A Caliban Army: NATO's Macedonian Mess
Benjamin C. Works
Strategic Issues Research Institute of the US (SIRIUS)
July 6, 2001

The NLA came to truce terms with NATO, after waging a series of sensational little battles in various villages of northern Macedonia, alternated by several ambushes of Macedonian patrol vehicles, again featuring landmines and salvoes of RPG-7 anti-tank rocket grenades. They showed the Macedonian army is too small and inadequately trained, organized and equipped for a mountain-guerrilla war that features the prospect of a long succession of nasty little urban warfare battles inside the mountain villages of northern Macedonia.

In negotiating a truce directly with NATO, the NLA gained diplomatic stature. So what if President Bush, a week ago, issued an Executive order "outlawing" assistance to 23 named individuals and 5 KLA groups.

The guerrillas say their people are oppressed and discriminated against; which is utter nonsense. But the Albanian minority, about 25% of the country's population, will get more privileges, affirmative action set-asides based on who you nominally are, not what you personally need. NATO is terrified at having to commit to a war against its former allies in the Kosovo air war enterprise, so is putting more pressure on the constitutional government of the Macedonian republic.

Expect more fighting. The NLA will not stop unless it is militarily defeated. Guerrillas never stop until they are bled white.


There have been two confusing weeks of fighting, negotiating and international diplomatic theatrics in and around Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, a Vermont-sized country of 2 million people. The population includes Slavs, Turks, Greeks and other minorities including an estimated 500,000 ethnic Albanian "Shiptars" – a term that means "people of the mountains" but could be mistaken for a racist epithet, if the speaker sneers it. Officially, the government runs on the Macedonian language (a Slavic tongue), but in practice, the country is mult-ethnic, and multi-lingual, and based on pluralistic principles. Ethnic communities are respected, but not "empowered" under the "divide and rule" precepts of Leftist ideology.

Many Macedonians, including Albanians have worked abroad and poured their earnings into very well-built and comfortable houses. Many of those houses are now being destroyed in the mini-Stalingrad battles the NLA is setting up to exhaust the small Macedonian Army.

Since Macedonia's peaceful secession from Yugoslavia in 1991, the national government has accommodated all its minorities in all the important ways, including subsidies for their ethnic media. In addition, the large Albanian minority has its own schools and all government forms they require are available in both languages.

In fact, when the fighting began, some key government ministries were headed by Albanians, and the police chief in the Albanian dominated city of Tetovo (the second largest city) was also an Albanian. But the extremists of the "Greater Albania" campaign still found ways to assert that they were being discriminated against, and inaugurated a war while placing impossible political demands on the negotiating table. They adopted American "Civil Rights" language this time, more clearly than in the buildup to Kosovo, alleging their people were oppressed. In fact, a good look at any of the villages shot up in the last four months of fighting show a lot of very comfortable and expensive housing being blown away. If any people in the Balkans have been oppressed, it is the Roma (Gypsies), not the Shiptars.

We watched two desperate weeks of scrambling and posturing by senior diplomatists from NATO, including former KLA friends Javier Solana (the EU's secretary general, who was the NATO Secretary General who launched NATO's air war in 1999) and Lord George Robertson the current NATO Secretary General. They were joined by Francois Leotard for the EU and James Pardew for the US.

On July 5, NATO, the European Union (EU) and US finally cobbled together another in a succession of truces, bringing a halt to the fighting. But SIRIUS, for good reasons, think this truce is just another sham that will likely fall apart in a few days. The NLA's outlaw leaders won an important concession: NATO negotiated directly with them to achieve the truce, giving them diplomatic "stature." We have a demonstrated record of how the KLA respects agreements when granted "stature" in Kosovo; they have wantonly violated every commitment they have inked their signatures to.

This newest truce, in fact, is not between the NLA and the Macedonian government. It is a pair of truces, each between the combatants and NATO. SIRIUS has to score this as a loss for NATO, for the constitutional government of Macedonia, and particularly for all the Macedonian people – including those in the Albanian minority who do not support the KLA and whose property is being devastated during the rebel's battles inside villages throughout northern and northwestern Macedonia.

