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How the US is now using Albania to trigger violence in FYROM after the Greece-Russia gas deal

At the exact same time that Greece has received a guarantee for billions of cubic meters’ worth of Russian gas, Macedonia is being rocked by the threat of a renewed Albanian insurgency designed to offset Moscow’s pipeline plans.

Alex Christoforou

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Post originally appeared on Sputnik News Agency by Andrew Korybko.

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller announced that Russia will guarantee 47 billion cubic meters of gas a year to Greece via the Turkish Stream, which would then go onwards to supply the European market. While it’s not yet specified exactly which path the pipeline will take from Greece to the EU, it’s more than likely that it’ll go through Macedonia en route to the former South Stream’s envisioned Serbian hub, and thenceforth through Hungary, Austria, and beyond, just like Russia originally anticipated last year. There’s one major obstacle to that strategy, however, and it’s that the US is attempting to transform its failed Color Revolution in Macedonia into an Unconventional War to neutralize this geostrategic route, utilizing the specter of an Albanian terrorist campaign modeled off the Syrian template to achieve its destructive goals.

From Color Revolution to Unconventional War

In the years since the War on Yugoslavia, the US has perfected and patterned a novel method of regime change that proceeds according to pre-established escalation checkpoints. Washington first issues either a direct or implicit/covert ultimatum to the targeted government, the rejection of which serves as the ‘dog whistle’ for activating the dormant Color Revolution social infrastructure present in the country. Should that plan come to fail, then some of the associated destabilizing actors are transitioned into launching an Unconventional War. The final step, should that fail and a Great Power doesn’t diplomatically intervene (as Russia did with Syria in September 2013), is to repeat the Libyan Scenario of a conventional intervention that leaves no doubt as to the success of its regime change odds.

Adapting this template for the Macedonian application, it can be seen how the country has thus far successfully repelled the Color Revolution attempt by Zoran Zaev, which in turn led to concrete Russian investment in the country’s pipeline infrastructure that set the stage for the Putin-Tsipras agreement earlier this month. Now that the Balkan Stream pipeline plans are rapidly gaining traction, the US realized that it needs to act quickly to in order to sabotage them, hence the sudden reemergence of Albanian terrorism in Macedonia. While this problem was previously so serious as to push the country near civil war in 2001, it’s generally subsided since then, with only a handful of extremists unhappy with the generous Ochrid Agreements that guaranteed the Albanian minority vast political and social rights. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped the country of Albania, the US’ regional Lead From Behind proxy, from threatening regional destabilization in order to create Greater Albania.

Albanian Agitation

An international scandal rocked the Serbian capital of Belgrade last fall when Albanian nationalists used a drone to fly a Fascist-era Greater Albania flag through a football stadium during a heated match, threatening to rekindle ethnic tensions that had long remained on edge in that corner of the Balkans. The provocation thankfully didn’t result in any deaths, but it did raise fears that the same style of World War II historical revisionism from Ukraine was slithering down to the Balkans with implicit US strategic support, opening up a new geo-ideological front in the New Cold War. Earlier this month, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama confirmed that Fascist-era thinking is indeed alive and well in Tirana when he officially pushed for the creation of Greater Albania. He spoke of his country’s plans to annex the Serbian Province of Kosovo (which he calls “unification”), saying that it was “inevitable” and “unquestionable”, and that the only question is “Will it happen in the context of the EU as a natural process and understood by all, or will it happen as a reaction to EU blindness or laziness?” The Serbian government rightfully responded with indignation, warning Albania against “banging the war drums” and saying that the two entities would “never unite”.

