News Analysis |
UAE based commercial airlines, Etihad and Emirates, have said that they are continuing with their routine operations and routes despite the warning issued by the United States that passenger airliners could be a target due to miscalculation amidst the heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf.
The U.S diplomats issued a warning that UAE based airlines could be mistakenly taken down by the Iranian military, which was dismissed by Iran completely.
“At this time, there are no changes to our flight operations. We are in close contact with the relevant authorities in the UAE and internationally and are monitoring the situation closely,” a spokesperson for Emirates was quoted as saying.
The warning has come days after oil tankers in the sea around the United Arab Emirates at Fujairah were targeted and Iran was a primary suspect as per the U.S and Gulf officials claiming that it has used its proxies to carry out the attack.
Read more: Gulf rift can benefit South Asian countries
Following the ongoing row between Iran and the United States, including its allies from the Arabian Peninsula, the Persian Gulf has lately become the most militarized sea zone of the world. Owing to the hostile environment, the U.S diplomats issued a warning that UAE based airlines could be mistakenly taken down by the Iranian military, which was dismissed by Iran completely.
The U.S itself has been the culprit in the past
Iran shares a painful history in this regard with the United States when one of its Tehran bound commercial flights was shot down with a surface to air missile over the Persian Gulf, killing all 260 passengers including 66 children. The account of the tragedy varies on both sides where Iran believes that the passenger jet was deliberately targeted and the U.S has maintained that it mistook the plane as a hostile F-14 tomcat of the Iranian Air Force.
Fujairah were targeted and Iran was a primary suspect as per the U.S and Gulf officials claiming that it has used its proxies to carry out the attack.
Citing the recent attempts of the Trump administration to paint Iran as a rogue regime which is seeking instability and war, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations recently discarded these allegations as a “part of psychological war against Iran”.
Will Iran really target a passenger airline?
Even with modern day radar and communication systems which can readily distinguish between a hostile and commercial jet, the threat is real. The illustration comes from the downing of Malaysian Airline 17 which was allegedly shot down by pro-Russian rebels over Ukraine’s airspace. Though the governments of Australia and Netherland held Russia responsible for the tragic loss of civilian lives, nothing substantial could be achieved due to Russian position on the global political landscape.
But in the case of Iran, if any incident of the sort does take place, the blame would not be on any ragtag militia rather Iran’s national army and the consequences would be severe. Still, the probability of such a scenario in the near future is near to zero. Right now, Iran is facing a closed alley where it has a very limited set of options to pull itself out of the looming crisis.
The account of the tragedy varies on both sides where Iran believes that the passenger jet was deliberately targeted and the U.S.
The economy is undergoing the worst phase, even nastier than pre-2016 nuclear deal times, it has been abiding by the JCPOA agreement so far threatening to walk away if not given any relief, but many believe that it is nothing more than a bluff too. It is nearly impossible under current circumstances that Iran would venture an act of inviting the U.S forces to wage war against it. From strategic to economic front, Iran has no chance of coming out of the war victorious; therefore it would try its best to keep from direct military confrontation with the United States.
However, to build a counter pressure it might use its proxies in the Middle East to target U.S assets, such as the recent rocket attack on the U.S embassy in Baghdad. Proxies give a plausible denial while acting to tap into the vulnerabilities of opposition at the same time, and Iran has precisely been doing the same since the last several years especially after Houthis takeover of Sanaa.
Currently, Iran’s position is quite fragile and notwithstanding the U.S President Donald Trump’s assurance to Pentagon that he does not want a war with Iran, the threat is still there. Therefore, at least from the Iranian side, extra precaution would be taken when the chances of a false flag operation would be used as a pretext of war from the other side is high.