If the truce takes hold, – if – some 3000 NATO troops will enter Macedonia to disarm the rebel army and to allow peace to take hold. There are already about 700 Americans and an equal number of Germans stationed in Macedonia to support the logistics for the Kosovo operation. If peace takes hold, – if – the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will provide hundreds of military and police observers to "supervise" while a mixed Macedonian-Albanian police force restores its presence in the towns and villages that lie in the mountainous territories controlled by the NLA's gunmen.

The French have dispatched experts to help rewrite Macedonia's Constitution, to "empower" the Albanians ethnic sensibilities more explicitly. The French, our readers will appreciate, are great experts at writing Constitutions. They have written five Republican Constitutions for themselves, alone, not to mention the Directorate and Consulate charters, two Napoleonic Imperial constitutions, plus two royalist ones, as well as the World War 2 Vichy constitution. And then there are all those constitutions written for their spectacularly successful former colonies in Africa and the Near East: Lebanon, Syria, Algeria, the Ivory Coast – countries that Philip Johnson labeled as "Caliban Kingdoms" in his epic history of the Twentieth Century, "Modern Times."

The NLA demands "minority set asides" and a "Nullification Clause" in the new constitutional arrangement. We shall see how all that comes out, but as discussed in the last report, a Nullification clause is a constitutional "poison pill" setting the whole country hostage to a minority's veto. But a form of nullification is bound to be inserted; our European allies have taken quite a fancy to America's race-based civil rights struggle of 1960-2000 and are busily trying to adopt the language, ideology and manipulation of racial politics in Europe. Divide the whole into parts and set the parts to squabbling and fighting; divide and rule. This is the essence of the Socialist theory for creating the helpless masses of dependents they need to justify their rule. The socialists having discovered the joys of capitalism and stock options, have embraced it and come to terms with their plutocrats; but retain their manipulative ideologies as "Social Democrats." They have, in fact, become "Fascists in pinstripe suits," or "Pinstripe fascists."

Diplomacy is conducted under the usually quaint notion that both opponents in a conflict are "reasonable" and "rational" actors, with a resolvable objective. But more often than not, the objectives are neither reasonable, nor rational, they are ideological, ethnic and predicated on grand theft: war. Liberation movements, whether genuinely irredentist, or faux-irredentist (the KLA lays claim to lands that were never historically the domain of the Gegs or Shiptars), are not aimed at principled compromise, they are aimed at conquest and redistribution to the victors.

Thus, the post-modern diplomacy of the UN and "human rights" works to empower outlaws who blatantly violate the civil rights of everybody in their societies. This is particularly true in Kosovo, Macedonia and in Chechnya, where another violent gang masquerades as "freedom fighters."

The NLA: A Caliban Army

Since February, radical chauvinists and xenophobes of the Kosovo-Albania clans of the Geg tribe that are the backbone of the Kosovo Heroin Mafia and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), have mounted a terrorist insurgency inside Macedonia, and this new rebel "movement" took the name "National Liberation Army." It comprises a mixture of Shiptar extremists and local "draftees" from Kosovo, South Serbia, northern Albania and Macedonia itself.

Among the hardcore members of the NLA (2-3,000) are some 1000 members of the UN-sponsored Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) who have gone "absent without leave (AWOL). For two years these KPC gunmen, veterans of the 1999 KLA have been paid by the UN and still receive military-relief-police training from the US Army's personnel in Kosovo.

Last year a British analysis properly labeled the KLA-NLA as "a Caliban Army;" a monster of our making. Before Frankenstein, Shakespeare's Prospero was master to the monstrous Caliban in his play "The Tempest." That play contained the immortal line " O brave new world, that has such people in it!" The line is often invoked in an ironic sense, as with the KLA-NLA – Madeleine Albright's Caliban Army.

The US, Germany and Britain in particular, are the countries most responsible for creating an out-of-control monster, a genuinely "racist" gang of ruthless xenophobes and criminals who alternate between a low-intensity guerrilla war and the smuggling of narcotics (heroin, cocaine, meth-amphetamines, hashish, etc.), liquor, cigarettes and illegal immigrants. They also deal in white slavery and prostitution, in Kosovo and in Western Europe. The Mafia tentacles reach all they way into the heart of our major US cities, and have since the 1970s when our US Mafia Dons increasingly recruited Albanians into Cosa Nostra.

