Divination is a messy and imprecise art form, better suited to storytellers than reporters, charlatans than scientists. However much it is fakery it can also provide some much need perspective and give one a sense of the range of possibilities of what might come to pass.
In this vein, we have our Prediction for the Next Year. Please add your own, and demolish ours, in the comments section. In a few weeks we will publish an updated version.
So, do you want the good news first, or the bad news?
Good Predictions For the Next Year:
1. The West will begin a huge humanitarian and rebuilding effort in Georgia limited only by their access because of Russian occupation. Over 3 billion dollars total will be pledged and a large fraction of it will be spent or deposited in Georgian accounts within 12 months. The Georgian financial system will be propped up by the IMF, and will continue to be the backbone of the local economy.
2. The Real Estate market in Georgia will not collapse precipitously, and in the short term at least will retain much of its value.
3. Less than 6 countries in the world will recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the only ones from the CIS will be Russia and Belarus (all the others fearing they might be next). All efforts towards recognizing them in the UN will be forcefully vetoed by the USA in the Security Council
4. Whoever becomes President of the United States in November, Georgia will be fully supported in all way up to the point of committing troops and becoming directly involved in potential conflict with Russia. The USA will continue to be Georgia most determined and unwavering ally.
5. In the near term there will be no more war, ethnic cleansing or bombings. Whatever happens after this, for the next year or so, will be diplomatic and will not involve the brutality and chaos of outright military conflict. Enough blood has been shed - for now.
6. More Western Expatriat’s will be moving To Georgia rather than Leaving Georgia. Employed in a wide variety of rebuilding projects, they will continue to revitalize the economy and night life of Tbilisi.
7. Russia will endure a continuing downturn in its stock market and other shocks to its economy. This will limit the willingness of certain elements of its government to continue on with their ‘anti-social’ activities.
Grim Prediction For the Next Year:
1. The separatists provinces having been recognized as independent by Russian will ask to join the Russian Federation within 14 months, thereby completing their de facto annexation.
2. Russia will build large military bases in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, probably on the land of the Georgian villages they are in the middle of demolishing. International Peacekeepers will not be allowed to enter South Ossetia or Abkhazia, but Russians will maintain the fiction that their troops are Peacekeepers and some will continue to wear the blue helmet.
3. Slowly but inexorably Georgia will fade from world news and world consciousness. The American election will soon eclipse the news from this part of the world, and Russia will see little need to take actions that could change that equasion.
4. ‘Old’ Europe will continue to do nothing but talk softly and carry a small twig. They may rage and rant, but in the end they will do practically nothing. In this regard Putin can be considered to have perfectly presaged their non-committal non-reaction.
5. America will not rearm the Georgian Military as long as Russian troops remain in checkpoints near Poti. Therefore Russian troops will maintain their checkpoints outside Poti for at least 3-6 months (if not much longer).
6. Refugees will not be allowed to go home to their villages in South Ossetia, and will be live in large refugee tent cities near the border for months and years to come. Refuges will not be allowed to remain in the schools in Tbilisi so as to not create a crisis in the capital.
7. Russia will continue to give Passports to the Ethnic Russians living in the Crimea region of Ukraine. If Ukraine does not allow them to keep their Black Sea bases, they will start move against it the same way they moved against Georgia, and at some point may well end up annexing those territories after a short war Ukraine does not want and cannot win. (Note: Remember, Khrushchev gave Ukraine the Crimea in 1954 as a good will gesture, and most Russians still consider it their own.)
Mark Rein-Hagen is a writer based out of Tbilisi