Iran admits to shooting down or Ukrainian aeroplane, rioters demand resignation of senior leaders
- Iran admits to shooting down or Ukrainian aeroplane.
- Riots continue for a second day, demanding Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to step down.
- A regime change could be on the cards.
On Saturday, Iran's security forces deployed in large numbers across the capital expecting more protests after its Revolutionary Guard admitted to accidentally shooting down the passenger plane. Today, the riots continue, with protestors demanding the resignation of senior leaders following the admission by authorities.
Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 bound for Kyiv, Ukraine, crashed minutes after take-off from the Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran on Wednesday just hours following the missile attack US forces in Iraq in retaliation for the US assassination of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.
Foreign governments condemned Iran’s action
The Iranian regime called the incident a “disastrous mistake,” saying air defenses were fired in error while on alert after Iranian missile strikes on US targets in Iraq.
Foreign governments condemned Iran’s action, with Ukraine demanding compensation and a US official calling the downing reckless.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Iran’s acknowledgment that it shot down the plane was a step in the right direction but he wanted those responsible to be held to account.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter that “human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster,” citing an initial armed forces investigation into the crash.
United Kingdom's ambassador to Tehran detained
Rob Macaire, the United Kingdom's ambassador to Tehran, was detained for supposedly joining the demonstrations, of which he dines and which has been condemned by UK's PM Boris Johnson.
"Can confirm I wasn't taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy," Rob Macaire wrote on Twitter, saying he left "after 5 minutes when some started chanting".
Macaire added he was detained for half an hour "after leaving the area".
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the arrest was a "flagrant violation of international law" and repeated calls for Iran to de-escalate tensions. "The Iranian government is at a crossroads moment," Raab said in a statement. "It can continue its march towards pariah status with all the political and economic isolation that entails, or take steps to de-escalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forwards."
What this means for Iranian politics
Mehdi Karroubi, a leader of Iran's opposition Green Movement, called on Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to step down over the handling of the downed airliner.
"You, as the commander in chief of the armed forces, are directly responsible for this," Karroubi said in a statement.
"If you were aware and you let military and security authorities deceive people, then there is no doubt you lack the attributes of constitutional leadership."
“They were so careful not to kill any American in their revenge for Soleimani. But they did not close the airport? This shows how much this regime cares for Iranians,” said Iranian citizen Mira Sedaghati.
In a show of solidarity with the people of Iran against the regime, Trump tweeted: "To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I've stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you. We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage."
“This is not human error. This is a crime against humanity,” said exiled Persian Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi on Saturday. “He who has irresponsibly empowered his thugs to fire at will at innocents bears full responsibility. #Enough_is_enough. Khamenei and his regime must go.”
Should there be a regime change and a pro-Western one of that, then that would be a step towards peace in the Middle East. However, for now, tensions are likely to keep risk appetite shelved and the price of oil underpinned.