In the furor of the Political Conventions, and the Beijing Olympics before that, the world has quietly changed for the worse. The miscalculation of the Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has not only endangered his country but its caused a rift in NATO, increased tensions between Russia and the USA to cold war proportions, and may threaten Israel’s best chance at disarming Iran. It turns out that Georgia had agreed to allow Israel access to some airbases in Georgia if the Israeli’s decided to launch a preemptive attack on the Iranian Nuclear sites. Such a move would have greatly improved the Israeli logistics in mounting an effective attack against Iran and would have proved an unlooked for route guaranteeing tactical surprise for the Israeli Air Force. The Washington Times and the Associated Press had run a story that seems not to have had a lot of play, that’s very revealing about the direction of Israeli intentions.
Georgia also had a special relationship with Israel that was mostly under the radar. Georgia’s Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili is a former Israeli who moved things along by facilitating Israeli arms sales with U.S. aid. “We are now in a fight against the great Russia,” he was quoted as saying, “and our hope is to receive assistance from the White House because Georgia cannot survive on its own.”
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 preemptive 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 (IAF) would fly over Turkey.
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.
An interesting proposition, to be sure, would have been the Israeli’s using Georgian airspace to keep the USA out of the picture by not using Iraqi airspace. A strike from Georgia would have been an elegant solution that would have given the US “plausible deniability” in disavowing knowledge of the Israeli action against Iran. It still might be; but the Georgia option would now increase tensions with Russia for both the USA and Israel. It seems the Putin Regime has learned of the possibility and launched a “raid” into Georgia that featured the two airports in question according to a Debka File report of September 5th. According to the report the Russians hit various Israeli sites in Georgia and even captured a super secret unmanned aerial vehicle that Israel uses to spy on Iran and Syria. If the report is accurate the Russians may have bagged the whole game plan for the current version of an Israeli air strike on the Iranian nuclear facilities.
Russian Special Forces also raided other Israeli facilities in southern Georgia and captured Israeli spy drones, says the report.
Israel was said to have used the two airfields to “conduct recon flights over southern Russia as well as into nearby Iran.” The US intelligence sources quoted by UPI reported that the Russian force also carried home other Israeli military equipment captured at the air bases.
It’s not just the Georgians the Russians are playing games with: it’s the Israeli’s as well and the world seems fast asleep as the tensions in the Middle East mount inexorably toward war. Doubtless the Israeli’s have many contingency plans beyond Georgian Air Fields but if the Russians have captured this drone and raided the airfields then Putin may well have foiled the Israeli plan A. Given the tensions between Russia and the rest of the world the strike against Iran, whether mounted by the Israeli’s or the Americans or both, has become infinitely more destabilizing given the great power brinksmanship now going on. This may well serve to underline some of the Russian diplomatic overtures and agreements to Syria as the Russians may have had foreknowledge of the Israeli strike plans. That would indeed be cause for concern and the Russian actions in raiding the airfields and capturing the drone seem to underline Russia’s lack of concern about protecting the intelligence assets that tipped off the plan. I suspect that the Russians learned of this plan through Georgian sources as an Israeli source would be too precious to burn in such an ostentatious display of power. The world tensions have spread beyond the Caucasus to the already troubled Middle East as the Russians deal themselves in, however inadvertently, to the Iranian Nuclear Crisis. Defiantly not a good situation and now the resolution of the Iranian problem has become infinitely more complicated.