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Author Topic: The Balkans  (Read 11081 times)
Power User
Posts: 42512

« on: November 17, 2007, 07:49:08 AM »


Unfortunately it looks like yet another excrement storm is coming.  I use this piece from Stratfor to start this thread because it seems to give a good yet quick initial sense of the clusterfcuk that apparently is coming down the pike.


Kosovo: The Fuse on the Balkan Powder Keg

Kosovo's expected Dec. 10 declaration of independence from Serbia is already inspiring minor violent incidents throughout the Balkans. If tensions erupt over the issue, the fighting is almost certain to spread beyond Kosovo and Serbia.


Kosovo is set to hold parliamentary and local elections Nov. 17 amid tensions surrounding talks on the region's status and the boycott of the elections called by the Serbs. Leading up to Kosovo's expected Dec. 10 declaration of independence from Serbia, small sparks of violence are surfacing not only in Kosovo and Serbia, but also in other Balkan states -- illustrating that if this powder keg blows, the explosion will not be limited to Kosovo and Serbia.

Though the international community is completely split on the issue of Kosovar independence -- and has been since the region's 1999 provisional break from Serbia -- the small secessionist government has said it will not wait any longer. Serbs consider Kosovo the birthplace of their national identity and view Kosovar Albanians as little more than a recent infestation, though the province's population is now more than 90 percent Albanian and less than 5 percent Serbian. The Kosovars want nothing less than independence, and the Serbs want to give them anything but.

Kosovo had expected the West to continue supporting what it called the inevitability of Kosovar independence. However, that inevitability is now lost in the shuffle of a larger political battle between global power players such as Russia, the European Union and the United States, and Serbia and Kosovo are left with only uncertainty.

All sides fear this uncertainty will turn volatile -- and possibly bloody. If an explosion of violence does occur, it will not be contained within Serbia and Kosovo's borders; it could destabilize the entire Balkan region. Minor incidents of violence and instability have already been seen in Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Serbia and Kosovo

Serbia and Kosovo seem to have avoided violence on the scale of that seen in the late 1990s, mainly because the Radicals did not come to power during Serbian elections and because Kosovar independence was continually put on the back burner this year. This does not mean, however, that such violence can be avoided altogether, especially as each side gets more fed up with the situation. Small-scale violence has been seen and is not unexpected. Tensions are high between Kosovars and Serbs and within each ethnic faction as well.

The Serbs within Kosovo do not make up enough of the population to attempt any meaningful military operations, but there are other threats. The most obvious -- but not the most likely -- is that Serbia could do what it did in 1999 when it wanted to reassert full control over Kosovo: send in the army. But the military is not in the shape it was in then. Moreover, the Serbs within Serbia proper are too fractured; some are willing to forgo Kosovo to gain EU membership, while others are willing to fight to the end for the small province. That is enough to cause trouble, since only a few radicals are needed to form paramilitary groups like those seen during the war.

There are also small Serbian terrorist groups that have been operating periodically in Serbia and Kosovo. The best known is Tsar Lazar's Guard, which was a joke when it first formed but has been gaining support -- and reportedly weapons -- as Dec. 10 approaches. Serbs are not the only group reported to have militants working for their cause; the Albanian National Army militant group reportedly has been recruiting new members and equipment recently.

Kosovar Albanians also have been stirring unrest inside the recently independent Montenegro. The small Albanian population in Montenegro on the Kosovar border has already been stirred up, however; a handful of Albanians were arrested in Ulcinj, Montenegro, and Kosovar Albanians began flooding over the border and stormed the police station in protest.

Montenegro understands what it is like to push for independence from Serbia, but unlike Kosovo the country is still very divided over whether it is content with its new independence. Approximately 40 percent still consider themselves ethnically Serbian -- especially since they share the same church and same language -- and are thus loyal to Belgrade. Some Montenegrin Serbians have already pledged to help fight if Kosovo gets its independence.


