Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner last Wednesday, just minutes after it took off from Tehran’s international airport, killing all 176 people aboard. The dead included 82 Iranians and 63 Canadian citizens, along with some Germans, Afghans, Swedes and British passengers.
The passenger jet crashed in a suburb southwest of Tehran. Iran continued for three days to deny the plane was brought down by a missile, claiming “mechanical failure” was responsible for the disaster.
After satellite footage surfaced and was published in leading media outlets, showing the plane was struck by a missile in mid-air, Iran’s government was forced to acknowledge the truth: the military had indeed targeted Flight 752 in a “colossal mistake.”
Various leaders claimed there was a “breakdown in communication” and a missile operator had mere seconds to decide whether to fire. But the regime’s persistent lies and denials for days after it destroyed the airliner cast doubt on their pronouncements.
Thousands of Iranians took to the streets, and anti-government protests erupted at Iranian universities across the country, in response to the government’s admission. Crowds of students chanted for the Revolutionary Guards to “let go of the country!” They also lashed out at Soleimani, saying that he “was a murderer” and “his leader is too!”
Videos emerged online that appear to show Iranian police and security forces firing live ammunition to disperse demonstrators. The videos were sent to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran and later verified by The Associated Press, reported Fox News.
One video shows a woman being carried away in the aftermath as a trail of blood can be seen on the ground. Those around her cry out that she has been shot by live ammunition in the leg.
Photos and video after the incident show pools of blood on the sidewalk.
63 Canadians Aboard Doomed Plane
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a call to Iran demanded “justice, accountability, answers, closure and compensation for the victims’ and their families.”
“These families were struck down out of the blue by a regime that they had fled,” he told news correspondents afterward. “They deserve answers… I won’t rest until I get them.”
This was strong rhetoric for the normally restrained, non-reactive Trudeau.
In statements to the press, Trudeau said he had made it clear to Teheran that Canada must be included in the investigation of the tragedy to assure transparency. “The Iranians have indicated they understand this,” he assured the public.
Trudeau said this with a straight face even though Iranian officials had just brazenly lied to the world for three days.
In addition, at the same time regime leaders were mouthing promises of a “comprehensive, transparent investigation,” they were sending bulldozers to clear the crash site and destroy evidence before teams of investigators from Canada could arrive.
Some of these scenes were captured on social media, betraying the duplicity of Iranian clerics and raising questions about Trudeau’s credulousness.
Trudeau Sought to Re-establish Relations with Iran
Elected in 2015, Trudeau is a member of Canada’s Liberal party who campaigned on a promise to restore diplomatic relations with Iran (suspended by the Harper government in 2012).
This effort to woo Iran involved turning a blind eye to the clerics who export terror throughout the Mideast, threaten to blow Israel off the map with ballistic missiles and prop up the murderous Assad regime in Syria.
Trudeau’s path to appeasement ran into setbacks, however, over the case of a Canadian-Iranian citizen Maryam Mombein. The widow of Iranian-Canadian professor Kavous Seyed-Emami, who died in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison last February after being arrested on spying charges, Maryam is being barred from returning home to her family in Canada.
Her husband Emani was co-founder and director of the Persian Heritage Wildlife Foundation. He had set up wildlife cameras to record the movements of the Asiatic cheetah, when he was arrested by Iranian police who claimed his equipment consisted of illegal “surveillance” devices.
Officials claimed Emami committed suicide in prison, which his family denied. His widow and sons were ordered to stop seeking information about the circumstances of his death. When they continued to question the official version, the regime retaliated against Maryam, refusing to permit her to leave the country with her children.
The case stirred an outcry in Canada. Trudeau was besieged by calls to protest Iran’s human rights violations in holding Maryam hostage, but held back from doing so.
Even Liberal voices such as former justice minister Irwin Cotler urged the government to take action against Iran. Cotler advised using the Magnitsky Act against Iran’s leaders. The legislation authorizes the government to impose sanctions such as travel bans and freezing the assets of individuals deemed responsible for human rights violations.
Trudeau rejected this path and also dismissed calls from his own Liberal party to act on a motion passed by the Canadian Parliament in 2018 that named Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization.
Ultimately, the most Trudeau was willing to do in response to public outrage is freeze talks on re-establishing diplomatic relations with Iran, pending the release of Maryam Mombein.
Canada Is Hamstrung
The current uproar, however, has Canadians demanding forceful leadership. The masses won’t allow the government to shrug off Iran’s shooting Canadians out of the sky, lying to the world about it and removing evidence and identification of the victims.
But Canadians also know that that at the end of the day, they are essentially hamstrung, writes editor Matt Gurney in Canadian National Post.
