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Renewed political instability in Albania following the Oct. 25
resignation of Prime Minister Pandeli Majko may cause the internal
feuding of rival groups to spill over into neighboring Kosovo and once
again prompt a U.S. and NATO military response, according to a published
report.

“Despite their long history of conflict, Albania’s divided ethnic
groups presented a united front during the war in Kosovo,” said the
intelligence service, Stratfor.com. “Now that the war is over, however,
the country has elected the previous leadership and resumed its internal
feuding. It is likely this feuding will escalate to a clash threatening
to envelop Kosovo, and forcing NATO to become involved in yet another
foreign ethnic conflict.”

The resignation of Majko resulted in the official transfer of power
“back into the hands of longtime arch-rivals Fatos Nano and Sali
Berisha, who will now directly compete for control of Albania,” the
report said. “This event … will have ramifications for the entire
region” because of “a new and potentially violent disagreement
developing between ethnic-Albanian subgroups.”

According to the report, “Albania has returned to the extremist
pre-Kosovo war leadership,” despite the international community’s
efforts to ensure a more moderate administration. “The return of Nano
and Berisha to power heightens the danger of political instability, both
for Albania and the region.”

Both men represent different ethnic groups historically opposed to
each other. “Nano and Berisha are merely representations of Albania’s
divided ethnic groups, the Northern Ghegs and the Southern Tosks,” said
the report. It added: “The Tosks generally support Nano and the former
communists; Berisha’s supporters are mostly rural Ghegs.”

With the war over, both groups appear to be poised to renew their
ethnic fighting. But “in the wake of Kosovo,” the report said, “NATO
would likely interfere in the event of (renewed) ethnic conflict.” The
dilemma for NATO, however, would be in deciding which side to support.

During the war, NATO sided with Kosovar Albanians, whose ties are to
Berisha but whose ranks also contain former members of the Kosovo
Liberation Army, “whom (NATO) has already allowed too much power.”

“On the other hand, if NATO sided with Nano, it would be supporting
Communists as well as confronting the ethnic Albanian population it
supported in Kosovo,” the report said, adding, “Neither choice is
desirable.”

During the Kosovo conflict, western observers noted that the
Albanians seemed helpful and generous as they took in refugees and
supported their ethnic Albanian neighbors.

“The international community thought it was finally witnessing the
emergence of a stable, almost healthy Albania,” said the report.

“However, the tables have turned, and Albania is set to pull its
neighbors into its own internal battle. NATO may again be forced to
choose the lesser of two evils in a distant ethnic clash.”

In a televised debate with Vice President Al Gore on Wednesday,
former Sen. Bill Bradley, a contender for the Democratic Party
presidential nomination in 2000, said, “We need to find ways of using
multilateral institutions, like the UN, regional institutions, like NATO
or in Southeast Asia, to deal with problems” — like Kosovo — “where
we’re a part of that (solution).”

“It doesn’t mean that you never deploy forces,” he added. “But it
means that if you do deploy forces, the national interest has to be
clearly at stake and has to be consistent with values. And if we’re
talking about the smaller areas, that it would be better to work through
multilateral institutions.”

Gore also supports limited intervention in ethnic conflicts. “We’re
the natural leader of the world. I don’t think that’s a chauvinist
American statement, I think it’s a statement of fact,” he said.

“We have to accept that mantle of leadership. And when there is
terrible violence in the rest of the world we have to pay careful
attention to it,” he added.

Patrick Buchanan, the leading contender for the Reform Party
presidential nomination, told spectators during a speech in South
Carolina on Wednesday he mostly disagrees with continued intervention,
either in Kosovo or elsewhere.

“In the words of John Quincy Adams, our greatest Secretary of State,
‘Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be
unfurled, there will [America's] heart, her benedictions, and her
prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy,’”
he said.

“The best way to keep the peace is to redefine war on our terms,”
said leading GOP nominee George W. Bush. If elected, he added, he would
re-emphasize “homeland defense” as well as “project America’s peaceful
influence, not just across the world, but across the years.”

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