Thursday, November 08, 2007

It's An Emergency

Declaring a state of emergency is proving popular this week. First Pakistan, now we've got Georgia's President Saakashvili, who has used riot police against protestors demanding his resignation. He accuses Russia of being behind all the trouble, and of wanting to overthrow him because of his pro-western views.

Although relations between Russia and Georgia have rarely been good, they've steadily got worse since Mr Saakashvili was swept to power in a more-or-less bloodless revolution back in 2003. He wants to move Georgia out of Russia's clutches, and into the warm western embrace of the EU and NATO. President Putin, as well as those people who live in the provinces of Georgia next to Russia, don't fancy that much. So although it's tempting to imagine that Mr Saakashvili's conspiracy theories might be a bit over the top, there's probably plenty of truth in there.

If, and it's a pretty big if, Georgia's government does fall to be replaced by a Putin-friendly administration, then we'll all take a much closer interest in what's going on. Back in the mid-19th century, Russia and Britain competed for influence in central Asia in the famous Great Game. Events in Georgia hint at a re-run of sorts, for the 21st century.

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