Thursday, May 31, 2012

Supplying Weapons to Syrian Rebels: Battle for Syria or propping upEURO/Dollar?

Georgia relocates parliament to international hub of weapons trafficking for Syrian rebels. 

Joni Simonishvili

Yup, the war drums are really sounding now. The Battle for Syria - I hear the Iranians are already in there. Meanwhile, supplies are being provided via established logistics links in Georgia and the region, including Turkey. The devil is in the detail and the question remains as if this is done as a for profit operation by the locals or who is really in control and organizing it!?

History may be funny in describing how massive reconstruction works in Georgia was paid for by Syrian Rebels. All the while recriminations fly in all directions.  Clinton blaming Russia now: all this experience in arms and human trafficking can be put to good use and even all those weapons that fell into Russian hands back in 2008; I am convinced that the Russians would never resell them to the Georgia for third parties – NEVER!!!

Who is selling what to whom – and perhaps this is a well-baited trap, one that Christian soldiers cannot resist. Russian foreign minister Lavrov says the rebels did some of the killings, as they were killed at close range in a rebel-controlled neighborhood. Regardless, allocating the blame – but the getting the bang for the buck is not just for defense contractors.

They'll get their war to try and prop up the Dollar and the Euro a bit longer somehow.

I think we'll see a new Security Council resolution soon - worded to make it as hard as hell for the Russians or the Chinese to veto it, but I hope they do.

I wonder what effect it'll have on this place. "Georgian Parliament relocates to hub of Syrian weapons trafficking” I like this - only to prove it - and get pictures loading up the planes.

Regarding the trade - my colleague will send you information about companies engaged in the trade between our two countries - This information is according to the best of our knowledge, saying this because we have differences in such information between two sides.

Three to one tracer: three, one, three, one.
UM4:               So, three to one: one tracer to three rounds uh… regular ammunition; that’s a lot of tracer rounds.
UM4:               Do you guys realize that on that gun…
UM4:               Three rounds…
UM4:               [UI] one in fifty, and…
UM1:               What, what we’re telling on the video. You’ve seen the video.
UM2:               Yeah.
UM1:               What is it on?
UM4:               That video is a hundred percent…
UM1:               [UI] that… [UI] nighttime one, but the daytime one, I think it’s one 120
UM4:               Twenty-five.
UM1:               Twenty-five.
UM2:               One hundred twenty five.
UM1:               Yeah, and you see it non-stop because…
UM4:               Twenty-five rounds is half a second.
UM1:               It’s half a second.
UM2:               Well …not to mention the fact that this is more complicated and more expensive, uh… when we watch the video… at night they use tracers 100% when they are shooting, it’s … [UI]. But during the day one in twenty-five is a tracer, and this gives the impression that they are firing all bursts of tracer rounds. There is no need to install one in every four. Since they use tracers they insert one out of every twenty-five tracers for daytime use.
UM4:               Would… you’ll be very satisfied with that.
UM1:               It’s every… that’s to as… two a second. You’re seeing tracer, you’re gonna know exactly where these bullets are going.
UM2:               Hmm-mm.
UM1:               More than that is overkill.
UM(?):             Yes.
UM2:               If we want more, meaning, let’s say, one in four… well, they will increase our price because of this. If we are satisfied with one in twenty-five, then they, roughly speaking, will take it out of Allen’s office; all of this is not going to…
UM3:               All right.
UM (?):            [Two or more people talking at once] [UI]
UM1:               Okay.
UM3:               There… there is probably [UI] probably one, uh… [UI] we can’t completely [UI]?
UM2:               Well, he is saying, we use this. You won’t see a difference between using all the tracers during the day, and one in twenty-five.
UM3:               Hmm-hmm. In addition to this, uh… the recommendation I understood was that… [UI]… you can fire for an entire minute; [while you do this], the cooling of barrels won’t be…
UM2:               As far as… I understand, he knows some technical, uh…
UM1:               He is very good.
UM2:               … questions [UI] Yes, he says that this guy [can answer] technical questions.
UM3:               Or boom, boom, boom, as needed
UM2:               Is it necessary to … I mean… is it possible to shoot for one minute or this gonna … make our … system unoperatable [inoperable]?
UM4:               [Clearing of throat] I… it can be done… that… I can’t imagine the… situation where you would need to do that… but
UM2:               That’s right, yeah.
UM1:               20 seconds…
UM4:               Yeah… yeah…
UM1:               Will wipe out everything you could see.
UM4:               It’s uh… yes … it will do that. And when we go through the training… it’s a little bit different, we’ll show you the most effective… ways, you know, and a… few second bursts, uh… so you know, because when you’re… talking, you know ….
UM2:               The training will be providing by you or by guys 
UM2:               Hmm-hmm
UM1:               That’s why I have to put in for a license to get the training, the trainer to do that.
UM2:               Hmm-hmm
UM4:               To answer your question now, if you wanted to shoot three thousand rounds in one minute without stopping, yes you could.
UM2:               So, the short answer to your question is, you can, in one moment, shoot three thousand rounds. After that, you [the gun] won’t be able to work; he is saying, based on our experience and the way we train people …

But to be honest it [trade] is on very low level (around 4 mln or so according to Mexicans). The strange thing for me is that mainly trade goes from Georgia to Mexico. Mexican companies are exporting from Georgia - different metals and some agricultural fertilizers. As for export from Mexico, it mainly goes through third countries. It is fun but in terms of direct contact main export product is the Mexican Soap movies (Imedi is ordering those pieces of fine art).

