Skopje, 06.01.2017: Increased tensions in Macedonia have not subsided since the arrest of the seven ISIS terrorists in two operations. Macedonia has been plagued by divisions and hostilities from her neighbors (chiefly, Albania, Greece and Bulgaria) ever since she seceded from Yugoslavia in 1992. For instance, Albania seeks to annex the Albanian minority inhabited half of Macedonia and connect that into a Greater Albania project. Greece has its own secessionist problems with Slavic Greeks in the northern Greek province of Macedonia bordering the republic of Macedonia and wishes to claim exclusive ethnic Greek rights to the historic name “Macedonia” to safeguard its northern border against possible secessionist claims. Bulgaria has an old issue with the ethnic identity of the Slavic Macedonians because the language they speak is nearly identical to the Bulgarian language, which is to say that some in Bulgaria wish to annex Macedonia to reclaim a lost part of Bulgaria, treating non-Albanian Macedonians as “lost Bulgarians.” Of all these fault lines the deepest and the most immediate one is formed by the ethnic Albanian population inside Macedonia, which is Muslim by tradition and strengthened by rugged old warlike tribal connections that bind most individuals from the Albanian community in Macedonia. In the wake of recent wars in the Middle East arisen out of the so-called “Arab Spring” an influx of foreign Muslim immigrants, refugees and Jihadi missionaries has swept Macedonia adding to the pre-existing domestic instability. Some people from that influx have found a common cause with local Muslims and wish to help them oppose and attack the Macedonian authorities in order to pile pressure on the government to accede to the political ultimatums and demands from the local ethnic Albanian political parties. As a result, there have been violent incidents over the years, most coming from the restless Albanian problem. Some cynical commentators, like the one who wrote the article below, see a sign of desperation on the part of the Macedonian authorities in the way in which they conducted and advertised two recent anti-terrorist police actions (in the last year). They doubt its effectiveness and see only an attempt to make the Macedonian authorities look to be on top of the troubles in their country and to impress foreign investors, like the Americans. There is no doubt, however, that seven Muslims whom they arrested in this sweep were up to no good and were hiding in safe houses looking to prepare for some future action. Macedonia is as much a basket case of a nation as Bosnia or Kosovo or even Montenegro. There is a series of failed states in the Balkans that offer a soft underbelly to aggressive Islamic expansion. It should come as no surprise that the government action to arrest Moslem terrorists in Macedonia, no matter how awkwardly and inefficiently conducted (even if for a propaganda purpose to make the country look like a reliable global partner in the War on Terrorism) came to be publicly criticized by the ethnic Albanian Moslem political parties, all of whom are unhelpful in the cause of war against the Islamic expansion into Europe.
Terrorists Arrested In A Piecemeal Fashion Amid Fanfare
As in August last year when the action to arrest “Cell” was conducted and now her alleged second part (“Cell-2”), the party police representative Chavkov offered no operational knowledge. Hence the claim that his team’s action from Ministry of Internal Affairs has only a propaganda character. First, it is notable that the police gave the public limited operational knowledge that seven of former soldiers of ISIS, six in the capital Skopje and one in the regional Albanian town of Tetovo in Macedonia, were within reach and that for them to be taken an operation to detain them before the investigating authorities could not wait. Yet, they offered no proof for any planned imminent action by the cell or for terrorist logistics. The action looked half-botched because almost a half of the sought terrorists were not found and the Albanian residents who allegedly were hiding them did not open their doors to police. The police chief Chavkov then issued a modified statement to the effect that some of the sought terrorists were still in Syria, contradicting earlier statement about their presence in Macedonia.
The amateurish way in which the Macedonian authorities conducted this operation alongside the Media and the government press leaks speaks volumes about the true state of affairs inside the country. Authorities serving the identity of the detainees to the public through various media, which in the fight against terrorism is simply unthinkable! How to believe that in such circumstances an alleged participant in ISIS from the Albanian village of Aracinovo was not forewarned and fled before the police arrived? Note that the names are published in the said Network Television Alpha and in Skopje evening news, while some, such as Radio Free Macedonia, are given names and surnames in the form of initials. It is a clear sign that those who are beyond the reach of the police with this action should not return home and to the other who might be in hiding now. Clearly all the local confederates of the terrorists will now begin to negotiate about an alibi that will mostly benefit the criminals. Is there any trace of professionalism left in the Ministry who used the Media to make themselves look good while endangering the concept of fair, efficient and rational police?
So, some analysts concluded back then that the fight against terrorism deserves support, but some of them question whether Macedonia actually can conduct such a struggle, or is it just a propaganda tool for the government. “According to the information received, the action looks like another wildcard to de-focus on the political momentum in the country going against the government,” says ethnic Albanian analyst Ramadan Ramadani.
The latest arrests coincided with the visit of a high-ranking official of the White House, Victoria Nuland, from whom the government specifically felt uncomfortable. This action smells like it is exactly in that direction – the pleasing of world public opinion in favor of an unpopular government of president Gruevski to create an image of effectiveness in the fight against terrorism along the vital route of Middle East – Europe, to mask the decadent and dysfunctional state of affairs inside Macedonia.