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US to open special ops base in Albania to counter Chinese influence

WASHINGTON is to set up a “special operations” base in Albania in a bid to counter Chinese influence in the region, United States European Command (Eucomm) confirmed last Friday,

It said the new headquarters would be part of efforts “to boost capabilities as a keystone for regional stability:” Pentagon-speak for pressing US interests.

The move comes after the EU-backed Balkan Investigative Reporting Network identified 135 Chinese-linked projects in the region worth more than $36 billion (£27bn). They include metallurgy, mining, energy and transport initiatives, along with technological collaboration from Huawei, which is deemed a security threat by the US.

Albania has maintained good relations with China and is an integral part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, with the two nations agreeing to boost trade and co-operation last October.

Speaking to Russian media outlet Sputnik, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern said the opening of the special operations hub is “because they [the US] just learned that Albania is a tight ally of the Chinese communists.”

According to Eucomm, the base will also enable closer work with US allies inside Albania and access to key transport hubs in the Balkans.

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