The recent death of Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania is a loss for the country. Hopefully, his friend and the current president Saakashvili will do a good job of continuing his reform against corruption and navigating the difficult tensions in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. He is quoted as saying:
"With Zurab Zhvania, Georgia has lost a great patriot who had dedicated his entire life to serve his country. Zurab's death is a hard blow to Georgia and to me personally. I lost my closest friend, who was also my most trusted adviser and ally."
Why does Georgia matter to the average American or European? Georgia has two breakaway regions within the state: South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Abkhazia has been used as a base of operations for "rebels" in Chechnya. This is troubling due to the large number of key Al-Qaeda terrorists that have fought against Russian forces and are experienced in insurgency. Georgia's inability to control Al-Qaeda in its own borders prompted the US military to send 200 special forces to assist the government in 2002.
States that cannot adequately control their interior become prime areas for Al-Qaeda terrorists to set up shop and plan attacks against the US. Pre 2002 Afghanistan, Chad and Somalia are examples of completely failed states that gave direct or tacit support to terrorists.
Fighting the global war on terror requires constant vigilance in parts of the globe that many Americans cannot readily locate on a map. Georgia is a critical and important partner in the battle. Having a pro-democratic government that is supportive of the US effort to combat terrorism is important to our security.
UPDATE: I still have not found any evidence to suggest Prime Minister Zhvania's death was the result of foul play. Will keep you posted.