Terrorist Attack in Burgas: Has the Inevitable Happened for Bulgaria?
By Ivan Dikov
Ever since a decade ago Bulgaria became an unconditional ally of the USA and even enlisted in the first "Coalition of Willing" of George W Bush in Iraq, joining in Afghanistan shortly before that, and the Bulgarian medics were jailed in Libya as scapegoats in an affair with HIV-infected blood, numerous experts started warning that Bulgaria was threatened with terrorist attacks.
This wasn't a warning about the Bulgarian-grown terrorism of the pre-communist period, or about the terrorist acts during the so called Revival Process (a campaign of the Bulgarian communist regime to assimilate the ethnic Turks and the ethnic Bulgarian Muslims) in the 1980s; this was a warning about a potential transfer of global and regional conflicts on Bulgarian soil.
On July 18, 2012, this threat materialized – after an apparent terrorist attack killed and wounded dozens of Israeli tourists at Bulgaria's Burgas Airport. Thus, the first terrorist attack in Bulgaria after 9/11 and after the arrest of the Bulgarian medics in the Libyan HIV trial in 1999 actually turned out to stem from the Middle East conflict.
Of course, the fact that Bulgaria has been in constant danger of a terrorist attack has in no way influenced the Bulgarian statesmen, or the Bulgarian society to take the most basic measures for facing such challenges not to mention to become somewhat more aware of the global processes and threats.
In fact, for more than a decade Bulgaria avoided its own 9/11 – unlike other European nations such as Spain and the UK – thanks entirely to its insignificance and plainness in international affairs, as I dared state in an article about Bulgaria in the decade after 9/11 last year. Because even given such a ridiculously easy target as Bulgaria, international terrorists wouldn't squander resources on attacking somebody who doesn't matter.
Even the July 18, 2012 terrorist attack – although it must be regarded as an act of aggression against the Bulgarian people and state – wasn't technically directed against them but against the State of Israel. In the given moment Bulgaria just turned out to be the easiest spot for assaulting large groups of citizens of Israel.
One of the many horrifying features of contemporary terrorism is that even the best prepared state and its security services have no guarantee they'd manage to thwart every single terrorist attack. But if you are the least prepared state, you literally have nothing to hope for. And the fact that you are a disoriented midget in foreign policy terms doesn't always help.
What if the terrorist attack in Burgas had been directed against Bulgaria? What if it had been carried out in the Sofia Metro, or Danube Bridge, or Port Varna, or Sofia International Airport, or some densely populated Bulgarian residential quarter, or the Eagle's Bridge in downtown Sofia, or among the millions of foreign tourists in Sunny Beach, Golden Sands, or Bansko? My guess is, that would mean having to shut down the Bulgarian state altogether.
It has been inevitable for Bulgaria to fall into the sight of international terrorism in some way because any country could fall into it. But it's a whole other story whether the terrorist attack against the Israeli tourists in Burgas was inevitable.
It's a whole other story where the Bulgarian government may have been demonstrated criminal negligence regarding the citizens of Israel given the risks for them it should be aware of, especially since for the past 1-2 years the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov have been trumpeting the newly founded alliance between Bulgaria and Israel?
Are they going to answer that, or should we wait until some secret diplomatic cable leaks through on WikiLeaks in order to find out the truth?