Thursday 28 August 2008

Origins and Evolution of the Georgian-Abkhaz Conflict

by Stephen D. Shenfield

In this paper* I trace the emergence and evolution of the Georgian—Abkhaz conflict up to the invasion of Abkhazia by Georgian forces on August 14, 1992. I try to pinpoint the most crucial events and causative factors, and to infer the likely motives and calculations of the parties to the conflict. Section I is an analytical narrative, subdivided into the following seven periods:

1) The period before the Russian occupation of Abkhazia (up to 1810);
2) The tsarist period (1810—1917);
3) The period of independent Georgia (1917—1921);
4) The early Soviet period (1921—1936);
5) The period of the Stalin--Beria terror (December 1936—1953);
6) The post-Stalin period (1953—1985);
7) The period of perestroika and post-Soviet transition (1986—August 1992).

Section II is devoted to the decision taken in summer 1992 by the State Council of Georgia, headed by Shevardnadze, to intervene militarily in Abkhazia: the likely motives and goals of the Georgian leadership, the direct trigger of the decision (if any), and whether and how the decision might have been averted by preventive diplomacy. Also considered is the related question of why the intervention occurred during the presidency of Shevardnadze rather than during that of Gamsakhurdia.

In Section III I share some general reflections concerning the failures of perception and calculation on both sides that contributed to the escalation of the conflict to large-scale violence. Read more...

No comments:

Post a Comment