This was just the opening salvo of Tirana’s regional agitations, however, as a short while later, Hashim Thaci, the former political leader of the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army and Foreign Minister of the unilaterally self-proclaimed government of Kosovo, said he would travel to Belgrade to attend a conference he was invited to. Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic warned that “If he turns up in Belgrade, the Ministry of Interior will act according to the law and bring him to justice”, since Thaci had been convicted in absentia of terrorist-related offensives in 1997 and sentenced to a decade imprisonment. Not even a week later, about 40 individuals identifying themselves as members of the thought-to-be disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army, the same group that Thaci himself once led, crossed over from Kosovo (now under NATO occupation and no longer administered by Serbia) and raided a Macedonian police post near the border. They took a couple police officers hostage and ominously declared that “We will have an Albanian state”, before scurrying back to their NATO protectorate after a few hours.

Thus, just as Albanian nationalism threatened to make South Stream a pipedream, so too does it seem poised to do the same with Balkan Stream, as in the course of only six brief months, Albania and its Kosovo satellite have shockingly:

  • Flown a Fascist-era flag over Belgrade;
  • Openly declared their intentions to unilaterally impose a Greater Albania on the Balkans;
  • Revived an irredentist terrorist organization;
  • And staged a violent border incursion into Macedonia.

The most destabilizing aspect is that the US, EU, and NATO haven’t condemned any of this whatsoever, and in fact, Albania and Kosovo enjoy de-jure and de-facto NATO support, with the former being an official member and the latter being occupied by one of the US’ largest bases in Europe, Camp Bondsteel.  These disturbing facts reveal implicit Western support for Albanians aggressive actions, adding credence to the analysis that they are indeed being coordinated by the US in order to sabotage Russia’s Balkan Stream project.

Forecast Indicators And Coming Consequences

  • Here’s what to monitor as the situation further develops:
  • Possible expansion of terrorist raids into Serbia’s Albanian-populated Sandzak and Presevo Valley border regions;
  • Albanian/Kosovar/NATO/US military reactions and official statements to the terrorist incursion (whether in Macedonia and/or Serbia);
  • The loyalty of Albanian political parties to the democratically elected government of Macedonia;
  • And the ‘second wind’ potential of the Macedonian Color Revolution and its possible transformation into a EuroMaidan-like meltdown.

Other than the possible disruption of Balkan Stream’s construction and the violent formalization of Greater Albania, the consequences of renewed ethnic destabilization in the Balkans could include:

  • A strengthening of Serbian-Macedonian ties centered on shared victimhood;
  • Intensification of CSTO/SCO/Eurasian Union outreaches to beleaguered non-NATO and non-EU members Serbia and Macedonia;
  • The threatening of China’s Balkan Silk Road plan for high-speed rail from the Greek port of Piraeus to Budapest (via Macedonia and Serbia);
  • And subsequently, possible Chinese shadow mediation at settling the conflict before it spirals out of control.

Finally, be on the lookout for US/EU ‘mediation’ attempts that are nothing more than ‘good cop’ diplomatic tricks to pursue their ‘bad cop’ geopolitical designs. Also, be wary of any initiative or statement that could be interpreted as a subversive invitation for US/NATO military intervention in Serbia and/or Macedonia.

References:

http://sputniknews.com/columnists/20150422/1021229351.html

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Vladimir Putin calls new Ukrainian church ‘dangerous politicking’

President Putin said creation of the “Orthodox Church in Ukraine” is against Church canon and that the West drove Constantinople to do it.

Seraphim Hanisch

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In an interview with the Serbian newspapers Politika and Vecernje Novosti ahead of his visit to Serbia, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted the creation of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”, a schismatic agglomeration headed by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists was “dangerous politicking.” He further noted that:

The establishment of the new religious entity in Ukraine is nothing but an attempt “to legalize the schismatic communities that exist in Ukraine under the jurisdiction of Istanbul, which is a major violation of Orthodox canons.”

“Yet, hardly anyone in the U.S. or in the Ukrainian leadership worries about this,” Putin said.

“Once again, this has nothing to do with spiritual life; we are dealing here with dangerous and irresponsible politicking,” he said.

