Well-intentioned guesswork (a.k.a. “conspiracy theorizing”) argued on a rational basis could present a plausible explanation for a seemingly inexplicable event whose official narrative doesn’t seem to add up amidst an ever-increasing number of inconsistencies.
There are a plethora of theories about what happened on the fateful night of 17 September when a Syrian-launched S-200 missile mistakenly downed a Russian spy plane after the “Israelis” apparently used it as cover when carrying out their bombing mission, and this post is admittedly one of them which seeks to account for several of the most gaping inconsistencies in the official narrative. To bring the reader up to speed about the author’s work on this matter, here are his previously published pieces to skim at one’s leisure:
What follows doesn’t claim to be the author’s final interpretation of what happened, nor to be the only one that reasonably explains the course of events that led to this tragedy, but is simply a well-intentioned exercise in guesswork that strives to present an alternative understanding of what might have occurred on as rational of a basis as possible. The point in doing so is to propose possible answers to some of the most obvious inconsistencies that allow one to thenceforth form a more comprehensive explanation of what might have transpired.
A Regular Bombing Run Gone Bad
To begin, it’s uncontested that four “Israeli” jets participated in the bombing of Latakia, but what’s not addressed is how the Russian military apparently didn’t see them coming and had no idea that they were on their way to the battlespace until receiving a phone call from their counterparts one minute prior. That’s unbelievable because it would mean that Russia doesn’t have any assets in Syria capable of tracking aircraft outside of the Arab Republic’s borders. The next question that arises is why Russia wouldn’t have scrambled fighter jets to protect its spy plane, as is the standard procedure for any military anywhere in the world whenever they detect unknown air units streaming towards their area of responsibility. Russia, which has one of the world’s most professional armed forces, didn’t do this, so it should be taken to mean that it had reason to believe that the four jets headed towards Syria were “Israeli”, and therefore had no intention of engaging any Russian units in this theater.
The reason for this assumption is that “Israel” recently admitted to carrying out over 200 strikes in Syria during the past 18 months alone, which wouldn’t have been possible had Russia not passively facilitated them through the so-called “deconfliction mechanism” by refusing to engage its jets and missiles. Moscow made this decision over and over again because Russia is actually “balancing” Iran in the Mideast despite how “politically incorrect” this observation is for most commentators – let alone all official voices – to publicly say. As such, despite apparently not receiving an official confirmation from their counterparts until less than a minute beforehand that this was yet another one of those same missions, Russia had no reason to think that this was anything different that what’s literally happened hundreds of times before, which is why it didn’t’ scramble its fighter jets to protect the spy plane. Accordingly, it looks like this was a regular bombing run that all of a sudden went bad.
The next major inconsistency that needs to be addressed is the curious accusation that the “Israeli” jet recklessly hid behind the much larger Russian spy plane and therefore (deliberately?) diverted the Syrian S-200 away from its original target and towards the friendly one. The Russian Ministry of Defense already debunked the false reporting earlier in the week that his country transferred “Friend/Foe Identification” (FFI) to Syria that would have supposedly made such a mistake impossible to pull off, so its original claim that one of the “Israeli” jets carried out this dangerous maneuver that led to the tragedy is theoretically consistent with what’s been made public thus far. For that to have happened, however, the two planes must have obviously been flying in very close proximity to one another, which leads to the next two points that deserve to be pondered.
The first is a reiteration of what was talked about in the previous section concerning why Russia didn’t scramble any of its fighter jets to protect the spy plane if such dangerous maneuvers were indeed occurring. It can’t be known for sure why this didn’t happen, but one possible explanation might be that it wasn’t unprecedented for “Israeli” jets to fly very close to Russian planes when carrying out their bombing missions in Syria. There’s no suggestion being made that Russia has been “escorting” Israeli jets through Syrian airspace during their 200+ bombing missions, but just that this apparently wasn’t out of the ordinary enough for Russia to immediately deem it to be so dangerous that it either had to enter into radio communication with the “Israeli” pilot and order him to back off (which to the best of the public’s knowledge didn’t happen) or even dispatch a few of its own jets to ward off the foreign one.
