In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Dreamers capture power in Georgia

Posted by seumasach on October 4, 2012


2nd October, 2012

The citadel of the West in the post-Soviet space is falling — Georgia. A sad epilogue is being written to the epic story of the “color revolution”. The results of the Georgian parliamentary election on Monday have brought the stunning news that President Mikhail Saakashvilli has suffered a veritable rout. MS was brought to power by a carefully-plotted drama of “regime change” in 2003 known popularly in the western lexicon as the Rose Revolution.

Well, the tide is turning. The opposition coalition, Dreamers, has captured 110 out of 150 seats in the parliament. The Georgian system is not only slated to empower the prime minister with augmented constitutional authority from 2013 onward, that prime minister is now going to be from the political opposition. MS has been rendered a “lame duck” for remaining term in office till 2014.

Of far greater significance, though, is that the Dreamers are led by the billionaire tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvilli. The point is not about his vast wealth, but as to where and how he made it? Simply put, he made it all in Russia in those halcyon days of the early 1990s when Boris Yeltsin put Russia’s vast riches on sale and introduced the Russians to the infinite possibilities of crony capitalism.
Suffice to say,  the oligarchs made hay when the sun shined — and BI was one of them. President Vladimir Putin is reputed to get along splendidly well with BI. Moscow seems enthralled as the TV images come in from Tbilisi.
Washington will feel uneasy that Moscow might begin to pull strings in Tbilisi all over again. Georgia is a vital chip in the mean geopolitical games being played out in the post-Soviet space between Washington and Moscow. There is added poignancy insofar as the chill is rapidly descending on the US-Russia ties, as Moscow’s decision to boot out the USAID testifies.
The US-Russia rivalry is erupting all over the Eurasian heartland and its outlying peripheries. Putin is pushing his Eurasia Union project and, equally, the US is keenly ensuring that it is going to be a long haul for the Kremlin.
The US is elbowing out Russian influence in the Central Asian capitals to the north of Afghanistan; Russia is inserting itself into the bastion of the US influence to the south of Afghanistan — Pakistan. No matter the postponement of Putin’s visit to Pakistan, Pak army chief Asfaq Kayani is travelling to Moscow and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov is giving a pleasant surprise to the Pakistani civilian leadership by dropping in unceremoniously to offer a friendly explanation to President Asif Zardari as to why Putin couldn’t come.
The unfolding spectacle is breathtaking. But is it all that simple for Russia to reclaim Georgia? The Dreamers seem to be adept at expanding Georgian interests by bargaining hard with both the West and Russia. (By the way, BI also holds French citizenship.)
This is exactly what Ukraine’s “pro-Russian” President Mikhail Yanokovich is doing after replacing the color revolutionaries in Kyiev. Even small countries are never the same once they have experienced the thrill and headiness of being independent sovereign states. No one could have foreseen that a tiny country like Tajikistan with some 5 million people could stand up to mighty Russia on the issue of the lease of Russian military base.
Besides, Georgia’s strategic location is going to be a crucial factor. Energy security and oil pipelines; NATO’s expansion; US missile defence system; projected transit route to Afghanistan (bypassing Russia, Iran and Pakistan); Islamic militancy in North Caucasus; Iran problem; Black Sea military bases — name it, and Georgia figures in them all one way or another as an “indispensable partner” of the US in the 21st century.
In sum, Washington isn’t going to roll over and leave a helpless BI slip into the bear hug. Nor is the bear going to loosen the new grip it is getting and be lackadaisical enough to let the eagle swoop down once again and snap up Georgia a second time. Maybe, BI should seek out the Non-Aligned Movement.

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