A Russian airliner bound for St. Petersburg crashed while flying over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all on board. With the peninsula seeing fierce fighting recently as the presence of foreign-backed terrorist organizations has grown, immediate suspicion was raised regarding a potential terror attack involving either a bomb brought on board or a missile fired from below.
As Russia carries out its investigation of the disaster, the rest of the objective world waits for answers. For others, they have already begun drawing up narratives to use the disaster to serve their purposes. One such individual is John Bradley, a frequent contributor for The Economist, The Forward, Newsweek, The New Republic, The Daily Telegraph, Prospect, and The Independent.
He has also lectured at the Washington-based policy think-tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and for over 2 years, was given almost unlimited access across Saudi Arabia while writing his establishment-lauded book, “Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis.”
His most recent work is an unsavory op-ed for the UK Spectator titled, “The Russian plane crash could undermine Putin’s Syria strategy.” In it, Bradley conveniently answers the most important question that will be asked if investigators determine the plane’s destruction was an act of terrorism, “cui bono?”
Bradley describes not only how the disaster helps further undermine Egypt, (a nation struggling to balance between placating Western interests and and averting a “Libya-style” collapse within its own borders) but also how the incident would undermine Russia’s efforts in Syria.
It now seems fairly likely that an explosion brought down the Russian passenger airline over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula over the weekend. One Metrojet official has already suggested that the ‘only explainable cause is physical impact on the aircraft’ and they have ruled out technical failure or human error. If the ongoing investigation proves that to be the case, it will obviously have an immediate and catastrophic impact on Egypt’s already decimated tourism industry.
Regarding Russia in particular, he states:
But it would also be the most unwelcome news possible for Vladimir Putin, who sold military intervention in Syria to the Russian people as a way of making them safer. In turn, opponents of Russian intervention – the US, Turkey and the Gulf Arab despots – would be privately elated. For does this not prove their argument that Russian intervention only complicates the situation on the ground while increasing the threat of terror attacks?
But should the downed airliner turn out to be the victim of terrorism, not only would “the US, Turkey and the Gulf Arab despots” be “privately elated,” it also appears that ISIS would have provided them a much needed card to play during future negotiations regarding the conflict in Syria. After noting that ISIS took credit for the downed airliner as it was closing in on a motorway used to resupply Syrian forces operating in Aleppo, Bradley explains:
All [at the negotiations], of course, realise that it is only worth negotiating from a position of strength. The anti-Assad allies will be hoping that Putin now fears a new Afghanistan, and will therefore be more flexible on the question of Assad’s departure. They will also be determined to ramp up support for the so-called ‘moderate rebels’, especially given that Washington has recently sent in Special Forces to ‘advise’ them (or, in other words, act as human shields against Russian bombs).
Bradley sums up his op-ed by almost celebrating the fact that those who assumed Russia’s entry into the Syrian conflict would spell its quick conclusion were “sadly mistaken.”
Should it turn out that terrorists brought down the Russian airliner, it certainly would fulfill Bradley’s summary regarding “cui bono?” Bradley himself admits that US special forces are simply serving as “human shields” for Western backed militants against Russian strikes. These same militants have in recent days, been coordinating with ISIS openly in the advances mentioned by Bradley along the Syrian motorway. It is clear that ISIS is not a third team competing in this regional conflict, but rather a member of the very team that has been reaping the most benefits from its existence, “the US, Turkey and the Gulf Arab despots.”
Ulson Gunnar is a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.