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Albanian parties in Macedonia begin fighting among themselves

SKOPJE, MACEDONIA - APRIL 27: Opposition leader Zoran Zaev attacked by supporters of former leading party VMRO-DPMNE that entered the parliament after the Social democrats voted in a new parliament speaker in Skopje on 27 April 2017. A group of protesters enter the parliament as the session canceled due to tension between MPs. (Photo by Nake Batev/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

During Macedonia’s long political crisis, which has now entered a new and equally if not more worrying phase, many commentators spoke of Zoran Zaev Social Democratic Union attempting to form a government in coalition with ‘Albanian parties’, but little was discussed about who these parties were and what aims they had for government.

Zaev has promised to drop the Tirana Platform as a precondition for forming a government with radical nationalist Albanian parties. The Tirana Platform is a plan to federalise and effectively break-up the Slavic Orthodox majority country, even though in 2001, the Albanian minority who are largely Sunni Muslim, were given vast amounts of autonomy as part of the Ohrid Agreement.

Now that President Gjorge Ivanov has finally authorised Zaev, who many Macedonian’s view as a traitor, to form a government with radical Albanian nationalist parties, it appears that the Albanian factions are having difficulty uniting for several reasons.

READ MORE: Albanian flag on desk of Macedonian Parliamentary Speaker. Will Macedonia survive as a state?

The two main Albanian parties who are to form part of Zaev’s coalition are the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) and the newer Besa Movement.

Albanian politics, which both in Albania and beyond is dominated by organised crime connections and monumental corruption, often entails deeply intractable feuds that are  tribal in their intensity.

In the case of Macedonia, the Albanian leaders of the DUI and Besa, Ali Ahmeti and Bilal Kasami, respectively, have a long standing personal hatred of one another which has made it difficult for each party to agree upon a role in a Zaev led coalition.

Making matters even more awkward, because the Albanian state does not have the financial means to fund its surrogate parties in foreign states like Macedonia, the funding comes from else where.

READ MORE: Here’s why Albania is a failed state

The DUI is funded almost exclusively by the United States and its leaders are often mocked for having more meetings in the US Embassy in Skopje than in their own offices.

Inversely the Besa movement is organised around the power and supposed prestige of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Besa represents Turkey’s attempts to build new alliances among Balkan Sunni Muslims in order to build a greater neo-Ottoman network of countries loyal to Turkey.

Many see this as America and Turkey waging their proxy war which has manifested itself in disagreements over America’s funding of Kurdish fighters in Syria (who Turkey considers terrorists), on a political front.

It has also emerged that tapes of Ali Ahmeti exist implicating him and his colleagues in criminal activities ranging from blackmail to fraud. This has led many in the DUI to favour a government of inexperienced ministers who have less damning information that could implicate older members of the party of criminal activity.

All this is happening as BESA and the DUI continue to fight over the amount of ministerial positions each party would receive in a Zaev led government.

The internal deadlock, corruption, personal feuds and international puppet masters pulling strings in Zaev’s coalition has exposed the ‘alliance’ as far more fragile than many outsiders hoped it would be.

The systematic corruption within Macedonia’s Albanian parties may create permanent deadlock within the coalition after months of deadlock over whether Zaev even had a Constitutional mandate to form a government that many Macedonia’s see as one which will pave the way for the destruction of Macedonia’s political unity and territorial integrity.

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