Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Georgian Dilemma?

At the Caspian summit, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan made it clear that "under no circumstances" would they allow the use of their territory for any military operation against any other Caspian state, including Iran. This follows reports that U.S. officials were inspecting airfields in Azerbaijan under the partnership agreement between Azerbaijan and NATO.

I assume that U.S. strategic planners would want the option of being able to pressure Tehran, in the event of any military confrontation with Iran, from the north as well as from the Gulf region--and to have secure land facilities not subject to insurgent/militia disruption, as in Iraq.

This leaves open the question--would Georgia make such facilities available to the United States, and if so, under what conditions? Presumably Tbilisi would want explicit security guarantees from Washington and perhaps guarantees about taking whatever measures necessary for reunifying the country. But would Georgia want to be exposed to Iranian attack as an acceptable price?

On a separate note, the discussion about the restoration of the monarchy in Georgia is an interesting one, given my own interests in the history of the country. But the old ruling house often suffered from the same sort of splits and at times one had several different Georgian kingdoms and principalities; only in the 18th century did the great king Erekle II succeed in effectively reunifying the country (and even then there was still a king in Imereti). So it is not an automatic solution.

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