President Putin had more things to say in the interview, and we present what he said in full here (emphasis ours), as reported on the Kremlin.ru website:

Question: The Serbian Orthodox Church has taken the side of the Russian Orthodox Church in the context of the ecclesiastical crisis in Ukraine. At the same time, a number of countries are exerting pressure on Patriarch Bartholomew and seek to ensure recognition of Ukrainian ”schismatics“ by Local Orthodox Churches. How do you think the situation will evolve?

Vladimir Putin: I would like to remind your readers, who are greatly concerned about the information regarding the split in the Orthodox community but are probably not fully aware of the situation in Ukraine, what it is all about.

On December 15, 2018, the Ukrainian leaders, actively supported by the USA and the Constantinople Patriarchate, held a so-called “unifying synod”. This synod declared the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, with Patriarch Bartholomew signing the tomos (decree) granting it autocephaly on January 6, 2019. Thus, it was attempted to legalize the schismatic communities that exist in Ukraine under the jurisdiction of Istanbul, which is a major violation of Orthodox canons.

Yet, hardly anyone in the US or in the Ukrainian leadership worries about this, as the new church entity is an entirely political, secular project. Its main aim is to divide the peoples of Russia and Ukraine, sowing seeds of ethnic as well as religious discord. No wonder Kiev has already declared ”obtaining complete independence from Moscow.”

Once again, this has nothing to do with spiritual life; we are dealing here with dangerous and irresponsible politicking. Likewise, we do not speak about the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. It is de-facto fully controlled by Istanbul. Whereas Ukraine’s largest canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has never requested autocephaly from Patriarch Bartholomew, is absolutely independent in its actions. Its connection with the Russian Orthodox Church is purely canonical – but even this causes undisguised irritation of the current Kiev regime.

Because of this, clergymen and laymen of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are being persecuted and deprived of churches and monasteries, and attempts are made to deny the Church its legitimate name, which raises tensions and only leads to further discord in Ukrainian society.

Evidently, Ukraine’s leaders have to understand that any attempts to force the faithful into a different church are fraught with grave consequences. Yet, they are eager to put interconfessional concord in the country at stake in order to conduct the election campaign of the current Ukrainian President based on a search for enemies, and to retain power by all means.

All of this does not go unnoticed by Orthodox Christians.

Naturally, Russia does not intend to interfere in ecclesiastical processes, especially those happening on the territory of a neighboring sovereign state. However, we are aware of the danger posed by such experiments and blatant interference of the state in religious affairs.

The situation continues to degrade in Ukraine, and though the Orthodox faithful of the Autonomous but Moscow-based Ukrainian Orthodox Church are the hardest hit, worry over Ukrainian lawlessless-made-law has the Jewish community in that country nervous as well. This is perhaps to be expected as the Azov Brigade, a neo-Nazi aligned group that is hypernationalist, is a good representation of the character of the “hate Russia at all costs” Ukrainian nationalists. A parallel piece in Interfax made note of this in a piece dated January 17th 2019:

[A] bill passed by the Verkhovna Rada introducing a procedure by which parishes can join the new Ukrainian church makes it easier to seize places of worship, and supporters of autocephaly have already started doing this across the country, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church said.

“They need this law to seize our churches. You can’t just come with a crowbar to someone else’s barn, but now the law allows you to do so. They aren’t creating something of their own, but are trying to steal what’s ours,” Ukrainian Orthodox Church spokesperson Vasyl Anisimov told Interfax on Thursday.

The religious entity set up in December with Constantinople’s involvement and called the Orthodox Church of Ukraine “in fact doesn’t yet exist in nature. It’s fake. It doesn’t have any parishes of its own or government registration,” he said.

However, “the supporters of autocephaly don’t have plans to create anything of their own at all, so they have chosen the path of takeover, and the authorities are helping them in that,” Anisimov said.

“Hence, the legislation passed by the Verkhovna Rada today is in fact absolute lawlessness,” he said.