The second point is that the Syrian S-200 operator must have seen the much larger Russian spy plane if he also saw the comparatively smaller “Israeli” jet, which raises the natural question of why he decided to fire his non-FFI anti-air weapon if there was a very real chance that it could accidentally hit the allied aircraft instead of the enemy one. Again, it needs to be reinforced that no official source has questioned the Russian Ministry of Defense’s claims that there were only four “Israeli” jets that took part in this bombing run, meaning that it’s not exactly like the sky was so full of missiles and warplanes for an entire hour that the S-200 operator couldn’t have seen the humungous Russian spy plane that the tinier “Israeli” jet that he targeted was supposedly hiding behind. Thus, “operator error” seems to be just as responsible for what happened as was the “Israeli” jet’s irresponsible “peek-a-boo” maneuver, which is probably why President Putin ordered an investigation into what many thought was otherwise an open-and-shut case.
There are a few more inconsistencies that need to be accounted for prior to arriving at the conclusion of this well-intended “conspiracy theory”. Some people have trouble understanding why President Putin’s response was much milder compared to the military’s, but this should have been self-evident because the armed forces lost some of their men and therefore felt compelled to protect their national dignity with the strongest statements possible. Furthermore, another factor could have been at play, too, and it’s that the military is more representative of the “traditionalist” faction of Russia’s “deep state” that’s in a rivalry with the “progressive” one headed by its diplomats. The Russian leader’s duty is to “balance” these two parties, just like he’s currently “balancing” “Israel” and Iran in Syria, so his response shouldn’t have been surprising to those who are aware of these “deep state” dynamics.
It’s not only President Putin who’s engaged in a very delicate “balancing” act, but also his Syrian counterpart who’s attempting to do this between Russia and Iran. To simplify a very complex strategy, Damascus doesn’t want to be solely dependent on Moscow because it fears that this will lead to it having to “compromise” on “unacceptable” political issues pertaining to “decentralization” and the like, whereas “balancing” with Tehran could buy it some valuable time and “breathing space” to avoid having to undertake measures such as that one. Syria is also a constitutionally anti-Zionist state and therefore shares the same ideology as Iran, whereas Russia – and especially President Putin personally – is on excellent terms with their sworn enemy. As it may have happened, this could have played a role in the Syrian S-200 operator’s deadly decision to fire on the “Israeli” jet despite seeing that it was playing “peek-a-boo” behind the Russian spy plane.
Reading Between The Lines
To explain what’s meant by this, it’s enough to observe just how upset the Syrians are over the Russian-Turkish Idlib deal after preparing for months to liberate the province and spreading stories all throughout the media about the purportedly imminent commencement of this operation. Officially speaking, “everything’s perfect”, but those with a keen ability to “read between the lines” after familiarizing themselves for years with the Syrian mentality and narrative messaging strategies could see that Damascus isn’t too happy with what happened. It might not actually be a coincidence that the tragedy transpired on the same night as the Idlib deal was made because emotions would have been running high all throughout the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), possibly leading an angry S-200 operator to irresponsibly take the decision to shoot at the “Israeli” jet even though there was a clear chance that it could have accidentally hit the larger Russian spy plane instead.
To be perfectly clear, it is not being suggested that the downing of the Russian spy plane was done on purpose, but just that the Syrian S-200 operator’s recklessness in taking the shot anyways despite the obvious risks involved could have been influenced by that individual’s anger over the Idlib deal that clouded his sense of judgement and led to that regrettable action. Moreover, as the author wrote in two of his aforementioned pieces, it can’t be discounted that Iranian “advisors” were present at the scene of what Russia officially regards as a crime, especially since the Islamic Republic has its own S-200s and is more than capable of “advising” its Syrian counterparts with these weapons. While it’s admittedly a stretch, this plausible possibility might explain why it strangely took President Assad a full two days to express his condolences to President Putin, and even then, he only did so through a cable and not a phone call.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed earlier that day that Presidents Putin and Assad hadn’t spoken since the tragedy, which seemed bizarre to many because it contradicted conventional thinking on how national leaders normally react whenever these sorts of tragedies transpire. Additionally, it’s worth pointing out that President Assad’s message also said that “We are confident that such painful acts would not affect you and us to continue fighting terrorism”, which appears out of place because one would normally take that for granted. If, however, the Syrian S-200 operator really was at fault (possibly under Iran’s “advisory” influence), which would explain why President Putin ordered an investigation instead of automatically accusing “Israel” and subsequently committed to continuing the “deconfliction system” with it that’s already passively facilitated over 200 strikes in Syria, then it would make sense why President Assad took two days to make a statement and then felt obligated to include that curious sentence in his cable.
