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Should power struggle in Georgia be reason for Caucasus Emirate to concern?

Publication time: 28 October 2012, 23:53

Despite recent elections to the parliament of Georgia, won by the opposition party "Georgian Dream" led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, the struggle for power in Georgia is far from complete.

 

Statements and scandalous leaks indicate that tensions in this fight do not halt also after the elections.

 

The Georgian Dream party is clearly trying to finish off the defeated president Saakashvili. In turn, the defeated Georgian government still retains real levers of influence and control in the country. Besides, it has at least one year left to reorganize its ranks and counter-attack the opponents.

 

Meanwhile, preliminary information showed what trump cards the Georgian Dream could use and from which direction it may hit Saakashvili.

 

The first scandalous "discrediting evidence" occurred when a certain Umar Idigov, whom Ivanishvili-controlled media (followed by the Russian media) presented as a relative of Dzhokhar Dudayev, clearly stressed the significance of these ties.

 

Russian media, adding to the title of Idigov the words "a relative of Dudayev" and calling him "an influential member of the Chechen community", openly relished the situation and presented his statement as a "grandiose scandal".

 

It concerns the bloodshed in the Lopota Gorge in late August 2012. It is to be recalled that a fighting took place in this gorge between a group of Caucasian Mujahideen recruits on their way to Dagestan and special forces of Georgia's defense ministry, in which both sides suffered casualties.

 

So, according to Umar Idigov, it was a pre-planned provocation by Georgian authorities.

 

Umar Idigov said, according to Georgian media, that he was approached by several fellow countrymen living abroad who asked him to check information that Georgian authorities are offering them free travel to North Caucasus "with an aim of preparing terrorist attacks " in Russia.

 

Idigov said that Georgian special forces were supposedly guarding the gorge up until the elections time and that all volunteers who arrived from Europe to Tbilisi airport were welcomed by high ranking officers of the Georgian defense ministry in "black jeeps". Some of the recruits/volunteers were placed in safe houses in Tbilisi, the others were immediately taken to the Pankisi Gorge. During the whole summer, Pankisi was allegedly "literally overrun by young strong guys".

 

"Their transfer to Chechnya was delayed under various excuses, and those who arrived were gradually returned back to Europe. At the time of the raid, there were only about 20 men on the border.

 

The Georgian side promised these guys security and reward. They were given uniforms, weapons, documents, and the authorities mined the road, surrounded the group and just executed it", Idigov disclosed in his "sensation".

 

In his version, the purpose of staging the special operation was "destabilization of the situation in Georgia, imposing a state of emergency and, as a consequence, the cancellation of the upcoming elections".

 

But Umar Idigov did not explain why Saakashvili did not carry out his plan, that is, imposing a state of emergency and cancelling the elections. A "provocation" obviously took place. There has been a bloodshed, a few days of real fightings with the use of military helicopters, real corpses and wounded people.

 

The answer to this question is not coming. Neither from Ivanishvili nor from his media, nor from Idigov. But there is a lot of noise, including in the Russian media, and public accusations against Saakashvili.

 

As the famous relative of Umar Idigov - Dzhokhar Dudayev - used to say: "Important is to launch a niff (thus Dzhokhar called disinformation, or KGB "special measures"), and let the enemy think...!

 

In addition, the whole picture of the "conspiracy" to disrupt the elections, as set out by Umar Idigov, is spoiled by a direct participant Akhmed Chatayev in the events in the Lopota Gorge.

 

It is to be recalled that Georgian public prosecutor's office filed a charge against Mr. Chatayev under par. 1 and 2 of article 236 of the Georgian criminal code.

 

As explained to the Information Center Kakhetia in the public prosecutor's office, Mr. Chatayev is accused of "illegal acquisition, possession and carrying of an explosive device", which is punishable by a prison term of 3 to 5 years.

 

A preliminary court hearing is to take place on October 29 in the Tbilisi city court.

 

It is to be recalled that Akhmed Chatayev was asked by Georgian authorities to go to the Lopota Gorge for negotiations with a group of volunteer recruits, who were going to Dagestan

 

Georgian authorities asked Mr. Chatayev to help to establish a contact with the Mujahideen and to mediate in the negotiations. Mr. Chatayev agreed and went to the Lopota Gorge.

 

However, the negotiations which lasted for more than a day failed. At some point, a shooting started which turned into a fierce battle. Mr. Chatayev was wounded in a leg almost immediately and was forced to take refuge.

 

Fearing for his life, he had spent over 10 days in the woods, with the wounded leg. Then he went to a Georgian checkpoint and was taken to a hospital where he underwent surgery to amputate the leg.

 

At present, Mr. Chatayev is in a prison hospital. His health state is alarming.

