– Analysis & Comment: Sasha Uzunov, Editor, Alternate Comms
If you are a Ukrainian, Russian, Palestinian Arab or Israeli Jew or Chinese or just an international onlooker you could be excused for thinking that the world is fast approaching nuclear armageddon. There are now two major conflicts that have erupted – one in Eastern Europe between Russia and Ukraine in early 2022, the other in the Middle East involving Israel and Palestine. A third conflict is being actively talked up by the West- US and its allies, including Australia -versus China.
The Russia-Ukraine war and the conflict between Israel and Palestine, more precisely Palestinian Islamist group (or terrorist group) Hamas, involve directly or by proxy all the nuclear powers: US, UK, France, Russia, China, India, Pakistan. Add to the mix Iran. The world faces a very dangerous time, much more dangerous than the Cold War (1948-91) which pitted the US and the West against the Soviet Communist bloc.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the US became the sole super power. Recent developments, such as the resurrection of Russia from the wreckage of the Soviet Union, the rise of China, India and Iran have created a multi-polar world -with these various powers armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons. It simply takes any one of these, including the US, to press the nuclear button and we are all finished. If we do not exist then it becomes irrelevant to argue who was to blame. We have to stop this madness now.
RIPPLE EFFECT – TSUNAMI?
The purpose here is not to go into enormous detail about the conflicts in Eastern Europe and the Middle East but to look at the impact they play in other parts of the world, such as the Balkans region of southern Europe, namely tiny Macedonia.
Hypothetically speaking – worst possible outcome / worst case scenario – if the borders of Ukraine, Israel and or Palestine are changed or anyone of these states or territories disappear – whether you blame “US hubris and imperial overreach” or Russian “aggression” – means that borders of other states can be changed too! What I am referring to is tiny Macedonia. A US scenario or template already exists. It was put on the table, so to speak, back in 2017 during a US Congressional Hearing. But more about that later.
MORAL SICKNESS OF AMERICA’S “NORTH” PROJECT IN MACEDONIA
Crime and corruption existed in Macedonia before it became independent on 8 September 1991 from a collapsing communist Yugoslavia. It’s not the only Balkan or ex-communist bloc state to be suffer from these social afflictions. Even non communist and long time US ally in the Balkans Greece has the same horrendous problems.
Communism in Yugoslavia taught the average people that it was better to lie and steal than tell the truth in order to get ahead and not rock the communist party boat. Add to this nepotism.
But what we are now dealing with in Macedonia is on level never witnessed in decades – the total moral, societal, political and economic sickness that now consumes the tiny state like a cancer. It’s an important metaphor – cancer.
A huge scandal rocking Macedonia is the alleged theft of drugs from the main cancer clinic in the capital, Skopje, by medical staff and sold on the back market in neighbouring Kosovo. Patients were said to be given saline (salt water) placebos instead of cancer treating drugs. Its believed that some may have died because of not being given the real medication.
Add to this, the Macedonian government, Macedonian Social Democrats (SDSM) and ethnic Albanian nationalist coalition partner, DUI, recently passed new legislation lowering prison sentences for acts of crime, including corruption. It has been widely condemned for the possibility of individuals charged or convicted with crimes being able to sweat it out and beat the statute of limitations.
Be that as it may, Macedonia from its very beginning was rendered deliberately dysfunctional by the West. Greece, a staunch US ally and member of the NATO militaty alliance and European Union, immediately placed an economic embargo on landlocked Macedonia when it broke away from Yugoslavia. The objective was to strangle and starve Macedonia to death. Greece also began a diplomatic offensive, supported by the US and EU, in blocking Macedonian recognition until it changed its name.
What made matters worse was Macedonia was also banned from trading with northern neighbour Serbia, a subject of tough UN and European sanctions imposed on Serb ruler Slobodan Milosevic for his role in the Yugoslav wars (1991-95).
As a consequence, a huge black market and smuggling rings developed in Macedonia by powerful organised crime elements. Macedonia to keep alive turned a blind eye- government officials actively participated in using Macedonia as a conduit for Serbia.
The US knew all about this. There are a number of declassified CIA reports on the issue. But it allowed it into play for a number of reasons- one the situation was caused by a US ally Greece, and secondly the US needed Macedonia to stay alive just enough so that it wouldn’t fall apart and be taken over by Serbia or Bulgaria. Bulgaria had not yet become a NATO member and ally of the US, which it is now.
Bill Nicholov, a long time Canadian-Macedonian activist and a staunch critic of US foreign policy on Macedonia wrote the following:
“How about the Greek trade embargo? Let’s recall the time when President Bill Clinton stood idle and didn’t condemn or put an end to the 19-month long trade embargo Greece imposed on Macedonia (See Greece to Lift Embargo Against Macedonia if It Scraps ItsFlag by Christopher S. Wren) between 1994 to 1995 to force it to change its name and drop “certain” Macedonian cultural symbols. No country in the West stepped in to support Macedonia and the economically deprived Macedonians who were most vulnerable to the predations of Serbia and Greece, as they were plotting when and how to divide and conquer Macedonia with Western support ala 1912-1913 (See Macedonia now coveted by 3 nations Yugoslav breakup draws new suitors by Dusko Doder).”