The Terrorist Campaign

The NLA has the objective of making the mountainous northern third of Macedonia its own turf. That turf straddles key international trade routes.

The NLA draws its supplies and reinforcements mostly from Kosovo, where they operate along remote tracks through the high mountains. The US and other KFOR members have begun to interdict those supply lines. In June, they got more serious about that, deploying four-man reconnaissance patrols (LRRP) teams, backed by helicopter-deployed reinforcements. They have stopped some mule convoys and some mounted in sport utility vehicles (SUVs). But NATO can't stop all the flow through the mountains. And the NLA can reroute supplies and reinforcements through Albania as an alternate route.

The Blood Feud is integral to the Geg-Shiptar culture in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. The NLA uses the threat of blood feud-vendetta ("Besa" in Albanian) to dragoon young locals into their army and to browbeat locals into cooperating. Albanian politicians in Skopje also know that if they go against the NLA, they will face this death threat for the rest of their lives.

In addition to Besa, the NLA has demonstrated four important operational features in its campaign:

  1. Ambush: They have repeatedly pulled off deadly ambushes in Kosovo, south Serbia and Macedonia featuring the use of landmines, followed by salvoes of the ubiquitous RPG-7, a Soviet shoulder-fired, rocket-propelled anti-tank grenade – not unlike the old American Bazooka.
  2. Urban warfare: The NLA slips into mountainside villages along the border, near key trade routes and dig in, daring the government army to come in and pry them out. Urban warfare is the bloodiest kind, with most advantages falling to the well-dug in defender. The US Army relearned this lesson in Somalia, in October 1993. This has also generated more than 100,000 refugees – 5% of the population. Over 70,000 have been forced to flee into Kosovo, and now the KLA is deliberately forcing non-Albanians out their homes in towns they occupy – more ethnic cleansing.
  3. Provocation: The NLA knows just how to inflame Macedonian public opinion with the butchering of dead soldiers and police that occurs after several of their successful ambushes.
  4. Terrain and Scope: The NLA has mounted simultaneous village fights and ambushes across a wide swath of territory from the northeast, around Kumanovo and the Presevo Valley of south Serbia, down past Tetovo and within a few miles of Skopje (Aracinovo). They have also shown that NATO's forces along the Kosovo side of the Serbia-Macedonia border are stretched very thin and at considerable risk should the KLA decide to shoot it out with US, British or other KFOR infantry patrols.

One thing is perfectly clear to SIRIUS and its core readers, the NLA have demonstrated in Macedonia, that the current US Army plan to equip six infantry brigades with lightly armored "LAV-III" wheeled fighting vehicles is a great mistake. There is no way the LAV can stand up RPG-7s as featured in the NLA's ambush tactics. Every other guerrilla movement in the Third World knows this, too.

Possible (Plausible) Policies & Countermeasures

"Kindhearted people might, of course, think there was some ingenious way to disarm or defeat an enemy without too much bloodshed, and might imagine this is the true goal of the art of war. Pleasant as it sounds, it is a fallacy that must be exposed: war is such a dangerous business that the mistakes, which come from kindness, are the very worst."

~ Clausewitz, On War, 1833; Ch. 1; M Howard & P Paret, Princeton, 1984, P. 75

The NLA knows that the US and NATO are trying to step up effective measures to discourage this war, to find means to pressure the Geg gunmen into ending their rebellion. In fact, the US, Britain and our partners have been trying for some months to find structural ways to force peaceful behavior.

Why don't we just recognize that the KLA is the enemy, round them up and intern them "for the duration?" – Human Rights. In fact, under the Geneva Conventions, KFOR could intern NLA gunmen, without trial, for the duration, but has been afraid to do that, until now.

As with most policy shifts in a crisis, these policy changes are coming incrementally, in little steps that the NLA can easily find a reaction, response and means of working around the new restrictions. Policy shifts, from ones based on jaundiced propaganda, to realistic principles take even more time, as politics require that political reputations be spared. But as we see, ultimately, politics and diplomacy are confronted by ineluctable physical realities – "We got us a CRISIS!"