The “Conspiracy” Comes Together
Putting together the pieces of the puzzle that were elaborated on throughout this well-intentioned exercise of guesswork, the following “conspiracy theory” begins to take shape.
Russia Wasn’t Surprised By The “Israeli” Strike Or Even The Close Fly-By Of One Of Its Jets:
“Israel” dispatched four jets to carry out yet another one of its over 200 bombing missions in Syria in response to Iran imminently preparing to transfer weapons to Hezbollah on the Arab Republic’s territory, which is why Russia didn’t perceive the incoming aerial units as a threat despite identifying them prior to being officially notified of their presence by its “Israeli” counterparts one minute before the commencement of actual hostilities. “Israeli” jets apparently fly close to Russian planes on a regular enough basis that the latter’s military didn’t consider this threatening enough of a maneuver in and of itself to radio the pilot to back off or dispatch a few of its own jets to get this point across like it always does whenever the Americans do something like this.
The Syrian S-200 Operator Acted Recklessly Because He Was Upset About The Idlib Deal:
The Syrian S-200 operator, incensed by what he might have felt to be Russia’s “betrayal” of Syria through the Idlib deal with Turkey and possibly even influenced by an Iranian “advisor”, took the professionally irresponsible risk of shooting at the “Israeli” jet despite the high likelihood that his non-FFI weapon might inadvertently hit the much larger Russian spy plane instead of the tinier enemy one. Once that happened, the Syrian authorities panicked because the realized the implications of what occurred, especially if any trace of Iranian involvement could be found. Should that be established to any extent, then it would conceivably be exploited by “Israel” to no end to drive a further wedge between Russia & Iran and consequently get Moscow to “lean on” Damascus to distance itself from Tehran.
Damascus’ Delay In Officially Responding Suggests Some Level Of Guilt Over What Happened:
Therefore, President Assad waited a full two days to officially respond until the crime scene was scrubbed of as much evidence as possible. Importantly, and this is a point that shouldn’t be overlooked, he didn’t say anything about cooperating with the Russian investigation into the matter, possibly hoping that his country could make it go away just by ignoring it. That was really weird because Damascus called for transparent international investigations immediately after false flag chemical weapons attacks were committed against it, yet thus far has no official stance towards the Russian-initiated international investigation into the tragic downing of its spy plane by friendly fire earlier this week. President Putin sensed that something was wrong right away, which explains why he reacted the way that he did.
Russia Saw Through The Syrian Charade, Ordered An Investigation, And Strengthened Ties With “Israel”:
Not only did the Russian leader refuse to blame “Israel” for what happened, but he also ordered an investigation to get down to the bottom of everything. When the “Israelis” promptly dispatched their Air Force chief and other high-ranking members of the military and intelligence establishments to Moscow to heed his call for cooperation, President Putin committed to reinforcing his country’s military ties with “Israel” instead of downgrading them like many expected. This contrasted to the much more reticent Syrian response that strangely took two days for President Assad to convey, and he did so indirectly via cable instead of through a phone call like most people would have expected under these very sensitive circumstances. Not only that, but he felt it important enough to state what should have otherwise been taken for granted when it comes to continuing their military cooperation.
Only time will tell how accurate this “conspiracy theory” is in explaining Monday night’s tragedy and the most glaring inconsistencies in the official narrative, but it’s nevertheless a model to monitor.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.