Rudeness and Retort: The Russian Airline Crash in Sinai

(from Egyptian Streets, sharing a screenshot from the Washington Post)
(from Egyptian Streets, sharing a screenshot from the Washington Post)

The downing of a Russian tourist plane over Egypt’s Sinai has stirred the emotions of many. An editorial is allowed greater range of expression than that expected of sober journalism, but this analysis by the Washington Post is not only frightfully early, but incredibly rude:

The state media controlled by Messrs. Putin and Sissi have a nasty habit of blaming all disasters on the United States, no matter how far-fetched the theory required. So we won’t be surprised if Russians and Egyptians are told the CIA is somehow responsible for the tragedy in the Sinai. Those seeking a more rational conclusion must consider this somber point: The Egyptian and Russian regimes are far less adept at fighting terrorism than they are at lying.

The above is their conclusion, even though the authors admitted neither Putin nor Sisi have ruled out terrorism. In fact the editorial earlier stated:

As U.S. officials underlined, there are strong indications but so far no conclusive evidence that the plane was bombed.

The Washington Post story caused the independent grassroots publication Egyptian Streets to publish its own editorial demanding an apology:

I find this editorial one of the most sickening pieces I’ve read in my life. The Post, walking the line of most of the western media, believes it has such a high moral stance that it can pass on judgements about a government that lost 224 of its citizens in a plane crash, and another that will suffer severe consequences in its tourism industry due to it. Instead of showing solidarity and support for a country that is struggling to get back on its feet, the western media seems almost cheerful that this accident took place. They are taking the opportunity to politicize the misery, in an attempt to undermine the Egyptian and Russian governments – falling so low as to accuse them of being liars.

The author is clear the Egyptian government has many failings, but that it has indeed made great gains against terrorism. And if the Post wishes to chastise a nation for falsehood in connection with terrorism, it has a far better target:

Under the pretext of the war on terror, the United States and the United Kingdom occupied Iraq with no international mandate, hung its president, dissolved its ruling party, fragmented its military and shed millions of innocent Iraqi lives. The United States government lied about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction – and no US or UK official has been held accountable for this lie until today. Besides the destruction of the Iraqi State and the killing of over a million innocent civilians, the invasion has also fueled the creation of the very terrorists Egypt is fighting today.

So are the ‘locals’ quick to scapegoat anyone but themselves?

Egyptians are not hysterical people who would continuously blame all of their problems on the United States or the CIA, as the Post alleges. Egyptians have legitimate reasons to be wary of American foreign policy in the region, as they are suffering its catastrophic repercussions today.

I don’t know what is taking place behind the scenes. But the Egyptian government has stated that Western governments have not shared the intelligence being mentioned in the press. Is this also Egyptian blustering? If not, then why is critical evidence being released to the public before going to the sovereign nations responsible to sort out this tragedy? The inquiry the Post labels as stonewalling also includes Irish and French experts. Are these in on it also? Why the rush to judgment?

Of course, about the only good reason would be that they did share it, and Egypt still obfuscates. If it was a bomb, and if the governments are more concerned about their shelf-life than their citizens, countless lives of foreign vacationers could still be at stake. If Egypt was to bury its head in the sand, the media slap in the face might be needed. After all, neither Egypt nor Russia have the best record of transparency.

But such rudeness from a respectable publication?

To start with, it is beyond doubt that the Egyptian government has its flaws in managing the economy, its overflowing and corrupt bureaucracy, and its lack of respect for human rights. But things have come to a point where the western media needs to be put in its proper place.

That place is to report, to investigate, and to hold accountable. That day may come for Sisi’s and Putin’s handling of this tragedy. But until then, take care before calling someone a liar. And show respect to a nation in crisis.

One reply on “Rudeness and Retort: The Russian Airline Crash in Sinai”

Sad as it is, it can still be felt that many media, public and political figures in the West are frustrated that Morsi was toppled. In many media there were never such critical and often aggressive articles about Egypt during Morsi’s reign.


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