November 26, 2008
Georgia: Coming Clean on Saakashvili's War
The former Georgian ambassador to Russia and once follower of Saakashvili, Erosi Kitsmarishvili, testified in front of a Georgian parliament commission. Major points:
# In the second half of April, 2008, I have learnt from the President's inner circle that they have received a green light from the western partner to carry out a military operation;
# When asked to specify “the western partner” Kitsmarishvili said: after a meeting with the U.S. President George W. Bush [the meeting between Bush and Saakashvili took place in Washington on March 19], our leadership was saying that they had the U.S. support to carry out the military operation;
# The military operation should have been undertaken in direction of Abkhazia; military instructors from Israel were brought here in order to prepare that military operation;
# [Defense Minister] Kezerashvili also said at that meeting that the operation should have started in early May, or at least before the snow melted on the mountain passes;
# This decision was not materialized;
# On August 7, at 4pm I again had a phone conversation with Saakashvili; he told me that war was starting; I do not want to go further into details of that conversation;
This account is, of course, much more believable than Saakashvili's lies.
At 6:10pm local time on August 7 Saakashvili announced a ceasefire in skirmishes with South Ossetia. But as Kitsmarishvili confirms, his troops had already orders to attack and were moving into place.
How long will it take until the Georgians finally take this guy to the prison where he belongs?
Posted by b on November 26, 2008 at 10:47 AM | Permalink
B, great catch! Actually the whole of that Civil.ge account is worth reading to see the quarrelesome, immature nature of the members of the ruling party on the investigatory commission.
I think your title is a little misleading, though. Georgia as such (in terms of the person of the President) is not yet anywhere near "coming clean" on the origins of the war. But what's interesting and significant is to see these public accounts of his malfeasance now apparently multiplying there. (How long till Saak's acolytes in the NYT pick up on this story, I wonder? The customary 3-5 months?)
Posted by: Helena Cobban | Nov 26, 2008 10:57:10 AM | 1
I am delighted to note, though, that Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has now blogged this.
Posted by: Helena Cobban | Nov 26, 2008 10:58:44 AM | 2
You just have to love the name of the parliamentary commission tasked with looking into the circumstances of what happened!! With a name like this no wonder his testimony was unwelcome!
Temporary Commission to Study Russia’s Military Aggression and Other Actions Undertaken with the Aim to Infringe Georgia’s Territorial Integrity.
Posted by: Tosk | Nov 26, 2008 11:49:15 AM | 3
"How long will it take until the Georgians finally take this guy to the prison where he belongs? "
Sorry but back in 2004 a lot of Europeans were asking the same question about the USAnians and Dubyah.
Posted by: sam_m | Nov 26, 2008 11:53:29 AM | 4
Helena @ #2--What has happened to Josh Marshall? His link goes to the Reuters truncated report which makes no mention of the US role, the "western partner," which even the NYTimes mentions briefly.
Must be the MCMer Wannbee Disease--too great a desire to become a Member of the Mainstream Corporate Media.
Posted by: jawbone | Nov 26, 2008 12:11:15 PM | 6
Yep - the NYT covers it. How come it did not mention that Israelis were hired to prepare an attack on Abkhazia?
Posted by: b | Nov 26, 2008 12:11:59 PM | 7
How come it did not mention that Israelis were hired to prepare an attack on Abkhazia?
Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Nov 26, 2008 12:48:07 PM | 8
Funny little Georgian commission basically confirmed information posted on the internet weeks and weeks ago.
The puppets of the ruling elite certainly come off looking like fools or worse in the case of Dumbya. None will ever be tried for their crimes of high treason against the countries and peoples of the world. Fun times.
Posted by: James Crow | Nov 26, 2008 1:09:00 PM | 9
Just one quibble: Kitsmarishvili says certain Georgian officials told him they'd received a green light from U.S. officials, but he seems skeptical of that claim, noting that all U.S. government officials with whom he has spoken deny giving any encouragement. He was not present at the meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prior to the August war.
This comment has gotta be humiliating (for Georgian intelligence at least, though probably not for the unshamable president): "This was known in Russia and certain forces in Russia were pushing Saakashvili towards this action."
This is not even the day's most grotesque Saakashvili news. The tale of the weekend border shooting incident is smelling fishier all the time. Polish security officers were kept away from the president of Poland during his Sunday trip around Georgia. Bodyguards also claim the route of the motorcade was known only to Saakashvili. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk says Georgia has not provided satisfactory answers to his questions about the incident: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is going beyond his initial denial of any shooting to say that the entire event was staged. Read all about it in our news roundup. And don't take a road trip with Misha!
Posted by: Truth for Ossetia | Nov 26, 2008 3:29:03 PM | 10
#10 , but he seems skeptical of that claim, noting that all U.S. government officials with whom he has spoken deny giving any encouragement.
where did you read he seemed sceptical of the claim? do you mean what he said 'suggests' he was sceptical? maybe he was sceptical of US government officials denying they supported the operation.
from the nyt
Among the catalysts for the offensive, Mr. Kitsmarishvili said, was the belief that United States officials had given their approval. When he tried to verify that information with the American diplomats in Tbilisi, Mr. Kitsmarishvili said, he was told no such approval had been given.
i'm shocked. the americans would never encourage anyoneto invade another country, or imply it supported such action and then do a complete turnaround and deny this support.
now would they.
