Earlier this week the Bulgarian government made news headlines around the world after announcing that the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah were behind a bus bombing which killed Israeli tourists in Bulgaria six months ago.
But now three of Bulgaria’s main opposition parties have joined together to condemn the announcement, describing it as unjustified and dangerous.
“The government entered into an international political game in an irresponsible manner, without calculating the consequences,” said the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Sergei Stanishev.
Both the nationalist Attack Party and the ethnic Turkish MRF party joined with the BSP in condemning the announcing, claiming that it was too soon to make any conclusions because the investigation has not yet finished.
They also criticized the government for failing to provide a thorough analysis of any holes in the nation’s security highlighted by the attack, saying that Bulgaria remains vulnerable.
The International Political Game – Conspiracy Theories
So, you may be wondering – what is the ‘international political game’ which Stanishev refers to, and why would Bulgaria want to rush to blame Hezbollah?
Hezbollah is currently designated a terrorist group by Israel and the United States of America, but not by Europe. The Lebanese group are not known for carrying out far-flung international attacks, but rather for supporting the Palestinian fight against Israel. In 2006 Hezbollah fought a brief war with Israel. They are also deeply involved in the civil war currently playing out in Syria, where they have thrown their support behind the government of Bashar al Assad.
With increasing signs that the Israel and the West are preparing for greater intervention in the Syrian conflict in support of the rebels, it is easy to see why there would be increased pressure on Europe to add Hezbollah to their official list of global terrorist organisations. I say ‘increasing’ because they have already been under pressure to do so in support of Israel for some time. A terrorist attack by Hezbollah in Europe is certainly a convenient reason for Europe to do this, and indeed, the EU is expected to do so in the near future.
Bulgaria’s opposition parties have claimed that the decision to blame the bus bombing on Hezbollah was taken under pressure from the U.S. and Israel.
Taking the same logic even further: Iran, which Israel accused of involvement in the attack alongside Hezbollah, has previously claimed that Israel carried out the attack themselves. Conspiracy theorists inclined to believe this narrative of a ‘false flag’ style attack by Israel will no doubt point to today’s comments from the Bulgarian opposition as support for their ideas.
Defending The Investigation and the Hezbollah Conclusion
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov has denied foreign pressure and asserted that the investigation and its conclusions were completely independent. “Nobody has ever exercised any pressure over Bulgaria,” he told BNT television.
The pan-European police agency Europol supported Mladenov’s claims, as well as the investigations conclusions. Europol also revealed that the attack had been carried out using a remotely detonated device, rather than a suicide attack as had initially been assumed.