Downed US drone adds fuel to fire!

Towheed Feroze
Published : 20:15, Jun 21, 2019 | Updated : 20:33, Jun 21, 2019

Towheed FerozeThe US-Iran tensions, which were confined to sabre rattling and some very belligerent rhetoric so far, have seen an unexpected twist. Iran claims that her forces shot down a US spy drone, which violated Iranian airspace. The US denies the claims saying that the drone was over international waters.
The incident happened on Thursday and during a time when the US is accusing Iran of sabotaging oil tankers off the coast of UAE.
The US-Iran face off is nothing new; ever since the US invaded Iraq and forced North Korea to accept denuclearisation plans, the pressure has been mounted on Iran.
For a world affairs observer from a third country, the US move appears more like an attempt to remove any competition to firmly establish complete hegemony over the middle-east region.
But to understand the Iran-West relations, one needs to go back in time and some events that are always hushed up.
Operation Ajax and the dubious role of US and the UK
Iran’s strained relation with the West goes back to 1953, when the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mosaddegh was toppled in a US-UK backed covert operation called, Operation Ajax.
The reason was simple: Mosaddegh wanted to audit the documents of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, a British corporation, and limit the control of the company over Iranian oil.
Later, the Iranian parliament voted to nationalise Iran’s oil industry and expel foreign representatives. Obviously, Britain was not amused and though in public she was a vociferous exponent of democracy and rights, behind the scene, the imperial practice of forcing others to capitulate to their wishes was deeply ensconced in the Clement Atlee government.
The operation succeeded; Mosadegh was overthrown by what looked like an uprising of the Iranian people though the levers behind the scene were controlled by the West.
Until the Shah fell in 1979, Iran had always been a vassal to the West.
Only when the revolution put an Islamic regime in power, Iran was pushed out of the good books. The history from 1979 is pretty much known to all of us. There are countless documents that suggest when Iran was undergoing a turbulent post revolution period, Saddam Hossain, then a trusted acolyte of the west, attacked Iran, leading to the eight year-long futile Iran-Iraq War.
Fast forward to the present. From a third country, almost all of the Middle-East now seems to be tilting towards the USA with the exception of Iran.
This has embarrassed and irked the West. They had/have very low tolerance level for mavericks.
In recent times, the tensions reached a new height when oil tankers were attacked by some stealth operation near the coast of UAE.
The US proof of some grainy images: Who believes them?
The US is saying that the oil tankers were sabotaged by Iranians and they claim to have images which are of course very grainy.
These so called images of irrefutable proof of Iranian involvement in the tanker attack are indistinct and even if one looks at them over and over again, the actual act of planting mines or doing anything nefarious is never obvious.
By the way, in this age of cyber-crime and image altering, it’s possible to manufacture anything to undermine an opposition.
What is most surprising is that a defence analyst on BBC is saying that the proof is irrefutable and all evidence points to Iran.
This is not to exonerate Iran altogether but if the hazy images are the evidence then one has to say that either the analyst has access to some extra information withheld from the public or, he is saying what he wants to believe.
Perhaps, he is under specific instructions to give a particular slant to the tanker sabotage episode.
Sorry to say this, but when it comes to defence analysts, an objective non-partisan view is missing most of the times.
U.S. Air Force maintainers prepare a U.S. military drone RQ-4A Global Hawk for takeoff at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, December 2, 2010. Picture taken December 2, 2010. Courtesy Eric Harris/U.S. Air Force/Handout via REUTERSThey are put before the camera to carry on asserting a point without the proper facts.
If Iran had been involved and there was full proof evidence then the act should be denounced in all possible manner, but what we are seeing is a blatant one sided attempt to vilify a nation.
Interestingly, no matter what the US administration is saying or what the British government is doing to provide some back up support to the US narrative, whether others take these views seriously is the issue.
After the Iraq debacle in which an invasion was launched on fallacy, most take US versions of events with buckets of salt.
The fallen drone and the forgotten U2 incident:
When the downing of the drone was broken by the news media and the US immediately issued a statement, saying that the spy plane was on international waters, one was reminded of the U2 plane incident of 1960 when the Soviet forces brought down the U2 spy plane over its territory and got the pilot, Gary Powers.
Even at that time, US initially said that they had lost a weather research airplane, but when the Soviet Union presented parts of the US wreckage, images taken by the plane plus the pilot before the world, the US was forced to retract the previous statement and admit to the spying mission.
Talk about global embarrassment!
So, if past history is anything to go by, dishonesty has been there on the part of the US. They tried to hush up spying operations but was caught with undeniable proof, especially the detained pilot.
Maybe it’s fortunate for the US that drones are pilotless and therefore, whatever the Iranians show as debris from the spy craft, the evidence will never be rock solid.
One should not say with certainty that the drone was on Iranian airspace but given US’s duplicity of the past, accepting their account is always difficult.
As per New York Times, the Trump administration ordered a military strike on Iran but later, cancelled it. Since the White House is declining to comment, there are several speculations going about.
Did Russia issue a warning? We don’t know as yet but so far, full blown retaliation hasn’t started as yet.
But Iran is not Iraq and from the defiant stance of her leaders, it’s clear that if there’s a conflict, the US will have to face a tough opponent.
In addition, in case of war, the US may stand to lose many European allies.
The world has become a volatile place because of the US-UK interference in Libya and Iraq. The scourge of the ‘IS’ appearing as a by- product to destabilise societies across the world.
The US president is supposed to have said: we are cocked and loaded to retaliate!
For many, this of course translates into: we are cocked and loaded to make a massive mess one more time!
Towheed Feroze is a news editor at Bangla Tribune and teaches at the University of Dhaka.

***The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions and views of Bangla Tribune.