Posted by: annie | Nov 26, 2008 3:56:54 PM | 11
Plant alert. The self styled "Truth for Ossetia" is using the duplicitious propaganda of Human Rights Watch as a primary news source.
As we can glean from the piece posted here the primary aim of TFO is similar to that of HRW - cause as much trouble between Russia and other nations. Why? probably because it pays the bills. The usual suspects in amerika with too much money and not enough common sense will pay large to anyone helping to bring back 'the good old cold war'.
Getting rid of Saakashvili is part of that. The man's credibility is no more, he is clearly past his use by date and the amerikans would prefer someone who follows orders a little more closely.
Posted by: Debs is dead | Nov 26, 2008 4:02:27 PM | 12
the name is rather telling.
#10, your link (to your blog i assume) asserts The tale of the weekend border shooting incident is starting to sound fishy.
well, it sounded fishy from your original resource(even tho you skipped this part of the article)
Countering Georgian claims that Russians or South Ossetians fired the shots, Russian officials said Georgia staged the shooting, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported. Both Russia and South Ossetia denied firing the shots.
Polish Speaker Bronislaw Komorowski, a former defense minister, said Georgia's account "raises many question" about the incident because "we both saw presidents standing and talking" instead of being driven off and protected by bodyguards, RIA Novosti said.
this sounds fishy too Mayor Killed in North Ossetia Capital
Posted by: annie | Nov 26, 2008 4:18:53 PM | 13
sorry, OT..i can't help myself..
US accused of dangerous bumper car moves w/russian diplomats.
Russia is accusing U.S. troops of running a car carrying Russian diplomats off the road in Baghdad.
The Foreign Ministry tells ITAR-Tass and Interfax that three diplomats and some of their guards suffered bruises.
The ministry says a group of U.S. armored personnel carriers overtook a convoy of three Russian embassy cars headed to the airport, according to Interfax. The ministry says one APC deliberately swerved into the lead Russian car, trying to push it off the road, the agencies reported. It says the car was severely damaged and almost overturned.
The Foreign Ministry did not immediately comment.
Capt. Charles Calio, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Baghdad, says they are looking into the reports.
Posted by: annie | Nov 26, 2008 5:47:39 PM | 14
From the civil.ge link, Kitsmarishvili -
[in 2004] Zhvania was categorically against of the war;
After a categorical opposition from the side of Zhvania and also after a phone conversation with one of the foreign capitals – who warned against of any military operation – a decision was made against of this military operation and the war was averted;
In June, 2008 when I was an ambassador I had a meeting with the Russian Foreign Ministry’s special envoys - with Yuri Popov and Valery Kenyakin and the latter told us that there were good chances for the South Ossetian conflict resolution in late 2004 and early 2005, but these chances disappeared after the death of Zurab Zhvania
For background, Zurab Zhvania had been post-Soviet Georgia's first Prime Minister. He died in Feb. 2005 under suspicious circumstances
. That's a trend in Georgia, people who threaten Saakashvili's plans don't last very long.
Posted by: Alamet | Nov 26, 2008 7:49:49 PM | 15
I would say Kitsmarishvili himself is not clear on wheter there was US support or not.
Civil.Ge | Ex-Envoy’s Hearing at War Commission Ends in Brawl
In the second half of April, 2008, I have learnt from the President's inner circle that they have received a green light from the western partner to carry out a military operation; When asked to specify “the western partner” Kitsmarishvili said: after a meeting with the U.S. President George W. Bush [the meeting between Bush and Saakashvili took place in Washington on March 19], our leadership was saying that they had the U.S. support to carry out the military operation; In order to double-check this information, I have met with John Tefft, the U.S. ambassador in Tbilisi and asked him whether it was true or not; he categorically denied that; Kitsmarishvili was then pressed by commission members from the ruling party to specify what he meant under “the leadership” and how he had learnt about that information. Kitsmarishvili responded: I can not reveal names of those people, who have told me about it because of their security; After meeting with the U.S. ambassador, Kitsmarishvili continued, I went to meet with President Saakashvili; that meeting was attended by Davit Bakradze [who is now the parliamentary chairman] and Defense Minister, Davit Kezerashvili; Kitsmarishvili was asked whether he raised at that meeting the issue of that alleged information about “the U.S. green light on military operation.” Kitsmarishvili initially said that Bakradze rejected having any “green light;” but later, when pressed on the matter, the ex-ambassador said Bakradze “neither conformed, nor denied it.” Saakashvili, he continued, “agreed that such information existed, but he was interested who the source was and who told me about it;”
The fraction that wanted war might very well have overplayed the US support in order to get hesitant members of the inner circle on board with the plan. Or there was vocal support by parts of the US admin, but not by other parts. Since Kitsmarishvili was apparently not in the innermost circle he can not tell us what went on there.
Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Nov 26, 2008 10:50:13 PM | 16