The Rose Has Thorns

DAVID MDZINARISHVILI/REUTERS

FLOWER POWER Saakashvili works the crowd after talks with Abashidze

When Mikheil Saakashvili led Georgia's bloodless "revolution of the roses" to oust Eduard Shevardnadze as President in November, he demonstrated formidable political skills: an ability to excite a crowd, a flair for clandestine organization, a taste for brinkmanship. Now President Saakashvili is using those skills to try and bring Ajaria — one of three breakaway regions — back into the fold.

An economically important Black Sea region, Ajaria is run by Aslan Abashidze, a tough, rich autocrat Saakashvili has called a "feudal chief." When the President turned up on Ajaria's borders, ostensibly to campaign for allies running in...

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