End Note

Sent: Friday, February 24, 2012 8:05 PM
Subject: Weapons, etc

I have the full tapes but it is too big to send, here is the one with the agents talking about the tapes and gives the investigative number. They will have to be sent to you by DHL at some point in the future. I sent you the file vault back when and you should have downloaded when we still had access to the original documents. We have to backup such stuff in the future!
Here is the pitch:
You do realize that I cannot talk about this kind of stuff. If you've already sent it to your family, why do you insist on sending it to me? And if it's going to get you killed, why endanger me???? You make it hard to justify staying in contact with you. I'm deleting your email without listening to it. Don't send me anything else like this.
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Kazbegi - a Georgian region with great tourism potential

-Kazbegi, a Georgian Region with the potential for year round tourism

The great diversity of Georgia’s nature and its many tourist attractions give visitors many possibilities to rest, have fun, spend free time, obtain medical treatment, satisfy their curiosity, learn, conduct educational activities, etc… In addition to these, “niche” and “specialty” travel sector also can be abundantly found in Georgia. The country and its people, natural beauty, and location is opportune to meet any requirement, if thing could be well-organized.

Can Georgia really develop tourism?
This country, small but rich in tourism resources, has a long tradition of tourism, which flourished during the Soviet period. At that time Georgia sought to also be the most attractive and interesting designations in the Soviet Union for Soviet and foreign tourists.  However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the terrible events in Georgia in the aftermath, tourism infrastructure and centrally planned and organized tourism were almost completely destroyed, and these were the only sphere impacted.
The violent removal of the first government of newly-independent Georgia,  and the subsequent civil war and structural collapse, bloody war in the Abkhazia and Samachablo regions (South Ossetia) and the conduct of the Shevardnadze regime reduced the country to dire circumstances. The tourism industry was prevented from developing as many had expected.   
As is known, after the “Rose Revolution” the newly elected government of Georgia, which has an international reputation as a promoter of significant and swift reforms, declared it would make the tourism sector a priority and develop its full potential. Unfortunately, however, other aspects of the economy may have been neglected in this process, such as the agriculture sector, although it is in the best interests of tourism development that all sectors of Georgia thrive.

According to Tourism Department data, two million foreign tourists visited Georgia in 2010. The Department expects that number will increase upward of three million in 2011.. For 2001, 240 million GEL have been allocated to develop Batumi, Anaklia and Mestia resorts.This very pleasant statistic would be more appealing if it was not for the other side of the coin. It is said: “better to see once than hear a thousand times.” We will try to describe here what we saw and experienced in one of the mountainous regions of Georgia, exactly the sort of place seeking tourist revenue.

According to Collaborative Enterprises, a Georgian-based voluntary association supporting tourism, “Georgia has always had friends, and on this occasion American friends have been trying to find out whether it is possible to develop tourism in the Kazbegi region on a high level,” known locally as Stephantsminda. The region is distinguished by its unique geographical location and good climate, which makes it possible to develop year round tourism. Such a possibility is very rare in other many preferred seasonal tourism destinations.

Kazbegi Region
Kazbegi is located at the far northern border of Georgia, near the Dariali mountain pass, which is Georgia’s northern gateway to the Russian Federation. In March 2010 this once-closed border pass was opened by decision of the Georgian Government. On our way to Kazbegi in early January we met several citizens of the Russian Federation. They were very grateful for this decision and said that people who enter Georgia from the Russian Federation can breathe easily there.
     “Here, there is no corruption, nobody looks into your pocket and nobody asks for money,” said Murtaz, who is originally from Chiatura and did                     not want to give his surname. He works as a banker in Moscow and has Russian citizenship. He tells us his story and describes how terrible the corruption situation is in Russia.

“There is no comparison. It is real heaven here. In Russia everybody tries to make money corruptly. Money, that’s all they are interested in. In Russia you can do everything if you have enough money,” said Murtaz. 

The opening of the Dariali border pass and the fact that our customs service works properly means that there are good chances for tourism to develop in Kazbegi. However, it is still unclear who will take charge of tourism development in Kazbegi or the other mountainous regions of Georgia. Locals do not know and seem clueless about how to go about it themselves; they seem lost and without direction. Some of them do not believe that tourism development will happen and have lost confidence in investors as well. When we talked to people from the region they said that different investment companies had come to Kazbegi with different offers, but in reality nothing had been done.
Mrs. Lali Seturidze has her own business in Kazbegi – she is the owner of two family hotels. She told us that big companies like ELKANA, a rural development NGO, and the Millennium Challenge Compact, a US government-funded scheme to improve tourism, have come to Kazbegi. Representatives of these organizations have met with the locals.  However, “We still see no results,” said Lali. Nonetheless, she still thinks that it is possible that investors and NGOs will be able to implement projects in the region.
Even though the valleys of the Kazbegi region are very beautiful, life in the mountains is very hard. Agriculture, which could become the foundation of tourism development in this beautiful place, is practically non-existent. Many villages are empty and the land left unattended. Unfortunately, this is not only a problem for this region. It is the same in other parts of Georgia: Imereti, Guria, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Adjara, Racha-Lechkhumi and others.

