Hezbollah has rejected a Bulgarian investigation that blamed “its military wing” for a bus bombing attack which killed five Israeli tourists in the city of Burgas in July 2012. Deputy Secretary General of the Lebanese party, Sheikh Naim Qassem, said that Israel was waging an international campaign against Hezbollah and indicated that the Bulgarian report was part of “allegations and incitements and accusations against Hezbollah” driven by Israel.
No one actually should have doubts about the existence of this campaign. In July 2012, only two hours after the attack in Burgas took place and no investigation had started yet, the Israeli government blamed Iran and Hezbollah for it. Mainstream Western media outlets immediately reproduced Israeli allegations as if they were proven facts.
More recently and shortly after the Bulgarian government published its report, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the European Union to include Hezbollah in its list of terrorist organizations. Actually, Israel sees Hezbollah, alongside with Iran and Syria, as a main obstacle for its plans to completely dominate and control the Middle East.
The Israeli prime minister´s words were parroted by US President Barack Obama´s counterterrorism advisor and future CIA chief, John Brennan, who urged EU states to ”take proactive action to uncover Hezbollah´s infrastructure and disrupt the group´s financing schemes and operational networks.”
According to the Jewish Chronicle Online, British Prime Minister David Cameron is also taking part in the campaign. He allegedly asked the British Jewish community to help him persuade the European Union to blacklist Hezbollah. At a recent meeting with the Jewish Leadership Council, the Prime Minister urged its members to “make a noise” and “lead a grassroots campaign calling for the EU to take action” against the Lebanese party.
Nevertheless, Hezbollah has made it clear that the Zionist slander campaign will not force it to change its policies in the region or its willingness to defend Lebanon against any future Zionist aggression. “All these accusations against Hezbollah will have no effect, and do not change the facts,” Naim Qassem said, according to Reuters. “We will not submit to these pressures and we will not change our priorities. Our compass will remain directed towards Israel.”
Actually, the submission of the government of Bulgaria -a country where institutionalized and systematic corruption reigns in both political and legal circles- to Israel and its version of the facts has been clear-cut. Bulgaria is one of the states which were described as members of “the new Europe” by US former Secretary of Defense Ronald Rumsfeld in 2003. With this ostentatious term, Rumsfeld referred to the new NATO members of Eastern Europe, which, unlike Germany or France, were willing to support the Iraq invasion despite the lies the Bush Administration then used to justify the war. In that sense, no one can believe that Bulgarian conservative government is able or willing to tell the truth about an investigation if it is subjected to strong pressure from Washington or Tel Aviv.
It is worth pointing out that the Bulgarian government of Boiko Borisov has adopted a clear pro-Israeli stance in recent years. In July 2011, an Israeli-Bulgarian declaration announced a wide range cooperation between both parties. A year later, on July 8, Bulgaria´s former foreign minister Solomon Passy told The Times of Israel that Israel “should aggressively seek to join NATO and the EU”.
Since the attack, Bulgarian officials made several visits to Israel. According to several experts, a military cooperation agreement between Bulgaria and the Zionist entity could be the price received by Bulgaria in exchange for the accusation against Hezbollah.
This submissive attitude has been denounced by the Bulgarian opposition parties, which have accused the Borisov government of having acted under Israeli and US pressure. “It is an unjustifiable act that is very dangerous,” Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) leader Sergei Stanishev told Sofia News Agency. “It is obvious that Bulgaria’s government has chosen a political approach and is only repeating the interpretation alleged by Israel on the very next day following the attack. The government has entered into an international political game in an irresponsible manner, without calculating the consequences.” The nationalist Attack and ethnic Turkish MRF party have joined the Socialist Party´s criticism.
Another problematic issue for Tihomir Bezlov, from the Centre for the Study of Democracy, a Sofia think-tank, was that the investigation “has relied heavily on resources from foreign security services”. This means that Israel and the US, both with an evident interest in blaming Iran or Hezbollah for the attack, “helped” the Bulgarians orientate the investigation.
Shortly after the attack, John Brennan travelled to Bulgaria. There and without having any evidence, he pointed his finger at Hezbollah and Iran. “There are clear indications that Hezbollah and Iran have been involved in terrorist plotting against innocents in many parts of the world,” he said at a news conference with Borisov on July 24. The Bulgarian PM surely understood well what was the result of the “investigation” that Washington wanted.
Due to all this, some experts have described the Bulgarian government´s decision to accuse Hezbollah as part of a wider “game linked to various conflicts in the Middle East”, according to AFP.
Evidence of a false flag
Actually, there is a great deal of contrary evidence to suggest the attack was a carefully orchestrated Israeli “false flag” operation aimed at smearing Hezbollah and Iran and pressuring the European Union to brand Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, according to Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, a leading expert on Iranian issues, who has carefully analyzed the issue and has laid out some interesting questions about the Burgas attack in an article published in the site criticalstudies.org. For example, “according to the official version, three kilograms of TNT exploited in front of the bus, but only the driver and five Israelis who were sitting in the back of the bus allegedly died. All the other passengers were lightly injured. A video amateur of the bus taken within seconds of the explosions does not show anyone jumping down the bus. Moreover, the passport and license of an alleged terrorist was found intact despite the raging fire in the bus”.
