It has begun. The Second South Ossetia War has started between Georgia against South Ossetia and its ally Russia. Oddly, everyone thought multi-ethnic South Ossetia was pretty quiet compared to ethnically cleansed, war wanting Abkhazia.
Trouble has been brewing since earlier this month. Sniper fire killed and wounded dozens of Georgians and Ossteians since August first. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili announced a cease fire but events on the seventh which left one Georgian BMP-2 destroyed and up to twenty-two Osstenians dead and made the cease fire worthless. (See Zone of Control map before conflict)
Saakashvili ordered Georgia to go in and go in hard. My personal assessment is Saakashvili knew Georgia's forces at the border could take the South Ossetia capital of Tskhinvali from the rebels and their backers, the Russian peace keepers. Saakashvili then probably hoped for a cease fire with the capital in Georgian hands. This would leave the rebels with a few holdings in hilly farmland country but little more.
It was a good plan. Expect for the fact Russia is not about to lose their clients and suffer at the same time. Around a dozen or so Russians were killed in the opening hours. Russia then responded by pouring in troops to retake Tskinvali and possibly destroy the Georgian-backed Provisional Administrative Entity of South Ossetia. Russia also began shelling military positions in Georgia proper along with aerial attacks of Georgian airfields. Al Jezzerah reported Georgia shot down five Russian jets in the fighting though not much anti-aircraft resistence is now available.
Georgia announced its intention to remove 1,000 soliders in Iraq to fight against Russia but it may be too little too late. Russia meanwhile is having a field day showing press videos of T-80 tanks against Georgian light infantry. The United Nations of course does nothing.
This is a nightmare. Besides the fact war is horrible, this will set all sorts of new boundaries in the Russia versus the West Geopolitical War. If Russia can save South Ossetia and take them away from Georgia then might makes right. It also serves as a warning to those who wish to join NATO. The message would be "Russia can take away pieces of your territory." It could also justify a more Eurasian Serbian government's forceful attempt to take back ethnic Serbian parts of Kosovo.
Geogrian President Saakashvili is not perfect. However, he is very pro-West, anti-terrorism, and pushes democratic reforms so his country may one day join the Europen Union and NATO. If Georgia, a Eurasian country that turned into a European one, fails; then democrats the world over will begin to wonder if the West truely supports them when the going gets rough.