Can Saakashvili hold on?

Burak Kara/Getty Images At least 150,000 Georgians took to the streets today to protest Russia’s actions and support President Mikheil Saakashvili. The indefatigable president told the excited crowd that Georgia would be pulling out of the Russian-led Commonwealth of Indpendent States and urged other post-Soviet countries to do the same. Going by anecdotal evidence, Georgians ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
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593324_080812_saak5.jpg

Burak Kara/Getty Images

At least 150,000 Georgians took to the streets today to protest Russia's actions and support President Mikheil Saakashvili. The indefatigable president told the excited crowd that Georgia would be pulling out of the Russian-led Commonwealth of Indpendent States and urged other post-Soviet countries to do the same.

Going by anecdotal evidence, Georgians seem to be overwhelmingly behind their government, but I wonder how long this will last. Georgia has most likely lost control of South Ossetia forever and in a few days they may lose Abkhazia as well. When the smoke finally clears, Georgians may start to ask questions about why exactly Saakashvili thought that sending troops into South Ossetia was a good idea, particularly if it turns out to be true that his American allies warned him against it.

Burak Kara/Getty Images

At least 150,000 Georgians took to the streets today to protest Russia’s actions and support President Mikheil Saakashvili. The indefatigable president told the excited crowd that Georgia would be pulling out of the Russian-led Commonwealth of Indpendent States and urged other post-Soviet countries to do the same.

Going by anecdotal evidence, Georgians seem to be overwhelmingly behind their government, but I wonder how long this will last. Georgia has most likely lost control of South Ossetia forever and in a few days they may lose Abkhazia as well. When the smoke finally clears, Georgians may start to ask questions about why exactly Saakashvili thought that sending troops into South Ossetia was a good idea, particularly if it turns out to be true that his American allies warned him against it.

Whatever his faults, Saakashvili is certainly no Slobodan Milosevic. But the Serbian example provides a good model of how a country can turn against a nationalist government when that government’s actions result in it losing territory and international standing.

Saakashvili narrowly survived a political crisis around the end of last year. Next time he may not be so lucky.

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

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