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US Likely Set Up Base in Albania to Counter China, Ex-CIA Analyst Says

© AP Photo / Hektor PustinaU.S. SP4 James A. Loux army vessel is seen at Albania's main port of Durres, Saturday, May 1, 2021.
U.S. SP4 James A. Loux army vessel is seen at Albania's main port of Durres, Saturday, May 1, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.01.2022
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - One reason the US military may have opened a special operations command in Albania is because Washington is concerned about Tirana's ties with China, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern told Sputnik.
On Friday, US European Command (EUCOM) said it was establishing a special operations headquarters in Albania as part of an effort to boost capabilities as a keystone for regional stability. EUCOM also said the base offers increased interoperability with US Albanian allies and important access to transportation hubs in the Balkans.
McGovern said Washington decided to locate a base there "because they [the US] just learned that Albania is a tight ally of the Chinese Communists."
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in a recent analysis identified 135 Chinese-linked projects in the region worth more than $36 billion. The types of projects range from collaboration with Chinese tech firm Huawei, blacklisted by the US as a security threat, to metallurgy, mining, energy, and transport initiatives.
The flags of the United States and China fly from a lamppost in the Chinatown neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., November 1, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.01.2022
White House: US Seeks ‘Kind of Coexistence’ With China, Not Indo-Pacific Domination
China has also expanded its influence in the region via a number of bilateral security, medical, and cultural agreements in addition to vaccine donations.
Albanian President Ilir Meta during a meeting with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in October said that cooperation between the two countries has great potential. The two sides also agreed to boost trade while China signaled that it stands ready to work with Albania to forge high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, Xinhua reported after their meeting.
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