A fatal one at that

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As a video emerged that was widely shared by the international media, of a light travelling towards a flying object which later caught fire and came down in a matter of minutes, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed the plane was downed albeit inadvertently. The United States President Trump said as much yet extricating itself from the episode, saying it must have been the other party: Iran.

Until Saturday afternoon, Iran called it a bluff and said only a transparent investigation into the crash shall establish the facts. Yesterday they confirmed that their internal investigation has revealed it was a human error and that missile mistakenly hit the aircraft. All 176 people on board were killed in the crash.

A news agency reporting the development said the Ukrainian aircraft had flown close to a sensitive military site belonging to the elite Revolutionary Guards and was shot down unintentionally. There were a series of tweets by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif to admit the error, assuring of an investigation.

President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran “deeply regrets the disastrous mistake”. He promised that investigation would continue to “identify and prosecute this great tragedy and unforgivable mistake”.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky called for punishing those responsible for the downing and paying compensation. Mr Trudeau said closure and accountability were needed. Russia called for learning lessons from the tragedy.

Hours before this incident, Iran had fired as many as 22 ballistic missiles on the US military installations in Iraq. As a natural but unfortunate reaction, the military personnel took this flight to be heading towards Iran’s military installation as retaliation and downed it. Mr Zarif in one of his tweets said it happened as a result of the unnecessary crisis situation created by the US.

As everybody agrees it was unintentional, there needs to be quick and fair investigation into the incident and those responsible should be punished. Additionally more stringent protocols needs to be put in place not only in Iran but elsewhere as well so that no such horrible accidents happen where innocent civilians having no connection at all with the conflict lose lives. Besides accountability, closure for families of those departed is also important. And it should be done in a befitting manner taking care of the sensitivities involved.

Not the least, the conflict in the first few days has exacted so much damage already. The whole region is on the knife-edge. Oil prices have shot up impacting economies in a massive way. Although there is a visible climb down, the sanctions by the US on Iran are troubling. Courtesy this stand-off, Iran has also announced to withdraw from the nuclear deal. Already huge loss inflicted, there is an urgent need for the parties concerned to back off from their belligerent positions and let the world breathe easy.