Training Syrian Opposition in Georgia Inefficient Against IS

The possible creation of a training camp for Syrian opposition fighters in the former Soviet republic of Georgia is inefficient for the fight against the Islamic State (IS), Lionel Beehner, Ph.D. candidate in political science at Yale University, has told RIA Novosti.

WASHINGTON, October 7 (RIA Novosti) — The possible creation of a training camp for Syrian opposition fighters in the former Soviet republic of Georgia is inefficient for the fight against the Islamic State (IS), Lionel Beehner, Ph.D. candidate in political science at Yale University, has told RIA Novosti.

“It is hard to imagine the Georgians training thousands of Syrian fighters. Most of the training and cooperation will be done clandestinely, given the regional sensitivities and the real threat of ISIS [IS] seeping into the Caucasus … if they are pushed out of northern Syria and Iraq,” Beehner said on Monday.

The expert argued that the Pentagon wants to emphasize that the anti-terror coalition is “not just a core group of NATO members, but includes a healthy dose of Arab countries and other allies like Georgia,” which is “eager to appear in the good graces of the international community from a PR, but also from a security perspective, despite its NATO aspirations essentially being deep-sixed.”

The offer to host a training camp was reportedly made by Georgian officials during a closed-door meeting with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on his visit to Georgia's capital Tbilisi in early September.

An article in the Foreign Policy, published in September, cited Georgia’s US Ambassador Archil Gegeshidze as saying the training camp was “something we offered, but is still under consideration.”

The potential scale of the Georgia-based training program remains unclear, but, if accepted, the offer could supplement Washington's existing plan to train 5,000 Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia in the next year to fight against the IS militants in Iraq and Syria, according to the magazine.

In June, the IS jihadist group proclaimed a caliphate on the controlled areas across Iraq and Syria. Following the insurgents’ advance, Washington launched anti-IS airstrikes on the Iraqi territory in August, extending them to Syria the following month.

The strategy of fighting terrorism in the Middle East, outlined by US President Barack Obama, particularly involves the participation of a broad US-led coalition and providing support and training for Syrian “moderate” anti-government fighters.

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