack.

Leaders of countries allied with the US issued condemnation one after the other.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was more definite: That justice should be served. Of the number of passengers of the ill-fated Ukrainian airliner, 63 were Canadians.

While there had been statements by some American politicians the incident came as a result of the tension between Iran and the US and that it was an unfortunate incident, the majority of the opinions are against Tehran.

To the world, it was at fault and that condemnation was in order.

This was a case of an underdog becoming the evil.

Days before the incident, Iran was the underdog with politicians across the world condemning the US for killing Soleimani.

Even when it barraged neighboring Iraq with rockets that hardly made any effect on US facilities, the tide was in favor of Tehran.

But the Ukrainian airline incident had turned the tide. In the eyes of the world, Iran should be punished for it.

One thing laudable in the aftermath of the incident was Iran's readiness to accept it did shoot down the plane.

It was so unlike the incident in 1988 when a US Navy ship on the Strait of Hormuz near the Iranian city of Bandar Abbas shot down an Iranian airliner and killed all 290 people on board, most of them Iranians.

For years, the US refused to accept responsibility for the incident, even when Tehran sued before the International Criminal Court.

The US also refused the ICC's jurisdiction over it but in the end, it paid Tehran more than $130 billion for its loss.

Contrary to the reactions today, there was barely condemnation of the US for shooting down a civilian aircraft.

It was as if it did the right thing and Iran was the culprit.

Compare the Iranian airline incident to another incident.

In 1983, a Soviet fighter jet shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007, killing all 269 people aboard. Earlier than that, a Soviet plane also fired at a Korean Air Lines 902. Although the plane was hit, it managed to land and there were only two deaths.

The international community had slapped sanctions on the USSR for the incidents.

The US got away with the Iranian airliner incident.

It was as if everything that the US does is correct -- even if we knew it was not the case.