Yesterday, a Russian airliner crashed in Egypt, killing all 224 people on board.
This tragedy seems to have made some people in the Arab world very happy.
In an interview with BBC Persian Radio this morning, Mehrdad Farahmand who is BBC Persian’s correspondent in Cairo shared his observations. Mehrdad is a fluent Arabic speaker, and according to his findings as soon as the news was announced there were many expressions of joy in the social media from people in Arab countries. Mehrdad also mentions seeing people in Egypt expressing happiness in their own way in reaction to the crash.
According to the interview (below in Persian), the reason for such feelings is the role which Russia plays in Syria as a supporter of the Assad regime against the opposition. Many in the Arab world are against Russia’s military intervention in Syria. Mehrdad goes on to say that according to his findings, some were saying that the day before the crash, a large number of children and civilians were killed in an air attack and now God has taken revenge from the Russians with the crash. The expressions of joys were accompanied by citations of verses from the Qur’an.
This is an indication of how Russia’s position among the Arab public is deteriorating and fast. Siding with Assad is the kiss of death for the standing of any country who hopes to have influence in the Sunni Arab world.
Just look at what happened to the Iranian regime. For years, it was popular among both Sunni and Shia in the Middle East, for having confronted Israel by supporting Hezbollah. Now even the Palestinians whom the Iranian regime helped with tens of millions of dollars have a negative view towards it. 57% of all Palestinians to be exact. Support for the Assad regime most probably being the biggest reason.