Everybody was thinking that USA’s next target of the anti-terrorist operation would be Somalia, Philippines, or Iraq, but it seems like it will be the republic of Georgia.
Philip Remler, American interim ambassador to Georgia stated last week that there were a lot of Al-Qaeda and Taliban gunmen dispersed all over the Caucasus. The Guardian newspaper wrote that the Pankissky gorge was the area that belonged to the republic of Georgia, but its government did not have the power over there, so the gorge was a way for the Chechen terrorists and foreign extremists to penetrate in Chechnya.
Remler also said that dozens of the gunmen from Al-Qaeda movement had left the territory of Afghanistan and was currently hiding in the mountains of the Caucasus. Remler said he had the information, which said that some of the guerrillas were hiding in the Pankissky gorge and were in contact with the Arab terrorist Khattab, who in his turn communicated with Osama bin Laden. “The Pankissky gorge is an extremely dangerous place for Geogria,” – said Remler.
Russia released a very harsh statement, being inspired with Washington’s support. The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Igor Ivanov, declared that Osama bin Laden was probably hiding in the Pankissky gorge. Why not?
Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov supported the foreign minister. Sergey Ivanov said Osama bin Laden could probably be there in the Pankissky gorge. He added that they had no facts to say it was impossible.
The charges are rather serious. Everybody is used to the Chechen gunmen, but Bin Laden with his gunmen is an absolutely different matter.
Eduard Shevardnadze, the president of the republic of Georgia, tried to make it all humorous. At the briefing in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, he stated that Russian foreign minister’s mother had a house in the Akhmet district, and the Pankissky gorge is in the northern part of it. Shevardnadze promised to check the house – maybe Bin Laden is in there. Valery Khaburdzania, the Defense Minister of Georgia supported his president. The minister claimed that the Russian officials were ought to present at least a small piece of information to prove their statement pertaining to Bin Laden's location in the Pankissky gorge. Khaburdzania said that the Georgian special services completely excluded such a possibility. He also claimed that if Russia had anything to prove that, then Georgia was ready to consider such allegations.
Then the Georgian defense minister said that Russia was not a country to render its help to the republic of Georgia, taking the never-ending operation in Chechnya into account. The minister believes that Georgia could cope with that problem itself, without a military action of large scale, it would be an anti-criminal operation, Khaburdzania said.
This is rather weird, for it was the defense minister of Georgia, who proudly declared last week that there had been two Saudi Arabia and Jordan citizens detained in Georgia. Those two men were suspected of making an attempt to set up a terrorist base in the Pankissky gorge.
American Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, which is a very respectable institute, made its conclusion about the development of the situation in the Caucasus: “If the illegal groups, involved in the international terrorism, drug commerce and other kinds of such activity, have to leave Afghanistan and look for other countries with the weak governments, then the republic of Georgia could be a natural choice for them.” No comments.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov