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Air tragedy above Sinai: why are UK and USA so active in blaming ISIL?

A Russian Airbus A321 fell down in Egypt on Oct 31, 2015. Its debris was found in the deserts of Sinai. All the 224 people onboard were killed. Most of them were Russian citizens. The news was in the spotlight in the following days as one of the scenarios was an act of terrorism. Terrorists often use such attacks to turn people’s minds to a way they (or those using results of the terror activity) need. So, it is interesting what western mass media think about this.

The key preliminary conclusions are known:

- the weather in Sinai was fine;

- the plane fell apart in the air;

- about 21 minutes after the take-off, the plane began dipping down and losing speed;

- the plane was just 18-year-old and was fully operative.

There are two scenarios what might cause it to fall: either a defect or an act of terrorism. The accident was followed by the Interstate Aviation Committee’s decision to ban the use of Boeing 737 by Russian air companies. Obviously, the crash of a plane by another manufacturer was just a pretext for such a verdict. The problem here is that it has left Russia without its key air carrier.

But this is not what western mass media were concerned about. Their main question is whether there was a bomb.

The Egyptians and the Russians preferred the former scenario, the British and the Americans the latter. The Interstate Aviation Committee is taking time.

Today the north of Sinai is controlled by the ISIL-affiliated Wilayat Sinai group. A bomb in the plane put there by ISIL fighters or their supporters could be the cause of the crash. After the revolution of 2011 and the coup of 2013, the situation in Egypt has been very tense. Hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and policemen have been killed in Sinai since the coup. So, the bomb theory may well be true, especially as the Wilayat Sinai fighters keep claiming that it was them who blew up the plane and that it was their revenge for Russia’s air strikes in Syria.

They in the UK say this is “significantly possible.” In his interview to Sky TV, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that Wilayat Sinai might be responsible for the crash: "We've looked at the whole information picture, including that claim, but of course lots of other bits of information as well, and concluded that there is a significant possibility."

British Prime Minister David Cameron was more specific: he said that the crash was “more likely than not” caused by a bomb.

So, you can see that they in the UK are inclined to believe in the bomb theory. This is why they have decided to evacuate their citizens from Sharm el-Sheikh. Now there are almost 20,000 British tourists there. But very soon the British authorities are going to bring all of them back home.

ABC News claims that there are some intercepted messages confirming that there was a bomb on the board.

The CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies have made no official statements on the case, as they have not yet found anything proving that any of the passengers had any relation to a terrorist group.

Over the last few days, the Egyptians have taken a number of steps that have indirectly confirmed the bomb theory. They have fired three top managers of the Sharm el-Sheikh airport. The official reason was the airport’s poor security.

Reuters was more direct in confirming the bomb scenario. It quoted western special services as blaming ISIL for the crash.

One more proof is the decision by a number of air companies in the U.K., the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany and France to suspend their flights over Sinai. In the case of Germany and France, it was not a ban but just advice. As regards the tourists affected by the decision, for example, the German Foreign Ministry recommends them to contact their travel agencies. Despite all this ado, Turkish and Swiss air companies continue flying to Sharm el-Sheikh.

The crash has shown that after such an accident one should either give facts or keep silence. The comments from Egypt and Russia have demonstrated how one should not act in such cases, especially if a terrorist act is possible.

Right after the crash, the Egyptian authorities appeared with a whole bunch of versions. One official said that the plane left Egypt’s air space with no problems. Another one said that the pilot reported a problem shortly after the take-off and asked for a crash landing site. Later both stories were disproved. The owner of the plane, Russia’s Kogalymavia, said there was some external impact on the plane. Later the Russian President’s Spokesman Dmitry Peskov qualified all unproved assumptions as speculations. Both the Egyptians and the Russians said it was not a terrorist act. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told CNN that he was “somewhat surprised” by the British decision and admitted that it could have serious consequences for a huge number of tourism-dependent Egyptians.

The accident’s consequences for tourism in Egypt and for political situation in Russia were obvious. And this is exactly why the Americans and the British are so actively in pushing the bomb theory.

They hope that this will fuel the Russians’ support for Putin’s air campaign in Syria. If ISIL’s responsibility for the crash is proved, the Russians will urge their authorities to be more active in Syria. Today most of them approve of the campaign on condition that it claims no Russian lives. In fact, they do not regard ISIL as a direct threat to their security. So, Americans’ goal is scare them and to force them to pressure their President into more decisive steps in Syria and thereby to draw their country deeper into the war.

And what about the Russians? The crash has shown that most of they do not realize that their country is involved in a war. Most of them are indifferent. Unlike the Muslims, they did not take Vladimir Putin’s campaign in Syria very seriously. And so, acts like this may sober them up. Despite the war, there still are lots of Russian tourists in Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey and those people are very vulnerable to terrorist attacks. The enemies of Russia realize that terrorism is their only real weapon against the Russians and they will certainly use it. In this light, it is surprising that the Russian Foreign Ministry is doing nothing to warn its citizens not to visit certain countries for the time being - for such warnings are really vital in such conditions.

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