The militants in Kosovo have also been linked to Albanians crossing the border from Macedonia. Albanians are the ethnic minority within Macedonia but hold the majority of the northwestern part of the country. The Macedonian-Kosovar border is mountainous and incredibly porous, leading to large border crossings that the already weak Macedonian military cannot prevent. These Albanians and Kosovar Albanians have been seen actively engaging in violence on both sides of the border, proving that the wounds from the 2001 Macedonia conflict -- in which the Albanians within the country began attacking Macedonian forces -- are still fresh.

Internally, Macedonia has been politically unstable because of the main Albanian party actively pushing against the government as it keeps its eyes on Kosovo. Macedonia is trying to keep a lid on any large-scale violence because of its aspirations to join the EU, but hostilities have broken out within Macedonia's borders. On Nov. 7, Macedonian police killed four Albanians in an operation called Mountain Storm on Mount Sar Planina. Macedonian police said the Albanians were planning a major terrorist act that would destabilize both Kosovo and Macedonia.


Bosnia-Herzegovina could be a flashpoint in the struggle over Kosovo. Bosnia-Herzegovina is split between two autonomous regions -- the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Republika Srpska (the Serb Republic) -- and three ethnic groups: Muslim Bosniaks, Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs. In short, the country does not have a comfortable ethnic, social, historic or political mixture. The U.N. administrative presence is the only thing keeping relative peace and general unity in the country.

However, control is being transferred from the United Nations to the European Union -- something many radical Serbs within the country are not happy with because it means the loss of Russia's voice in Bosnia's future (Russia is on the U.N. Security Council and supports the Orthodox Serbs). The Muslims within the country do not want EU supervision, claiming the Union is not friendly to Muslims. Republika Srpska has criticized the transfer, since they pledge their loyalty to their brother Serbs next door and to their more numerous Orthodox brothers in Russia.

The Muslim Bosniaks and Serbs -- with the Croats in flux -- are keeping the country from moving toward any political unity or a real constitution. But with Kosovo in play, the Serbs from Republika Srpska are threatening to declare their own independence. It is no secret that the majority of Serbs within Republika Srpska want Serbia proper to annex their region, though many Serbs in Serbia proper look upon them as radicals or country bumpkins. Serbs in Republika Srpska could become very problematic if they either split from Bosnia-Herzegovina or decide to flood across the border to fight with their fellow Serbs. NATO -- which commands the European forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina -- is rumored to have a contingency plan to sweep into Republika Srpska if either of these events happens, taking the government buildings and media outlets and blocking the main roads into Serbia.

The Threat of Greater -- and Spreading -- Violence

Contagion effects of Balkan violence are well known; they were seen both in the early 20th century and in the 1990s, and the recent outbursts are following the same pattern. Since EU and NATO forces are present, there have been no large wars declared by the states themselves. But if the region does ignite, Western forces could face many problems. First, those forces are a mere shadow of what they were during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s -- during which it took four years to get the region generally under control. European and U.S. forces are deployed only in the non-Serbian section of Bosnia-Herzegovina and within Kosovo, not throughout the region. Furthermore, NATO and the United States are bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq and trying to juggle threats larger than the Balkans -- namely Iran and Russia.

To put it plainly, the West is not paying much attention to the Balkans other than as a bargaining chip with other global players such as Russia. But with or without the world watching, the actors in the Balkans are ready to move.
Power User
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« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2007, 08:50:07 AM »

Geopolitical Diary: Breaking Eggs in Kosovo

Kosovo is one of those places people know have problems, but figure will be contained and not become a concern to the international community. Ever since the air campaign conducted against Yugoslavia in 1999 by NATO, and particularly the United States, the Serbian province of Kosovo has been treated as territory occupied and policed by NATO and the policy of the occupiers has been, ultimately, to create a separate and independent Kosovo, which is ethnically dominated by Albanians but historically part of Serbia.

Ethnic Albanians and Serbs from Kosovo conducted talks for the last three days, but failed to reach an agreement on Kosovo's status. French Lt. Gen. Xavier de Marnhac, speaking at a press conference, warned of tough times ahead in Kosovo and asked for clear guidance from the international community as to what he is supposed to do if violence erupts. "It's going to be tough and to expect to do that without breaking eggs, forget it," De Marnhac said. "We will definitely break some eggs." We assume this is French for kicking some butt.