 

Meanwhile, it is still not clear why the shooting started. It is to be recalled that the leadership of the Caucasus Emirate is conducting its own investigation into the events.

 

Earlier, the KC published information on what had really happened in the Lopota Gorge citing its own sources.

 

A squad of recruits, secretly formed by the Mujahideen Command on the border between Dagestan and Georgia, moved to a destination site on the territory of Dagestan to take part in the fight against Russian occupation forces. The squad had no targets in Georgia.

 

A leakage of information about the group's route occurred at the last stage of the operation. Georgian authorities immediately sent a large number of their special forces backed by helicopters against the unit of the recruits who had no combat experience.

 

The KC sources also said that the investigation should clearly establish the role of a guide from Dagestan, who volunteered to assist the Mujahideen group to get through exactly this route. It is only known that as soon as the battle started, he went back to Dagestan. A few days later, Russian terrorist forces killed five Dagestani Mujahideen in the village where he lives.

 

There are a few points which require investigation and have nothing to do with Georgia.

 

The fact that Saakashvili would be "goner" in case of the victory of the "Georgian Dream" was clear even before the elections. Ivanishvili's rhetoric left no doubt that sharing power was out of question, even at least for the remaining year of Saakashvili's presidency. And even a meeting with the US ambassador, after which Ivanishvili no longer raised the question of an immediate impeachment of Saakashvili, was unlikely to change the mind of the billionaire.

 

This is evidenced by the fact that just a few days after the "sensation" by Umar Idigov, a new hit followed.

 

Giorgi Zhvania, a brother of the former Georgian prime minister, Zurab Zhvania, who died in 2005, accused of a group of former ministers from the team of president Mikhail Saakashvili of staging his accidental death.

 

It is to be recalled that Zurab Zhvania and deputy governor of the Kvemo Kartli region, Raul Yusupov, were found dead on February 3, 2005 in an apartment in the center of the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. The official cause of death of the both was gas poisoning as a result of the incorrectly installed heating system.

 

This statement was promptly responded to by the members of the new Ivanishvili's government who assured the public that the investigation into the death of Zhvania would continue and be surely completed.

 

In this case, no one in the camp of the Georgian Dream bothered to hide the fact that "the tree that was marked for felling" was Saakashvili.

 

In connection with the events in Georgia, there are some questions left.

 

Is the struggle for power in Georgia a cause for concern for the Caucasus Emirate? What will change for the CE if Saakashvili is finished off? What happens if both groups are still in coalition (say, under pressure from the US)? What is to expect if Saakashvili repels all attacks and the situation in Georgia comes to normal.

 

By and large, all of these questions are purely rhetorical. For any observer, who is more or less familiar with the situation, Georgia never played and doesn't play a significant role for the Caucasus Emirate in its military confrontation with Russia, although logically Georgia should be compelled to help in every way the Caucasus Emirate, since the CE is in fact, a buffer on the path of a new Russian expansion in Transcaucasia.

 

If you put on the balance pros and cons of the Caucasus Emirate being a neighbor of independent Georgia, there are more cons than pros.

 

Georgia is not an independent country. This is the main problem for Tbilisi. In the collision between national interests and the interests of its patrons, both old and new Georgian authorities will choose the interests of their patrons, because they are sure that Georgia has no chance without a powerful "protection". And these are real national interests, according to their logic.

 

However, this raises a legitimate question: How are Georgia's neighbors to respond to such policy? First of all, the Muslims of North Caucasus. On the one hand, Georgia and the Caucasus Emirate have a common enemy - Russia. On the other - Georgia is at war against Muslims in Afghanistan.

 

Whatever it is, the events in the Lapota Gorge demonstrated that the Caucasus Emirate was not in a rush to draw conclusions. It exerts restraint and intends to look into the incident. The investigation is continuing, and no official statement for the authorities of Georgia has yet been made, which is very significant.

 

Therefore, the statement by Umar Idigov should be considered only in the context of the internal political struggle between Saakashvili and Ivanishvili. Moreover, his statement is not really true.

 

For its part, Georgian authorities publicly demonstrated, at least during the last few years, their desire to improve friendly ties with the peoples of North Caucasus and even taken a series of specific steps in that direction.

 

How is Ivanishvili going to behave, especially given the controversial statements about possible involvement of Georgia in Putin's Olympics in Sochi on the bones of half a million Circassians murdered by the Russians and the closure of "anti-Russian" TV channel PIK, will be obvious soon enough.

 

However, today it can be assumed that the logic of the processes in the Caucasus and the current status of the Georgian state will oblige new authorities of this country to reckon with a Georgia's significance in North Caucasus.

 

It will be clear soon enough whether Ivanishvili understands this or accusations against him of a "Russian project" have real ground.

 

Ruslan Sinbarigov

Kavkaz Center


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