In 1995 Macedonia signed an “accord” with Greece to use the temporary name of FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and to get rid of its flag, the Sun of Vergina/Kutlesh, whilst Macedonia “agreed” – strong armed by the US State Department – to negotiate over a future name. In return Greece would lift its economic embargo against the tiny landlocked country.
After centuries of foreign domination, Macedonians finally fulfilled their long cherished and hard fought for dream of independence when Macedonia voted to secede from the crumbling Yugoslavia on 8 September 1991.
Thirty-two years on, instead having a nation-state of their own, Macedonians have ended up in an odd political entity, with its name changed to North Macedonia in 2019, its “Macedonianess” erased. All to do with satisfying the strategic needs of one superpower, the United States. Truly Orwellian in scale – yes, I know the cliché has been worn out and should be rested but it is apt!
Without the need to go back to antiquity, which is largely irrelevant to the story, Macedonia had been under Turkish Ottoman Empire rule for nearly 500 years. In 1912-13 aftet the fall of the Ottomans in the Balkan Wars, Macedonia was partitioned amongst Serbia (later Yugoslavia), Greece and Bulgaria with Greece getting the largest piece. Albanian given some scraps in 1919. Macedonians were the victims of brutal assimialition.
In 1944, the part that had been under Serb-Yugoslavist colonial rule was able to become a semi nation-state in Tito’s communist Yugoslavia. But Tito did not create the Macedonian nation, as it had already existed, though stateless. It is important to make this point in order counter Greek, Bulgar and Serb nationalist claims to the contrary.
A modern-day Macedonian nation-state is opposed by Greece and Bulgaria- two key US allies. Greece being a long-standing US client dating back to the Greek Civil War (1946-49) and Bulgaria, a recent addition to the fold after the end of the Cold War. Macedonia being the weakest link, has been much easier for the US to strong arm into surrendering its sovereignty. Greece, to hide its role in oppressing ethnic Macedonians, blocked Macedonia’s recognition under its constitutional name, absurdly claiming that it had ownership of the name, and vetoed any attempt for Macedonia to join the European Union and the NATO military alliance.
After the collapse of Yugoslavia, Greece imposed an economic blockade on Macedonia to strangle it to death. As a direct consequence, the black market, smuggling in Macedonia became rife in order to survive. This was also exploited by Serb strong man Slobodan Milosevic who was able to break UN sanctions imposed upon him for his role in the Yugoslav wars by using Macedonia as a conduit. Organised crime and mafias, corruption on an industrial scale in Macedonia became entrenched because of Greece’s actions.
The hollowing out of Macedonia has been a calculated process, interrupted by the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 1995 a deal called the Interim Accord was struck between Greece and Macedonia – read US deal – in which Macedonia would use the temporary name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) – an insulting acronym – in the United Nations until such time that a settlement could be reached between Athens and Skopje and Macedonia’s then flag would be changed so as not to “offend” Greece.
In 2017 a so called Good-neighbourly deal with Bulgaria was signed by Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and his Bulgar counterpart Boyko Borissov. Macedonia, under the agreement, would agree to put its history and identity up for negotiation with Bulgaria-in effect Bulgarian blackmail that Macedonians are really Bulgarians. In return Bulgaria would not block Macedonia’s entry into NATO and the EU.
In 2018 Prespa Agreement was signed between Greece and Macedonia: Macedonia would change its name to North Macedonia, give up parts of its history, identity, and deny the existence of an ethnic Macedonian minority in Greece in return for Greece not blocking Macedonia’s entry into NATO and the EU, which are US strategic interests not necessarily Macedonian ones. The Prespa Agreement had US fingerprints written all over it though Washington denied it. Much later US President elect Joe Biden would sign an Executive Order in 2021 placing anyone on the US blacklist for opposing the Prespa Agreement. Such a move is outrageous – a superpower criminalising Macedonians from wanting to keep their identity.
To do all of this, the US installed Prime Minister Zoran Zaev of SDSM (Social Democrats) through a so called “Colour Revolution” in 2016 which brought down the decade long government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of VMRO-DPMNE (centre right party), who later fled to Hungary to avoid prosecution over a “corruption” scandal involving a dodgy car deal, a purchase of a luxury limousine. Ironically enough, Zaev used the vehicle! A number of opposition MPs were literally blackmailed by the Zaev government to support a vote in Macedonia’s parliament to change the constitution in 2018 to facilitate name change and the acceptance of the Prespa Agreement. A referendum – seeking to approve the Prespa Agreement – held in September 2018 was largely boycotted by Macedonians. But the Zaev government pushed ahead anyway, no doubt being pushed by the US.
Setting in concrete deliberate dysfunction
Bulgaria has issued a series of demands, in reality extortion, backed by the US and European Union (EU) that in effect Macedonia commit national and cultural suicide and admit that there is no Macedonian identity but instead Macedonia as a state is a Bulgarian cultural and ethnic entity.
Bulgaria is blocking Macedonia from joining the EU until certain demands are met.