The problem is that Belgrade regards Kosovo as part of Serbia and its current ethnic makeup as the result of Albanian and NATO actions, and does not intend to abandon the province. The rest of Europe does not really want to force it to. Once it is established that a region with a different ethnic makeup has the inherent right to independence, then other regions in Europe might also lay claim to independence. There is Northern Ireland, the Basque regions of Spain, the Hungarian regions in Romania and Slovakia and a range of aspiring nations in the former Soviet Union.

European stability since World War II has rested on the concept that borders are inviolable, even if they contain within them regions of other nationalities. The break-up of Czechoslovakia was the result of mutual agreement, and that is precisely what the Europeans want. They do not want Kosovo to set a precedent for Belgian Walloons wanting out of Belgium. To a great extent the world wars of the 20th century were triggered by borders not matching nationalities.

The Europeans expected the Serbs to behave like Europeans, abandoning nationalism for the economic benefits of inclusion in the European Union. That would have solved everything, but the Serbs have not behaved that way. They accept exclusion from Europe if the price is Kosovo. This has baffled Europe. They do not know how to deal with Serbia. They do not want to separate Kosovo by force, nor can they get Serbia to agree to separation.

Add to this the fact that the Russians are adamantly opposed to an independent Kosovo and the entire matter is elevated to a global issue. The Russians see themselves as allies of Serbia and they fear that if Albanian Muslims are allowed to become independent from an Orthodox Christian country, the precedent might spread to Chechnya or elsewhere in Russia. Moreover, Putin is looking for a chance to test his strength against the United States, and the last thing the Europeans want is the Russians and Americans testing their strength in Europe. They have had quite enough of that.

On the other hand, the Kosovar Albanians seem committed to declaring unilateral independence soon. When they do, the NATO troops in Kosovo will have to make a decision on exactly which eggs to break. That is why de Marnhac asked for guidance on what to do should the Albanians declare a state. If NATO defends the new state, then the precedent is set, and it will have to break Serbian eggs. If it suppresses the new state, then it has to break Albanian eggs.

The Euro-American assumption was that at some point the Serbs in Belgrade would break and force the Serbs in Kosovo to accept an Albanian government. That hasn't happened and it probably won't. The problem is that the Americans and Europeans don't have a Plan B. An Albanian move to independence will leave everyone paralyzed, which is exactly why the Albanians will try it. The next step is probably to try to get the Albanians not to declare independence, but they have little motivation to listen.

If Kosovo breaks out of the box it was placed in in 1999, there will be another Balkan crisis, another Christian-Muslim confrontation and a confrontation between NATO and Russia. That should be enough to convince anyone that the evolution of events in Kosovo will matter. The Serbs will refuse to bend and the Albanians will not let this chance slip.

We understand the good general warning about broken eggs and asking for guidance on which eggs to break. Unfortunately, guidance requires a political decision, and NATO does not make decisions well. Therefore the underlying policy of NATO will continue to consist of hope coupled with civil servants holding meetings. Until all hell breaks loose in the Balkans again.

Power User
Posts: 42512

« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2008, 02:18:56 AM »


The Russian press (which is to say, the state-controlled media) was deathly quiet about Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia on Monday. Even the basic reports of states’ initial recognitions of Kosovo showed up hours late.

Historically, when Russian newspapers are silent, it means one of two things: First, there could be a total lack of consensus and direction among Moscow’s upper leadership regarding what to do — which typically sets the stage for a palace coup. Such silence reigned after the Cuban Missile Crisis and just before the fall of Nikita Khrushchev, as well as after the 1999 NATO-Yugoslav War, which led to Vladimir Putin’s rise. Second, the Kremlin could have a major plan on which it is about to act. Such quietness also preceded the building of the Berlin Wall and the 1979 attack against Afghanistan.

In the face of the major powers’ recognition of an independent Belgrade, Moscow needs to repair the image of Russian power — both in the former Soviet Union and in Europe itself. But it is not enough simply to expand and entrench Russia’s influence somewhere. To regain its credibility, Russia must strike back at those that made Kosovar independence possible: the European Union and NATO.

