Thursday, November 08, 2007

Georgia-Pakistan Symmetry

Pervez Musharraf and Mikheil Saakashvili have both decided to offer olive branches to defuse the crises in their respective countries and regain the political momentum. Saaksashvili has offered to bring presidential elections up to January 2008 (rather than extend the term of the parliament)--this would also put his administration's achievements (or lack thereof, as the opposition claims) up to the voters for evaluation.

Musharraf guarantees that parliamentary elections would be held by February 15, 2008 and that he would "take off the uniform" and solely be chief executive. This would probably clear the way for General Asfaq Kayani to become the chief of the military--and would ensure a certain degree of continuity in policy.

So now the tests:

I assume that Saakashvili's decision will be welcomed by Washington that was hoping to avoid a scenario where the final "color revolution" came to a crashing halt. The opposition may decide that they've gained a way to break the near-stranglehold on power that Saakashvili and his National Movement currently have--and so the crisis may recede.

In Pakistan, would this announcement be sufficient for Bhutto and her supporters--and would it break apart a nascent opposition coalition that was building up in the last week? The pledge would also give some cover for the Bush Administration since there would be a timetable for elections.

Kind of a pleasant surprise. The relevant question for Georgia is the extent to which Russian influence controls key opposition leaders and prevents compromise.

I can't figure out exactly what is preventing political compromise in Pakistan, but public evidence so far suggests that there is some kind of structural inability of the current Pakistan power structure to accept power-sharing. I expect that backsliding will occur here as it has in the past.
Russia controlling opposition in Georgia? Okrushavili who is even more militant than Saakashvili on Abkhazia? Zourabichvili who is more pro-NATO and pro-Europe? None of these opposition forces are Yanukovych clones.

Russia only benefits to the extent that there is disruption.
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