By May, the US and KFOR had built a computer program to deny travel visas to Kosovo Albanians associated with lawlessness, or violence. The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is also cooperating as it attempts to maintain order and resurrect the rule of law in the UN-occupied Serbian province.

On June 8-9 the US Army began interdicting SUV and mule convoys. Concurrently, on June 8, UNMIK administrator, Hans Haekkerup, announced heavy criminal sentences for terrorists and their accomplices:

"Under the regulation, any person who commits an act of terrorism could face a prison sentence of between 10 and 40 years. In addition, anyone who dispatches or transfers armed groups, equipment, explosives, arms, ammunition and other material for terrorism purposes inside or outside Kosovo could face a 10 to 15 year prison sentence. Collecting funds or recruiting people for terrorist purposes, and providing or receiving training in carrying out terrorist acts could result in up to 15 years in prison."

~ UN Newservice, Friday, June 8, 2001)

On June 26, President Bush followed up with his Executive Order, proscribing 23 individuals and five KLA-related groups. This is designed to end the easy flow of funding from Albanians in America to the KLA via their "Homeland Calling" campaign. But it will not stop the illegal flow of Mafia funds.

And right after that, US troops from the 101st Airborne Division, stationed at Camp Able Sentry in Skopje, escorted over 300 well-armed KLA gunmen out of Aracinovo, where the Macedonian Army had them trapped. This created a furor in Skopje, where a large crowd rioted their way into the Parliament building and forced their President to stay out of the public light for a couple of days. There was no adequate explanation for this US action, other than that the Macedonian army would have paid a steep price in blood to ferret the gunmen out of the rubble of Aracinovo. The gunmen, delivered to the mountains near Kumanovo and the Kosovo border, promptly resumed fighting in other villages. Even as that unfolded, the Press began to focus on the potential "threat" posed by Macedonian nationalists joining "paramilitary" groups, such as "The Lions." Our American Revolution's "Minutemen" and militias would be characterized as "paramilitaries" by today's journalistic standards.

On July 6, the UN followed up on the Bush order by suspending five senior officers of the KPC, who were still on the UN payroll. Yet, nobody has been arrested or detained for more than a few hours by KFOR. The sanctions are being added, step-by-step, but nobody has been interned for the duration, much less sentenced to jail, not yet.

But if this newest truce breaks down, and the violence continues, with the NLA continuing to propose impossible demands, the US, NATO and UNMIK have further options, including military and legal options. The Canadian Army attempted to indict KPC commander Agim Ceku, for war crimes committed by him while serving in the Croatian Army during 1993 and 1995 operations against Serbian Krajina.

Further, in mid June, the Serbian government delivered more than 6000 pages of documentation of all the crimes committed by the KLA from 1997 through the beginning of the NATO-UN occupation of Kosovo in June 1999.

That may not suffice to deter this criminal aggression by the gunmen of the Geg terrorist clans. And still, we see NATO diplomatists demonstrating their propensity for unprincipled compromise and appeasement; there must be an end to mollifying and temporizing in the face of implacable, racist criminals. Would we negotiate with the Ku Klux Klan? Then why negotiate with the NLA?

Then, there is the worst case military option; if the NLA wants a war, they will have to be broken and chased into Albania, where they can be contained. The war zone is small and NATO forces could mount a campaign with a force of two divisions – about 30,000 combat troops, plus supports. SIRIUS does not expect that to happen, but that's the worst case.


NATO must face the situation in Kosovo and Macedonia squarely and build pressure on the KLA-NLA leadership until they realize that like Slobodan Milosevic, they will have to face the bar of justice for their ongoing criminal violations of human rights, civil rights and the rule of law. Concurrently, NATO must work effectively get the Geg clans' Mafia enterprises under better control to staunch the flow of drugs, prostitutes, illegal aliens and other contraband.

It is time for diplomatists to take a grown-up view of the realities of low-intensity conflict and inter-ethnic strife. Only through the application of consistent pressure based on philosophical principles, rather than cozy ideological theories, will they learn to better address conflicts.

© Copyright 2001 by Benjamin C. Works – SIRIUS

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