operation launched by NATO
on August 27, 2001 and was concluded on September 26, 2001. The primary goal was to peacefully collect and destroy weapons
from ethnic Albanian rebels
and establish stability in the country. Approximately 3,500 British
lead NATO troops
were sent to this the southernmost former-Yugoslav Republic
including some 600 Americans. The mission
concentrated around the cities of Kumanovo and Tetovo, the areas of highest guerrilla
activity in the north of the country.
troops were invited by the Macedonian government to ensure that the ethnic Albanian rebels
fulfilled their part of a peace deal. NATO
agreed to send troops
under the sole condition that the political dialogue between the various parties in the former-Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia had a successful outcome and that a cease-fire
was respected. In exchange for disarming, the government has agreed to ratify amendments
to the constitution
giving the country's ethnic Albanians more rights.
It was not expected that the rebel army, the so-called “National Liberation Army
), would hand over most or the best of their weapons
, but it is hoped to serve as a confidence-building measure during the fragile post-agreement period. It is hoped that Operation Essential Harvest would lead to a de-escalation of ethnic and religious strife in Macedonia
, which was on the verge of civil war
earlier in 2001. The situation in Macedonia has indeed cooled off and Essential Harvest was deemed a success with NATO collecting more than the intial goal of 3,300 weapons.
Despite all the progress being made towards ending this conflict, there are still some troubles simmering under the surface. The majority ethnic Macedonians are strongly against giving the ethnic Albanians more rights. There is also no guarantee that the NLA
appreciably or that they will continue in their cooperation in peace talks. A manifestation of this tenuous situation was the killing of a British solider on August 27th. Ian Collins, 20, was one of Britain’s Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers
and died after being hit by a block of concrete in the capital, Skopje
. The block was thrown from an overpass onto the armored vehicle
he was driving.
is a volatile country
that doesn’t get much attention among Americans
or the American press
. With the terrorist
attacks on September 11, 2001
and the resulting shift of the United State’s attention toward a war on terrorists
world wide, many Muslims
in the Balkans
fear that they will fall off the edge of the west’s attention even further. With the west diverted, it is feared that their enemies
will gain the upper hand.