World View: Bombing of Plane in Egypt Threatens Russia’s Syria Strategy

The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • US, Britain suggest ISIS bomb brought down Russian plane in Egypt
  • Plane bombing threatens Russia’s Syria strategy

US, Britain suggest ISIS bomb brought down Russian plane in Egypt

Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh Red Sea resort
Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh Red Sea resort

American and British government officials are saying off the record that suspicions are growing that the Russian passenger plane that was blown out of the sky in Egypt on Saturday was brought down by a bomb planted by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

The plane, a Metrojet Airbus A321 Russian airliner, took off on Saturday from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh airport on a flight to St. Petersburg, Russia. It crashed shortly after takeoff, leaving widely scattered debris across a large region of the Sinai desert. Sharm el-Sheikh is a Red Sea resort very popular with British and Russian vacationers, with palm trees lining beautiful beaches.

Initial claims on Saturday by an ISIS-linked terror group that it had “shot down” the plane were rejected by both Egypt and Russia, and are still rejected, since there is no evidence that any missile strike was involved. It is now believed that the plane was brought down by a bomb planted on the plane before it left the airport. The bomb’s explosion may have been triggered by an isometric pressure switch that reacts when air pressure indicates that the plane is at a specific altitude.

If it turns out to be true that an ISIS affiliate bomb brought down the Russian airliner, it would be a huge coup for ISIS, which will have succeeded at a task that al-Qaeda has failed to do, despite repeated attempts since 9/11. Al Ahram (Cairo) and VOA

Plane bombing threatens Russia’s Syria strategy

The likely possibility that an ISIS-linked bomb brought down Russia’s Metrojet Flight 9268 is going to throw Russia’s Syria strategy into chaos, because of the justified perception Sunni jihadists targeted a Russian plane in revenge for Russia’s military intervention in Syria.

I have written numerous times about the insanity of Russia’s military intervention in Syria. I wrote in “13-Sep-15 World View — Russia opens a dangerous new chapter in Syria and the Mideast,” that Russia’s military deployment would trigger nationalistic and belligerent responses from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations, from terrorists in al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front) and ISIS, and from the Recep Tayyip Erdogan government of Turkey.

In particular, it would be viewed by Sunni jihadists as a repeat of the 1980s Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, which they saw as a Christian invasion of a Muslim country. Westerners have almost no memory of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but it was a monumental event in the Muslim world. Since it came at the same time as the Iran/Iraq war and the civil wars in Lebanon and Syria, it was as significant to the Muslim world as World War II was to the West.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan brought up the rise of modern Sunni jihadist movements, including the leadership of Osama bin Laden and the formation of al-Qaeda. So the invasion runs very deep in the psyches of Sunni Salafists and jihadists. The new Russian intervention in Syria is as significant to them as it would be to the West if Hitler rose from the dead and invaded France again.

So it is quite plausible that either ISIS or al-Qaeda specifically targeted a Russian airliner in revenge for the intervention into Syria.

More and more Russians are questioning the wisdom of the Syria intervention. Many reports indicate that Russian soldiers do not wish to fight there. The Russian population will tolerate the Syria intervention as long as they can be convinced that it consists of nothing but airstrikes.

That conviction was going to change anyway as more and more coffins with dead Russian soldiers return from Syria. But the destruction of a Russian airliner and its possible link to the Soviet intervention into Syria, is going to turn Russian public opinion against the intervention, and force a change of strategy. CNN and Russia Today and Al Ahram (Cairo)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Egypt, Russia, Metrojet Airbus A321, Flight 9268, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Sharm el-Sheikh, Afghanistan, al-Qaeda
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