Tuesday, September 07, 2004

True Allies: Georgia

A Spanish blog, El Buque Negro (The Black Ship), pointed me to a release by Europa Press on the former Soviet republic of Georgia's decision to double its contingent in Iraq (link in Spanish) by October. Radio Free Europe also makes note of it.

But the latter doesn't capture the reasoning for rotating the current batallion of 157 and replacing it with a 300-man strong one in October. Says Georgia's defense minister, currently visiting Iraq:

"Somos aliados de Estados Unidos y queremos convertirnos en un socio muy importante para este país. Deseamos adherirnos a la OTAN y queremos por tanto probar que estamos aquí", declaró Baramidzé. Por su parte, Rusia ve con muy malos ojos la voluntad del Gobierno georgio de adherirse a la OTAN.

Durante unas conversaciones con oficiales estadounidenses en una base militar, el ministro agradeció a Estados Unidos que proporcionen a los soldados georgios uniformes, alimentos, chalecos antibalas y municiones. "Tenemos gente muy valiente, pero no muchos medios. Y sólo podemos enviaros lo más preciado que tenemos, nuestros hombres", declaró. Tres soldados georgios han resultado heridos desde el despliegue de su contingente en Irak en abril de 2004.

"We're allies of the United States and want to transform ourselves into an important ally to that country. We would like to join NATO and demonstrate this by being here", stated Baramidzé. For its part, Russia looks on in dislike of Georgia's willingness to join NATO.

During meetings with American officers at a military base, the minister thanked the United States for outfitting its troops with uniforms, rations, body armor and munition. "We have very brave people, but very few means. And we only can send the most precious we have, our men", he stated. Three Georgian soldiers have been injured since the deployment of its contingent in Iraq in April, 2004.
No, Mr. Baramidzé, thank you. Fighting Al Qaeda at home as well, aided by US advisers (in the Pankisi Gorge), the Georgia of president Mikheil Saakashvili has turned a page with the ousting of Soviet remnant Eduard Shevardnadze late last year, and is looking West for its future.