It still isn’t clear what caused the Russian Airbus A321 to crash in Sinai, killing all of its passengers and crew.
Despite all initial claims that there was no foul play and that the plane must have suffered some technical failure, the Russian airline’s owners have now said the plane could only have been brought down by “external factors”.
“We rule out a technical fault of the plane or a pilot error,” Alexander Smirnov, deputy general director of Metrojet, told a news conference in Moscow. “The only possible could be a purely mechanical external impact.”
Reuters reported that the plane wasn’t hit externally and reported, according to analysis of the flight recorders, that the pilot made no distress call.
This appeared to be contradicted, however, by an Egyptian official who previously claimed the pilot had radioed to indicate the plane was having problems.
An ISIL affiliated group operating in the Sinai Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the tragedy, but this has been dismissed by most experts including the Egyptian authorities. The Sinai insurgents are believed to have access to anti-aircraft rockets (or MANPADS); but are a small operation and one which the Egyptian government claims to have under control. It is claimed that ISIL doesn’t have any sophisticated ground-to-air missile system capable of bringing down an aircraft at the necessary altitude to fit this crime; and moreover it is claimed that there’s very little real operational link between the Sinai group and the central ISIL group in Syria and Iraq; though the Sinai affiliate has claimed to have brought down the plane on behalf of its Syrian counterpart.
But last year US intelligence officials had acknowledged a probability that American-made Stinger missiles had fallen into the possession of Islamic State militants after they took over areas controlled by the United States’ ‘moderate’ Sunni rebels.
Even so, there actually appears to be little definitive evidence publicly available yet to suggest this plane was shot down.
And a bomb on board the plane would seem to be, according to Egyptian authorities, beyond the capabilities of any of the logical suspects.
That said, each involved government has reasons to have this tragedy NOT have been a terrorist attack. The Egyptian government doesn’t want to be seen to be failing in its crackdown against terrorists and instability and also, like Tunisia, can’t afford for Egypt’s tourist industry to suffer from a perceived lack of security. And for Russia, a technical failure or personnel failure (there are reports the personnel hadn’t even been paid since July) would be an embarrassment and would undermine the country’s aviation industry.
Having this have been a terrorist strike might also provoke doubts domestically over Russia’s involvement in Syria and a civilian price having to be paid.
And actually the United States might have good reason to not want this to have been a terrorist attack too.
Because Washington recently announced to the world – in full-on stupid mode – that they *wanted* a Russian plane to be shot down. And by Washington, I actually mean John McCain.
As has been noted elsewhere, just weeks ago the war-happy US Senator John McCain told Fox News’s Neil Cavuto that, in light of Russia’s military intervention in Syria, he wanted to give Syrian rebels “the ability to shoot down those (Russian) planes.”
This is the same McCain who went to Libya in the midst of the 2011 uprising to ensure the arming of the Libyan rebels and foreign mercenaries (and Al-Qaeda fighters) to overthrow the Libyan state. “My heroes” was literally what he called the Libyan rebels and mercenaries in 2011.
The problem with McCain saying something like what he said to Fox News is that, even if it didn’t represent any hint as to any behind-the-scenes policy, it may well have acted as a subtle signal to US-backed militias that they could retaliate against Russia’s Syria intervention with implied Washington blessing.
You also have to wonder if there’s any element of psychological warfare going on, with such a large loss of Russian civilian lives coming just a few weeks after Russia began direct intervention against US-led interests in Syria. The idea that psychological warfare is carried out on countries as punishment or ‘warning’ – and particularly, it seems, involving commercial passenger planes – has been suggested a lot in recent years, in regard to, for example, the MH-17 shoot-down or Lockerbie.
Although I don’t necessarily subscribe to this particular idea, it was also even believed by some people that two tragedies involving Malaysian airlines occurred last year as psychological warfare in response to Malaysia formally indicting the Bush regime of War Crimes in Iraq.
Governments are now buried so deep in psy-ops, false-flags, counter-false-flags and god-knows-what-else that it’s virtually impossible to work out who’s doing what, which terrorist group is which government’s proxy and what anyone’s motivation is in any different week of the year. And it’s frankly becoming tiring and increasingly tedious to try to do so.
It may in fact turn out that there has been no attack here, and that Airbus A321 suffered a technical failure or human error of some description; that does of course happen, and there have been various other plane tragedies in recent years of that kind (in fact there seems to have been more commercial airline disasters in recent years than I remember there having been when I was younger).
The true cause may emerge in the next few days or weeks, given an appropriate amount of investigation.
However, given the ongoing controversy over MH-17 or the fact that, for example, the truth about Lockerbie still isn’t universally established even after 27 years, it’s possible it might never be decisively determined or divulged what actually happened to cause this Russian plane to crash in the Sinai.