Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Separatists and Provincials (Georgia, Moldova, Iraq)

  • Georgian President Saakashvili has been successful up until now integrating separatist movements into the national government. Separatists aided in the "revolution" that deposed Shevarnadze. However, the South Ossetia region, which was an autonomous province under the previous government, has remained hostile to Saakashvili.
    South Ossetia first declared independence from Georgia in 1991, directly after Georgia seceded from the Soviet Union. ... Shevardnadze avoided conflict by granting the region autonomy and satisfying himself with the fact that South Ossetia’s independence was not internationally recognized. President Mikhail Saakashvili, however, ousted Shevardnadze in November 2003, and at his inauguration pledged to make national unity the cornerstone of his administration.

    South Ossetians would prefer to rejoin Russia rather than remain part of Georgia. Russia has further exacerbating tensions: tied to the oil-rich Caspian region, Russia has tried to win over south Ossetians in order to protect its interests in the region and to keep foreign power from profiting from separatism elsewhere in Russia.

  • Pro-Russia separatists blocked railways in Transdniester, Moldova. The group took over Transdniester twelve years ago under the fear that they would become part of Romania. The move was taken in retaliation to instruction in local schools that used Latin script rather than Cyrillic. The territory is effectively cut off from the capital.
  • Finally, NPR has a report on provinces and the power of chiefs in Iraq (Tribal Head in the Sunni Triangle proposes US Talks). Using the example of Al Anbar, the report describes how provincial chiefs maintain power--Hussein could not get rid of them, so he tolerated them--and how they might be useful in stabilizing the country.

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