This eliminates many of Russia’s options. For example, pushing hard in Georgia by annexing the Caucasian state’s two separatist regions might represent a kind of victory for the Kremlin and serve certain Russian interests, but at the end of the day, Georgia is a peripheral concern for the Europeans. Russia needs to move in a region in which Europe has a direct stake.

The list of possibilities is brutally short. There really are only three points where Russian options significantly overlap with European vulnerabilities. The first is Ukraine, which the Europeans have marked for eventual EU membership. But “eventual” is the key word here; while Ukraine is high on Europe’s “to-integrate” list, real work has not yet begun there. Additionally, Russia already is neck-deep in Ukrainian politics, so any surge might prove difficult to identify. Russia needs far more than a token victory — it needs to hit where Europe can feel the impact.

The second option is the Finnish frontier. The European who has taken point for the bulk of the EU Kosovo policy is Martti Ahtisaari, who served as prime minister of Finland — and, incidentally, held the rotating presidency of the European Union — when the first Kosovo crisis erupted in 1998. He has since served as the U.N. mediator on the Kosovo issue. The EU plan for Kosovo’s guided independence largely is his brainchild. Add in a century of complex relations between Finland and Russia, and a Finno-Russian crisis could fit the bill.

But there are problems with this strategy. Russia has no real tools for pressuring Finland, shy of a military invasion. Moscow is angry, but it does not want to start a hot war, and Finland’s military exists for but one reason: to defend against a Russian attack. During the Cold War, Russia was powerful enough to cow Finland into neutrality, but Russian power is no longer sufficient enough to intimidate Helsinki to that degree. In the aftermath of a Russian defeat over Kosovo, a Russian military move against Finland actually could result in a close NATO-Finland relationship that might even include NATO membership for Helsinki. This only would compound Russia’s humiliation.

The final option involves the three Baltic republics: Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. These former Soviet states house substantial Russian minorities, and each has a reputation for seizing whatever opportunity it can to twist the Russian tail. Unlike Finland, the Baltics are not militarily capable of attempting a reasonable independent defense. The only thing preventing a Russian move against the Baltics is the risk of a NATO or EU reaction — all three Baltic states are members of both organizations. Yet, unlike the former Warsaw Pact states of Central Europe, the Baltics lack the infrastructure connections to the core of Europe that would enable them to be defended easily by NATO allies. They sport no NATO bases of military significance, and the only NATO member with a meaningful expeditionary capability is the United States, which has all of its deployable troops locked down in Iraq.

Russia hardly needs to conquer these three states to prove its point. Simply using military force to settle a minor border dispute — even one over a space as small as a few acres — would be sufficient. Russia needs to pick a fight it can win, as well as one that humiliates NATO and the European Union. The Baltics could provide the only potential crisis that delivers both.

Moscow has always thought that NATO security guarantees are not worth the paper they are written on. If Russia is to avoid being pushed not only out of the Balkans but also eventually out of its own periphery — and if Putin is going to secure his own skin (to say nothing of his legacy) — the Kremlin might finally have to test that position.
Power User
Posts: 42512

« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2008, 05:15:26 AM »

The Birth of Kosovo
February 18, 2008; Page A18
When Slovenia declared independence in 1991, Belgrade sent in tanks. When Croatia and Bosnia did the same, the Serbs started wars that left a quarter million dead. So Serbia's resort to violent rhetoric in response to Kosovo's declaration of independence yesterday counts as a kind of Balkan progress.

The newborn isn't out of danger, with Serbia and Russia wishing Kosovo ill. But the presence of NATO troops, and expected swift recognition by the U.S. and major European powers, ought to calm nerves and end the last territorial dispute in the Balkans. By taking the lead during the 1999 aerial war that forced Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansers from Kosovo and now on independence, the U.S. is shepherding one more Muslim nation to freedom—not that it will get credit for it in the Islamic world.

The proliferation of small states since the fall of communism has made Europe more stable and democratic, from Estonia to Macedonia. A sovereign Kosovo, which follows the entry of even tinier Montenegro into the club of nations, can be a force for good in the region and in the wider Europe. Though lawyers may quibble, Kosovo differs in no way from the other stand-alone parts of Yugoslavia that won their freedom after 1991, and are now better off for it. Serbian lobbyists portray the Kosovars as Muslim terrorists, but that strains credulity, given their moderate and secular practice of Islam (and Christianity) and their stated commitment to democracy.

