Georgia on the midnight train to being a banana republic

STR/AFP/Getty Images The New York Times is reporting today that Georgia is fast becoming one of America’s most critical allies in Iraq, patrolling for weapons smugglers along the Iranian border: At a time when other countries are pulling troops out, Georgia has more than doubled its troop levels in Iraq, to 2,000 soldiers from 850, ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
598764_071009_georgia_05.jpg
598764_071009_georgia_05.jpg

STR/AFP/Getty Images

The New York Times is reporting today that Georgia is fast becoming one of America's most critical allies in Iraq, patrolling for weapons smugglers along the Iranian border:

At a time when other countries are pulling troops out, Georgia has more than doubled its troop levels in Iraq, to 2,000 soldiers from 850, and agreed to send them from the safer Green Zone in Baghdad to this area along the Iranian border. That gives Georgia, a tiny Caucasus mountains nation, the second-largest troop presence among American allies in Iraq, behind Britain.

STR/AFP/Getty Images

The New York Times is reporting today that Georgia is fast becoming one of America’s most critical allies in Iraq, patrolling for weapons smugglers along the Iranian border:

At a time when other countries are pulling troops out, Georgia has more than doubled its troop levels in Iraq, to 2,000 soldiers from 850, and agreed to send them from the safer Green Zone in Baghdad to this area along the Iranian border. That gives Georgia, a tiny Caucasus mountains nation, the second-largest troop presence among American allies in Iraq, behind Britain.

If current trends continue, Georgia may soon be number two, a remarkable contribution from a country of less than 5 million people. The article attributes Georgia’s participation to its desire to one day join NATO and quotes several soldiers saying that they understand they are fighting for their country’s long-term security interests. But as Passport noted last week, Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili’s (above) strong pro-Western (read: anti-Russian) foreign policy often serves to distract allies from his country’s increasingly shady domestic politics.

Earlier today, Irakli Okruashvili, the former defense minister who had accused Saakashvili of ordering political assassinations, was released from jail, where he had been held on corruption charges since making his accusations and announcing the formation of an opposition party two weeks ago. Okruashvili made a televised address dropping his accusations against Saakashvili just prior to his release. Given that he never met with his lawyer prior to this announcement and hasn’t spoken to the media since, his sudden recantation has the disturbing feel of a Soviet-era purge. Stunned opposition groups, who had organized a demonstration of 10,000 people on Okruashvili’s behalf last weekend, felt that way as well.

Any guess on when Condi Rice will be demanding an investigation?

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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