The British government has said it is highly likely that the crash of the Russian passenger plane on the Sinai Peninsula was caused by a bomb. While the US has said it also believes this is a possibility, Russia has rejected the assessment. The dead are now becoming the victims of a propaganda war between the two powers, some commentators write in outrage. Others speculate on the consequences if the theory of an IS attack proves true.
IS terror on a new scale
If suspicions that the Russian passenger jet was brought down by a bomb over the Sinai Peninsula prove correct then danger is imminent, the liberal business paper Hospodářské noviny warns: "If intelligence sources are right, the IS has taken a fundamental strategic step forward. It is no longer a horde of executioners but a group with international terrorist ambitions. Until now the IS kidnapped people in places where chaos ruled and to which the terrorists had easy access in their vehicles. Sharm el-Sheikh Airport is a different matter altogether. Carrying out an act of terrorism there is far more demanding. Someone has to work at the airport, outfox security, bring a bomb into the complex, smuggle it on board and activate the detonator. That's playing in the premier terrorist league."
Bomb could alter Putin's Syria strategy
If the bomb theory is confirmed it could change Putin's strategy in Syria, the conservative daily Financial Times believes: "The irony is that Vladimir Putin could be pressed into actually doing what he has been pretending to do for a month: directly targeting Isis in Syria. One month and 1,000-plus air strikes into its intervention there, Moscow has dropped over 90 per cent of its bombs on areas where Isis has little known presence. Instead, it has focused on more moderate rebel groups fighting the regime of Bashar al-Assad, including many backed by the US. But pressing Isis harder could bring Russian jets into closer proximity to the US-led coalition."
Propaganda war between US and Russia
The row over what caused the plane to crash is allowing the tragedy to be used for propaganda purposes, writes the Catholic daily Avvenire in outrage: "The poor victims have become hostages in the crossfire of propaganda, the pawns in an international political game that knows no scruples or compassion. Russia and Egypt have improved their relations in recent years. … The Moscow-Cairo axis is a thorn in the side of the US because it is intervening in the Middle East with the total freedom of manoeuvre that the White House sees as an incontestable US prerogative. But should the theory of the attack be confirmed, we can be sure that Russia and Putin's Kremlin will be in neither the political position nor the mood to tolerate a bloodbath like that on the Sinai Peninsula without retaliating. The only one who at least at first glance seems to have emerged strengthened from this terrible chapter of horror is Syrian ruler Assad. That should give us pause for thought."
IS already benefiting from speculation
Whether it resulted from a bomb or a technical fault, the terrorist IS group has already capitalised on the Russian passenger plane's crash, the liberal conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung observes: "In July a bomb went off in front of the Italian consulate in Cairo. In August members of the IS executed their Croatian hostage, Tomislav S., who had been kidnapped near Cairo. And in September Egyptian soldiers in the west of the country killed a group of tourists from Mexico whom they had mistaken for IS fighters. … Right after the crash the IS claimed responsibility - which would make this the first bombing on board a passenger plane since 1988, a huge propaganda coup. But the IS will also benefit from the uncertainty: if tourists don't know what the deal is they will avoid Egypt, depriving many people of their livelihood. No jobs coupled with an unfair, repressive state are the best arguments for extremist pied pipers."