Georgia-South Ossetia Conflict Analysis

Georgia, a republic of the former Soviet Union, underwent a sudden anti-Russian and pro-Western change from the moment the former USSR collapsed and after declaring itself an independent state in the early 1990s.

Its leaders, then and now, have never concealed that objective, evident when the Tbilisi Parliament approved the declaration on its entry to NATO in 2007.

The United States has had in the Georgian authorities a true host, contributing to the Bush administration’s aim to encircle Russia militarily taking NATO to its borders, and with the antimissile shield aiming at it from neighboring Poland and radar in the Czech Republic.

Georgia is the third country —only surpassed by the US and Great Britain— in terms of the number of soldiers sent to Iraq with 2,000.

With Russia in eyeshot, the Bush administration has spared no support towards the government of Georgian president Mijail Saakashvili. In fact, Washington has publicly expressed that it will "guarantee" its ambition to join NATO and has already carried out joint military maneuvers, totally financed by the Pentagon.

Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, while manipulating the events, threatened Russia openly on Monday, with the argument that "Moscow is conducting a very dangerous game with the United States and its allies," and that "NATO won’t allow Moscow to stay in Georgia."

Due to the ethnic composition of their inhabitants and their historical, economic, cultural, and family bonds with Russia, both South Ossetia and Abjasia don’t accept being under Georgia’s tutelage.

Ossetians are a different ethnic group than the Georgians. They come from the Russian plains by the Don River, from where they were expelled in the 13th century by the Mongol invaders in the Caucasus Mountains. They ended up establishing themselves along the Russian border with Georgia. Now, they hope to join North Ossetia, presently an autonomous republic within the Russian Federation. In fact, almost 90 percent have Russian citizenship.

Current Tensions

In 2004, after Mikheil Saakashvili assumed Georgia’s presidency, the radical change that had already taken place in that republic, to the detriment of relations with Russia and rapprochement with the US, reached a greater magnitude. Many analysts consider its yearning for NATO is a dangerous step that could lead to a greater conflict.

It appears that the use of foreign military forces to impose control over Ossetia is an option, an initiative that can and should involve Russia —which so far was the guarantor of peace in the area— in a conflict of unprecedented dimensions.

These are the true causes of the conflict in Caucasus region into which external factors, and the involvement of the US and NATO are adding more fuel to a fire that should be avoided.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who immediately traveled to the conflict area, warned that "Georgia’s aspiration to join NATO (…) is motivated by its attempt to drag other nations and peoples into its bloody adventures."

Another element —not only economical but of strategic importance— is that crossing Georgia is the 1,170 kilometer BTC (Baku, Tbilisi and Ceyhan) oil pipeline, capable of supplying a million barrels a day to the West.

The project, valued at 3.2 billion Euros, has a special significance in the energy map of the Caucasus. It will make it possible to put the oil distribution centers of the Caspian Sea in contact with those of the Mediterranean.

Its construction was supervised by US groups, interpreted by analysts as a way to reduce Russia’s influence on the ex-Soviet republic of the south. To date, a large amount of the Caspian Sea’s oil exports passed through Russian pipelines.

It’s obvious that the internal ethnic causes, aggravated by US geopolitical interests and especially the interest in controlling the region’s oil resources and limiting Russia, are more than enough reason to explain what is happening today in South Ossetia.

[Source: By Elson Concepción Pérez, Períodico 26, Las Tunas, Cub, 25Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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