Bulgarian Bombings: Hezbollah Implicated, What Next?



SOFIA- The case of five Israeli tourists killed in a July bombing in Bulgaria is anything but closed. The Bulgarian government's findings this week that the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah was responsible for the bombing, which also killed the Bulgarian bus driver and one of the attackers, has set off a series of worldwide criminal and diplomatic pursuits. Israel, for one, hopes that confirmation of a Hezbollah attack on European soil will prompt Europe's leaders to join the US and others as classifying the "Party of God" as a terrorist organization.

Hunting down bombers: Following months of investigations, law enforcement and intelligence officials from several countries are working to find the two presumed Hezbollah members - a Canadian and Australian, both of Lebanese descent -- who are believed to be behind the bombing, reports the New York Times. The terrorists made several crucial mistakes that allowed detectives to retrace their steps – including the death of the third accomplice who was never intended to die, The Globe and Mail writes.

Canada and Australia in pursuit According to The Globe and Mail, Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said that if “you are much more devoted to Hezbollah than you are to Canada, or law and order or the security of your fellow citizens, maybe we should take a hint.” Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr, said in a statement Wednesday that “the Australian Federal Police has worked with Bulgarian authorities in pursuit of those responsible for the bombing.”

Israel reacts: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the indictment and accused Hezbollah of having built a “worldwide terrorist network.” He declared, “It’s time to name Hezbollah as a terrorist organization...We hope the Europeans learn the proper conclusions from this about the true character of Hezbollah,” Al Monitor reports.

Europe mostly mum : Netanyahu’s call to EU leaders to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization has not fallen on deaf ears, but Europe is acutely aware that it will have serious implications. France, Italy, Spain and other EU nations are currently involved in UN peacekeeping operations in southern Lebanon where Hezbollah is strong, states the Jerusalem Post. The French argue that designating Hezbollah a terrorist group could potentially destabilize the Lebanese government, which is due for elections later this year. A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that there will be “consequences” if the Hezbollah link to the Bulgarian bus bombing is conclusively proven.

U.S. Encouragement: Recently anointed US Secretary of State John Kerry added a push across the pond: “We strongly urge other governments around the world – and particularly our partners in Europe – to take immediate action to crack down on Hezbollah. We need to send an unequivocal message to this terrorist group that it can no longer engage in despicable actions with impunity.”

Hezbollah "compass": The Islamist group has yet to officially respond to the accusations. But the Jerusalem Post reports that Hezbollah deputy leader Sheik Naim Qassem told religious students in southern Beirut that: "Israel is leading an international campaign to intimidate people and countries against Hezbollah. All these accusations against Hezbollah will have no effect, and do not change the facts. We will not submit to these pressures and we will not change our priorities. Our compass will remain directed towards Israel."

Israeli pressure?: Financial Times journalist Borzou Daragahi tweeted Tuesday “I don't doubt Hezbollah/Iran could be behind Bulgaria bombing, but also think Israel could pay Sofia to say anything.” He included a URL of a Reuters article quoting Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov as blaming two Hezbollah operatives for the July 18 bus bombing in Burgas. He later apologized and deleted the tweet.

Sincere apologies and regret for ill-conceived Tweet yesterday about Israel and Bulgaria

— Borzou Daragahi (@borzou) February 6, 2013

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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