The level of customer service continues to be the greatest to tourism in Georgia, for domestic and internal tourist alike.  Tourists can come, but how will they be provided with services? By providing good customer service it is possible to resolve such problems as income generation and employment and provide good investment conditions. The worst customer service situation is in the mountainous regions of Georgia. Even though the local population has tried to assure us that everything is fine, a developed tourist system does not really exist in Stephantsminda, especially in the off-season. The reality on the ground is far from what we read about in the shiny brochures printed on high quality paper. This sphere needs much attention, especially during this so called period of transition, as it plays a crucial role in the formation of a stable socio-economic situation in the country.  

Upon reaching Kazbegi these problems became only too clear,  starting out with no money exchange office in the immediate region, other than the banks, which only operate during the day and not on weekends. What can tourists who come from abroad and only have their own currency with them do? For Georgians this is not a problem, as they change money in Tbilisi and have more connections.  
A father and son, both Americans tried to change money in Gudauri, thinking that a ski resort would offer all sorts of services. Moreover, there are a lot of hotels there, including the high-class Marco Polo hotel, built during Shevardnadze’s time. The locals told us that in that hotel there would be a money exchange service, so we decided to check it out.  However, when we reached the hotel, we were very much surprised to be told that for several years there has been no money exchange service in the Marco Polo or any other hotel. Still the Americans were not able to exchange their currency.

We were also told that all payments in the hotel are conducted by credit card or ATM. Despite this, a blank exchange rate board was displayed saying that the hotel offered money exchange service for currencies which do not exist anymore (like the German Mark and French Franc). We must admit that this board looked very nice. It is probably cleaned by the Marco Polo staff every week, if not every day. But nobody has taken the initiative to remove it, despite the fact that was a bit out-of -date.

We looked for an Internet café in Kazbegi as well. The locals told us, much to our surprise, that it does not make any sense to open an Internet café in the region, especially in winter time. “It needs a lot of resources, a license is needed and then you have to pay too many taxes… Who will come here? Even if some do come, there will not be enough people to make it work”, is how the locals think.

More importantly, during our trip our American friends had difficulty finding places to eat. In order to get breakfast we entered several advertised cafés and restaurants in the center of Kazbegi. All of them turned out to be closed. Fortunately we did eventually find one so-called restaurant, which was open, but even there they only had the ingredients for preparing “khinkali” and a few eggs. We didn’t want to complain too much, but it took so long to bring the coffee that we had forgotten we had even ordered it. These events gave us the impression that during the winter the region and people of Kazbegi simply hibernate.

The following July 2011, five tourists, one from Canada and four from Thailand, went to Kazbegi for a day trip. They also had difficulty finding places to eat. Apart from a small stand selling the usual Georgian snacks and a “café” with no seating area and a very limited menu, there was nowhere else to eat. They were only able to find one toilet facility in the town centre. It was dirty and smelly and they charge 50 tetri (approximately 35 cents).

For those who don’t wish to walk up the mountain to get to Sameba church, they have the option to take a taxi, but the drivers charge an unreasonable rate of 40 GEL (US$25), not something that all tourists can afford.  Sadly such poor customer service and value for the money is not only typical of this region. The print-off of guesthouses published by the Georgian Department of Tourism lists many places to stay, but out of the list of 17 places in Stephantsminda only a few were open during the wintertime. Not a single word of warning is given about what tourists might expect when trying to use this list, especially in the off season, and what they can expect during the high season.  

Guesthouse owners who mostly live in Tbilisi only ran their businesses during the tourist season. Some of the guesthouses gave us their mobile phone numbers to publish, but we learned that most of them actually live in Tbilisi. Only a few actually live in Kazbegi itself. 
We really like to thank one of them, Mrs. Lali Seturidze, the owner of the guest house in which we stayed for only 15 GEL per day, who offered us very clean and warm rooms. This lady lives in Kazbegi and knows all the region’s problems very well. She told us that it would be very good if a private investor provided low interest loans, or offered small grants to develop the region, or start up an association.
This raises the question: would it not be better if private investors were allowed to develop tourism, as the Department of Tourism has tried very hard but failed to do so? But are such investors to be found?

Just a few weeks the initial visit to the region the same father and son also visited Batumi.  They shared their views by email for this article, saying that “the biggest 'minus' at this time of year is the heavy rain, which leaves the unrepaired streets covered in big pools of water, etc. Until they get the roads and the underground water system repaired (an enormous job, but they could have done it already) there is no likelihood of any winter tourism taking off. The Sheraton Hotel is open, as are some smaller hotels that are working, but these aren't always heated very well (a supply of water can be problem too). Unless you are willing to pay top money it is a scramble to find a room at a normal price with good heating and water pressure”.
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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bilingual Geo Times Newspaper Launched in Tbilisi Georgia

Former journalists of “The Georgian Times” Media Holding start new “Geo Times” Newspaper

After The Georgian Times Media Holding was forced to stop printing of English and Georgian language newspapers the concept of publishing an alternative newspaper, “Geo Times” was born. Consequently former journalists, both foreign and Georgian, of the holding company have recently established the bilingual Geo Times.

The new newspaper has a different foundation to the old: firstly, it is an objective, independent and unbiased newspaper [no hidden agendas] and secondly it will be available for Georgian as well as foreign readers. The newspaper is bilingual and all articles are printed in both languages.

