Teuta Arifi, one of most capable and smartest politicians in The Republic of Macedonia. The paradox: can she be both a feminist and an ethnic Albanian nationalist? photo: GOM.
DOESN'T TEUTA ARIFI 'BELONG' IN SDSM?
by Sasha Uzunov
A fascinating and intriguing aspect of politics in the Balkans, namely The Republic of Macedonia, is the paradox: you have a coalition government consisting of a Macedonian nationalist party, VMRO-DPMNE and an ethnic Albanian nationalist party, DUI, both of whom were fighting each other in the 2001 conflict.
Another glaring paradox is DUI's Vice-President Teuta Arifi, one of Macedonia's most talented and skilled politicians. The question is: is she in the right party? Ideologically doesn't she belong to the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) Party? She is a feminist who has embraced Albanian nationalism--two highly contradictory ideologies.
However, we have to point out that that founder of DUI, Ali Ahmeti, launched the ethnic Albanian uprising in 2001 in order to get a piece of the political action in Macedonia but wrapped it up and packaged it for Western consumption as a "cry for civil rights" and in doing so muscled into the political turf of the already established Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), now run by Menduh Thaci.
Ahmeti has been smart in having Arifi as one of his chief lieutenants. She was at one time a Deputy Prime Minister of Macedonia but she was moved into the mayorship of the Western Macedonian city of Tetovo, the power base of ethnic Albanian nationalism.
As we have explained before, see link
POLITICAL CHESS - AHMETI'S TEUTA IN TETOVO MOVE - CHECKMATE FOR THACI ?
Ahmeti has moved the very capable Teuta Arifi out of the Macedonian coalition government and into the mayorship of western Macedonia town of Tetovo, the power base of Albanian nationalism in Macedonia. This sends two signals: one it tells the West of Ahmeti's "enlightened" view of women in a predominately conservative Albanian society and at the same time making Thaci look weak in front of a predominately conservative male dominated society by having a woman run Tetovo. An incredible and breath-taking political move.
DUI's constituency, electorate or audience is predominately socially conservative Sunni Muslim Albanian nationalist and traditionally moderate in its Islam compared to the Wahabists.. This is where it gets tricky for Ahmeti but he manages the great balancing act—he does not alienate Western Liberals but at the same time he does not scare the Imams. In all honesty, the Imams would not be too happy with the Western Liberal agenda of feminism and gay rights. But the Western media has largely ignored taking a closer look at DUI on this. So far the more radical Islamists outside DUI and DPA have largely remained silent on the issue as well. Many in the Macedonian media mistakenly believe Ahmeti and Thaci are Islamists. They are not. They speak to an Albanian nationalist audience. The very capable late Ibrahim Rugova, the one President of Kosovo, was an Albanian nationalist and secularist, as is the former Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku.
FEMINISM VERSUS NATIONALISM - can Teuta Arifi be both a feminist and an ethnic Albanian nationalist ?
Iranian feminist scholar Valentine M. Moghadam in her book, Gender and National Identity: Women and Politics in Muslim Societies," makes the following point:
"In all these, and the other Asian cases, feminism and nationalism were complementary, compatible, and solidaristic. This has clearly changed. Today, feminists …and nationalists view each other with suspicion if not hostility…."
The hostility, according to Moghadam, comes from women being perceived as mothers and providers of children for the nationalist cause.
Further, if you have studied the canon of modern feminism from Simone Beauvoir to Germaine Greer to Sheila Jeffreys, you are reminded of "evil patriarchy"…the system of male dominated rule over women, which would include nationalism.
Before going into politics Teuta Arifi made her name as a feminist scholar in Macedonia. If you read her resume, available on this link, you will see her list of achievements and so forth. In all honesty a very impressive academic background.
Critics would say and in particular Western Liberals and US diplomats in Macedonia who have fallen under Ahmeti's spell, that DUI is not an ethnic Albanian nationalist party but a party defending the interests of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia at the hands of those "evil nasty soft, weak, over-educated Slav-Macedonians."
But sometimes the most obvious of signs tells you what an individual or party really thinks. Congressmen and Senators in the United States of Italian ancestry use the American flag, the stars and stripes, at their political rallies. The legendary Greek Socialist Left faction of the Australian Labor party (ALP) uses the Australian flag. DUI at its political rallies uses the flag of a foreign state, the Republic of Albania, and rarely do you see the official state flag of The Republic of Macedonia.
