Plane crash demonstration is Iran’s ‘Chernobyl’ moment?

Plane crash demonstration is Iran's 'Chernobyl' moment
Protesters were angered by the Iranian government's lies over the plane crash. Source: AFP
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Daily US Times, Tehran: Many protesters in Iran took streets over the weekend to show their anger to the government. This happened after the government admitted they mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane.

The protest was not large in number, but it carries significance. Several observers already indicate these demonstrations is the beginning could make an end to the Iranian regime.

Iran acknowledged that it mistakenly shot down the jet which killed all 176 people on board. The incident happened amid high tensions with the US. The victims were mostly Iranian, but a large number of them were Canadians.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif blamed “human error” prompted by “US adventurism”. Mr Zarif indicated killing of revered Iranian commander, Qasem Soleimani and the situation created in the region after it.

On Tuesday, Iran announced that it arrested several people linked to the incident and President Hassan Rouhani said those responsible would be punished.

Iran is currently pointing fingers to Washington and its allies to provocating the plane crash and igniting protestors in Tehran’s streets. Trump administration has fomented a fractious atmosphere, it was not responsible for this accident.

Video appears to show airliner hit with missile over Tehran
The plane crash creates lots of suspicion. Source: AFP

The timing of the protest is important. Iran had seen severe unrest just several weeks before the killing of Soleimani. But following his killing, a wave of nationalism appeared in the first place. The protesters demanded resign of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Protesters chanted ”death to the dictator” and ”death to the liar”.

A video published internet where a protester heard of saying “Khamenei have shame. Leave the country.”

The demonstration is already called by some as Iran’s “Chernobyl” moment.

But, whether Iran’s grief and fury could lead to revolution is hard to imagine.

Revolutionary moment?

A senior research fellow and leader of the Iran Forum at London-based think tank Chatham House said: “Through a western lens, we’re always looking for a revolutionary moment [in Iran].”

She said there are similarities between how authorities handled the Chernobyl accident and the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752. In both the time, the governments tried to cover-up, foreign governments provided solid evidence and a reluctant admission — the parallels may end there.

Vakil said this could be Iran’s Chernobyl, but it will depend on how the country is going to handle the situation.

“[After Chernobyl] everything was very much incumbent on one political leader making a decision to accept responsibility and alter political dynamics.”

She points out that only the Supreme Leader Khamenei can make a difference.