Some journalists from the former Georgian Times did not want to lose the name recognition they had previously enjoyed amongst media outlets. They also wanted to develop a newspaper in English that would be among the first in Georgia. The journalists were also motivated by nostalgia for a time when journalism was more free. 

Many journalists started their careers at The Georgian Time whilst others developed their knowledge and skills and became successful. It was like a school which motivated them, and therefore they decided to get back into print and reestablish their work.

We want to mention that Geo Times is a fully independent newspaper. No political figure stands behind it. There is no intention of accepting any political offer and the paper wants to distance itself from each and every political figure.

Many of the former journalists of The Georgian Times continue to express their great respect to the founders of that newspaper. They also want to point out that the articles in this newspaper will be analytical and informative. They will be objective, unbiased and based on actual facts. We will offer the readers exclusives and reports from different regions and countries in every edition. In the May edition readers an exclusive interview with a Syrian journalist was shared.

Our Co-Publisher is PR Company Mega M.

A new edition will be available at the beginning of every month. We hope the circulation of the paper will be substantial.

Founders and staff of the paper:
Rusudan Gvazava - Editor-In- Chief,
Zhana Asanidze - Executive Editor,
Jordan. H Evans- Copy Editor,
Rumwold Leigh - Consultant Editor.

You may contact:

Zhana Asanidze-   mob: 558 001 616; E-mail:
Rusudan Gvazava- mob: 574 801970; E-mail: 

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What game is being played over Georgian elections, what's going on here?

Ruling party response to Ivanishvili's call for Misha to veto the constitutional amendment which would allow non-citizens of Georgia to become President (it does sound a little crazy, like, so you can see where he's coming from, but he says he won't use that amendment - he won't run unless he is a citizen of Georgia, and Misha isn't likely to veto it.

What's going on there I wonder? High stakes brinksmanship - or something else?

Something else is going on here, Potekim  of democracy - or now that the business has been sold in Russia, it is time to divide up some of the profits and back to networks of patronage as before. 

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Georgian Style Feeding Frenzy, AKA, Asset Management: where does the money go?

Asset Management, Georgian Style Feeding Frenzy:  "where does the money go?"

I see the Georgian government have gone back on another promise. Instead of reducing income tax from 20% to 18%, like they said they would, they've instead invited tax payers to divert the 2% into a savings fund which will be administered by “asset management companies” to invest funds in various projects:

The good thing is that the tax payers are free to withdraw their money at any time - any time after 15 years has elapsed since the money went in which sounds like they can withdraw the equivalent of 2% of their current earnings, per month, starting in 15 years time. What 2% of their current earnings will be worth in 15 years time is anyone's guess.

The best thing for people to do is simply not subscribe to this scheme and leave that money in the state coffers to fund things like the ambulance and fire service, rather than let it be diverted into the hands of private companies in order for them to reap rich rewards with all of this money they'd be accumulating out of thin air.

This sounds more like a feeding frenzy than anything that would come close to the semblance of asset management - rumor has it that the same gang that was involved in a investment scheme 20 years ago - Golden Cup, are involved in this from the sidelines. It is clear that this is just another scheme to get rich by a few elites at the expense of the majority of hard-working Georgians. 
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Friday, May 18, 2012

Material support to terrorists as development assistance, USAID in action!

What proof do you have of the U.S. funding Chechen Fighters?


Unleash the dawgs

Joni Simonishvili 


As a reader wrote, “what proof do you have of the US funding Chechens? This is what the American people need to know, if it can be written to their understanding, and if the word can get out to them.


What was the Chechnya war about?  Who was the good guy, who was the bad - Russia or Chechnya, and why?   Americans are confused about this and would not know who to 'root' for.  Then again, most could care less anyway since it's the other side of the world and whoever wins the war won't change their entertainment needs one way or another.... which is pretty much all they care about.


It is not what your right that is important but the timing, as that is the only thing that can make a real difference.”




It takes a few volumes to cover what you ask but I will give it a go, you can google the Chechen war for the sake of brevity. My understanding of the story starts out with the US and Georgian governments intentionally making the Pankisi Valley (gorge) of Georgia into a no-go area back in 2000-2001. This was a time when the gorge was surviving a base camp for Chechen fighters, little ever made it into the mainstream media as what was going on – as access was denied to foreign reporters, and the international media, including the Washington Post and others were eating up the official line – hook-line-and-sinker


To make a long story short, steps were taken to claim Pankisi was a lawless place, no-go zone and that Georgia needed help. The US State Department was engaged, such as Richard Boucher, a State Department Spokesperson, who came out in a daily press briefing discussing the Georgian border and the need to beef up the ability to control the situation.


The scars were still around my around my wrists after being abducted and beaten several years ago, the price for going public with what I know about America's secret games in the strategically important Caucasus.  


With a degree in the diplomacy he came here right after independence in 1991 to drive the tobacco exports, decided to stay there and soon became editor of an English language newspaper. He made good contact with the young generation of Georgians with education from the West who would later assume the leadership of the country, and used to have Mikhail Saakashvili over for dinner. This was before he became Minister of Justice  under President Eduard Shevardnadze. 

