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Compiled by Messenger Staff
Wednesday, June 30
The gas pipeline might be sold off

Rezonansi writes that Parliament is preparing to sell the main gas pipeline, as experts say that this is what is behind the move to remove the pipeline from the list of objects which cannot be privatised. The Government says it knows nothing about this and Parliament says that there is a "technical problem" with the initiative, but does not specify whether this "technical problem" lies in the way it has been drafted or its actual content. The bill has been drafted by the Legal Issues Committee.

The initiative states that a new ‘Law on State Property’ should be passed which will outline all the norms connected with the management of state property in one document. Some of these concern privatisation. If prohibition of the main gas pipeline is not specifically prohibited it will be legal to sell it off to any person or company.

Selling the main gas pipeline was suggested a couple of years ago, but it was argued then that it was a strategic facility whose sale might compromise national security. The Parliamentary opposition maintains that the pipeline should not be sold. Lasha Todria, one of the authors of the bill, denies that the pipeline has been removed from the list of untouchable facilities, but admits he cannot find it there.

"I do not want to be categorical about this because it is in principle possible to sell the pipeline to a private owner. But the essential question is who this would be. Certainly a private owner should not be acting in a foreign state’s interests, etc. I am not against privatisation in itself but the Government alone should not decide this question," analyst Gia Khukhashvili says.

Will Georgia get caught up in possible Israel-America-Iran conflict?

Military analyst Giorgi Tavdgiridze states in an interview with Alia that, "The assumption of Azerbaijani political scientists is false – there is no evidence that America and Israel are preparing any land operation against Iran. Such operations are not easily organised and require a concentration of forces, which is not visible. It is also unlikely that the territory of Azerbaijan will be used for this purpose.

"As for Georgia, we may support an action politically but can offer little in terms of technical assistance. Our aerodromes are useless for conducting night operations. They do not have the capacity. Iran cannot be attacked from here. If air strikes are carried out they might target nuclear and military facilities, but there is no confirmed information about any of this except verbal statements," Giorgi Tavdgiridze says.

Asked if Georgia could still theoretically get caught up in any action, Tavdgiridze answers, "This depends on the type of operation. Georgia and Azerbaijan are unlikely to be selected as bases for any operation as America has more advantages if it approaches from the side of Iraq. It would be a great mistake not to use this advantage, as it is a tremendous area in which the US can do whatever it wants. Can you imagine what sums are needed to put forces in the Caucasus or use the sea? Turkey is part of the equation too but Turkey will not participate in an operation against Iran. I expect a short-term aviation attack at some point, without the use of land forces, but no operation against Iran is planned at present."