Shortly after the explosion an Israeli group known as Zakar appeared immediately on the site and collected the bodies of the dead. “Why was this group at the airport at that time?”, asked Afrasiabi. On the other hand, Israel rushed all the passengers back to Israel early next morning and did not allow the Bulgarian investigators to interview them. Israel also quickly sent bodies back home before Bulgarian authorities had any chance to conduct an autopsy.
“Israel did not give passports and identification and the Israelis were able to leave Bulgaria simply based on the pledge by the Israeli ambassador that he “recognized everyone.” In other words, it is perfectly possible that several Israelis who arrived in Burgas on the same airplane and were subsequently announced dead as a result of the explosion may have slipped back to Israel without raising the slightest suspicion,” said Afrasiabi.
“A good deal of evidence exists that suggest the targeted bus was empty and the only passengers hurt were inside the adjacent bus and received light injuries”, added Afrasiabi. He examined “dozens upon dozens of photographs of the Israeli tourists in question, who no doubt would have received much worse facial and other bodily injuries if they were inside the targeted bus”.
Actually, Israel has carried out false flag operations for a long time. In 1986, Israeli commandos installed an antenna in Tripoli in order to carry out a provocation against Libya. Victor Ostrovsky -a former Mossad agent- wrote in his book “By way of deception” that “by the end of March of that year, the Americans were already intercepting messages broadcast by the Trojan -a special communication device that could be planted by naval commandos deep inside enemy territory- which was only activated during heavy communication traffic hours. Using the Trojan, the Mossad tried to make it appear that a long series of terrorist orders were being transmitted to various Libyan embassies around the world . As the Mossad had hoped, the transmissions were deciphered by the Americans and construed as ample proof that the Libyans were active sponsors of terrorism”.
Another expert, Michael Collins Piper wrote in the American Free Press that “on October 3, 1980, a synagogue on Copernicus Street in Paris was bombed. Four people were killed. Nine were injured. The media frenzy which followed the incident was worldwide. Reports held that “right wing extremists” were responsible. Yet, of all the “right wing extremists” held for questioning, none was arrested. In fact, all were released. In the upper echelons of French intelligence, however, the finger of suspicion was pointed at the Mossad.”
In September 10, 2001 a front-page story in The Washington Times reported that a group of 60 top US Army analysts at the US Army´s School for Advanced Military Studies, wrote in a 68-page paper in which they claimed to believe the Mossad, is “ruthless and cunning,” “a wildcard” that “has (the) capability to target US forces and make it look like a Palestinian/Arab act.”
A trap for European states
The accusation of the Bulgarian pro-Israeli government is not only targeting Hezbollah but it is also a political trap for European states. It is noteworthy to point out that European influence in the Arab world has receded after the breaking out of the Arab Spring and the end of some authoritarian regimes with which European states had strong links. An action against Hezbollah would further damage its influence in Lebanon, the Middle East and the Muslim world.
France and other European countries that participate in UNIFIL in southern Lebanon could no longer claim to have a neutral stance if they carried out such a provocation against Hezbollah. Shiite residents there would probably reject their presence in that case and these forces would be unable to maintain stability in this area in accordance with resolution 1701 of the UN. At the same time, their goal to preserve the calm in Lebanon and avoid the Syrian crisis spreading into this country would become increasingly difficult. This can make Israel happy but severely damages European interests in Lebanon and the Middle East on the whole.
France is currently rapidly losing its influence in the Muslim world. The country is engaged in its war against extremist groups in Mali, which is widely seen as a neocolonial war in a large part of the Arab and Muslim world. It has also become a target of protests and condemnations in Tunisia and Egypt for its alleged interference in the internal politics of these countries and its criticism against Islamist parties. Moreover, it has lost its influence in Syria due to its support to the radical opposition. In this context, France is not prepared to open another political front that would lead it to clash with Hezbollah and the majority coalition in Lebanon and with the Shiite world in general.
Italy, which has the largest contingent in the UNIFIL, is hostile to the actions against Hezbollah. Cyprus and Malta share its stance. Andrea Dessì, researcher Italian-American at the Rome International Affairs Institute, believes that “the hesitation of the Italy is related in part to the commitment in UNIFIL but also to the fact that, unlike others, the countries of the South of Europe are also seeing Hezbollah´s work on the social aspect”. However, the issue is to know if these European countries will be able to maintain their independent position or if they will finally bow to the US pressure.
Al-Manar is not responsible for the content of the article. All opinions expressed are those of the writer's not Al-Manar’s or its staff.