America is taking its War On Terrorism to Georgia, to hunt down Al Qaeda operatives who have supposedly holed up in a secluded shithole called The Pankisi Gorge. Just the name "Pankisi Gorge" sounds menacing enough to warrant a massive military response: "Pankisi", like the bug planet Klendathu in Starship Troopers, or a giant ray-breathing alien who gorges on unassuming American financiers by the skyscraper-full. No, we better carpet-bomb the whole goddamn Pankisi with thermobaric bombs and encase it in a giant lead tomb or else we're all fucked! No questions asked!
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The Pankisi Gorge is in reality little more than a long ditch sandwiched between two mountain ridges which run like spines along the gorge, populated by a few thousand Kist and Chechen refugees, a few hundred transit Chechen fighters, and just enough haggard cattle and sheep to keep the lot of them nourished enough to plot the destruction of Western civilization. Set in one of the most corrupt regions on earth, you can understand why this makes a decent Evil Lair site for drug runners, weapons traffickers, kidnappers and "assorted scalawags," to quote Chopper. But Al Qaeda? Taking refuge on Russia's heavily-fortified border, in a Christian country whose government has been begging for NATO and American support since the day it declared independence? Aren't the Al Qaeda guys, like, supposed to hide in friendly countries with plenty of escape routes?
Something stinks here. And there's plenty of evidence that there's more to the American deployment than the reported few dozen Egyptian terrorists who plan to use that ditch as a staging ground to topple Washington.
Georgian Security Minister Valeri Khaburdzania claimed recently that information his men had squeezed from five Afghans and a Saudi and Jordanian caught trying to slip into Georgia from the Azeri border indicated that remnants of Al Qaeda were planning to setting up a terrorist training base in the Pankisi Gorge, using it to launch terrorist raids on Russia, as well as a kind of Underground Railroad weigh station to ferry terrorists into Europe and America via the gorge. (The logistics don't make a whole lot of sense, but then again none of Al Qaeda's hare-brained war plan has.)
American charge d'affairs Philip Remler said roughly the same in an interview a few weeks ago. Remler and his staff in Tblisi are under strict orders not to talk to any foreign reporters even off the record. He only revealed the United States' intent to take the War Against Towelism to Pankisi in an interview with a Georgian newspaper.
The Russians have been claiming all along that the Pankisi Gorge is a haven for international terrorists linked to Chechen separatist fighters, particularly the Jordanian-and/or-Saudi-born warlord Khattab. The Russians had hoped to use this information to gain support for invading Georgian territory under the "war on terrorism" auspices; instead, their cries of bin-wolf-Laden wound up attracting the American military -- or giving them the opening they'd always sought.
Oops! Damn, blew that one pretty bad, Russia! Scratch Georgia off your list of "sphere of influence" countries, along with all the others. That was an expensive li'l boo-boo. Say «poka» to the Caspian Sea oil, comrades!
Americans now have troops or access to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tadjikistan and Georgia, while Armenia and Azerbaijan have both played host top American military brass recently. Add US-dominated Afghanistan and Pakistan into the equation, and America is now poised to control all the Caspian Sea oil and gas -- believed to have the world's third largest reserves -- from extraction point to shipping point -- to the exclusion of Russia and Iran.
Gee, this war on terror thing isn't all blood sweat and tears. It's turning out to be very conveeeenient for the all the folks who ever dabbled in that whole oil thingamajig, like what our Pres and VP used to do down thar in Texas 'n stuff. Oil. The War Against Terrorism. Gosh, who'd'a thunk you can get 2 for the price of 1?