Georgian experts have responded that though Coffey’s initiative ‘sounds nice’, it is far from reality
American analyst Luke Coffey, a member of the influential conservative institute Heritage Foundation, proposes placing American soldiers withdrawn from Syria in Georgia, and specifically in Javakheti region, in the south of the country – where the majority of the country’s ethnic Armenian population lives.
Coffey floated the idea on Twitter:
Proposal: US troops leaving Syria could be sent to Georgia & become an “over the horizon” force to respond quickly if ISIS reconstitutes.
USA could use old Russian base at Akhalkalaki which is only 460 miles (740km) from Raqqa.
Georgia more dependable than Iraq right now. 👇🏻 pic.twitter.com/VdIjEONwcO
— Luke Coffey (@LukeDCoffey) October 24, 2019
Coffey emphasizes that this is his personal idea and that it is not being discussed in Washington. For critics who believe that the deployment of the US military in Georgia would ruin Georgia’s relations with Turkey, Coffey says this is a bad understanding of Turkish-Georgian relations.
“Many people – ask what will be the logistics? It is only 750 kilometers away. I think the US military is able to cover this distance. And those who ask how they will deal with Turkey simply do not understand Turkish-Georgian relations. And yes, that will stop Russia as well”, writes Coffey.
In Georgia, experts have reacted with skepticism about the possibility of realizing Coffey’s proposal.
“Luke Coffey has interesting ideas, he is a good analyst and friend of Georgia. However, what part of his ideas can be realized, and what can’t, is another question.
In principle, this person does what the Georgian government should do, specifically, he constantly “worries” the West and the whole world with ideas about Georgia and constantly updates the Georgia’s topic”, said Director of the Center for Strategic Analysis of Georgia and defense expert Nodar Kharshiladze.
Foreign relations expert Tornike Sharashenidze says Coffey’s initiative ‘sounds nice’; but it’s far from reality.
“How nice to hear this Coffey. But, it’s better not to trifle and demand to place the American military directly in Gori [ed. the region adjacent to the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone, where the Russian military is located],” writes Sharashenidze on Facebook.
•In February 2018, Heritage Foundation researcher and international policy observer Luke Coffey published an article in which he writes about a new model of Georgia’s entry into NATO. He believes that Georgia’s accelerated admission to the North Atlantic Alliance is possible on one condition – if the fifth article of the NATO treaty, which provides for collective defense, temporarily does not apply to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
•This week, several units of the US Army, withdrawn from northeast Syria on the orders of President Donald Trump, were sent to western Iraq. According to US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, they will continue operations against the Islamic State. At the same time on Thursday at the Pentagon, they confirmed that they were ready to send additional forces to northeast Syria to protect oil fields from militants of the terrorist organization.