Did the President of Iran just threaten to down a western airliner? Or is he merely reflecting President Trump's own bellicose rhetoric right back at the US.
Using his verified blue checkmark twitter account, the President of Iran tweeted that the US and any westerners who distrust Iran should remember that Iran has been victimized, just as it has victimized and attacked others.
Those who refer to the number 52 should also remember the number 290. #IR655— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) January 6, 2020
Never threaten the Iranian nation.
290 is a reference to the death toll from downed Iran Air Flight 655: in 1988, the U.S. warship Vincennes mistakenly shot down an Iranian passenger plane over the Gulf, killing all 290 aboard.
The attack was the deadliest aviation disaster involving an Airbus A300, as well as the deadliest to occur in Iran.
But there's also a hint of irony in Rouhani's warning: Those who are familiar with the Iranian aviation industry should recall that several Iranian passenger planes have crashed over the past decade. These accidents have largely been blamed on mechanical errors, as international sanctions have caused many of the country's passenger planes to fall into disrepair.
So it's a bit of a macabre coincidence that Rouhani is reminding the world of this particular attack at a time when his country can't seem to keep its planes in the air.
As for "the number 52", that reference is far clearer: Trump recently threatened to attack 52 Iranian cultural sites in response to any acts of Iranian retaliation, a reference to the number of hostages taken during the Iran hostage crisis.
....targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2020
Of course, victims of Iranian terror will undoubtedly be quick to remind the world that Iran has been far more active in inciting terrorism abroad. The families of the 85 people killed in the AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires can probably remind Rouhani how hollow his claims that Iran doesn't attack civilians can sound...