[spectre] ANA: from Internet to Army
Wed, 29 Aug 2001 15:33:13 +1000
Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2001 21:08:21 +0100
From: Institute for War & Peace Reporting <email@example.com>
WELCOME TO IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 274, August 24, 2001
THE ALBANIANS' NEW MODEL ARMY
Is the Albanian National Army a serious threat to the Macedonian peace
process or a group of dysfunctional ideologues?
By Halil Matoshi in Pristina
Emerging at first through email statements and mysterious communiqu=E9s, =
Albanian National Army was first dismissed as an internet army, a virtual
force with mere on-screen presence. But the radical grouping, known as th=
ANA, is being taken more and more seriously as streams of statements call=
Albanians in the region to take up the struggle for a Greater Albania.
Claiming responsibility for two attacks in Macedonia leaving 17 soldiers
dead, it had been portrayed as a potential spoiler of the Macedonia peace
deal. But who are they?
The group seems to have emerged from two main sources: from political
parties springing from the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, and from National
Liberation Army, NLA, fighters in Macedonia disenchanted with the recent
peace deal there. They seem to have bases in Macedonia, Kosovo and southe=
Serbia's Presevo Valley.
So far they have claimed responsibility for the deaths of two policemen i=
southern Serbia in early August and two separate attacks in Macedonia whi=
claimed the lives of 17 soldiers at a crucial juncture in the recent peac=
ANA spokesman Alban Hoxha (likely a nom de guerre), in email communicatio=
with IWPR, has said the group was founded in December 1999 by a KLA facti=
committed to fighting for a unified Greater Albania. Based on pre-1913
boundaries, this would take in territory in Kosovo, Montenegro Serbia,
Macedonia and Greece.
In a press communiqu=E9 released August 20, the ANA high command claimed =
that it was not affiliated to any one political party and that press
speculation on its make-up and leadership was erroneous.
Skopje has pointed the finger directly at Ramush Haradinaj, leader of
Kosovo's third-largest party, the Aliance for the Future of Kosova, as th=
prime mover behind the organisation. Haradinaj, a former KLA commander, h=
categorically denied any connection with either the ANA or any other
grouping outside of his own party.
Bajram Kosumi, vice-president of Haradinaj's Alliance party, has even spo=
out against the ANA, calling their rejection of the Ohrid peace deal betw=
Macedonians and ethnic Albanians harmful. "The implementation of the Ohri=
agreement . . . guarantees the rights of the Albanians and this is a stro=
and convincing argument for the ANA to cease its activities," he said.
The Kosovo press meanwhile has speculated that the roots of the ANA lie i=
the Albanian Revolutionary Party in Switzerland or the Albanian Communist
party in Albania proper. Though the former are proponents of a Greater
Albania, they have denied involvement with the ANA.
Skopje has also sought to point the blame at the NLA fighter Xhavit Hasan=
who has himself made threatening statements against the Ohrid agreement a=
claimed responsibility for killing Macedonian forces. Yet Hasani, speakin=
to the Kosovo press, has also denied having anything to do with the group.
The ANA, for its part, has said in its communiqu=E9s that it maintains
contacts with all groups which have expressed their desire for a Greater
Albania. Prominent among these is the National Movement for the Liberatio=
of Kosovo, whose leader, Sabit Gashi, recently cropped up on a list of
undesirable extremists deemed persona non grata by Washington.
Yet such ANA claims are rejected. Gashi has said like other pro-Albanian
unity parties that he believes in the ANA's aims but that "we are against
the armed struggle this force is pursuing". Besides, he said, the ANA
haven't the muscle to derail Ohrid, even if they wanted to.
Yet another group, the challengingly named National Committee for the
Liberation and Protection of Albanian Soil, has actually admitted to bein=
the "political avant-garde" even to have set up and organised the ANA. Th=
committee, another mysterious group, is thought to be present in Kosovo,
Maceodnia and the Presevo valley in southern Serbia, and believed to have
support from some circles in Western Europe and Tirana.
Kushtrim Dukagjini, the pseudonymous leader of the Albanian Soil group,
certainly pulls no punches in his criticism of moderate Albanian leaders,
such as in Macedonia, accusing them of "high treason" for giving up the
fight for the creation of a unified Albania.
Dukagjini even lambasts Haradinaj and former KLA leader Hashim Thaci, now
head of the Democratic Party of Kosovo and a presidential hopeful in Koso=
for "renouncing the ideal of national unification".
Indeed, Dukagjini even attacks the leader of the Macedonian NLA, Ali Ahme=
for betraying Albanians' national interests in agreeing to lay down arms =
accept the Ohrid accord. In an extended interview with the Kosovo pubicat=
Zeri, Dukagjini claims he won't be satisfied until he has achieved a
"general uprising for the final liberation and unification of Albania".
But political insiders in Pristina set no store by any of these supposed
connections. They look instead to old members of Albania's Sigurimi Secur=
Services, as the ANA's backers, both ideologically and perhaps even
Regional analysts concur that the ANA is the final resting place of
ideologues espousing a blend of Marxist-Leninism and nationalism from the
Eighties, citing the language found in ANA communiqu=E9s as evidence.
Macedonian Albanian political leaders Arben Xhaferi, Imer Imeri as well a=
Ahmeti are all slammed for their "treason to the national ideals".
Whatever its origins, the crucial questions are what scale of threat coul=
the ANA pose, and how far does it really serve as an indicator of growing
Albanian extremism? Analysts in Kosovo insist that the longer Kosovo's
status remains undecided, the greater the chance for extremism to flouris=
The ANA deems the involvement of the UN Mission in Kosovo and KFOR
"destructive", arguing that they get in the way of a "fair solution to th=
Albanian national question".
Whatever the connections, the feeling on the ground in Kosovo is that the
ANA in fact enjoys little support in the region. Even groups who were
espousing the idea of a Greater Albania are no longer prepared to fight f=
such an idea.
Jakup Krasniqi, Secretary General of the Democratic party of Kosovo and
former KLA spokesman in Kosovo who appealed just two years ago for "the
unification of the Albanian lands in one" now says "we should no longer g=
on with wars".
Halil Matoshi is editor-in-chief of the weekly magazine Zeri.