Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bulgaria Implicates Hezbollah in Deadly Israeli Bus Blast

NY Times   The Bulgarian government said on Tuesday that two of the people behind a deadly bombing attack that targeted an Israeli tour bus six months ago were believed to be members of the military wing of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. 

The announcement could force the European Union to reconsider whether to designate the group as a terrorist organization and crack down on its extensive fund-raising operations across the continent. That could have wide-reaching repercussions for Europe’s uneasy détente with the group, which is an influential force in Middle East politics, considers Israel an enemy and has extensive links with Iran.[...]

“There’s the overall fear if we’re too noisy about this, Hezbollah might strike again, and it might not be Israeli tourists this time,” said Sylke Tempel, editor in chief of the German foreign affairs magazine Internationale Politik.

The significance of their determination has put pressure on Bulgarian officials, who would like to maintain strong ties with Israel and the United States, and European allies like France and Germany. Bulgarian officials had maintained a studied silence for more than six months since the attack.

“If you factor in the suspicion that there are political implications beyond Bulgaria’s borders, it’s completely understandable that they’ve been playing for time,” said Dimitar Bechev, head of the Sofia office of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

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