“If you pass legislation affecting an industry, you should talk to industrialists, and if it’s legislation on the agricultural sector, talk to farmers. And here legislation on a church is passed, and moreover, this legislation is aimed against this church, it is protesting, and Jews are protesting, too, because this legislation may affect them as well – but nobody is listening, and they change the law for the sake of an absolutely absurd and unconstitutional gimmick. But, of course, it’s the people who will ultimately suffer,” Anisimov said.

 

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May survives ‘no confidence’ vote as UK moves towards March 29 deadline or Article 50 extension (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 168.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the ‘no confidence’ vote that UK Prime Minister May won with the a slim margin…meaning that though few MPs have confidence in her ‘Brexit withdrawal’ negotiating skills, they appear to have no problem allowing May to lead the country towards its Brexit deadline in March, which coincidently may be delayed and eventually scrapped altogether.

Meanwhile Tony Blair is cozying up to Brussels’ oligarchs, working his evil magic to derail the will of the British people, and keep the integrationist ambitions for the UK and Europe on track.

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Via RT


The UK government led by Theresa May, has survived to fight another day, after winning a no-confidence vote, tabled by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, following parliament rejecting the PM’s Brexit deal, earlier on Tuesday evening.

The no-confidence vote was defeated by 19 votes – the government winning by 325 to 306. It’s a rare positive note for May’s Tory cabinet after the humiliating Brexit defeat.

Speaking immediately after the vote, a victorious May said she was “pleased” that the House expressed its confidence in her government. May said she will “continue to work” to deliver on the result of the Brexit referendum and leave the EU.

May invited the leaders of parliamentary parties to meet with her individually, beginning on Wednesday evening.

“I stand ready to work with any member of this House to deliver on Brexit,” she said.

Responding to the vote, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the House had “emphatically” rejected May’s deal on Tuesday. The government, he said, must now remove “clearly once and for all the prospect of the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit from the EU and all the chaos that would result from that.”

Labour will now have to consider what move to make next. Their official Brexit policy, decided by members at conference in September, states that if a general election cannot be forced, then all options should be left on the table, including calling for a second referendum.

Liberal Democrats MP Ed Davey also called on May to rule out a no deal Brexit.

The way forward for Brexit is not yet clear and May’s options are now limited, given that the Brexit deal she was offering was voted down so dramatically on Tuesday.

Gavin Barrett, a professor at the UCD Sutherland School of Law in Dublin, told RT that May will now have to decide if her second preference is a no-deal Brexit or a second referendum. Her preference will likely be a no-deal Brexit, Barrett said, adding that “since no other option commands a majority in the House” a no-deal exit is now “the default option.”

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Final Steps in Syria’s Successful Struggle for Peace and Sovereignty

The war of aggression against Syria is winding up, and this can be observed by the opening of a series of new embassies in Damascus.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The situation in Syria evolves daily and sees two situations very closely linked to each other, with the US withdrawal from Syria and the consequent expansionist ambitions of Erdogan in Syria and the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) takeover in Idlib that frees the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Russian aviation to liberate the de-escalation zone.

Trump has promised to destroy Turkey economically if he attacks the Kurds, reinforcing his claim that Erdogan will not target the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) once the US withdraws from the area. One of the strongest accusations made against Trump’s withdrawal by his opponents is that no Middle Eastern force will ever trust the US again if they abandon the SDF to its fate, that is, to its annihilation at the hands of the Turkish army and its FSA proxies. This, however, is not possible; not so much because of Trump’s economic threats, but because of Damascus and Moscow being strongly opposed to any Turkish military action in the northeast of Syria.

This is a red line drawn by Putin and Assad, and the Turkish president likely understands the consequences of any wrong moves. It is no coincidence that he stated several times that he had no problems with the “Syrians or Syrian-Kurdish brothers”, and repeated that if the area under the SDF were to come under the control of Damascus, Turkey would have no need to intervene in Syria. Trump’s request that Ankara have a buffer zone of 20 kilometers separating the Kurdish and Turkish forces seems to complement the desire of Damascus and Moscow to avoid a clash between the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the SDF.

