Thursday, 16 February 2012

Iran - when diplomacy fails

The EU summit on trade just concluded with countries like India refusing to sign the Free Trade Agreement, as it did not serve their national interests. One of the arguments put forth during this summit was that India would have to respect the "Iran Embargo," that had already been decided by USA and EU.

The Indian government diplomats tried to convince our own government that EU would allow our ties with Iran, the same as USA had already permitted ties with Iran despite the agreements that we should also honor the embargo. This was among the many issues being discussed related to the FTA, although the reasons for India shying away from the FTA were multiple.

Diplomatic Vehicle Attack - India
After this summit, on Monday, 13-Feb-2012, there were two incidents of explosions that targeted Israeli diplomats and one attempt targeting Israeli Diplomats in Tbilisi, Georgia that was foiled by the Embassy Driver. The explosion in New Delhi, India on the vehicle of an Israeli diplomat that injured his wife, which happened a few minutes later (in International time-scales) pointed out that these attacks were coordinated.

The second explosion in Thailand, which involved two grenades, one hitting a cab driver (and the cab,) and the other rebounding into the perpetrator injuring his legs severely was immediately linked to this incident.

Early investigations had just proved the nature of the explosive devices used and proposed the theory of how they were used. In India, for the first time, terrorists had deployed a magnetic 'stick-on' bomb. The bomb in Georgia was identified before the explosion and therefore never detonated on the target. Preliminary reports indicate that it is similar to the explosive device used in India.

Thailand Cab Grenade Attack
The attack in Thailand however does not show the same sophistication in terms of the explosive and delivery method used. It is important to note that fatalities of the targets themselves were nil. No intelligence agency had been alerted. Israel's Mossad had by then not warned any of the nations of the attack nor of possible follow-up attacks merely raising the security level as standard procedures indicate.

Less than a half hour after the second incident which took place in India, Israel and other 'developed' nations began claiming that the perpetrator behind the attacks was "Iran." The Explosive device had just been narrowed down by a forensics team who confirmed that RDX was not used. Based on the sticky bomb theory, there was a theory of an unidentified motorcyclist who allegedly planted the bomb at a traffic signal and drove off triggering the explosion shortly afterward.

There were no identified Iranians involved in the attacks according to preliminary investigations in India. The alleged motorcycle used by the attacker is yet to be identified, barring a few abandoned "red" motorcycles that have been identified and are being investigated. Insofar investigations have been inching ahead in attempting to collect proof and data before propounding a theory.

What shocked the world further was Israel raising tensions against Iran by blaming that Iran had purported the attacks. They went on harping the message despite facts that there was no proof of the origin or identity of those who planted the bomb in either location. In Thailand, for a brief period, the bomb hurling terrorist was labeled 'Iranian', more likely due to frenzy than due to actual fact. The United States, backed Israel immediately, advising India to stop importing oil from Iran and honor the Trade embargo immediately.

In a worse development, Iran responded by internationally showcasing their "Nuclear fuel enrichment capabilities," once again voiced by their President and Spokesman to the world, Ahmednijad. The provocation against Iran seemed to have worked and they had responded in the worst manner possible. The entire series of events, which albeit shocking and unexpected have brought to light two major issues. The first is of intelligence failure in anticipating and responding to such an attack in three 'developing' nations. The second is of diplomatic failure on part of the 'developed' western nations fueled further by Israel's growing animosity towards Iran.

Israel has finally gone on to identify that this is probably the work of the Hezbolla in revenge of the murder of one of their commanders on February 12, 2008 or of Iran, whose Nuclear Scientist was killed in a similar Car Bomb on January 11, 2012. This was the reason they had blamed Iran for the attacks. Earlier, after their Nuclear scientist had been murdered, Iran had indeed blamed Israel for the attack, but with lesser press coverage and fewer people listening to them.

The backing of the Western Nations, including the USA and the EU, has clearly shown their hostility to Islamic nations in the middle-east which still have intact governments, especially Iran. Past incidents have shown that Iran has been extremely volatile in responding to any news of conflict, and has been slow to think but quick to react.

Israel, backed by USA and thereafter by EU nations has in a knee-jerk reaction almost plunged the world into an unnecessary war. It was most prudent and careful of Indian diplomats to have never named any nation or group and worked on the investigation. They also simultaneously assured the safety of diplomats from other nations.

The key to this issue was the use of diplomatic License Plates by Iran, which clearly identified the vehicle, making it an easier target. In some countries, diplomatic vehicles are permitted to use local license plates to avoid quick identification. The solution proposed by security advisers was to immediately switch to local license plates with the aid of Indian governmental authorities. All other diplomatic staff switched to cabs while returning home, to avoid easy detection. This is perhaps the first step in security that should be taken rather than the sensationalist reaction witnessed following the attack.
(refer: geopolitical review.)

Israel has the right to feel outraged, considering that it was their diplomats who were being targeted. Israel has to accept their own Intelligence failure in having been unable to anticipate such an attack in the developing nations. Yet, other than sabre-rattling with its past enmities, nothing specific to this incident has yet been conclusive and Israel's immature reaction shows that they are capable of starting a war as much as Iran returned the provocation. This is a clear failure of diplomatic ties between the two nations and should therefore be addressed first.