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 (, 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) (, 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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Russia Consolidates Military Control in Abkhazia as Georgia’s Ruling Party Further Eases Its Resistance

Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume: 13 Issue: 194 | December 12, 2016

»Such shifts align with the ideas of Eurasianist ideologue and conspiracy theorist Alexandr Dugin, who has lobbied for a more aggressive Russian stance in the Caucasus. Upon the enactment of Georgia’s Association Agreement with the European Union in July, Dugin’s anti-Semitic “analytical center” Katehon claimed that “The only alternative to the … Agreement, which is suicidal for Georgia, is its integration with the countries that stand on the same level of economic development…These are the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union.” In a lengthy interview with Katehon, Levan Vasadze, head of the Demographic Revival Fund of Georgia and the most prominent Georgian public figure associated with the ruling Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party, advocated for fellow Orthodox Russia stepping up as a military and political “peacemaker” in Georgia’s reconciliation with the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Katehon also excluded the possibility of Georgia receiving visa-free travel regime with the EU, which was approved on December 8.«

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Georgia’s Weak Opposition Looks on As Ruling Party Flirts with China

Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume 13, Issue 186 | November 28, 2016

»While a split within the United National Movement (UNM) party threatens to sink the Georgian pro-Western opposition into political chaos, the ruling Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia (GDDG), which enjoys a constitutional supermajority in the parliament, is readying to swiftly reorient Georgia’s foreign policy priorities. UNM’s leader and former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, has launched a new opposition reformist movement in Ukraine (see EDM, November 14, 16). Appearing on the TV channel Rustavi 2, Saakashvili, speaking in Kyiv, effectively called for creating a comparable new political force in Georgia. In addition, he did not mince words in his criticism of the dissenting faction of UNM, de facto led by parliamentarian Giorgi Bokeria (Rustavi 2, November 15). Indeed, the 27 UNM lawmakers who will enter the parliament following last October’s elections will have a difficult time standing up to or breaking through the GDDG’s domination of the national legislature. As such, the opposition’s critical role of questioning and checking the ruling party’s tendency toward centralization of power may be overshadowed by the tumultuous infighting within UNM.«

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Constitutional Majority Looms as Georgia’s Opposition UNM Party in Danger of Emaciation

Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume 13, Issue 174 | October 30, 2016

»Meanwhile, thanks to its constitutional majority, GDDG will not even require the nationalistic Alliance of Patriots parliamentary faction (six seats) to second the ruling party’s motions in the legislature. GDDG can freely proceed with implementing its recently announced drastic legislative changes, which threaten not just Georgia’s democratic institutions, but also its national security. Zurabishvili, a former foreign minister under Saakashvili’s first administration, and presently an independent candidate who also won her runoff election in Tbilisi’s Mtatsminda district thanks to GDDG’s support, declared just days before the final vote that Georgia’s law designating South Ossetia and Abkhazia as occupied territories is presumably “blocking” Georgia’s possibility to maneuver in its relations with Russia (, October 27). Some Western experts, such as the United States’ former ambassador to Georgia, Kenneth Yalovitz, predict that the Caucasus region in general and Georgia in particular will lose its significance for US foreign policy in the coming years (YouTube, October 11). And according to the Russian paper Izvestia, Russia’s and Georgia’s negotiators—Grigory Karasin and Zurab Abashidze, respectively—are preparing to discuss “restoring diplomatic relations between the countries,” and “Georgia has to make the first step” without any concessions regarding the current status of the breakaway regions (Izvestia, October 11).«

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Opposition UNM Party Hurting From Saakashvili’s Distance

Eurasia Daily Monitor | Volume 13, Issue 164 | October 13, 2016

»Saakashvili remains in Odessa, and leading a boycott (however reasonable) from afar would have been difficult. In his absence, UNM demonstrated agility by quickly mobilizing to take part in the upcoming runoff races to avert even more devastating results in the election. As a result, Saakashvili was forced to publicly drop his call for a boycott (iPress, October 13). It remains to be seen whether UNM’s decision to initially overrule its still highly popular leader will make Saakashvili appear weak, and whether it will cost the party any votes in the runoff elections.«

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Georgian Parties Fail to Link Domestic Prosperity With a Consistent Foreign Policy

Eurasia Daily Monitor | Volume 13, Issue 156 | September 28, 2016

»In a recent pre-election poll, conducted by Wilson Perkins Allen Research (WPA), all these parties, save UNM, fare below 2 percent, while GDDG enjoys 25 percent support, with the nationalist Alliance of Patriots (AP) at 16 percent and UNM at 12 percent. Though reported to be carried out by WPA independently, the company confirmed to this author, on September 27, that the poll was in fact commissioned by AP. Another survey for the TV station Rustavi 2, in June, had GDDG at 22.4 percent and UNM at 21.7 percent, while State for People was third with 7.8 percent, Free Democrats at 6.2 percent, and AP at 2.2 percent. AP has been recently making headlines by accusing Turkey of attacking Georgian sovereignty by allegedly deliberately inviting up to 2,800 Georgian children from the predominantly Muslim Adjara region to study free of charge in its Islamic schools. Despite its criticism of GDDG, AP, which displays no opposition to Russian influence in Georgia, is readying a coalition with the ruling bloc... 

While GDDG’s foreign policy seems to correspond to public opinion, a logical strategy for the opposition would be to articulate the impossibility of maintaining both a pro-Western and pro-Russian position. But so far, that has been lacking in this campaign.«

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Oscillating Between Israel and Iran, Will Georgia Tilt Toward the Islamic Republic?

Eurasia Daily Monitor | Volume 13, Issue 131 | July 20, 2016 

»Georgia’s relations with Israel fall drastically short of the soaring promises announced by then–Georgian prime minister Ivanishvili on his first official visit to the country, in 2013. At that time, Ivanishvili raved of his “dream of Israel as a strategic partner” (Jerusalem Post, June 20, 2013). However, despite persistent assurances of the “26-century-old friendship” between the two nations (, November 5, 2015), not much can be reported on the ground. Most notably, no military and security cooperation have been reintroduced. Is the proclaimed “dream of a strategic partnership” with Israel just another wishful promise made by the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) coalition?«

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ანტიფაშიზმი და ისრაელი | ნეტგაზეთი | 11 მაისი, 2011

Antifascism and Israel | | May 11, 2011

„ნებისმიერი განმანათლებლური, ანტიფაშისტური დამოკიდებულება ისრაელის მიმართ მასთან უპირობო სოლიდარობას ნიშნავს. როგორც ჩანს, ერთადერთი, რაც მომავალში შეძლებდა ანტისემიტიზმის არსებობის პირობების გაუქმებას, თავად იმ საზოგადოებრივი ურთიერთობების შეცვლაა, მას რომ წარმოშობს, რაც, საბოლოოდ, ეროვნული სახელმწიფოების, როგორც კაპიტალის სუვერენის არსებობის, დაშლასაც მოიცავდა. და მაინც, თანამედროვე ისტორია გვიჩვენებს, რომ ისრაელის სახელმწიფოს მიმართ გამონაკლისის დაშვება ყოველმხრივ აუცილებელია: მის გარეშე დღევანდელ მსოფლიოში ებრაელების არსებობის გარანტირება შეუძლებელია. ის დამოკიდებულება კი, რომელიც ისრაელის მიმართ საქართველოს სახელმწიფო ინტერესებიდან გამომდინარე ისრაელთან „არაცინიკური“ პოლიტიკის გატარებას მოითხოვს, ამ ანტიფაშისტურ სოლიდარობას არღვევს. 


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