“Watching the prime minister speak, hearing him reply to question after question with some variation of ‘We need to gather more facts,’ only served to remind us that once the facts have been gathered and the questions answered, we’re actually going to have to do something,” the author wrote.
“And the more you think about it, the clearer it becomes that that’s going to be really, really hard for Canada.”
“Canada is a rich country, but it is not a powerful country,” Gurney pointed out, noting that “war is off the table,” and “we have no diplomatic relations with Iran, and therefore very little leverage.”
“We can demand access to the [crash] scene. Perhaps we’ll get it. We can take care of the families of our dead, and work to keep their memory alive.
“But it won’t make anyone feel better, and it won’t really influence the outcome of global events,” Gurney wrote. “The prime minister knows this already. If you were wondering why he had so little to say on Thursday, it’s probably because the truth isn’t something many of us will want to hear.”
Condolences have poured in to Canada from all parts of the world for the deaths of their citizens, including from Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyomin Netanyahu said in a statement on Sunday that Iran knew right from the start what had happened, but tried to cover it up.
“Just as they lied about their secret nuclear program, they are lying now about the downing of the Ukrainian aircraft,” said Netanyahu. “They knew from the start that they had downed it. They tried to deceive the entire world. This is completely contrary to how a civilized country should act.
“We send our condolences to the victims of Iran’s deception and negligence, Netanyahu said.”
Netanyahu words carried no hint of the strain in Israel-Canada ties that followed Trudeau’s backstabbing of Israel at the UN in November and December 2019.
Israel and Canada had maintained close ties since Israel became a country in 1948 and a UN member the following year. Periods of closeness have alternated with some periods of distance, but through all the highs and lows, the two countries remained political allies and trading partners.
When Stephen Harper, a Conservative, became Prime Minister in 2006, he established a much closer bond with Israel.
Under Harper, Canada consistently opposed the UN’s anti-Israel resolutions. In addition, Ottawa cut funding to the Palestinians after Hamas’s victory in the 2006 legislative elections. The Canadian government defended Israel’s invasion of Lebanon that same year as a “measured response” against Hezbollah. This was in contrast to the criticism leveled at Israel by almost the whole world for using “excessive force” against the terrorists.
Under Harper, Canada in 2012 was only one of nine countries to oppose upgrading the Palestinian Authority from “entity” to the more privileged category of “nonmember state” at the UN, which enabled the PA to harass Israel at the world body.
In another show of support for Israel, Canada backed Israel’s war in Gaza in 2014, and opposed Hamas.
Israel greatly appreciated Canada’s friendship during this period. Prime Minister Netanyahu called Harper “a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people” and invited him to become the first Canadian PM ever to address the Knesset.
Then, two months ago, Canada’s current prime minister Trudeau betrayed years of close ties and friendship between the countries by choosing to vote for an anti-Israel resolution co-sponsored by North Korea, Zimbabwe and Palestine Liberation Organization.
He not only broke with Canada’s long-standing tradition—and his own personal record—of opposing anti-Israel measures; he even declined to abstain during the vote. Instead, the Canadian prime minister instructed UN ambassador Mark Andre Blanchard to vote “yes” on the package of 20 anti-Israel measures that are annually adopted by the world body.
The resolution explicitly refers to contested lands between the two countries as “Occupied Palestinian Territories,” and demonizes the State of Israel as an illegal occupier.
Blanchard bragged about voting for the resolution against Israel, remarking on social media that “Canada has found its voice.” The ambassador also featured an article on the UN resolution in the Quebec-based publication La Presse.
UN Watch spokesman and Canadian lawyer Hillel Neuer blasted Blanchard with a stinging retort. “No, Mr. Ambassador,” responded Neuer, “when you voted on behalf of our country for an anti-Israeli UN resolution sponsored by North Korea and other dictatorships, you did not find Canada’s voice. You joined the jackals in order to win their votes in your campaign for a Security Council seat.”
Nikki Haley: ‘Cultural Corruption Playing Out in Real Time’
Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, accused Canada of striking a deal with the devil over its recent support of the November anti-Israel resolution.
Haley said Canada’s decision to change diplomatic course and support the resolution at the United Nations in a bid to secure a seat on the Security Council, was an example of “cultural corruption.”
In a speech to a UN Watch event, Haley delivered a withering critique of what she referred to as the Trudeau government’s surrender “to the mob.”
“It’s just easier not to rock the boat when the crowd is all going one way,” she said. “It’s hard to be the only one going the other direction.
“But standing alone for freedom and human dignity is something to be proud of,” Haley went on. “In America, we don’t celebrate the mob. We celebrate the person who has the courage and conviction to stand up to the mob. Now we’re seeing an example of this cultural corruption playing out in real time.”
