A Canadian journalist has
evidence that NATO is arming and equipping the ethnic Albanian
guerillas who have waged a five-month long insurgency against the
Macedonian government in Skopje.
Scott Taylor, editor of Espirit
de Corps magazine, says that on a visit to guerilla bunkers
overlooking the besieged Macedonian city of Tetovo he was welcomed
with shouts of, "God bless America and Canada too for all they have
provided to us." Canada is a member of the US-led NATO coalition.
Taylor says guerrilla commanders
showed off their arsenal, which included side arms, sniper rifles
and grenade launchers, all marked "Made in the USA." Says Taylor,
one commander remarked that, "thanks to Uncle Sam, the Macedonians
are no match for us."
Taylor isn't the first to charge
that Washington is aiding the guerillas. The Macedonian government
alleged that US helicopters were delivering supplies to guerillas in
the mountains above Tetovo. US officials don't deny that airdrops
were made, but say helicopters were transporting vital humanitarian
aid. But Taylor says the local guerilla commander told him that the
helicopters were delivering heavy mortars and ammunition. The
guerillas have bombarded Tetovo with artillery.
Taylor says ethnic Albanian
villagers cheer at the sight of US helicopters, while guerillas at
brigade headquarters wear Nike-style T-shirts bearing the phrase,
"NATO Air - Just do it!" Meanwhile, one Macedonian police officer
lamented to Taylor that "if NATO hadn't been arming and equipping
the (KLA) in Kosovo there would be no need for them to disarm these
This isn't the first time
complaints about the US and NATO arming ethnic Albanian guerillas
have been made. In March, a European K-For battalion commander told
the London Observer that, "the CIA has been allowed to run riot in
Kosovo with a private army designed to overthrow Slobodan
Milosevic...Most of last year, there was a growing frustration with
US support for the radical Albanians." And in January the BBC
reported that Western forces were training guerillas, then opening a
new front in southern Serbia and Macedonia.
In June, when Macedonian forces
were closing in on guerillas in the town of Aracinovo, NATO
intervened, transporting ethnic Albanian rebels out of the besieged
town in air-conditioned busses. According to the German newspaper
Hamburger Abendblatt, 17 US advisors, belonging to an American
mercenary firm involved in other Balkan conflicts, were among the
guerillas. And the newspaper pointed out that 70 percent of the
equipment carried away by the guerillas was US made.
Days earlier, a American diplomat
was slightly wounded by Macedonian gunfire as he emerged from the
woods (around Aracinovo) with two other Americans," according to the
International Herald Tribune. The diplomats were emerging from
Two months ago, the London Sunday
Times reported that at least 800 ethnic Albanian guerillas fighting
in Macedonia are members of the Kosovo Protection Corps, a
paramilitary police unit created by the UN from the KLA. The Times
says, "Hundreds of KPC reservists were called up by their Albanian
commander Agim Ceku, in March. They subsequently disappeared to
former KLA training camps in Albania and are now re-emerging in
Ceku, one of the top leaders of
the KLA, along with Hacim Thaci, was artillery chief of the Croatian
army when it launched a war in the Krajina region of Croatia, which
led to 250,000 Serbs being driven from their homes. Under the KPC,
250,000 Serbs, and another 100,000 Roma, Gorani, Turks and Jews have
been driven from Kosovo. Now, the KLA offshoot in Macedonia, the NLA,
seems intent on ethnically cleansing the largely Albanian Tetovo
region. Over 120,000 Macedonians have fled or have been driven from
their Tetovo area homes by guerillas. Ilir Hoxha, a 25-year old
ethnic Albanian said, "Let them leave. They should never return.
Tetovo is Albanian and it will remain Albanian."
For years, many Albanians have
dreamed of resurrecting the greater Albania established under the
Italian fascists, and then under the Nazis. It incorporated parts of
Macedonia and Greece, southern Serbia, and Kosovo into Albania
proper. Some reports say an ethnic Albanian Liberation Army of
Chameria will open a new front in Greece soon.
Skopje has been hampered in its
response to the guerillas. NATO and the EU have warned Macedonia not
to crack down on the guerillas, and Ukraine, which was providing
equipment to the under-equipped Macedonian army, was warned to stop
shipments of materiel.
Meanwhile, press reports in the
West describe NATO and EU diplomatic efforts as aimed at preventing
a civil war, though the intention appears to be to prevent a strong
The guerillas say they're
fighting to win language rights, but critics point out that an armed
attack is highly disproportional to the NLA's stated aims. Moreover,
the fact that the guerillas have been recruited from Kosovo, pass
freely over a Kosovo-Macedonia border presumably patrolled by NATO
K-For forces, and have driven non-Albanians from their homes in an
apparent effort to ethnically cleanse the Tetovo region, points to
the pursuit of other goals, fully backed by NATO.
Taylor, who served in the
Canadian Armed Forces, says NATO's support of the guerillas is so
blatant "it is little wonder that the Macedonian majority have
staged violent anti-NATO riots."
Mr. Steve Gowans is a
writer and political activist who lives in Ottawa, Canada.