Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=MOSCOW – TSKHINVILI – SUKHUMI WATCH – South Caucasus Theatre: Moscow – Berlin – Washington – Yerevan – Baku – Tskhinvili – Sukhumi/Tbilisi – Ankara – Tehran; Georgia President Calls Emergency Security Meeting After Russia Establishes Official Relations with Abkhazia – South Ossetia – Heavy Fighting on Gaza/Israel Border After Hamas Ambush – Iraq Removes Military – Police Commanders in Basra
Night Watch: TBILISI – In the aftermath of Kosovo’s declaration of independence in February Russia continues to pursue official relations with the two territories that seceded from Georgia at the end of the Cold War in 1990, South Ossetia-Abkhazia. Moscow stated it was going to knowing it would eventually lead to another war with Georgia, the first one fought from 1990-93 between the two states and Georgia with Russia supporting the two territories to maintain its hold over the resource rich region and both areas have a majority of Russian citizens. Al Jazeera reports today’s crisis was prompted by this announcement from the Russia Foreign Ministry, “The Russian government is instructed by Vladimir Putin to cooperate with the de facto authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia including the organizations of trade and economic, social and scientific co-operation.” Georgia Foreign Minister David Bakradze responded quickly by replying Moscow’s move was a “de facto annexation” of the areas. Sergei Shamba, Abkhazia Foreign Minister, stated Moscow’s decision means “in effect, Abkhazia is in the final straight before the finish line, beyond which lies the recognition of our independence.” [ALJAZEERA]
Not only does the Georgian government in Tbilisi realize the military implications of Moscow’s move but so do Ankara-Tehran which support Tbilisi in the hope that somehow Georgia can prevent Russia from controlling this crossroads of energy pipelines. With the wide ranging serious military reforms Russia has conducted under President Putin since 1999 it will be virtually impossible for Georgia to defeat Russia. And with the support of the Strategic Working Group co-chaired by former U. S. Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger and former Russia Premier Yevgeny Primakov it will add to the air support for Russia-Abkhazia-South Ossetia ground forces. The formation of the Strategic Working Group last year, and its operating almost in secrecy, reveals the deceptive nature of NATO’s offer to Georgia of membership. The membership offer is just a distraction as Russia prepares to end Iran’s effort, through Georgia, to control this region.
Kibbutz Be’eri – Hamas continues to display the result of its new training and tactics by conducting a successful ambush Wednesday morning that killed three Israeli soldiers just one week after Palestinian militants attacked a fuel depot on the Israel/Gaza border. The Jerusalem Post/AP report the Israeli soldiers saw what they assumed to be Palestinian infiltrators near Kibbutz Be’eri and in pursuing came under heavy gunfire and rocket attack. Hamas released this flier afterward, “We will continue to conduct many operations against the occupation and continue to set ambushes of death against its cowardly soldiers. IDF soldiers going into Gaza have four choices: to be killed, captured, seriously wounded or become psychologically traumatized.” These new tactics by Palestinian militants is the result of their training in Syria-Lebanon-Iran by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. [JPOST]
Al Burayi – The Jerusalem Post/AP report Israel has responded to Hamas’ ambush by conducting at least two air strikes which have killed 12 people and wounded 30 in the area of the Al Burayi refugee camp in central Gaza. [JPOST]
Basra – Under Tehran’s instruction Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki continues to make decisions to undermine the Iraq Army. First, he had them rush into Basra in late March to face heavily armed Shia militia units and now has reportedly removed two commanders in Basra which were highly respected by U. S.-British military leaders. Swissinfo/Reuters report the two are Lieutenant-General Mohan al-Furaiji, Basra military commander and Major-General Abdul-Jalil Khalaf head of Basra police. Latest news seems to indicate there are conflicting reports as to whether al-Furaiji has been replaced or not. Both officers had taken their position seriously and led efforts against Shia militias and criminal gangs which made them both targets of numerous assassination attempts. I suspect Tehran noticed their effectiveness and had al-Maliki replace them. [SWISSINFO]