Saturday, August 17, 2013



by Sasha Uzunov

As Macedonia's coalition government, a contradictory and strange concoction of Macedonian nationalist party VMRO-DMPNE and Albanian nationalist party DUI, keeps denying that its territory is being used by Al Qaeda pro-Syrian rebels for recruitment and training, the United States is poised to launch missile strikes aimed at Bashir al-Assad's regime in Syria, namely its "weapons of mass destruction." The dilemma of the Syrian civil war is that neither side is pro-American or pro-Western in its ideology or outlook, forcing many pundits to conclude that this is a war for the Syrians to sort out themselves. The ramification of the US strike will be felt in other parts of the world, namely the Balkans region of Southern Europe, and in particular Macedonia. But it will not be positive.

In effect it will give an in-direct green light to those fringe extremists within the Albanian nationalist bloc who have been supporting Al Qaeda operatives in Macedonia. It will also put Macedonia on a collision course with Russia, one of Assad's supporters.

RUSSIA IN "DIS-PUTIN" WITH MACEDONIA - Syrian civil war could spill over into the Balkans?

Russia's President Vladimir Putin meeting with Alpha Group, the counter-terrorism unit within his country's internal intelligence agency the Federal Security Service (FSB). Putin, despite his critics ranging from domestic opponents, feminists, musicians, gay groups, western politicians, means business when it comes to maintaining Russian strength in an unstable geo-political environment. Photo source: wikipedia.

RUSSIA IN "DIS-PUTIN" WITH MACEDONIA - Syrian civil war could spill over into the Balkans?
US blowback to blame?
Is Ahmeti playing Russian Roulette?

by Sasha Uzunov

When it comes to reacting to terrorism the Russians have a record of being straight-shooters and simply cutting to the chase, if you pardon the puns. So when Moscow recently issued a warning to The Republic of Macedonia, a small nation in the Balkans region of Southern Europe, to get its house in order and stop harbouring pro-Al Qaeda Islamic terrorists, then it had better take that warning seriously--even though it is not to blame--and it is all connected to the civil war in Syria.

So why are the Russians in "dispute" with Macedonia? First, we need to clarify a few things. The warning is not directed at The Republic of Macedonia as such or the predominately ethnic Macedonian Orthodox Christian population, but at the ethnic Albanian Sunni Muslim extremists within the large ethnic Albanian minority, which forms about 20 to 25% of Macedonia's population and situated in the West along the border with Albania and Kosovo in the North-West.

Some of these extremists have found their way from Macedonia to Syria to fight on the side of the anti-Assad rebels who are aligned with Al Qaeda. One was recently killed in combat. Russia supports Syria's President Bashir al-Assad, an Alawi Muslim, who has backing from Shiite Iran.

So Russia's warning to Macedonia must be seen in this context. However, the Macedonian government, a strange coalition consisting of a Macedonian nationalist party VMRO-DPMNE and an ethnic Albanian nationalist party, DUI, deny the existence of any terrorists camps in Macedonia.


Moreover, an Islamic civil war may even erupt in the Balkans between Al Qaeda Wahhabists and pro-Iranian Shiites. 

All of this originates from the time of the Yugoslav Wars in the early 1990s. Experts such as author Chris Deliso, in his book The Coming Balkan Caliphate, blame the US administrations of Clinton and Bush II for permitting Al Qaeda to set up shop in Bosnia and open franchises in Kosovo and Western Macedonia in the lead up to the 9/11. 

Iran, not wanting to be outdone by its Sunni Wahhabist rivals, also sent "volunteers" and intelligence operatives into Bosnia in the fight against the Serbs. American intelligence expert Dr John Schindler revealed that until recently, and after extensive pressure from the West, Iranian intelligence operatives were forced to leave Bosnia.


Therefore, it is not a stretch of the imagination to assume that Iranian or even Russian intelligence or a third party acting as freelance could attack these Al Qaeda training camps in Western Macedonia, assuming they exist at all, to stop the flow of recruits to the anti-Assad forces in Syria.


Russian President Vladimir Putin is a former Soviet Intelligence officer with the KGB, and reached the rank of Colonel. He spent most of his foreign service in the then East Germany. When both communism and the Soviet Union fell apart, one of the major the successor states to emerge, the Russian Federation transformed the KGB into the domestic intelligence service the FSB (Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsii - Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) and the external counterpart, SVR (Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki - Foreign Intelligence Service).

Putin for a short period of time was the Director of the FSB in 1998-99 before becoming Prime Minister and later President. His reign has been marked with Russia flexing its military and political muscle on both the domestic and international stage, after the period of decline under President Boris Yeltsin. 

In 1985 a militant Islamic group in civil war torn Lebanon had taken four Soviet diplomats hostage. One was later killed. The KGB kidnapped a relative of a member of the Islamist group and then mailed his body parts, including his genitals, back to the group. Quick smart the 3 remaining Soviet diplomats were released. At the same time, a CIA officer William Buckley was kidnapped and tortured to death by Hezbollah, a group with links to Iran. 

The FSB has taken the same no nonsense approach as the KGB with its shoot first, ask questions later method of counter-terrorism. In the 2002 Moscow Theatre Hostage crisis and the 2004 Beslan school massacre, the FSB's Alpha Group went in all guns a blazing against Chechen Islamic fundamentalists. 

In August 2008  during the Beijing Olympics the Russian Army invaded neighbouring Georgia, a then potential member of NATO, in a limited war and with the West namely the United States, Georgia's new ally, left unable to react.


