Foreign Policy Blogs

Car Bomb Defused in Tbilisi, Israeli Embassy Target

Georgian authorities report today that a bomb planted in the car of an employee of the Israeli embassy was defused by police. The employee was, according to Georgian TV news station Rustavi 2, a Georgian citizen by the name of Roman Khachaturian, a driver for the embassy and the luckiest man in Tbilisi. Khachaturian told reporters how he spotted the explosive device and called police, who successfully defused it. Meanwhile, another car bomb, reportedly attached to an Israeli embassy vehicle, exploded today in New Delhi.

This may be a coordinated series of attempted attacks against Israeli embassy assets, and the speculation from some sources is that the explosion in India and the bomb in Georgia are tied to the fourth anniversary of the assassination of Hezbollah deputy leader Imad Mughniyah, for which Hezbollah blames Israel.

Last year at this time, the Israeli Counterterrorism Bureau warned against travel to all three South Caucasus countries as well as a number of other states.

However, Isabel Kershner and Michael Schwirtz in the International Herald Tribune imply that the incidents could “represent Iran’s first confirmed retaliation for a series of recent attacks in Iran aimed at killing Iranian atomic scientists and sabotaging Iran’s nuclear disputed program, the source of rising tensions between Iran and the West.”

I don’t know what their source is, but it seems unlikely that these attacks—random in their nature and not targeted against specific individuals—are linked to Israel’s efforts to undermine Iran’s nuclear program.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to subscribe to the Hezbollah hypothesis himself (at least publicly), and the Israeli press likewise is focusing on the anniversary of Mughniyah’s death rather than a tit-for-tat strategy tied to the deaths of Iranian nuclear scientists.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu (credit: Asianews)

Israel’s foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman told the press today that “We know exactly who is responsible for the attack and who planned it, and we’re not going to take it lying down.”

For its part, the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced that the explosion in New Dehli (which injured the wife of an Israeli diplomat) and the similar bomb in Tbilisi were the work of Israel, in an effort to “tarnish Iran’s friendly relations” with India and Georgia.

Georgia and Iran enjoy cordial relations, and in May of 2010, the Iranian government announced its intention to build a hydroelectric plant in Georgia, despite the reservations expressed by the US Department of State in a confidential message to the US embassy in Tbilisi in December of the previous year.

 

Author

Karl Rahder
Karl Rahder

Karl Rahder has written on the South Caucasus for ISN Security Watch and ISN Insights (http://www.isn.ethz.ch/isn/Current-Affairs/ISN-Insights), news and global affairs sites run by the Swiss government. Karl splits his time between the US and the former USSR - mostly the Caucasus and Ukraine, sometimes teaching international relations at universities (in Chicago, Baku, Tbilisi) or working on stories for ISN and other publications. Karl received his MA from the University of Chicago, and first came to the Caucasus in 2004 while on a CEP Visiting Faculty Fellowship. He's reported from the Caucasus on topics such as attempted coups, sedition trials, freedom of the press, and the frozen Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. For many years, Karl has also served as an on-call election observer for the OSCE, and in 2010, he worked as a long-term observer in Afghanistan for Democracy International.

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