Israel Blames Iran for Tbilisi Car Bomb
The South Caucasus appears to be finding itself in a risky front-row seat for the ongoing international campaign against Iran's nuclear ambitions and, in turn, outrage at Israel for its role in the struggle.
On February 13, a bomb was found under the car of a Georgian employee of the Israeli embassy in Tbilisi. Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesperson Shota Utiashvili told EurasiaNet.org that he could not specify if the foiled bomb attack was targeted against the Israeli embassy premises, but noted that the car "was located near the embassy." Police defused the explosive without incident.
In a separate incident today, the wife of an Israeli diplomat was injured in a car bomb explosion in New Delhi.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed the finger at Iran and the Iranian-funded group Hezbollah for both incidents. Georgian officials, though, as yet have given no indication that Iran -- arguably, Public Enemy Number One for Israel right now -- has been linked to the Tbilisi car bomb.
To Georgia's south, in Azerbaijan, though, another situation allegedly involving Israel already has Iranian government tempers boiling.
On February 11, The Times of London reported that Israeli intelligence is using Azerbaijan as a watchtower on Iran. The story, available to Times subscribers only, described the Caucasus country as a "playground" for Israeli intelligence operatives with an interest in Iran.
“This is a wonderfully porous country,” an anonymous Mossad operative told the paper. The agent said that Azerbaijan is teaming with both Iranian and Israeli spies, but the Mossad crowd is better camouflaged. “Iranians… are watching us watch them,” the man said.
The Iranian foreign ministry on February 12 attempted to hang Azerbaijani Ambassador Javanshir Akhundov out to dry in their rage over the allegations, and claimed that Baku is a layover spot for Mossad assassins allegedly behind the recent deaths of Iranian nuclear physicists.
Iranian officials also scolded the diplomat for an anti-Iranian campaign in Azerbaijan’s state-run news and what they termed to be discriminatory treatment of Iranian truck drivers by Azerbaijani customs officials.
“The accusations are slanderous,” fumed Azerbaijani foreign ministry spokesperson Elman Abdulayev. “Azerbaijan itself suffers from Armenian terrorism and would never let… any terror activity on its territory.” ( In its response to the Iranian note, Baku made sure to rebuke Tehran for its friendship with Armenia, Azerbaijan's arch-foe.)
The generally muted exchanges between Tehran and Baku have grown louder and nastier of late as tensions between Iran and the West threaten to boil over. Last month, Azerbaijan went public with the news of foiling an alleged Iranian terror plot in Baku, which local media said was aimed at assassinating the Israeli ambassador to Azerbaijan.