The only party that seems to be secretly encouraging a clash between the SDF and Turkish forces is Israel, criticizing Ankara and singing the praises of the SDF, in order to try and accentuate the tensions between the two sides, though naturally without success. Israel’s continued raids in Syria, though almost constantly failing due to Syrian air defense, and the divide-and-rule policy used against Turkey and the SDF, show that Tel Aviv is now weakened and mostly irrelevant in the Syrian conflict.

In Idlib, the situation seems to be becoming less complicated and difficult to decipher. Russia, Iran and Syria had asked Erdogan to take control of the province through its “moderate jihadists”, sit down at the negotiating table, and resolve the matter through a diplomatic solution. Exactly the opposite happened. The HTS (formerly al-Nusra/al-Qaeda in Syria) has in recent weeks conquered practically the whole province of Idlib, with numerous forces linked to Turkey (Ahrar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zenki) dissolving and merging into HTS. This development puts even more pressure on Erdogan, who is likely to see his influence in Idlib fade away permanently. Moreover, this evolution represents a unique opportunity for Damascus and Moscow to start operations in Idlib with the genuine justification of combating terrorism. It is a repeat of what happened in other de-escalation areas. Moscow and Damascus have repeatedly requested the moderates be separated from the terrorists, so as to approach the situation with a diplomatic negotiation.

In the absence of an effective division of combatants, all are considered terrorists, with the military option replacing the diplomatic. This remains the only feasible option to free the area from terrorists who are not willing to give back territory to the legitimate government in Damascus and are keeping civilians hostages. The Idlib province seems to have experienced the same playbook applied in other de-escalation zones, this time with a clear contrast between Turkey and Saudi Arabia that shows how the struggle between the two countries is much deeper than it appears. The reasons behind the Khashoggi case and the diplomatic confrontation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia were laid bare in the actions of the HTS in Idlib, which has taken control of all the areas previously held by Ankara’s proxies.

It remains to be seen whether Moscow and Damascus would like to encourage Erdogan to recover Idlib through its proxies, trying to encourage jihadists to fight each other as much as possible in order to lighten the task of the SAA, or whether they would prefer to press the advantage themselves and attack while the terrorist front is experiencing internal confusion.

In terms of occupied territory and accounts to be settled, two areas of great importance for the future of Syria remain unresolved, namely al-Tanf, occupied by US forces on the Syrian-Jordanian border, and the area in the north of Syria occupied by Turkish forces and their FSA proxies. It is too early to approach a solution militarily, it being easier for Damascus and Moscow to complete the work to free Syria from the remaining terrorists. Once this has been done, the presence of US or Turkish forces in Syria, whether directly or indirectly, would become all the more difficult to justify. Driving away the US and, above all, Turkey from Syrian territory will be the natural next step in the Syrian conflict.

This is an unequivocal sign that the war of aggression against Syria is winding up, and this can be observed by the opening of a series of new embassies in Damascus. Several countries — including Italy in the near future — will reopen their embassies in Syria to demonstrate that the war, even if not completely over, is effectively won by Damascus and her allies.

For this reason, several countries that were previously opposed to Damascus, like the United Arab Emirates, are understood to have some kind of contact with the government of Damascus. If they intend to become involved in the reconstruction process and any future investment, they will quite naturally need to re-establish diplomatic relations with Damascus. The Arab League is also looking to welcome Syria back into the fold.

Such are signs that Syria is returning to normality, without forgetting which and how many countries have conspired and acted directly against the Syrians for over seven years. An invitation to the Arab League or some embassy being reopened will not be enough to compensate for the damage done over years, but Assad does not preclude any option, and is in the meantime demonstrating to the Israelis, Saudis and the US Deep State that their war has failed and that even their most loyal allies are resuming diplomatic relations with Damascus, a double whammy against the neocons, Wahhabis and Zionists.

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