The former US ambassador said for a long time Canada had been balanced and fair-minded towards Israel at the UN and had opposed “the pull of the anti-Israel culture.”
“But Canada is now seeking one of the rotating two-year seats on the Security Council,” Haley noted. The country has spent money and political capital to win one of the seats. One major obstacle to this goal has been Canadian support of Israel. That’s a big strike against Canada in the eyes of the corrupt world body.
So Canada chose political expedience and voted for a resolution that Canadian governments for years have voted against, Haley said in her address to the UN Watch event.
“I speak from experience when I say the United Nations presents many such opportunities to strike a deal with the devil.”
“If the Trudeau Liberals for selfish reasons are trying to eradicate the strong friendship Israel and Canada have enjoyed over time, that’s disgraceful,” wrote Washington Times staff writer and Canadian citizen Michael Taube.
“If they’re doing it because they dislike Trump’s decision to rebuild U.S.-Israel ties after the Obama years, that’s ridiculous.”
“Or maybe,” the writer concludes, “Nikki Haley’s analysis is right, and the devil is indeed laughing at the deal he’s made with Justin Trudeau’s Canada.”
Perhaps having to deal with the Canadian deaths in Iran may enlighten the Trudeau government about the costs of complicity with evil, that only the experience of being on the receiving end of terror—albeit the “accidental” kind—can produce.
Iranian Regime ‘Seriously Threatened’
Muslim scholar Qanta Ahmed speaking on Fox & Friends Weekend” noted that the Iranian regime “is in its most fragile and precarious time, probably since 1979. I do think this regime, for the first time ever, is seriously threatened,” she remarked.
“They’ve had a disastrous outcome to their attempt at intimidating the United States; their attempts on the embassy in Baghdad failed, they’ve had Qassem Soleimani taken out; they had to admit that they shot down a commercial airliner after days of trying to cover it up… ”
“I think the Iranian people have to ask themselves what else have they [the regime] concealed,” the Muslim scholar said. “They want to know what other falsehoods they’ve been fed.”
She added, “1500 people were killed in recent protests in Iran before the Qassem Soleimani execution. People are finally beginning to voice what they’ve suspected all along about the regime and we must not ignore those voices. They are saying the United States is not our enemy, our enemy is here in Tehran. That kind of explicit speech I’ve never encountered.”
Trump tweeted a message of support to the protesters last week, in both Farsi and English, promising that his administration would continue to stand with them in solidarity.
“President Trump made a wonderful statement on Twitter in Farsi, and in English, that the United States is with the people of Iran,” Ahmed noted in the Fox & Friends interview. He said, ‘We have no enmity with the people of Iran, but we do despise the Islamist Iranian regime, which is a totalitarian regime. They’ve had that country for 41 years, shrouded, totally suffocated in oppression, and I think we’re seeing that veil coming off.’”
When asked if Iran will now come to the negotiating table, Ahmed said, “I can’t imagine it happening because the more they are threatened, the more desperate their grip.
Trump Imposes Additional Sanctions on Iran
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin detailed a new round of sanctions against Iran at a White House press conference, saying, “as long as Iran’s terrorist activities continue, we will continue to impose sanctions.”
The move followed Iran’s launching of more than two dozen missiles targeting Iraqi military bases that host American troops and coalition forces, in response to the US drone strike that killed arch-terrorist Qassem Soloimani.
The new sanctions will impact Iran’s steel and iron industries that generate billions each year, according to the Treasury Department. Sanctions also hit four Iranian aluminum and copper companies and one Oman-based trading company, noted ABC News.
In addition, the sanctions blacklisted eight Iranian security officials, including the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.
Trump also signed a new executive order that authorizes further sanctions against any sector of Iran’s economy, including construction, manufacturing, textiles, and mining, Mnuchin said.
“These moves threaten to essentially shut down all of Iran’s major industries and, importantly, to target foreign companies and banks that do business with any of these Iranian sectors,” the Treasury Secretary added.
“But importantly, it’s not just Iranian businesses [being targeted],” the White House statement said. “Three Chinese companies, based in the small island nation Seychelles, are also being sanctioned for trading Iranian steel and other metals, including one vessel that will now be flagged.
Iran is already under heavy U.S. sanctions. Since Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, he has steadily increased the economic pressure — most critically by ending waivers for countries to import Iranian oil, the country’s economic lifeblood.
Mnuchin said the administration had “100 per cent confidence” that “economic sanctions are working… If we didn’t have these sanctions in place, Iran would literally have tens of billions of dollars. They would be using that for terrorist activities throughout the region and to enable them to do more bad things.”
“These punishing economic sanctions will remain in force until the Iranian regime changes its behavior,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House.