So, who was the "high-profile" American that Abdulmalak Rigi, the leader of the Sunni Muslim militant group Jundullah, was on his way to meet in Kyrgyzstan? None other than Richard Holbrooke, says official Iranian media.
Except, Rigi was arrested en route to Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday, when Holbrooke was long gone from Kyrgyzstan, in Berlin, already having stopped in Tbilisi.
And anyway, as plausible as it may be that the U.S. is supporting Jundullah, would it really be Holbrooke who is behind it? Unlikely.
There are a lot of good details on the developing military situation in Abkhazia in the new International Crisis Group report, "Abkhazia: Deepening Dependence." Perhaps most notable is the steep decline in Georgian defense spending:
Russian officials have given various figures, from 1,700 to 3,700, for their troop numbers in Abkhazia. In the absence of international monitors on the ground, Western military analysts with access to satellite imagery estimate that between 4,000 and 5,000 Russian security personnel are there, including coast guard units, “border” forces and regular troops.
If Abkhazian officials harbour any reservations about the Russian presence, they do not show it. A high-ranking official told Crisis Group that Russian troops would not leave Abkhazia “even if Georgia recognised Abkhazia as an independent state. Russia is our guarantee of security”.
The number of Russians in high military and security positions in Abkhazia, according to official Abkhazian sources, seems not to have changed since 2008. They are also far less than in South Ossetia, where many Russian military or business figures with no previous ties to that region have held key posts in the past several years, including prime minister, defence minister and other top security positions.
This is what Iran is claiming. On Tuesday, Abdulmalak Rigi, the leader of the Sunni Muslim militant group Jundullah, which has been fighting Iran for years, was arrested by Iranian authorities.
There were conflicting stories about the circumstances of Rigi's arrest, but one was that he was en route from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan for a meeting with a "high-ranking American" at Manas Transit Center, where they were to discuss American support, including a base in Afghanistan near the Iranian border, weapons and training. And this is what he said in his televised confession on Friday:
“They told me that they have a base in Kyrgyzstan named Manas, near Bishkek. And that a high-ranking person was coming to meet me and when such high-ranking people come, Emirates intelligence would take them under observation. But in Bishkek, this high-ranking American person could come and we could reach agreement on making the proper contacts."