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Georgia falls aboard on Afghan issue06.10.2010 | 17:47
Mishiko keeps toadying to the West. During NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's visit Saakashvili repeated his suggestion to use Georgia as a transshipment point for military cargos to Afghanistan. Tbilisi made this proposal half a year ago but US strategists shelved the idea, as it seemed. What will happen this time?
"We have good logistics and a safe, well-protected route here in Georgia. This route can never be blocked", - Mikheil Saakashvili told Rasmussen.
By all appearances, the Georgian leader keeps floating in his Euro-Atlantic dreams. It is true that hundreds of light years separate Sakartvelo from NATO standards. Still, there is another way to get into the door Rasmussen keeps half open - to do some apple-polishing for the alliance. The trouble is that the way Saakashvili pursues his dream starts becoming unsafe for the country's people: three Georgian peacekeepers died during battles with terrorists that did nothing to Georgia.
Still, the ambitious leadership of the country does not look satisfied with these losses. Almost a thousand peacekeepers sent to Kabul and Kandagar to win the right of mythic NATO membership for Georgia are not enough either. With persistence that deserves admiration the Georgian president keeps pressing for the country's involvement in the smoldering anti-terrorist campaign. Mishiko offers Georgian ports and airports for refueling and maintenance of the alliance's military-transport aircrafts.
He is blind to see that America has been engaged in the war with terrorists for more than 8 years and that despite efforts of the North Atlantic alliance and its partners, the situation in the region has become only worse lately. He does not care that over 38,000 soldiers of NATO partner states are now stationed in Afghanistan. The Georgian leader suggests that Washington make free use of the republic in the name of Western democracy.
Some experts believe that Saakashvili's proposal is more of a symbol to show his sympathy to NATO and the States. This is not impossible that Obama can really do without the Georgian foothold, particularly now that direct US presence in Afghanistan is winding up.
Probably there will be those who might say: Georgia has very good knowledge of Afghanistan. Yes, the republic did take part in operations in its territory. In September-December 2004 some 50 Georgian soldiers were serving there. But firstly, the situation six years ago was different, and secondly, 50 soldiers are not one thousand. The work of US instructors who trained Georgian peacekeepers for hostilities in Afghanistan can hardly be trusted. No knowledge could save colonel Ramaz Gogiashvili, sergeant David Tsetskhladze, corporals Georgi Kolkhitashvili and Nugzar Kalandadze who died in the name of chimera
I think if NATO accepts the Georgian leader's proposal and starts using the republic as a foothold Georgia might get dragged into more serious squabbles than street fights in Afghan towns due to short-sightedness of its leader. Terrorists take revenge - and they don't act against decision-takers. Monstrous logic of kamikadzes makes suicide bombers take lives of innocent people. Does Mikheil Nikolayevich realize it showing his readiness to engage the country in the struggle with the world's evil? Or maybe he just does not want to stand on the sidelines after Washington thanked Moscow for the "northern corridor" Moscow had opened?
GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed Sakartvelo's involvement in the war against universal evil with Sergey Mikheev, Center for Political Technologies director general, and Giya Melitauri, a military expert (Georgia).
Will NATO accept Saakashvili's proposal?
Mikheev: it's hard to tell, since Brussels makes quite controversial statements on Georgia. On one hand the alliance reiterates that the republic will be admitted into NATO. On the other hand, a day after that they say Georgia has a lot to do to become a member. So the alliance's attitude to Georgian proposals is difficult to grasp. Frankly speaking, Americans will use Georgia not in the operation in Afghanistan - the distance is too long - but in an operation against Iran. The Georgian president's logic remains the same: Georgia has nothing to offer to world markets except for its geopolitical position that it has been trying to "sell" for quite a long time already. That is why it becomes a corridor for alternate routes for shipping hydrocarbons from Central Asia bypassing Russia. Or, for instance, the country might become a foothold to put pressure on Russia's southern regions.
Melitauri: Georgia has been used as a transport corridor to Afghanistan for quite a long time already. In part these are sea and land transport operations that provide rear support to the NATO contingent. The idea is to expand the corridor.
If the alliance takes advantage of Georgia for the struggle against extremism, can Tbilisi become a target for terrorist revenge?
Mikheev: it sounds real to me.