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Iran and the Obama-Saakashvili meeting

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, January 25
Just five days from now, the Presidents of the United States and Georgia, Barack Obama and Mikheil Saakashvili, will meet at the White House. Not surprisingly, there is much interest within Georgia about the nature of their discussion. While talk of trade and Russia may be expected, some commentators have suggested that the major topic of the meeting will be developments between Iran and the West. A few even link that issue to a deal in which Saakashvili will receive support to stay in power, in exchange for backing any U.S. action in Iran.

This idea was most notably expressed by ex-President of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze.

The opposition speculates that to preserve his position in Georgia, Saakashvili will agree to any type of deal with the Americans. Parliamentary opposition member, Dimitri Lorpkipanidze, suggests that if military confrontation starts between Iran and the West, Georgian leadership will involve themselves in the conflict in an effort to prolong its stay in power. This belief takes not only a dim view of Saakashvili, but also the American government; as such it is difficult to take its proponents seriously. Few analysts believe that in a conflict with Iran, Georgia would be a key player. Mamuka Areshidze maintains that the West possesses enough resources to be effective without Georgia. However, it is possible that Georgian territory could be utilized for supply, logistics and potentially medical uses.

Government representatives currently deny any kind of involvement in action against Iran. Head of the defence and security parliamentary committee, Givi Targamadze, says that Georgia would not get involved militarily with Iran. He admits, however, that the Iran topic could be one of the issues raised between the two presidents.

Regardless, Georgia is in a very difficult position. On one hand, the U.S. is Georgiaís strategic partner; on the other hand, Georgia has a visa-free regime with Iran, and actively promotes tourism and trade. Meanwhile, Moscow has been supporting Iran's anti-Western aspirations. There are rumors that Russia has facilitated Iranís nuclear research, through consultation and the provision of equipment.

This web of friends and enemies may entangle Georgia after all.