Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Behind the attacks on Albania’s revolution

Behind the attacks on Albania’s revolution

By Mike Karadjis


For several weeks, the Albanian working people have been in armed rebellion against the corrupt US-backed Sali Berisha, whose free market rampage robbed the bulk of Albanians of everything and transferred $2 billion to nine large"pyramid" companies connected to his regime.
Faced with an armed people, organised into committees throughout the south, and the desertion of most of the police and army, Berisha submitted to western pressure and formed a coalition government with the opposition. The aim is to cajole the people into laying down their arms.
The committees rejected this. The National Salvation Council of the People, formed by the committees, put the ousting of Berisha as the minimum condition for laying down arms. Many committees have included the demand for the return of all stolen assets.
For the new capitalist rulers of the Balkans, and their western backers, armed popular committees taking over cities are a frightening example which could undermine the process of capitalist restoration throughout south-eastern Europe.
Bashkim Fino, the new Socialist [former Communist] Party prime minister, called for western intervention: "We are at the edge of civil war and we face danger. Europe must help us in these difficult hours." All parties in the new government called for NATO military intervention.
On March 17, the European Union agreed to send military and police "advisers" "to assist in the restoration of order and political institutions", including "control over the restitution of arms and munitions".
US and Greek warships are patrolling nearby, while Greek troops have massed on the border. Greece, Macedonia and Serbia have closed their borders, and UN troops in Macedonia are on high alert.
The National Salvation Council denounced plans for intervention: "The arms in the hands of the people are the guarantee of the overthrow of the dictator Berisha ... we consider invalid any foreign military presence, whose only aim would be the disarming of the people."
But how to justify sending troops to crush a radical democratic uprising against a bloody free market dictatorship?
To this end, the rebellion is being vilified, partly by calling it "chaos" and "anarchy". Sydney Morning Herald journalist Julius Strauss claimed the rebellion was being led by "hoodlums".
There may well be a few hoodlums running around with guns, but it is the people's committees in the south that are able to keep order. Most of the random violence has taken place in the capital, Tirana, where the armed population has not taken power.
"Saranda already has a leader, a defence council, and a surprisingly effective chain of command", according to the March 10 Christian Science Monitor. "Theres a very simple order: no-one can shoot unless it is against Berishas people", said Gjevat Koucia, who heads the defence council. Five thousand people out of a population of 25,000 take turns at looking after security for the town.
The propaganda makes a crude distinction between north and south, because the rebellion so far has been most successful in the south. Ports in the south, close to Italy, have been important links to the mafia and "havens for smuggling -- oil for the rump Yugoslav state, drugs, guns and humans for Europes sex trade", according to Andrew MacCathie in the Sydney Morning Herald. MacCathie implies that such elements are linked to the revolt against "the north".
The Heralds March 8 editorial was more explicit. Headed "Albanian peril", it claimed that much of the criticism of Berisha was "unfair" because of "the nature of some of the opposition". It suggested that the rebels owed something to "the power of organised crime ... Even the infamous pyramid investment schemes, whose collapse two weeks ago has been seen as the catalyst for the present crisis, are said to be linked with criminal money-laundering."
The distinction between north and south is nonsense. Most of the main population centres are in the south. The only major northern city is Shkoder, where, as if to finally disprove the lies, the people took up arms on March 13. Armed rebellion has since erupted in at least five northern towns.
Moreover, it is a mystery how the Herald decided that criminal elements were "opponents" of Berisha, rather than the mainstay of his regime. When the people take up arms against people who have robbed them, when they attack and burn the offices of these crook companies, the Herald depicts the crooks as leading the rebellion.
Berishas links to the pyramid companies is common knowledge. As for mafia links, according to Andrew Gumbel in the London Independent, "Intelligence services from different countries have been reporting unambiguously that Albania has turned into a repressive one-party state where corruption is rife at all levels and a largely gangster-based economy is under the strict clientelistic control of the ruling party".
According to Gumbel, "Drugs barons from Kosovo, the Albanian-dominated region controlled by Serbia, operate in Albania with impunity, and much of the transportation of heroin and other drugs across Albania ... is believed to be organised by Shik, the state security police ... intelligence sources are convinced the chain of command in the rackets goes all the way to the top ..."
Further, the company that enjoyed a monopoly on the export of oil was run directly by the Berisha's Democratic Party and chaired by Tritan Shehu, his deputy prime minister and foreign minister. It is alleged that this was used to sell guns and oil to Serbia throughout the war in Bosnia.
According to Damianos Papdimitopoulos writing in the Greek leftist paper Epohi, the links between the Berisha regime, elements of the old Stalinists, pyramid schemes and smuggling well personified in the military commander of the old regime who had control of the radar over the Adriatic Sea -- the smuggling routes to Italy. He kept that position under Berisha. He is the owner one of the biggest "pyramid" banks. Pursued by Interpol for criminal activities in the west, he lives in a villa in Albania.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great article