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Georgian Dream Takes On The 'Global War Party'

Georgian Dream leaders taking part in a rally in support of the "foreign agent" law in Tbilisi on April 29.
Georgian Dream leaders taking part in a rally in support of the "foreign agent" law in Tbilisi on April 29.

TBILISI -- On May 13, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze made a rather odd-sounding claim.

With thousands of Georgians out on the streets protesting the controversial "foreign agent" law, Kobakhidze said that $2 billion belonging to Bidzina Ivanishvili, the influential tycoon and founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party, had been effectively seized by the "global war party."

It was, the prime minister said, a de facto sanction and the reason Ivanishvili was refusing to meet with international partners, including James O'Brien, the visiting U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.

While it was unclear what exactly Kobakhidze was referring to (Credit Suisse was ordered in May 2023 to pay $926 million to Ivanishvili for failing to safeguard his assets), the "global war party" is a term increasingly used by Georgian Dream and its allies seemingly to shore up support through populist and conspiratorial rhetoric.

They have spoken of the "global war party" before. In January 2023, Kobakhidze accused it of launching a "second front" to "artificially create problems" for Tbilisi. Two months later, People's Power, a splinter party closely aligned with Georgian Dream, claimed in a written statement that the "global war party" operated throughout U.S. and European political structures and its "second front" was aimed against Russia and at involving Georgia in the Ukraine war.

The mysterious international party, according to statements from Georgian Dream politicians, bears significant responsibility for a range of issues that have plagued the country, including the 2008 Russia-Georgia War, the initial failure in 2022 to attain EU candidate status, and the United States' refusal to allow four Georgian judicial officials to enter the country in April 2023.

'Second Front'

Speaking at a pro-government rally in support of the "foreign agent" law in downtown Tbilisi on April 29, Ivanishvili said the "global war party" was trying to control the Georgian government through NGOs. It was now behaving aggressively, he said, because "despite its great efforts, it could not turn Georgia into a second front."

According to the proposed "foreign agent" legislation, which lawmakers approved in parliament on May 14 in its third and final reading, media outlets and NGOs would need to officially register as "advocating for the interests of a foreign power" if over 20 percent of their income originates from overseas sources. Those protesting the law fear it will be used to clamp down on free media and civil society.

It is hard to pin down what or whom Georgian Dream politicians mean by the "global war party." The amorphous term has been used as a dog whistle to castigate perceived opponents: at various times, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Council, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. State Department, the Georgian opposition United National Movement, and Swiss banks.

Prime Minister Kobakhidze once explicitly included U.S. news network CNN among its members. But at a May 13 press conference, he claimed he could not reveal the members of the "global war party" due to national security concerns. He said the term was not a reference to the European Union or the United States, and that, on the contrary, "the EU is one of the main victims."

Other political figures aligned with Georgian Dream, however, have said the "global war party" is a reference to U.S. power.

In May 2022, philosopher Zaza Shatirishvili, who is closely associated with Ivanishvili, spoke regularly to pro-government media, claiming that the "ruling power" intended to engage Georgia in a war to "isolate" Russia. The United States, he reasoned, was the only entity with sufficient resources to coordinate such a policy.

Illiberal governments have a habit of blaming shadowy, foreign adversaries for their country's ills.

Conspiracy Theories

Tengiz Pkhaladze, a senior researcher at the Brussels-based European Center for International Political Economy, told RFE/RL's Georgian Service that such claims were nothing more than conspiracy theories. The government, he said, used such theories to distract from real issues.

While the genesis of the term is unclear, it has similarities to other conspiracy theories and far-right narratives, for example the New World Order and The Great Reset, which promote the idea that unelected elites are plotting to destroy sovereign nations and install an authoritarian global government.

Such theories are often laced with anti-Semitism and target powerful Jews such as billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros and the Rothschild banking dynasty.

Many Georgians and foreign observers remain bemused by the term, with some jokingly asking: If the "global war party" is so powerful, why can't it achieve its goals in Georgia?

In a speech outside Georgia's parliament on May 15, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said "the only war party is in Moscow."

"This is the party that attacked Georgia in 2008. This is the party that attacked Ukraine in 2014 and is currently waging a war against Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Landsbergis said.

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