Chris Deliso writes

"In Macedonia’s brief war of 2001, directly abetted by Kosovo-based Albanian paramilitaries, the West again broadly if more quietly favored the rebels, who resorted to fundraising amongst foreign Islamist institutions and whose numbers also included a small number of veteran mujahedin. And the Western powers also allowed fundraising and personnel transfer sponsored by the Islamic world to be channeled through diaspora and charity networks in Germany, the US and Britain." (end quote)

But the Euro-cool guys and gals in reality are secretly turned on by Albanian Alpha Males, tough guys and terrorists or "romantic rebels" such as Ali Ahmeti, the former Commander of the National Liberation Army (NLA) and now political king maker in Macedonia's parliament.

Ahmeti clearly understands this. He managed to package his ethnic Albanian uprising against the Macedonian state in 2001 as a "cry for civil rights" successfully winning over the West. By doing so he became a major political player and gaining a slice of the action, in which he missed out in Kosovo in the 1999 War backed by NATO and in the process putting rival ethnic Albanian party in Macedonia, DPA's nose out of joint. 

Macedonia had cooperated with NATO during the Kosovo War and took in many Kosovar Albanian refugees but later was "rewarded" with the 2001 war.

Conservative Canadian thinker Mark Steyn in his book "After America - Get ready for Armageddon,” identified this phenomenon--the West's penchant for bad boys:

"There is a moral frivolity to the…generalised concerns for "the planet." But it quickly advances to the next stage--a moral decadence that expresses itself by venerating those who will gladly kill them when they have served their purpose as useful idiots."

Early in the 2001 war NATO-Secretary General Lord George Roberston called Ahmeti's NLA murderous thugs but later changed his tune.

In a 2001 interview with British academic and journalist Timothy Garton Ash, Ahmeti spelt out his course of action:

"Summarising what he told me, I would say that the now forty-two-year-old Ahmeti drew two main conclusions from the Kosovo war. First, you could win more by a few months of armed struggle than Albanian politicians had achieved in nearly a decade of peaceful politics. As in Kosovo, so in Macedonia. Second, that you could do this only if you got the West involved. That was the great tactical goal—and the great unknown. He told me that when the insurgency took off in February, “I knew that without the help of the West we couldn’t win. But we didn’t know how much they would help….” So he had to do everything possible to bring the West in. That meant being deliberately restrained in both their goals and their methods. This was Albanian Macedonia’s chance. This was Ali Ahmeti’s chance."

As a clever bush lawyer, Ahmeti was preparing his defence in advance, should he be called to face charges of terrorism or war crimes. As he explained to Ash:

“After a few minutes of preliminary conversation, I told Ahmeti that there was much discussion since September 11 [2001 attack on New York] about terrorism and that “some people would say you are a terrorist.” How would he answer them?

"As my question was translated, his bodyguards shifted slightly in their seats. Ahmeti replied calmly and quietly. I expected him to say words to the effect “No, I’m a freedom fighter,” but his response was more thoughtful. “That person cannot be a terrorist,” he said, “who wears an army badge, who has an objective for which he is fighting, who respects the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Tribunal, who acts in public with name and surname, and answers for everything he does…. Someone who is aiming for good reforms and democracy in the country—and that people should be equal before the law.”

Danish academic Anne Marie Dinesen took a more sceptical view of Ahmeti's motivation, highlighting the ethnic Albanians, who form about 20 to 25% of the population in the Republic of Macedonia, already had their rights protected by the Macedonian Constitution as approved by the European Union a decade before the Albanian insurgency erupted and more importantly Albanian parties since independence in 1991 from Yugoslavia had been members of successive Macedonian coalition governments.

Ethnic Macedonians form 65% to 70% of the population of the Republic of Macedonia and are predominately Orthodox Christian.

But to end the 2001 Albanian insurgency, the EU and NATO strong-armed the then Macedonian government and President Boris Trajkovski into signing the Ohrid Framework Agreement and permit Ahmeti to enter the Macedonian parliament with his own party, DUI (BDS) – Party for European Integration. DUI is a coalition partner in the current Macedonian government with nationalist VMRO-DPMNE. Paradoxically, VMRO-DPMNE was ruling government partner in coalition with DPA at the time of the 2001 War.

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.

In one of the wikileaks documents dated 11 December 2008, Ahmeti's lieutenants Abdulkadir Memedi was appointed the Secretary of Macedonian Foreign Affairs in 2008. In his powerful position he offered on behalf of the United States to combat “Islamic fundamentalism” in Macedonia if the country was turned into a federation, which in effect would mean the end of Macedonia. It would actually suit Islamic fundamentalists to have Macedonia carved up into a federation.

see link for document

Memedi told the US Ambassador:

"...own projects in MFA, chief among them building a cadre of ethnic Albanian diplomats and ensuring money from, the Middle East does not reach any radical Islamists in Macedonia. Memedi believes only a "federal" system of government where e-Albanian consent would be required on all major policy decisions is the way to avoid ethnic confrontation... future."

"The November 2007 Macedonian police operation in a mountain village near the Kosovo border, which seized weaponry sufficient for 650 soldiers; the Kosovo-based Albanian paramilitary group targeted included a Wahhabi sympathizer who had been part of a foreign-sponsored plot to violently overthrow Macedonia’s Islamic leadership two years earlier." (end of quote).


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 be ignoring the elephant in the room. But in trying to achieve that objective, it could unleash forces that could take over the movement and spell disaster for both Albanians and Macedonians.


Thinking strategically about Syria
August 27, 2013

Dr John Schindler - The XX Committee

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