An anonymous email received by several opposition lawmakers has warned that “hasty” deployment of additional Georgian troops to Iraq may trigger negative consequences for the soldiers.
Georgia plans to increase its presence in Iraq from the current 850 to 2,000 servicemen. The additional troops will be deployed this summer in the province of Wasit to patrol the city of Al Kut, which is 185 kilometers south-east of Baghdad, and the border with Iran.
The anonymous authors of the email, who claim to be Georgian soldiers in Iraq, have outlined several recommendations and requested that the authorities consider them before further deployments to Iraq.
The email reads that the new deployment should be postponed from summer to autumn, citing the need for an adaptation period rather than immediately facing into summer temperatures of 65 degree celcius. The email also says that because the term of deployment will be increased from six months to one year, short-term leave will be required for soldiers. It also calls for an increase in salaries for servicemen as operational tasks are now changing and becoming more dangerous.
“Not a single fact - except of the fact that it is hot weather in Iraq - mentioned in the letter is true,” Davit Kezerashvili, the Georgian Defense Minister said on June 4.
“This letter is written by a person who is not informed about developments in Iraq,” Batu Kutelia, Deputy Defense Minister said.
Lawmakers from the ruling majority, and even some opposition MPs, have dismissed the email.
“I rule out that this has been sent by our soldiers from Iraq; someone either is trying to make fun or discredit Georgia’s contribution to operations in Iraq,” MP Pikria Chikhradze of the opposition New Rights party said on June 4.
“We are not going to discuss this kind of issue based on anonymous letters. The welfare of our soldiers is always high on our agenda,” MP Davit Bakradze of the ruling party said on June 4.
“We can not consider this letter as serious,” MP Nika Rurua, Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Defense and Security said on June 4.
However, Davit Berdzenishvili, a lawmaker from the opposition Republican Party, said “it does not matter who has sent this email.”
“Questions and issues raised in the email are what matter most,” he said.
This latest email follows an earlier anonymous email received by several lawmakers last month, which claimed to have been sent by an insurgent group, Islamic Army in Iraq, warning the Georgian authorities not to sent additional troops.
That email was also dismissed by some lawmakers as “a joke,” while others alleged that it could have been part of a “Russian-masterminded” campaign aimed at preparing public opinion against Georgia’s contribution to coalition forces in Iraq.