Iran Builds Soft Power in Georgia to Foster Tighter Nexus With Russia

Jamestown Foundation | Eurasia Daily Monitor | Volume: 14 Issue: 43, March 29, 2017

»Thus far, the Islamic Republic does not seem to have a reason to go beyond an application of soft power to enlarge its sphere of influence in Georgia; it encounters only fertile soil on both ends of the Georgian political spectrum, the ruling party and the opposition. Yet, the new US administration is apparently seeking to isolate Iran anew. And if, in alliance with Israel and its other regional partners, the US is ultimately successful in undercutting Iran’s efforts at dominance in the Middle East, Tehran may easily counteract by utilizing its accrued soft power in Georgia. The Islamic Republic could then potentially transform this soft power capital into hard power by actively fomenting religious unrest and destabilizing violence among Georgian minority communities.«

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Russia Progressively Pulls Georgia Tighter Into Its Orbit by Way of New Transit Routes

Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 14 Issue: 30

»This would draw Georgia tighter into the Russia-Armenia-Iran axis and away from its transregional allies—the United States, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Israel. Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze’s recent meetings, in Washington, DC, with members of Donald Trump’s administration, as well as Defense Minister Levan Izoria’s talks with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officials, in Brussels and at the Munich Security Conference, yielded no publicly apparent breakthroughs. Georgia did not announce its involvement in NATO drills in the Black Sea region, nor did it actively commit itself to join the US’s new Iran sanctions. Tbilisi also has not pledged any military assets to US-led anti–Islamic State coalition efforts (Civil Georgia, February 16). Rather, the ruling party, citing some experts who keep claiming that the US is itself purportedly befriending Russia, justifies carrying on with a “balanced approach” of both pro-Western integration and “normalization” with Russia, now including Iran (Accent.ge, February 14). Yet, the presumed equidistance—Georgia’s foreign policy course since 2012—has instead become Tbilisi’s own rapprochement with Moscow and Tehran.«

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Georgia to Skip NATO Summit as Russia Flexes Military Muscle in South Caucasus

Eurasia Daily Monitor, February 1, 2017, Volume 14, Issue 11

»Despite growing threats from Russia’s ongoing multi-focal military build-up in the region, Georgia’s ruling party seems to belittle the fact that it will be absent from the NATO deliberations in Brussels. The new US administration appears to be seeking to reestablish a balance of power with Russia as well as gain its cooperation in fighting terrorism and the so-called Islamic State (IS) (Geonews.ge, January 28). In this environment, it should still be possible for Tbilisi to reaffirm its commitment to NATO as well as deepen its military partnership with Washington. For example, Georgia could offer the US its support in the fight against the IS and initiate a higher level of military cooperation in Georgia than was pursued under the Barack Obama administration. However, despite Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili’s avowals after Trump’s inauguration that Georgia “was and remains” America’s “reliable and staunch ally” (Civil Georgia, January 24), this notable reluctance to interact directly with NATO and the US point to the contrary. Thus far, GDDG has not publicly voiced any intention to seek meetings with the Trump administration to specifically discuss the increase of the US troop presence in Georgia or about engaging directly in new counter-terrorism efforts.«

 

This article originally appeared in Jamestown Foundation's Eurasia Daily Monitor on February 1, 2017

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Terrorist Threat in Georgia Shifts From Exporting Militants to Homegrown and Returning Fighters

Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume 14, Issue 4 | January 20, 2017

 

»The novel threat seems to be the shift from the export of regional terrorists to Syria and Iraq toward a refocusing of terrorist activities in the off-the-battleground areas hitherto considered relatively safe from terrorism by local governments. As the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups continue to experience setbacks in their “safe havens” in the Middle East, recent attacks in France, Germany, Belgium and the United States have proven that relatively low-cost acts of terrorism in regions of the West with low-level readiness become more attractive. More modest levels of actual involvement in the international fight against terrorism by particular countries do not seem to significantly reduce the risk of attacks. Meanwhile, Georgia continues its contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) counter-terrorism efforts, including the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, which, if anything, increases such risks.«

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