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What They Said: The Attack on an Israeli Diplomat (WSJ) WALL STREET JOURNAL) By Diksha Sahni 02/18/12)Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2012/02/18/what-they-said-the-attack-on-an-israeli-diplomat/?KEYWORDS=Israel WALL STREET JOURNAL WALL STREET JOURNAL Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The magnetic-bomb attack Monday targeting an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi renewed concerns over India’s intelligence gathering abilities as a motorcyclist stuck a bomb on the back of a Toyota.

Soon after the incident, Israel was quick to accuse Iran and its militant ally Hezbollah for the attack and also for the explosive found in an Israeli diplomat’s car in Tbilisi, Georgia. Iran denied involvement. India has said it is not yet able to pinpoint who was responsible.

Nonetheless, international pressure seems to be mounting on India to back off its ties with Iran, putting India in a tight spot since it is friendly to both Israel and Iran.

As Indian investigative authorities struggled with this new kind of “sticky bomb,” commentators worried about India being used as a battleground for a “proxy war.”

Here’s a roundup of what some commentators and opinion columns had to say about the attack:

A Wednesday editorial in the Indian Express by C. Raja Mohan, headlined “Middle East Moves Closer,” pondered the new challenge that the attack poses for India and how it maintains its relations with all its allies – especially Israel, Iran and the U.S.

The editorial noted that the attack “marks a definitive expansion of India’s western security perimeter into the Middle East” and for this reason India cannot now be a silent spectator to the events happening in the Middle East because they have begun to resonate in India.

“Unlike in the past, India no longer has the option of doing nothing and finessing the issues through anodyne diplomatic statements emphasizing peaceful resolution of the disputes,” the piece said.

Mr. Mohan noted that while the Middle East had always been a “difficult diplomatic question” for India, it now poses a new threat to India “that has the potential to effect India’s macroeconomic situation, its energy calculus, relations with major powers, and internal stability.”

B. Raman, a former additional secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat, wrote in The Times of India Thursday that India must take seriously Israel’s suspicion over Iran’s involvement in the terror attack in New Delhi, more so because of a series of related events in Georgia and Bangkok.

The piece warned that the world would see a lot more such “covert wars” between Iran and Israel. Mr. Raman observed that given the manner in which the attack was executed (and went undetected by Indian agencies), it indicates that Iran already has a “strong intelligence presence in Indian territory” in the form of “intelligence officers working undercover, sleeper cells in the Indian Shia community and among the large numbers of Iranians studying in India.” This can sow seeds of radicalization, he claimed.

The Hindustan Times said that Monday’s attack was different in nature from what India has witnessed before: “This is not the sort of indiscriminate killing that is the mark of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and messianic militant groups of that ilk. This is the stuff of the Cold War –government fighting government through extrajudicial acts of violence.”

The editorial said that because India’s sovereignty is “affronted by this behavior,” India must make it clear to such governments that they can’t use Indian soil for covert wars.

The stakes are high for a heterogeneous country like India where people of many ethnicities, religion and ideology stay together, the article said. “When such strands become violent, there is always a danger of them infecting something in the fabric of Indian society with a similar fanaticism.”

Hence, the editorial observes, it is important for India that its “own nation-building exercise be as buffered from foreign rages as much as possible.”

The Hindu, on the other hand, argues that rather than speculating about who is behind the attack, India must address the more important question – the dysfunction that continues to plague our counter- terrorism infrastructure.

The editorial notes that even three years after the terror attacks of 26/11 ripped through Mumbai, “India’s new-model police forces work just like their predecessors.”

“India does not have a single world-class institution for teaching investigation, forensics, intelligence or tactical skills,” it adds.

“India’s intelligence is thin, investigation skills appalling and emergency response infrastructure non-existent,” it said. “Painting fangs on this lamb won’t fool anyone — least of all terrorists who mean India harm.”

You can follow India Real Time @indiarealtime. (Copyright © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.) 02/18/12)


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