In some years because of close relations with power circuits in Tbilisi and with average people, I was able to gained insight into many of America's secret affairs. Even the International Crisis Group took notice of my work, and contracted me on a few occasions to carry out "due diligence" - to investigate a company or organization and find out if it is up to something it shouldn't have been. I have also been contacted to find out what has happened to some foreign citizens, either killed or went missing in Georgia.

My trouble started when he wrote a report from Pankisi - a valley in northeast Georgia on the border with Chechnya, which was filled with thousands of refugees after the onset of the second Chechen war in 1999, and eventually became an important base for resistance against Russia, and the Russian even bomb the place several times.

It's since become clear that the Georgian authorities allowed the Chechens to use the Pankisi as base.  There is little doubt that the U.S. supported the rebels there, and that it later used the presence of mujahideen there as justification to go in militarily, in so called mop up operations - but it was really a damage control operation after the terrible events of 9/11.

I first started suspecting when I went there in 2002. Everyone knew what was going on, and how money was there but no one could say for sure at the time where the money came from. Part of my work was to find out where the money came from, the money came from ACDI-VOCA, a rural credit association funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. 

The money should have gone to investments in agriculture but it actually went right in the pocket of the Chechen rebel leaders along with representatives of Georgian intelligence services. One former CIA agent shared insight and assisted me in putting together the full story.  The same arrangement was used in Afghanistan with the Northern Alliance and with USAID funded alternative livelihood projects, also under the same NGO, ACDI/VOCA and with some of the same staff that had worked in Georgia.

The Chechens were helped by visiting mujaheddin from the Middle East, and I am convinced that the United States brought them in, even provided them with fake Georgian passports for traveling to Turkey and elsewhere. One Chechen leader was even flying to the UK on a regular basis, and this was the most wanted Chechen fighter by Russian Special Services. 

I met a group of Saudis, who had false passports and said they had 300 USD days to take travel by Pankisi and fight against the Russians. The the group of three all had newly issued Georgian passports. 

Officially there were only refugees in Pankisi, but after the terrorist attacks 11 September 2001  the U.S. changed its strategy and defined it as a base for Al-Qaida. 

One of the consequences was that President Bush could more easily get Congressional approval to go in militarily in Georgia, a strategically important country after it was chosen as the routes for oil and gas pipelines from Azerbaijan to Turkey, and this was done under the cover of the 64 million dollar train and equip program.

Already in early 2002 American military sent advisers to train Georgians to clean up the Pankisi gorge.  Now the opportunity was presented for  the U.S. to enter its trainers, something Russia protested strongly against. By the end of 2002, Georgian president Shevardnadze had declared the place cleared of terrorists. 

It was the middle of this operation that Silverman visited the area, and working with a British freelance journalist named Roddy Scott, who told him that he had compromising material that would really lift the lid on what was happening in Pankisi. 

Right after, Scott joined a Chechen unit of soldiers as a journalist on their raids over the mountains to Ingushetia and was killed by Russian soldiers in an ambush. Three days after his death, I was stopped by security police in Azerbaijan and beaten up. There is no doubt in my mind that is there is a connection, and especially when the US Embassy in Baku refused to provide assistance  in the hospital.

What has been written to support the pattern and proof of US funding Chechens is found in Georgian Credit Unions set up by ACDI/VOCA under a US food for Peace Program where US Agriculture Commodities are sold to provide funding for rural credit unions, and these credit unions were to make loans to worthwhile agriculture projects. These were looted and the proceeds used to support the Chechen fighters. 


Much of the actionable intelligence at the time was provided to Roddy Scott by, an American Freelance journalist living in Georgia, that's me, and that email likely got him killed.


Before he set out for Georgia he had shared the following in an email, “I personally think it is a great story, it’s about the first time I have ever seen the possibility for someone to really lift the lid on everything, rather than the usual journo-grasping-at-straws-with-no-good-sources which seems to emanate from the region. And what really gives it the boost is that it is tied into US policy, which gives it the international rather than local/parochial flavor."


Roddy's correspondence was in response to having reviewed an unedited draft of an article, which was later published on Eurasianet (Internet site), which addressed regional geopolitical events and the larger repercussions of breaking news related to the war in Chechnya. Time is passing but there are still many questions left unanswered as to the unofficial political, economic and security networks in the region.


It is especially interesting how events are portrayed in the United States and the Russian Federation in terms of the war on international "terrorism" and how a small enclave has such far-reaching geopolitical implications. There was also a nexus with Chechen fighters in the valleys (Kodori and Pankisi) and unofficial Georgian links to larger operational and financial support in Turkey, Azerbaijan and the Middle East.


Fast Forward, Afghanistan


After leaving Georgia, because of corruption, the person who is claimed to have  been the point man for funding Pankisi, Rusty Shultz, was in soon in charge of another rural credit program, ended up working in Afghanistan with the same kind of mechanism.

"I am sure you will understand that he is just a small fish in all of this, and the real corruption goes to the top in USAID and other international organizations. Rusty was subsequently fired in Afghaistan for again allowing things to get out of control and for others having learned that the ARIES project was a model of the Georgian operations."

Here is the basic scheme of things: However, these are old notes and it would take a PhD to describe how all these programs have since development and transformed. Jeffrey Silverman wrote in one of his emails to a trusted source, "I collected this together, and it will be time before I can neatly package things in micro units to get you started. My main source is out of Kabul for the time being, and it is hard to network from a distance.


