The Georgian opposition Labor Party has strongly criticized the country’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, for sending soldiers to Afghanistan following the killing of a ninth soldier by Taliban militants.
“Georgia has long become a cannon fodder store for NATO and the United States,” party spokesman Kakha Dzagania told journalists on Tuesday.
Many NATO member countries have refused to send their troops to Afghanistan, he said, while President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia, seeking to join NATO, “does this to our children.”
By doing so, Dzagania said, the Georgian president is trying to “maintain [his] power.”
The Labor Party, which holds 6 out of 150 seats in the Georgian parliament, has urged NATO not to “make use of the tragedy of the Georgian people” and to reject Georgia’s participation in the military operation in Afghanistan.
Georgian Private Gia Goguadze, who had been serving in Afghanistan since 2010, died in a hospital after being seriously injured during an attack by Taliban militants in the volatile southern Helmand Province last week.
Goguadze became the ninth Georgian soldier to have been killed in Afghanistan since the country joined the international U.S.-led coalition fighting the Afghan insurgency in 2009.
More than 900 Georgian troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan, including some 750 in the Helmand Province and 175 in the capital, Kabul.
U.S. troops are scheduled to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan next month, followed by other contingents involved in the ISAF. Responsibility for security will be gradually handed over to Afghan military and security forces.