ANALYSIS: Iran in even bigger trouble after downing of Ukrainian plane

ANALYSIS: Anti-regime protests intensify after Iran admits to 'accidentally' downing Ukrainian passenger jet.

Tags: Iran Ukraine
Yochanan Visser ,

Iranian missiles (archive)
Iranian missiles (archive)

The second attempt of the Iranian regime to lie to the Iranian nation about its actions in the escalation that brought The United States and the Islamic Republic to the brink of war has failed and could now boomerang on Tehran.

After the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps launched 22 guided ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases in use by the US military on Tuesday night last week, the regime spread fake-news about casualties and claimed 80 US soldiers died in the strikes.

So only Iranian media reported that 80 American soldiers had died in the attack and in a country where internet access is limited and the bulk of the population only knows the Farsi language the propaganda had its desired effect.

The reason the regime of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spread this fake-news was that it wanted to create the impression that it had avenged the death of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated by the US Air Force early Friday morning January 3rd.

Early September last year, Iran showed off its missile and drone capabilities when it launched pinpoint strikes at Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil installations.

Even Israeli military experts were surprised by the capabilities the Iranians showed off with the attack on the Kingdom that saw its oil output almost reduced to zero for a couple of days.

So when Khamenei personally instructed the IRGC to launch missile strikes from Iranian soil at the Ain al-Assad base in the west of the Anbar Province in Iraq and an air force base near the Kurdish city of Irbil, he also wanted to make sure they would not result in American casualties.

After all, Khamenei saw what happened with Soleimani who was taken out after he ordered an earlier attack on a US base in northern Iraq in which an American engineer died and four US soldiers were wounded.

The Iranian Supreme Leader faced a dilemma.

He knew that Iran had to respond to the brazen drone attack that killed Soleimani, the second powerful man in Iran and his Iraqi sidekick Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of the al-Hashd al-Sha’abi organization of predominantly Shiite militias in Iraq and the commander of the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia.

On the other hand, Khamenei is keen on avoiding a situation that could spin out of control and that would lead to all-out war with the US.

The Iranian leader realizes that his military is no match for the US army that has a yearly budget of $720 billion, while the Iranian military spends only $6 billion on ‘defense’.

A full-blown war would lead to a humiliating Iranian defeat and would most likely cause the demise of Khamenei’s regime and put an end to the Islamic Revolution which was spreading to other parts of the Middle East due to Soleimani’s strategy.

Saving his regime is Khamenei’s top priority as he showed in November when he ordered the bloody suppression of a new uprising by the Iranian people over the policy to use the bulk of the dwindling resources of the regime for advancing Soleimani’s Shiite Crescent project in the Middle East.

Over 1,500 Iranians lost their lives in this uprising which spread all over Iran and which was triggered by a sharp hike in fuel prices.

But then came the next crisis, when two hours after the IRGC launched the missile attacks on the US military in Iraq a Ukrainian civil plane with 176 people aboard crashed near Tehran.

The regime was quick to announce the crash of the three-year-old plane had been caused by a “technical failure”.

Lying to the Iranian people by spreading disinformation might work inside Iran but not when it comes to the international community. You can withhold the so-called black boxes of the plane as the regime tried to do but there are other means to determine what happened.

There are Israeli and American spy satellites that are watching Iran 24 hours a day and there are always Iranians who find ways to transmit images of the debris at the site of the crash as happened with the downed Boeing 737 of Ukrainian Airways.

So after images were published with holes in the wings of the Ukrainian plane and a video emerged showing the Boeing 737-800 was hit by a missile the regime finally admitted that someone had made ‘a mistake’ and that the IRGC had shot down the jet by using two Russian-made SA-15 Gauntlet surface to air missiles (SAM).

According to the regime, IRCG operators of the advanced SAM battery mistook flight PS 752 of Ukrainian Airlines for an incoming cruise missile while the Boeing was flying at low speed (500 km/h) after taking off from Khomeini International Airport.

This wasn’t visible on the radars of the IRGC crew?

Then there is the fact that after the Iranian missile attacks on the US military in Iraq several other civilian jets took the same flight path as the Ukrainian plane which the regime says came too close to “a sensitive military IRGC spot.” None of these other planes were attacked by the IRGC, however.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh of the IRGC’s aerospace program also claimed internal IRGC communications were jammed and that his operators had only ten seconds to decide whether or not to launch the SAM missiles.

Iranians are now back on the streets of Iranian cities and demand Khamenei steps down or wish “the dictator” dead. They are also asking questions such as why the regime didn’t close Iranian air space before and after launching the missile strikes at the US military.

The protesters are outraged by the fact that the regime was very careful not to hurt any US personnel during the strikes at the American bases in Iraq but didn’t hesitate to shoot down a civilian plane full with Iranian ex-pats as we learn from the list of passengers.

Analysts now ask themselves if the drama with flight PS 752 will influence the stand-off with the United States.

Since several other countries are now demanding action against Iran the answer could be yes.

The regime, however, seems not having abandoned its plan to hit the US.

US security forces arrested an Iranian man on Friday who behaved suspiciously in the area near President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida. The man was in the possession of machete, a pickax, and two knives as well as $22.000 in cash money.