Bush does Albania; exploits Kosovars, Uighurs for cheap propaganda

For those who remember when Albania was a hermetically sealed communist dictatorship under Enver Hoxha, the spectacle of George Bush receiving a hero's welcome in Tirana was a surreal one. An easy appeal to ethnic nationalism on the issue of Kosova was a sure way to win applause. "The question is whether or not there is going to be endless dialogue on a subject that we have made up our mind about," Bush said while visting Prime Minister Sali Berisha June 10. "We believe Kosovo ought to be independent. There just cannot be continued drift, because I'm worried about expectations not being met in Kosovo." But in a none-too-subtle equivocation on actual independence (and a warning against too strident demands for it), he called on Berisha to use his "good contacts" among Kosovar Albanians to help "maintain calm during these final stages." (EU Observer, June 11)

In another surreal spectacle, Bush met in Prague on June 5 with Rebiya Kadeer, an exiled leader of the Uighur independence movement from China's Xinjiang province. "Another dissident I will meet with here is Rebiya Kadeer of China, whose sons have been jailed in what we believe is an act of retaliation for her human rights activities," Bush said in his speech before a Prague conference attended by dissidents from throughout the former socialist bloc. "The talent of men and women like Rebiya is the greatest resource of their nations—far more valuable than the weapons of their army or oil under the ground." (UNPO, June 7)

As we have said before, the oppressed are entitled to take their allies where they can find them. But we hope that Rebiya Kadeer recalls the Bush administration's betrayal of the Uighurs in 2002, when the separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) was added to the State Department "Foreign Terrorist Organizations" list. This was an open bid to win Beijing's cooperation with the Iraq invasion in the Security Council. Now that this is no longer an issue and Beijing is perceived by Washington unequivocally as an imperial rival, Bush is embracing the Uighur cause for reasons which are no less political—and cynical.

A particular irony which we hope is not lost on Rebiya Kadeer is that five Uighur militants who had been held at Guantanamo Bay were released just over a year ago—to Albania. This unlikely destination was a result of pressure from human rights groups, who warned that they could face torture if deported to China. As we noted at the time, the case indicates that, US-Chinese tensions notwithstanding, the two imperial powers still have some common geostrategic interests. We think the same can be said of US-Russian tensions and Bush's supposed support for Kosovar independence—despite the notorious "neocons" and their now-languishing regime change offensive.

See our last posts on Kosova and the Uighurs.

NYT notes Albania's Uighur exiles

And how have those Uighurs been faring in Albania? From the New York Times, June 10, via UNPO:

The men, Muslims from western China’s Uighur ethnic minority, were freed from their confinement in Cuba after they were found to pose no threat to the United States. They have now lived for more than a year in a squalid government refugee center on the grubby outskirts of Tirana, guarded by armed policemen.

The men have been told that they will need to get work to move out of the center, they said, but that they must learn the Albanian language to get work permits. For now, they subsist on free meals heavy with macaroni and rice, and monthly stipends of about $67, which they spend mostly on brief telephone calls to their families. But some of the men have already lost hope of ever seeing their wives and children again...

[Ahktar Qassim] Basit and four other men here, who spent time at a hamlet in Afghanistan run by Uighur separatists, are still considered terrorist suspects by China’s Communist government. Only Albania’s pro-American government would give them asylum, but Albanian officials have since told the men they cannot afford to give them much else.

Things could be worse, the former prisoners note. At least 15 of the 17 Uighurs who remain at Guantánamo have also been cleared for release, but not even Albania will accept them — and neither will the United States. Instead, American diplomats say they have asked nearly 100 countries to provide asylum to the detainees, only to find that Chinese officials have warned some of the same countries not to accept them.

"The United States has made extensive and high-level efforts over a period of four years to try to resettle the Uighurs in countries around the world," the State Department's legal adviser, John B. Bellinger III, said in an interview. Its lack of success, he added, "has not been for lack of trying."


The refugees in Tirana seem to have little sense of how to influence the global chess game in which they have become involved. They spend most of their days behind the refugee center's high, cinderblock walls, reading the Koran, studying Albanian and waiting for a turn on the center's lone desktop computer. They avoid the gravelly soccer field because it reminds them of one they looked out on at Guantánamo.

With President Bush scheduled to visit Albania on Sunday [10 June 2007], the Uighurs and three other former Guantánamo detainees here are also asking whether the United States, having flown them here in shackles, might do anything to help get them the housing, jobs and other support they have been told to expect.

A particularly telling passage:

Several of the Uighurs said their most traumatic experience at Guantánamo was their interrogation by a team of Chinese security officials in September 2002. The Chinese "had all of our files from the Americans," Mr. Qassim said, threatened them repeatedly and insisted that the prisoners return with them to China. They refused.

But American intelligence personnel at Guantánamo soon began to doubt that most of the Uighurs represented a real terrorist threat, officials who served there said. By late 2003, senior national security officials in Washington cleared most of the Uighurs for release — 14, by one official's count.

Some officials at the Pentagon advocated sending the Uighurs back to China, and the State Department eventually sought and received assurances from the Chinese that they would treat the men humanely. But senior officials finally decided not to repatriate them, citing China’s past treatment of the Uighur minority.

The State Department began approaching both Muslim countries like Turkey and those with small Uighur communities, like Germany and Sweden. However, the search was interrupted in September 2004, when the Pentagon set up panels at Guantánamo to decide whether the prisoners there, including the 22 Uighurs, were being rightfully held. Although most of the Uighurs had already been cleared for release, the review panels found that all but six were in fact enemy combatants.

The boards were told to review the Uighur cases again, officials said. This time, they found that only five could be freed. (Subsequent annual reviews have cleared 15 of the 17 remaining detainees.)

non sequiter

RE: you're rant against the 9/11 Truth movement

9-11 AND THE NEW PEARL HARBOR Aw Shut Up Already, Will Ya? http://classic.countervortex.org/node/2413

that popped up on http://forums.therandirhodesshow.com/lofiversion/index.php/t113505.html

via a link from

It left me curious as to what your objective is?

Are you in favor of abandoning the quest for a constitutional convention that would eliminate the electoral college, institute instant run off voting, etc., by impeaching the officials found to be complicit in precipitating the 9/11 attack and exposing the IRON TRIANGLE players that have subverted our nation beyond imagination?

Or are you only interested in circular debate with no effective result from your effort, just for the sake of academic banter?

I find your material valuable in many cases, but as far as making a difference, you seem to be a counter productive defeatist?


Our true mission...

...is to slap down fools who think they are smart enough to challenge the findings of MIT and NIST on 9-11 but can't spell "non sequitur" or "your." Speaking of non sequiturs, why did you post this in an item about Albania? Reforming the electoral college sounds like a good idea to us, but we fail to see what it has to do with 9-11 conspiranoia. And why an "IRON TRIANGLE"? Why in all caps? Why not a trapezoid or a septagon?

Steven Jones, Albania and the Iron Triangle

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Mission accomplished