In a secret agreement between Israel and Georgia, two military airfields in southern Georgia had been earmarked for the use of Israeli fighter-bombers in the event of pre-emptive attacks against Iranian nuclear installations. This would sharply reduce the distance Israeli fighter-bombers would have to fly to hit targets in Iran. And to reach Georgian airstrips, the Israeli air force would fly over Turkey.
According to the article, Israel started stelling arms to Georgia fascilitaed by US grants, (but as reported here, stopped the arms sales after the recent confrontation with Russia). De Borchgrave reports:
At a Moscow news conference, Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Russia’s deputy chief of staff, said the extent of Israeli aid to Georgia included “eight types of military vehicles, explosives, landmines and special explosives for clearing minefields.” Estimated numbers of Israeli trainers attached to the Georgian army range from 100 to 1,000. There were also 110 U.S. military personnel on training assignments in Georgia. Last July 2,000 U.S. troops were flown in for “Immediate Response 2008,” a joint exercise with Georgian forces.
Haaretz reported Georgian Minister Temur Yakobashvili — who is Jewish, the newspaper said — told Israeli army radio that “Israel should be proud of its military which trained Georgian soldiers” because he explained rather implausibly, “a small group of our soldiers were able to wipe out an entire Russian military division, thanks to Israeli training.”
De Borchgrave maintains that Saakashvili incorrectly assumed that Georgia was the “Israel of the Caucasus.”
Saakashvili was convinced that by sending 2,000 of his soldiers to serve in Iraq (who were immediately flown home by the United States when Russia launched a massive counterattack into Georgia), he would be rewarded for his loyalty. He could not believe President Bush, a personal friend, would leave him in the lurch. Georgia, as Saakashvili saw his country’s role, was the “Israel of the Caucasus.”
The Tel Aviv-Tbilisi military axis appears to have been cemented at the highest levels, according to YNet, the Israeli electronic daily. But whether the IAF can still count on those air bases to launch bombing missions against Iran’s nuke facilities is now in doubt.
Iran comes out ahead in the wake of the Georgian crisis. Neither Russia nor China is willing to respond to a Western request for more and tougher sanctions against the mullahs. Iran’s European trading partners are also loath to squeeze Iran. The Russian-built, 1,000-megawatt Iranian reactor in Bushehr is scheduled to go online early next year.
Irancove @ September 3, 2008