Based on what I know, it might be best to start out with this person,  as who is center-stage to the investment fund (ARF), [different than ACDI/VOCA, check out Kavkhaz Center about two years back], my NGO article;  in the meantime I am still networking for specific NGO corruption stuff to get a good start with. However, I think this person can give you the oversight on things and I am networking with my media friends who are gunning for a good US government corruption scandal and cover-up.


The Russian Embassy might share the history of Pankisi and its nexus to terrorism – provided you tell them you are interested in Imram Akhmadov and what brothers may still be alive, that as it relates to the history of leakage of ACDI/VOCA funds via rural credit unions (there were or 8 brothers in total and open sources claim they were practically all eliminated. However, it is highly suspect in the intelligence community that some are still alive and living out of the country on fake passports, and these passports were provided by Georgian intelligence around 2001, and paid for with USG money.


Another question to ask is:


 “Who is this Randall Spears, ex-special services, (he was here in Georgia with Rusty Shultz), It appears that this [mechanism] the same thing that was going on in Georgia with some New Zealander (as noted in), and he was part of Rusty virtual world.


 Tamara Tiffany is another colorful person who can give you lots of information on Gerry Anderson, USAID Economic Development, and who was involved with the dirty mechanisms, not only involving Pankisi but regional plays, and Rusty Shultz.  Tamara has a rather sorted history in the case files of USAID OIG and most likely DEA too – as her first husband is alleged to have been involved in international drug trade out of South America.


Leon Waskins, USAID Mission Director, and get with her to find out who is who and what is going on with ARF, Pierre Van Hoeylandt, ARIES, AED


Next research ACDI/VOCA


Especially in terms of management turnover, how they have been near bankruptcy many times, and dive into the history or their projects (Georgia, Azerbaijan and what is going on in Afghanistan). I have also been trying to get all the contacts and it takes time.

As I wrote some years ago to a friend from the Patterson School, University of Kentucky: 


“Can you help me with a mailing list of key contacts to send information?” My friend who was with NSA and now head of a political science program suggested that:


I can contact the democrats directly and not waste my time. See quotes below: USAID is appears to be investigating the information that my sources provided but time will tell. Anyway, I sent this across: "Will be sending some stuff to the incoming Democratic chair of some relevant subcommittee (government operations committee, foreign relations, even appropriations).  The Administration won’t care, but the Dems might."


There is no need to discuss anything until you have spoken to your own people in USAID/OIG – and networked with Embassies in the mentioned countries. A few emails and phone calls will bring you up to speed. Those involved in the ACDI/VOCA corruption think that they have a get out of jail card.


Bad Chechens 


Finally, check out who is Zura Otiashvili, connected with Georgian intelligence and Pankisi, and with Russian Embassy, as who were the Akhadadov Brothers (and you will find connections to the rural credit unions). One of the persons that were involved in the weapons for drug swaps, Imram Akhmadov (and in now in Turkey under a fake passport purchased with US government money (the family name on the false Georgian passport is Kavtarashvili). 


This information comes directly from Chechens and Kist living in Pankisi, including two of his ex-wives (one working for a NGO in Pankisi and later as a refugee in Norway, and the other living with her brother who spent time in Afghanistan (was a translator for Northern Alliance).


About five years back he was working for Georgian intelligence but if some kind of deal could be made to help him out of Georgia then you would have a very good source of information as to the connections between these various countries and routes, especially with the ACDI/VOCA funding mechanism.


However, this is playing with a very hot fire.


Bigger Projects in Afghanistan to look at:


As a question asked about ARIES information [responding to my request]: "The project is $80 million to do both microfinance and SME lending in certain areas where USAID is trying to get people to shift away from opium cultivation (another project, the Alternative Livelihood project, is working there). So, it includes a North area near Tajik border, an area east of Kabul centered around the city of Jalalabad, the southern war region of Kandahar and Helmand, and the area around the city of Herat. 


There are four main subcontractors doing the work as follows:


               1) FINCA is getting a $10 million grant to do microfinance.

               2) WOCCU gets about $15 million grant to make about 20 credit unions.

               The ex-Green Beret Special ops type Randall Spears heads up this operation,

               (and this should be the target for your corruption investigation)

3) ACDIVOCA is getting something like $12 million grant to set up its usual credit cooperatives, headed by Rusty Shultz in [cohorts with Gerry Anderson].

4) About $30 million goes to an apex organization called MISFA. $15 million is to make SME loans through banks, and ShoreBank manages that as advisors to MISFA. The other $15 is for micro finance loans.

5) The rest is for administration.


The prime contractor, overseeing all the subcontractors is AED, which has no institutional expertise in rural credit (that is a can of worms to be opened as well). My deep throat at the time had excellent relations to the project leadership, so he will let you know once things start happening. But for now, Rusty Shultz is getting OK marks, lying low, making friends, nothing unusual has happened. His close buddy Gerry Anderson, USAID, looks more and more taking oversight of the ARIES project (which by the way is pretty much the biggest project in town). It appears that Gerry has taken a big fall, because he is now only deputy department head, whereas in Georgia he was department head.


As my deep throat wrote me many years ago, “Yeah, that Leon Waskins was the Mission Director.  Yeah, keeping digging on ARF, that is a very interesting story and you will better understand what went on in Pankisi and ACDI/VOCA.  