Ahmeti has told his coalition partner, the Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, that the days of a Macedonian only Macedonia are over and that Macedonia has to be inclusive of others. Fine words. But then Ahmeti contradicts himself by flying a flag from a foreign state and by "importing" political "helpers" from a foreign state, Kosovo.
Moreover, by using tough guys from Kosovo to intimidate opponents, namely other ethnic Albanians in Macedonia, it is a form of patriarchy…the use of male violence against other males and females. It is classic text-book patriarchy. Arifi is DUI's Vice President and this behaviour contradicts her feminist principles.
Another example is
"Arifi has shown she can be tough as steel but subtle as well. In an excellent Good Cop/Bad Cop routine she warned the US Ambassador on 2 February 2007:
"that DUI cadres are becoming "more militant" as they perceive the FWA [Ohrid Framework Agreement] is under attack, but she ruled out any resort to violent action as a political tactic."
from a previous article: link
KOSOVO TOUGH GUYS ? link here
So you are now getting an idea of Ahmeti's train of thought. But he has a double-track strategy: playing the victim of “nasty Slav-Macedonians” in front of Western liberals but then importing foreign thugs from Kosovo for the 2006 Macedonian elections. A US embassy cable spells this out: see link for document
May 12, 2006
“Anecdotal evidence indicates that DUI and DPA, despite
their protestations to the contrary, have imported K-Albanian
"muscle" to assist them in the elections. Such K-Albanian
involvement could lead to electoral fraud and violence,
damaging Macedonia's democratic system and near-term
prospects for NATO membership. It would be useful if local
authorities in Tirana and Pristina strongly urged K-Albanian
political parties to avoid providing such "reinforcements" to
their eAlbanian counterparts in Macedonia, and to recall
those already here."
This revelation raises the question, why does DUI and DPA, need to bring in foreigners to help in the election campaign if they have such supposed strong support from the local ethnic Albanian community?
Perhaps it suggests there is a large body of moderate ethnic Albanians in Western Macedonia--predominately Sunni Muslim and socially conservative--who do not necessarily agree with Ahmeti's methods or goal.
The goal of most in the Albanian nationalist political bloc is a Greater Albania or the federalisation of Macedonia, which would spell the end of the country. It would simply be ignoring the elephant in the room.
ARIFI IN SDSM?
As a politician who gets paid by the Macedonian taxpayer, Arifi has an obligation to spell out her actual political beliefs and platform. The same goes for Macedonia's Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Ali Ahmeti, and Zoran Zaev, the leader of the opposition party, SDSM.
If Arifi is a feminist doesn't she belong in SDSM, not DUI? Zaev has loudly beaten his chest in his attempt to win over the ethnic Albanian vote by declaring his party had renounced "patriotism:" see link
"Answering a journalist question in Alsat M TV show whether the policy of patriotism proved fatal for SDSM, new party leader Zoran Zaev qualified such policy as mistake. “We tried several times to impose the policy of patriotism as a party which does not befit such a policy. And this is where we lost in absolute terms. It is honourable to admit this so we can seek another chance and not repeat these mistakes in the future. The people do not expect from us to play patriots. We are a stately party. We are a party which served as a model for the multi-ethnic cohabitation, we are the party that laid the solid foundations of our country,” emphasised Zaev. Among the wrong policies of patriotism he mentioned the support to the law on defenders and the coalitions with VMRO-DPMNE in Struga and Kicevo."
In essence what Zaev is saying is that his party is giving up on maintaining its Macedonian identity and gone for a European Union Nanny State salad bar of multiculturalism, in order to make the Albanians feel more "inclusive."
If that is the case, and Arifi has packaged herself as a feminist to the Liberal West, then she should leave DUI and join SDSM. But you know this won't happen !
ANTI-ALBANIAN NATIONALISM BUT IT WON'T COME FROM…THE MACEDONIANS ?
The Islamists in Macedonia are working in the space created by the 2001 conflict which was started by Ahmeti. The long term danger to DUI and DPA comes from radical Islamists trying to subvert the parties. If elements within DUI or DPA were trying to exploit these radicals for their own political ends, then it is playing with fire. The radical Islamists are both anti-Albanian nationalist as well as anti-Macedonian nationalist. Their goal, as outlined in Chris Deliso's book The Coming Balkan Caliphate, is a fundamentalist pan-Islamic entity. The concept of a Greater Albania, which would include Albania, Kosovo and Western Macedonia, is doomed to fail just as Slobodan Milosevic's Greater Serbia. If a Greater Albanian ever eventuated it would be taken over by outside forces, which would not be too friendly to women such as Teuta Arifi.