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Arabs, Iranians, and Turks vs. Balkan Muslims

4:04 PM, May 11, 2012 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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The Albanian Bektashis are admired for their enlightened principles, including gender equality, secular government, and public education. But they are also known as fierce Albanian patriots. In the words of Sulejmani, “we are Muslims and Sufis but we are not Arabs, Iranians, or Turks, and the missionaries of foreign Islamic cultures had better get used to it. Given the policies of presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in support of Kosovo, Albanians feel closer to America than to any adventurers from the Middle East.” They are proud that Albanian troops served in Iraq and continue to participate in the Afghanistan mission. They feel spiritual affinity with the Sufis of Iraq and Afghanistan, but are loyal, above all, to their “true friends” in the United States.

The role of American power in saving Kosovo is also recalled in discussions of Bashar al-Assad’s repression in Syria. In April, an anti-Assad Syrian and Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington, Ammar Abdulhamid, visited the Kosovo capital of Pristina in the company of two other dissidents, seeking lessons from the Kosovo war for the Syrian opposition.

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