"Albanians wage war of race hate"

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Sun Feb 25 08:04:49 MST 2001


[Isn't it interesting how the liberal British press has just discovered
that the KLA was infested with xenophobia and irredentism, bordering on
fascism.]

Albanians wage war of race hate

Peter Beaumont reports from the mountains on the Kosovo border where former
KLA guerrillas have ignited a new flashpoint

Peter Beaumont Sunday February 25, 2001 The Observer

In the mountains on an uneasy border a new fire is smouldering in the
Balkans. If it gets out of hand, it will grow into a full-scale insurgency
casting the ethnic Albanians, once victims, as aggressors.

Last week a standoff between troops and guerrillas in Macedonia came to an
abrupt end when a television crew were held by a dozen or so gunmen in the
Macedonian village of Tanusevci.

Snezana Lupevska, a Macedonian TV journalist, spoke of her ordeal to The
Observer last week. She and her crew were interrogated and robbed by the
men, some in uniform and some wearing the badges of the Kosovo Liberation
Army.

The crew had gone to the village, where almost a third of the population is
Albanian, to check reports that former ethnic Albanian fighters from Kosovo
were training for attacks in Macedonia. What they found was that ethnic
Albanian fighters not only controlled the village, but had been locked in a
stand-off with Macedonian police and army units for six weeks.

The news team's visit ended all that. In the four hours that followed their
release, the army exchanged fire with the guerrillas around the village.
Muzafer Xhaferi, a 22-year-old ethnic Albanian, was killed. The Macedonians
say he was among gunmen shooting from the woods. His father says he was
shot in the back, an innocent civilian.

Yesterday the conflict escalated. Xhavier Xhaferi, a cousin of the dead
man, came down the mountain on the Kosovo side of the border with his four
children and his elderly mother. He said: 'It's almost war up there. The
Macedonian army won't allow us into Macedonia. It's winter. We don't know
where to go because we don't have any documents. The police up there are
just playing with us.'

The incident at Tanusevci has particularly alarmed observers because it
happened not in the mountains of Kosovo or in the Presevo Valley in
neighbouring southern Serbia, the scene of recent fighting between Kosovar
secessionists and Serbian police. Instead, it took place 15 miles north of
Skopje, the capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a country
which has until now remained largely immune to Kosovo's instability.

But by last week a sense of growing crisis had emerged. Macedonian and
Serbian Ministers discussed joint military interventions to drive the
guerrillas out. It is a strategy some diplomats and officials believe the
K-For peacekeepers in Kosovo may be forced to accept. If they do not, they
face the risk of a wider and more dangerous conflict.

There is little dispute about who is to blame. Serbs, Macedonians, senior
civilians and military officials in the international community - even some
ethnic Albanian politicians in Macedonia - point the finger at extremist
former fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army, who were saved by Nato's
intervention from annihilation by the Serb police and Yugoslav army.

Some observers believe they are determined to build a 'greater Kosovo',
linking ethnic Albanian communities in Macedonia, Montene gro and southern
Serbia. Those ethnic Albanian leaders who are prepared to discuss the
crisis blame disaffected and alienated former fighters working without a
coherent political agenda and seeking an outlet for their frustrations.

But some analysts link events in Macedonia and the Presevo Valley to a
recent upsurge in violence against Serbs in Kosovo. The most serious
incident, nine days ago, saw 11 Serbs murdered and dozens wounded in a bus
bombing.

'We have known there have been men in uniforms operating in our border
villages for over a month and a half,' says one senior Interior Ministry
source in Macedonia.

'We have confirmed intelligence reports from both Serbia and Macedonia of
the creation of a new group, using the initials UCK, that is call ing
itself the National Liberation Army.'

The senior official is acutely aware of the recent history of armed ethnic
Albanian groups operating in the region's mountains and of how quickly they
can grow from a handful of men into large-scale insurgencies.

He knows too that joint Serbian-Macedonian action to push them out carries
its own dangers. 'It is a serious dilemma. If we leave them there, we run
the risk of the situation escalating. If we move against them, we risk
inflaming Albanian opinion here and threatening the stability of Macedonia
itself.'

Macedonian sources say they have identified those organising incursions
into Macedonian Serbia. They name the former KLA commander and leader of
the Alliance for Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj, whom international officials
accuse of orchestrating the violence in the Presevo Valley. They say the
groups in southern Serbia and Macedonia are financed by the international
Homeland Calling Fund. It taxed Kosovar Albanians abroad to pay for the war
in Kosovo against the Serbs.

There are at least three training camps in Nato's five-kilometre buffer
zone bordering Kosovo and southern Serbia. A recent visit by The Observer
to a camp near Zegra revealed how the young fighters training there had
been radicalised. One fighter said: 'You have your job to do. We have ours:
here in Presevo, in Kosovo, in Montenegro and in other places.' The 'other
places' feed the Macedonian Ministry of Defence's anxieties. It told The
Observer that it had monitored five or six large groups of armed men
crossing the border into Macedonia last week alone.

The veteran leader of Macedonia's Albanian Democratic Party, Arben Xhaferi,
says: 'The situation is bad enough in Macedonia without these kind of
provocations.' He denies there is a coherent political plan for a 'greater
Kosovo'. He adds: 'It is not in our interests to go against Europe and
America.'

Louis Proyect
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