A Larger Motive? Why Did Israel risk so much for Georgia?

On the face of it, it is puzzling that the Israeli Defense Ministry would go so far out on a limb as to heavily arm a tiny country with little value as an ally for Israeli, while risking provoking Russia, a country that could do it immense harm. Was it the chance for big money in arms sales? Was it the undue influence in the Defense Ministry by people either with Georgian connections, or the opportunity to profit?

It has also been suggested that in return for Israeli assistance, that Georgia might have been willing to provide airbases useful to Israel should it decide to attack Iran. Since Georgia is near Iran, with only western friendly Armenia intervening, there would be little problem of diplomatic problems being caused by overflights.

However during the conflict between Russian and Georgia, these airfields were severely damaged, along with infrastructure. As well, Israeli drones and their communication and control equipment were captured. The act which precipitated the Russian move was Georgian drones, (supplied by an Israeli company and operated by Israelis) which overflew Russian controlled territory. But these drones also overflew Iranian territory.

Most of the Israeli military and intelligence staff working in Georgia were reservists working for Global CST, a company owned by former IDF Brigadier General Israel Ziv, and Defense Shield,  owned by former IDF Brigadier General Gal Hirsch. Why were such high ranking former Israeli military staff working in Georgia? Was it just for the money? Or were they part of a larger Israeli enterprise to secure Georgian facilities for an attack on Iran? Quite likely the Russians believed that the presence of these individuals signalled the covert intentions of Israel and the US. (Much of this information comes from an article by Brian Haring, 17 August, 2008, although some of the interpretations are mine).

The same article suggest that an irate CIA employee, complaining of excessive Israeli influence in the agency, passed on information relating to the presence of Israeli operatives in Georgia to the Russians, and seems to imply that this encouraged the Russians to destroy Georgian facilities, thereby heading off a strike on Iran by Israel.

It is also clear that Georgian and Israeli interests are linked because Israel gets a large amount of oil from Azerbajan, via a pipeline through Georgia. Israel would like to have the opportunity to acquire more oil and reexport to regions beyond. (reference)

More info, Time Magazine article,

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