Crossfire War – South Caucasus Theatre: Moscow – Berlin – Washington – Paris – Yerevan – Baku – Tskhinvili – Sukhumi/Tbilisi – Ankara – Tehran; More Russian Troops Arrive in Abkhazia Near Kodori Gorge – Establish Camp – Georgia States Beginning of Aggression – NATO Expresses Weak Concern – Iraq Delegation Arrives in Tehran at Washington’s Insistence
Night Watch: KODORI GORGE – “Additional units of the Russian troops are coming to the area of the peacekeeping operation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Collective Peacekeeping Force in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict.” Xinhua reports that was the de facto statement by the spokesman for the Russia Foreign Ministry, Vyacheslav Sedov, given to Itar-Tass on the increase in the number of Russian units now deployed in Abkhazia, the disputed territory between Georgia and the Black Sea.
The number of new Russian units may be a secret but their intention is definitely not which is why it is a misnomer, perfectly diplomatic, to refer to them as a peacekeeping unit. Their mission is obviously offensive and to restore Moscow’s control over the resources between the Black and Caspian Sea which Russia nearly lost complete control over at the end of the Cold War in 1990 due to the enormous corruption at the highest levels of post-Soviet society and government.
At one time, 1997, the year after Russia lost the first Chechen war, a Russian official admitted if the armed forces continued to deteriorate then Moscow would lose control over the area from the Urals to the Far East, two-thirds of the country. It would put at extreme risk the West’s access to raw materials which is why Berlin handpicked Vladimir Putin to replace Boris Yeltsin in 1999 and lead the military reforms that are now enabling Moscow to restore its control knowing it will lead to major fighting at any moment. [XINHUA]
Tkvarcheli – The Georgian government in Tbilisi is under no illusion as to the nature of these units intention which is why France24/AFP have quoted David Bakradze, the Special Representative to Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili, that the Russian move was, “The beginning of full scale military aggression.” The units have taken up position in the Tkvarcheli district of Abkhazia which is next to the Kodori Gorge 160 miles northwest of Tbilisi. The Kodori has been divided between Abkhazian and Georgian units for two years when the military standoff began and it was only a question of time before Moscow created events that would provide Russia’s reason to attack. They are establishing a camp complete with canteen and communication facilities and Moscow has already stated Russia intends to construct 15 more observation posts. [FRANCE24]
NATO has issued its usual form response, going through the motions of warning Russia, when in reality every NATO nation requires access to raw materials from the region and Brussels realizes Ankara-Tehran have increased their relations with Tbilisi in the hope Moscow will not be able to restore its economic regime. Turkey’s support of Georgia, an extension of its support of Islamic groups that fought Russia in the North Caucasus since 1994 is one of the reasons for NATO’s weak position since Turkey is a NATO member. But what has really undermined NATO was its own suspicious strategic thinking which ignored the war in the strategic Caucasus and instead insisted on war with Serbia which NATO began attacking 1994 a war that is going to resume over Kosovo. Brussels’ own warped decision making is the main reason there has never been and will be no real strategic cooperation with Russia. Brussels will continue to diminish in importance for the duration of the war. NATO role is limited to having its aircraft conduct some joint maneuvers with Russian bombers.
Tehran – At Washington’s insistence an Iraqi delegation, led by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Sheikh Khalid al-Attiya, has just arrived in Tehran as part of Washington effort to set the stage to attack Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities and bases of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds Force that have been training and supplying the Shia militias. Swissinfo/Reuters quoted Sami al-Askari, a senior lawmaker and confidant of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, “The UIA (Unified Iraqi Alliance) has decided to send a delegation to press the Iranian government to stop financing and supporting the armed groups.” The UIA is the political bloc of the Prime Minister and there is no word on who they will meet but I suspect it will be a low level official in Iran’s Foreign Ministry who will of course deny an Iranian involvement in Iraq, a denial Tehran has maintained for five years. On Wednesday a U. S. official traveling with U. S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates outlined the procedure, “The Iraqis wish to first show what they have to the Iranian government before they show the world.” That could take place this weekend after Tehran’s quick and immediate rejection of the delegation. [SWISSINFO]
But also Wednesday Prime Minister al-Maliki made the curious statement, “I am not Iran’s man in Iraq”, even though he ordered the Iraq Army to attack Basra and gave almost no notice to Washington which is exactly why he is Iran’s man in Iraq. He and Tehran knew the Iraq Army would not be successful since it is infiltrated by members of the Mahdi Army, headed by another of Iran’s man in Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr. The offensive was meant to draw UK/US forces into the conflict as London-Washington were preparing to withdraw this year and it has placed British-U. S. units in Basra right near the Iranian border within easy range of the cruise missiles Iran will launch when the war becomes more direct. When attacks against the occupation began five years ago Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei observed the U. S. was like a wolf caught in a trap. Tehran wants the trap to continue and does not want to see these UK/US forces on other fronts.