Ok, take care,


Unleash the dawgs!



The two greatest visions of a future dystopia were George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” The debate, between those who watched our descent towards corporate totalitarianism, was who was right. Would we be, as Orwell wrote, dominated by a repressive surveillance and security state that used crude and violent forms of control? Or would we be, as Huxley envisioned, entranced by entertainment and spectacle, captivated by technology and seduced by profligate consumption to embrace our own oppression? It turns out Orwell and Huxley were both right. Huxley saw the first stage of our enslavement. Orwell saw the second.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Shifting US Foreign Policy in Georgia

Obama's Betrayal of Georgia in 2008 Makes Sense in Retrospect - Shift in US Foreign Policy towards Georgia” Many Georgians are apathetic, as they don't believe in fair elections and don’t have much hope of anything positive emerging in the immediate future, especially in the court down to the Georgian 2012 parliamentary elections. Democracy has proven stillborn, at least being held in abeyance, and nothing is going to change in this direction any time soon. It is not difficult to understand why this is so - one needs only to look at how those who watch English language broadcasts perceived Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili when he appeared on Fareed Zakaria's GPS on CNN a few years ago, as well as on other English programs, BBC, etc. Some pundits went so far as to claim that the "cornered president came across as glaring like a madman, and made little sense,” but CNN and the spooks working in various agencies, academic support organizations and the often competing US National Security and Foreign Intelligence Agencies are not giving up the ghost; they are hanging onto the idea that they can make him look not so bad, at least for a bit more. However, maintaining unwavering support for the once fledgling democracy which has grown thorns may make Georgia US foreign policy's greatest liability in the long term, and even at present it is not very politically expedient. Shifting US Foreign Policy This begs the questions: has there been a shift in US policy towards Georgia, if so what does this mean, both in the short and long term, and how will it be manifested? Anyone living in Georgia for any length of time, especially foreigners, can tell you that things have changed in the post 2008 environment, especially since May 26, 2011, and a violent crackdown on anti- Saakashvii forces in Tbilisi that resulted in deaths and many injuries of civilians. It is clear the government intentionally used excessive force, as documented by human rights organizations. There was such anticipation in the run up to the ill-fated 2008 Georgian- Russian, portrayed , by Georgia as a Russian invasion, and in light of the US Presidential elections, as most of the Georgian leadership were so confident of do-no-wrong support from the US that a Georgians for John McCain organization was even set up to support the US presidential candidate, manned by top members of the Georgian government and closely aligned with the Liberty Institute in Georgia, the origin of the brains of the current Georgian Government, and backed by various think tanks in the United States, such as the Potomac Institute. The Minister of Refugees and Displaced Persons was even seen visiting the IDP center in Gori with his McCain 1 license plate just before those elections as he was visiting IDPS from South Ossetia. The dirty little Georgian-Russian war of August 2008 did not turn out as expected, as it did not play well for the game theorists who were using it to test Russia's resolve, command and control structures. It is easy in retrospect to look back and see how much those in the NGO community, low level non-official contacts and the many defense related contractors in Tbilisi had no doubt that the war was going to be a win- win situation for all. The outcome of the war demonstrated all that is wrong with the command and control structures of the Georgian Army, its endemic corruption at high levels, its arms trafficking, and confirmed that the war was more about making money than restoring the territory integrity of Georgia or fending off a Russian invasion. It demonstrated that Russia does not have the army it once had but its command and control structures still work rather well, in spite of their size and many layers. Rude Awakening Americans don’t like losers. Even at high school football games, if things don’t go well for the home team the stands become rather sparse at half time, in anticipation that the team will lose. Basically, Americans don’t like incompetents, and from all the millions pumped into Georgia in the name of Train and Equip programs, starting out with the 64 million bestowed under the rubric of fighting terrorism, few benefits have actually resulted. Some players have made lots of money, but the Georgian Army is demoralized and the reputation of the country tarnished – and now the US understands that it may have placed all its bets on the wrong horse. Georgian troops may be useful at what they have been trained to be , providing support for NATO operations, but not at fighting a conventional or guerilla war with the Russian Federation, or performing as a professional army. Too much has floated to the top, with senior FBI officials having visited Georgia since 2008 and allegations being made by some investigators and opposition TV channels that the Georgian Ministry of Defense has indulged itself in high stakes weapons trafficking with a sense of impunity. Now, and not only in the alternative media and less well read publications, information is also emerging concerning bio and viral weapons programs. Obama's seeming betrayal of Georgia is now starting to make sense; the signs of the times are easy to see for those who wish to open their eyes. No longer is the US so strongly supportive of the Georgian government, with its well-paid spin doctors like Daniel Kunin, Patrick Worms, David Smith and Sam Patten and scores of others working under the cover of the NGO community, including the Republic and Democratic Institutes. All these people have - or rather “had” - one concerted mission – to make Saakashvili always look good – no matter how much they must hold their noses to do so. Looking really bad The spin doctors did their job well, until their concerted efforts started to make them look ‘really’ bad, like really cheap “hookers”, whose career path or path to early retirement would be tarnished if they supported the Georgian leadership to the bitter end. All things considered, it is only practical for the US to develop closer ties with Russia. In a statement to Congress, Obama