The Bulgarian blackmail amongst other things includes the inclusion of Bulgarians (who number barely 3,500 and have their rights already protected) in Macedonia’s Constitution; to the control of Macedonian history, how it is taught and so forth. It’s unprecedent interference in a so-called sovereign state’s internal affairs. Bulgaria refuses to recognise a Macedonian minority and also refuses to accept its role in the Holocaust of Macedonia’s Jews and brutal fascist occupation of Macedonia during WWII.
If Macedonia were to change its constitution and include the Bulgarians, it will be used in a kind of lawfare to make demands that deliberately can never be met in order to eat the country from within. Add to this, right wing Albanian Neo Nazi ideology which is prevalent in many of the ethnic Albanian political parties in Macedonia. You have a recipe for certain partition of Macedonia between a Greater Albanian entity and Bulgaria, as occurred in World War II under the auspices of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.
An extreme right wing Albanian nationalist party calling itself DUI was set up by Ali Ahmeti who led an ethnic Albanian uprising in Macedonia in 2001 to establish a Greater Albania, that is carve out a chunk of Western Macedonia, ethnically cleanse Macedonians from that region and unite with Kosovo and Albania.
It was put into brutal practice in WWII under the aegis of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany and involved in deliberately settling Albanian colonisers in Macedonian towns to change the ethnic composition.
Ahmeti was a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and set up his own “franchise” in Macedonia called the NLA (or UCK) – National Liberation Army. He was trained and equipped by the US which claimed it had no role in starting the 2001 war in Macedonia. Suffice to say, Ahmeti began to change his rhetoric from a Greater Albania project to a fight for supposed civil rights for Albanians in Macedonia. The war did not last too long and a US created peace deal called the Ohrid Framework Agreement was signed; in effect securing Ahmeti as a permanent political king maker and US proxy in Macedonia and establishing a de facto Albanian statelet in Western Macedonia. Ahmeti has been in nearly every coalition government in Macedonia in the past 20 years.
He says and does the things the US wants but can’t always openly do so, pretending to be an impartial actor in Macedonia. Ahmeti’s DUI party openly venerates WWII Albanian Nazi collaborators but the US deliberately plays dumb over this fact. Mainstream Western media refuse to report on it because of the embarrassment it poses for the US to support such extremists.
This brings us to the present. There is fierce pressure from the US and EU for Macedonia to change its constitution to include the Bulgars so that Macedonia’s EU accession talks can begin. VMRO-DPMNE, the major Macedonian opposition party led by Hristjan Mickovski, has refused to support the amendment, which needs two-thirds majority of Members of Parliament to vote for.
Some critics are saying that the government’s changes in the criminal law are being used to split VMRO-DPMNE. The reasoning is by “pardoning” the criminal offences committed by ex-leader of VMRO-DPMNE and ex Macedonia Prime Minister (2006-16) Nikola Gruevski, in exile in Hungary, this would allow for Gruevski to return to Macedonia and draw away supporters from Mickovski. In return Gruevski would support the constitutional changes. This is speculation at this stage.
Gruevski’s first cousin, Saso Mijalkov, the former Intelligence chief of the country, was released early from jail over his conviction for illegal wire-tapping and other abuses.
If Macedonia’s constitution is changed then it places the country on the path of eventual partition between some Albanian/Kosovo state entity and Bulgaria.
– The Serwer Scenario?
What is the Serwer Scenario? In 2017 an American academic Professor Daniel Serwer testified before the US Congress on Foreign Affairs issues relating to the Balkans.
He offered his analysis on Macedonia, going through likely future outcomes. In one of those scenarios, a worst possible outcome (or worst case scenario to use a CNN term) he posits the European Union and or the United States militarily Intervening in Macedonia and partitioning it- most probably between Albania and Bulgaria. He disingenuously adds the qualifier if nation-state building fails in Macedonia, then the Europeans and US would be compelled to go in.
What he doesn’t explain is the US has made sure that nation-state building in Macedonia has been sabotaged right from its infancy. We’ve outlined this previously in what we call Salami Slice Tactics – where Macedonia has been sliced piece by piece until nothing is left.
A powerful US or EU or NATO military occupation of tiny Macedonia, population barely 2 million and of which at least 350,000 are pro US ethnic Albanians, would be met with no effective resistance from heavily outnumbered Macedonians, unlike say Ukraine or Russia or Israel or the Gaza Strip/West Bank in Palestine. You now understand why the US installed its Albanian proxy in Macedonia via the 2001 war.
The US Embassy in Skopje, Macedonia, steadfastly refuses to condemn right wing Albanian Neo Nazi ideology, which unfortunately is part of mainstream ethnic Albanian nationalist politics in Macedonia. US Embassy refuses to condemn the WWII Albanian Nazi statues in Macedonia which symbolise a Greater Albania, in which Macedonia was partitioned between a Fascist Italian protectorate of Albania and Nazi German allied Bulgaria during WWII. The only conclusion you can reach is that the deliberate silence means US tacit approval for the eventual partition of Macedonia. And the Serwer Scenario is probably the likely template for this.