Former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili (October 2012 – November 2013) is leading his party to dominate the Georgian parliament in the upcoming Autumn elections, if they actually go on schedule and not earlier as many commentators are speculating. Ivanishvili, Georgia’s richest man, ended his stint as Prime Minister on 20 November 2013 coming under extreme pressure from the West, but returned to politics in 2018 when he was elected as leader of the ruling Dream-Democratic Georgia Party who are expected to win the upcoming elections. This extreme pressure came because he maintained friendly relations with Moscow and was not subservient to NATO demands. As Ivanishvili is becoming a serious candidate to become the potential next leader of Georgia, the U.S. has begun applying pressure against the Russian-friendly politician knowing that his election will see NATO plans stall in the Caucasus.
At the end of January, U.S. House of Representatives, Republic Congressman Pete Olson (R-TX) slammed Ivanishvili on Twitter over so-called human rights, stating “I have a question. What does Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street have in common with Republic of Georgia’s oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili? What they have in common? Answer – they are both puppets who trash their own homes. Vladimir Putin’s puppet [Bidzina Ivanishvili] has attacked the investment in Georgia and crushed basic human rights.” By investments, Olson was referring to Texan oil company Frontera Resources who are in the middle of a bitter dispute with Georgia’s Oil and Gas Corporation. Georgia’s ambassador to the U.S., David Bakradze, hit back at Olson’s tweet, saying “the tone, in which the Congressmen supporting Frontera Resources address the (former) Georgian Prime Minister – the Prime Minister of the United States’ strategic partner state – is absolutely unacceptable.” It becomes clear then that the attack against Ivanishvili is not because of supposed human rights abuses but rather to protect U.S. oil corporations in the Caucasian country. Olson claimed that it was Vladimir Putin who “is happy to control Georgia’s oil,” again suggesting that Ivanishvili acts without independence and is a Russian puppet.
With Olson mentioning supposed human right abuses in Georgia, this could set a dangerous precedent for the U.S. to remove Ivanishvili to protect their geostrategic and economic interests in the Caucasus. Supposed human rights abuses have been used in part of campaigns to legitimize and justify regime change wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere. Although it is unlikely the U.S. will employ such drastic measures as a direct regime change war like in the case of Iraq and Libya, human right abuses have also been used to justify crippling sanctions against independent states such as Venezuela. Although Georgia is mostly a subservient state to NATO, any rise of Ivanishvili can see this be reversed, undoing Washington’s increased influence in the Caucasus, a pivotal region that connects Russia to the Middle East.
The pressure against Ivanishvili did not end with Olson’s comments and was followed by a Bloomberg piece published on Friday that described Ivanishvili as Georgia’s “shadow boss,” and claimed that the country slid into “authoritarianism” and regressed “into repression.” Of course, the author of the article, Eli Lake, did not explain how Georgia has become authoritarian or returned to repression, but that is not the purpose. Just as Olson never explained how Ivanishvili broke any human rights, neither did Lake explain why he used the words he did – rather, these buzzwords are meant to stir emotion in the reader and prepare a path to justify to the American public any upcoming U.S.-backed upheaval in Georgia, just as was done before the regime change wars began in Syria and Libya. Although Bloomberg disclaims that “this column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners,” the purpose, as mentioned, is to stir emotion within readers using buzzwords. Bloomberg was founded and is owned by Michael Bloomberg, a former mayor of New York City (2002-2013) and currently a candidate in the Democratic Party primaries for the 2020 United States presidential election. The Olson tweet and Bloomberg article suggests that there is consensus against Ivanishvili across the U.S. political spectrum which can mean upcoming dangers for Georgia.
This bares resemblance to the Ukrainian crisis that emerged in 2014 with relentless planning from opposition figures with the U.S. and other Western hegemonic powers. Inevitably, what follows are accusations of corruption and human right abuses (as has already occurred), disorders and upheavals (protests have been ongoing since June 2019), and eventually a coup. Although there are no suggestions that a coup attempt may occur to install pro-NATO figures, Georgia is walking along a shaky path, especially now that U.S. political figures and the media are playing the narrative of corruption and human right abuses while also pointing the finger against Russia for being responsible for these so-called regressions in the Caucasian country.
It begs the question, is a regime change war coming to Georgia?
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.