made it clear that he is backing away from Georgia in the name of better ties with Moscow. He asked Congress on that day to support a nuclear treaty with Russia, insisting that "the situation in Georgia need no longer be considered an obstacle to proceeding with the proposed agreement." This is a major shift in policy compared to that of the Bush Administration, reset-button, which tried to support Saakashvili to the bitter end. In the aftermath of the Russian-Georgian war of 2008 Bush punished Russia for what he considered to be an unprovoked invasion of a defenseless and innocent country. But now the expert reports are out, the spin doctors defrocked. The dust and rhetoric have settled. It is now understood by many international security experts who actually started that little dirty war in the first place. Territory integrity Georgia can forget about restoring its territory integrity until it gets its own house in order, and shows the world that it really is a democracy. Meanwhile, Russia and the US are closer now than at any time in history, getting really cozy, due in large part to the actions of Georgia and the half-baked attempts by hired PR firms to convince the world that Georgia could do no wrong. Maintaining good relations with Russia is now official US policy, a concern based on old fashion pragmatism and the need for Russian support in the UN for US saber- rattling over Iran and its alleged nuclear military aspirations. Last year The Washington Post published an op-ed from Bush's former point man on European and Eurasian affairs, David J. Kramer. He was the guy who had helped make Saakashvili a White House project under Bush. On May 15 he wrote: "The administration is essentially abandoning the Georgians and giving Russia a green light to continue to engage in provocative behavior along its borders." This is probably true. But after interviewing Saakashvili, his advisers and his opponents, Obama's decision to turn his back on the Georgian President makes a lot of sense to me, too. Media hoax One half-baked effort to draw attention, the so-called media hoax, may be one of the last straws which will finally break the back of the US’s unwavering support for Georgia. Daniel Kunin is out, the former close advisor who has failed. He has had a falling out with Misha, which might explain why the Imedi TV disaster happened, and even now the Western media is confirming what locals know only too well. “Daniel Kunin, an American, was Saakashvili's closest adviser … the son of a New England governor; he joined Saakashvili's team after the Rose Revolution of 2003 and became (perhaps unwittingly) one of the champions of infectious democracy, the neocon creed of the day.” "Loose cannon on deck" As one source wrote in the days after the March 2010 faked invasion broadcast, “it is still hard to not want to believe that he did it - or at least, that it didn't turn out quite as he had imagined it would. I believe in incompetence. I see it everywhere. It is nearly always the explanation of things. But what is interesting is that this showed the collective state of mind of Georgia – paranoid; it could make good telly.” To the outside world, and especially the US, the incident sounded like something cooked up to further condition the population to hate Russia – Misha seemed to agree with it at first, then changed his tune when everyone started crying foul (e.g. the French diplomat etc.). An observer only needs to read transcripts of the (allegedly phony) taped phone conversations between those involved in the hoax. They sound a little too complex to have been cooked up - especially in the short space of time there would have been to do it in. I'd put money on them being genuine. This conclusion has since been confirmed to be correct by independent foreign experts who have studied the tapes, but that is hardly reported in the news. As one independent filmmaker wrote, “What a bunch of clots, I'd bet a trawl back through the last 3 or 4 years of news articles would make tasty reading for any shrink about Sak's neurotic fixation with Russia. Wow - only in Georgia would these conversations be recorded - strikes me as really odd. Seems just like an incompetent program controller - mistakes like this happen when a producer’s ambition outstrips their understanding. 1) Was it officially sanctioned? 2) Who made it? 3) The TV station has been in a state of turmoil - I suspect program control is not all it is cracked up to be. It would have been an interesting story to follow - but impossible to have seen this one coming.” On March 14, 2010 someone, most likely connected to some intelligence agency, perhaps the NSA or Russian intelligence, or even Georgian intelligence, posted an audio file to a Russian web site which appears to be a phone conversation between the Director of Imedi TV (Giorgi Arveladze) and his deputy, head of political, Eka Tsamalashvili. The deputy is saying that she has studied the media Code of Conduct and found that it would be illegal to broadcast the program without a banner across it warning that it is fiction. Arveladze responds that he has been told by Saakashvili to send it without a banner, because otherwise it would be pointless. This conversation has since been widely reported. The following day someone posted another phone tap, this time of a conversation between Saakashvili and Culture Minister Nika Rurua (of Mkhedrioni fame), in which it appears that the President did not know that Imedi was going to broadcast it without a warning disclaimer. You will find hardly any Georgians who now think that these recordings are not genuine. They believe that the question of whether to broadcast the hoax with/without a warning banner was discussed between the two company heads prior to airing. It is also against this background that several opposition parties wanted to sue Saakashvili personally, and Imedi TV as a company, for breaking the media Code of Conduct (which is actually a law in Georgia, not an internal gentleman's agreement within the media). It seems unlikely that an incompetent program controller alone was behind the broadcast. It's worth noting that Imedi director Arveladze is former General Secretary of the ruling party and former minister himself, and was also Saakashvili's first PR Director (spin doctor). As reported in the Western Media, “Saakashvili's team is open about its friendship with the Imedi chief, Georgi Arveladze (who by the way has not resigned) ….” Has US policy towards Georgia changed? I think it will soon be apparent that it has, as you can only turn a blind eye to so much incompetence and greed – there are more important things for the US to be focused on now, rather than the petty politics which have become the Georgian reality.
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