George Bush goes to Albania and is hailed as a great leader. The red flag goes up right there.Bush's visit to Albania will thank a country loyal to his policies
"Albania has cooperated with the United States in foiling terrorist attacks on U.S. targets and has sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, but in accepting the five Uighurs (men held in Gitmo found to be innocent) - Muslims from northwestern China - and an Uzbek, Egyptian and Algerian it's performed a service that no other ally would do."
Why is Albania of all places, a noted supporter of Bush policy? Why did Bush go there? Are there really Albanian troops in Afghanistan and Iraq? And who are the Uighurs and what are they doing in Albania?
George Bush is greeted by Albanian Prime Minister Dr. Sali Berisha. A brief portrait of Berisha reveals:
He was re-elected to that position in 2005 having previously served as Prime Minister from 1992 to 1997.
Berisha came to the Albanian forefront in the early 90s bringing a Democratic Party into power after an Eastern European communist regime that lasted decades. The one time communist card carrying and pointedly authoritarian Berisha was aided in this period by The United States
. Berisha pushed Albania into a privatized economy during the 1990s but that policy horribly failed and consequently dragged the population into more financial chaos. Berisha resigned from office in 1997 following the crisis. During that period, Albania's chief export was its own unemployed people
. Albanians worked abroad and sent money home. Emigrant unemployed Albanians remain a problem in parts of Europe especially in Greece and Italy. Immigration problems seem to follow this president everywhere.
From a 1998 BBC piece: Anatomy of a leader: Dr Sali Berisha
"...his rapid liberalisation of the economy brought hardship for many Albanians and riches for the only the select few."
Berisha did manage to get one of the centerpieces of neo-liberalism into Albania during his 90s stint, that would be a Coca Cola plant
The full text of Berisha's greeting is posted on the White House website
The Uighurs are Muslim natives of western China. That part of China borders on Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Uighurs call the area East Turkestan but that is an unofficial name. The Uighurs are bad news to the Chinese. The Uighurs want religious freedom and independence consequently they are labeled as terrorists by the Chinese. Human rights activists view the Chinese broad use of the "war on terrorism" as an excuse to crush the Uighurs. Source
One is reminded of the Chinese disembowelment of Tibet.
Twenty Uighers were held at Guantanamo Bay. In May of 2006, five were released, found to be no threat and of no danger to anybody, even the military had known they were innocent for a long period of their imprisonment. So rather than see these men create another embarrassing international situation for the Bush administration by having an eventual court trial that would expose an unlawful detention and by sending them back to China where they would face further imprisonment by the Chinese as terrorists there, they were shuffled off to Albania! This is completely valid according to the Bush rules of "the war on terrorism" - one day you're in China, another in Pakistan, now you're bundled off to spend 5 years in Cuba at Gitmo as an enemy combatant, then your are fortunately resettled in Albania! Sound good to you? Source
"The US state department called Albania's offer to resettle the men, "an important humanitarian gesture"."
Take it from those who know what humanitarianism means.
So exactly how big is the Albanian effort in Afghanistan and Iraq? There are 120 Albanian troops in Mosul and 30 Albanian troops in Afghanistan. Clearly they are frontrunners in the President's coalition. This may sound sarcastic but its also true. Such loyalty must be rewarded. Source
There are roughly 150,000 troops in Iraq with another 100,000 from the mercenaries. 120 divided by 250,000 gives us a figure of .048%. The Albanians represent slightly less than one twentieth of one percent of the troops in Iraq (1/20th of 1%).
Rumsfeld visited Albania back in September of 2006 and got the full royal treatment - music to his ears and the Iraq occupation effort. Source
“Let me declare here, Mr. Secretary, that the Albanian armed forces will stay on the side of the American armed forces in Iraq until the mission will be over...We want to be real partners of the American armed forces.”
The praise and support for America by the Albanians goes a long way back. Albania is one of the poorest European countries and stands to economically gain from American support. You give a little, you get a little. The presidential support for Kosovo is part of it. American military support for the Kosovo Liberation Army also is part of it. Source
There is a large Albanian population in Kosovo, they share a border. In this trip to Albania Bush exclaimed, "Sooner rather than later you've got to say `Enough's enough _ Kosovo is independent...'"
As far as foiling terrorism, the results are mixed - Albanian terror arrests criticized
This particular story deals with a suspect on the American blacklist who may not have done anything at all, except that in arresting him Albanians gained American favor.
One last tip on Albania -
"Amnesty International remains concerned that torture and ill-treatment of detainees are common in Albania...The trafficking of women and children for forced prostitution and cheap labour continued, although arrests and prosecutions for trafficking markedly increased..."
All this occurs as world opinion falls flat on Bush as the emissary of democracy. Bush Is Losing Credibility On Democracy, Activists Say
. Fortunately the USA can count on Albania.