Kosovar leaders say they want their country to join the European Union and NATO, which would open their borders to free trade and bring them into European security structures. The Kosovar Albanians also seem aware that their new state will be judged on their protection of minority Serbs and willingness to make up with former enemies. International oversight and scrutiny can help ensure these promises are kept. Western chaperones will also have to watch the fragile multiethnic constructs in nearby Bosnia and Macedonia, where separatists may try to use Kosovo independence to push for a breakup.

Russia has called for an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting to revoke the independence declaration. With no troops or permanent interests on the ground, however, Moscow may be happy merely to score political points against the West—and then, as usual, abandon the Serbs to their fate.

Serbia is the sole former Yugoslav state that is not on track to integrate with the West. Responsible for and unapologetic about so much bloodletting in the 1990s, it doesn't seem to realize that history has moved on. The furious reaction to Kosovo independence has been redolent of Milosevic's "Greater Serbia" nationalism. In a televised address on the weekend, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica blamed the U.S. for "this violence," stoking the Serb sense of grievance.

Some European countries want to indulge the Serbs, offering them fast-track membership in the EU. In return, Serb politicians have threatened to freeze EU talks and downgrade relations with countries that recognize Kosovo—in short, most of the West. If the Serbs want to live through yet another lost decade, that is their choice to make.

The one Serbian politician brave enough to challenge Serbian historical nationalism was the late Prime Minister Zoran Djinjic, who was killed in 2003. Serbia needs another leader who can acknowledge the country's cultural and historical links to Kosovo, while accepting its neighbor's desire for freedom. One doesn't cancel the other. Germans appreciate Gdansk's role in their history without calling for another invasion of Poland, and Poles treasure Vilnius but accept Lithuania's freedom.

Serbian President Boris Tadic, who barely beat an ultranationalist in elections this month, has pledged to "do everything in [Serbia's] power to revoke the unilateral and illegal declaration of independence" – short of military action, he added. Mr. Tadic also said Serbia wants to join the EU. Brussels can help Serbia's re-education by insisting that any progress on membership be conditional on Belgrade's recognition of Kosovo. It can also insist, as the EU has for the past 13 years, that Serbia hand over indicted war criminals Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic for trial.

The EU's great achievement has been to bring World War II enemies into a club committed to peace and prosperity. It's now the Balkans' turn. Kosovo's independence opens the way to bringing this region into Europe, which is a victory for everyone, including the Serbs.

Power User
Posts: 42512

« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2008, 11:07:04 AM »

Could this be the beginning of Russia's reply?!?

Some countries might recognize the sovereignty of Georgian breakaway republics South Ossetia and Abkhazia before the end of 2008, RIA Novosti reported Feb. 20, citing South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity. Russia likely will not be the first to recognize the regions’ independence, Kokoity said. He added that the regions should first become independent through legislation, then integrate themselves with Russia as much as possible.

Power User
Posts: 42512

« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2008, 07:29:37 AM »

We bombed the wrong side?

by Lewis MacKenzie

National Post, 6 April 2004 11 April 2004
The URL of this article is:

Five years ago our television screens were dominated by pictures of Kosovo-Albanian refugees escaping across Kosovo's borders to the sanctuaries of Macedonia and Albania. Shrill reports indicated that Slobodan Milosevic's security forces were conducting a campaign of genocide and that at least 100,000 Kosovo-Albanians had been exterminated and buried in mass graves throughout the Serbian province. NATO sprung into action and, in spite of the fact no member nation of the alliance was threatened, commenced bombing not only Kosovo, but the infrastructure and population of Serbia itself -- without the authorizing United Nations resolution so revered by Canadian leadership, past and present.

Those of us who warned that the West was being sucked in on the side of an extremist, militant, Kosovo-Albanian independence movement were dismissed as appeasers. The fact that the lead organization spearheading the fight for independence, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), was universally designated a terrorist organization and known to be receiving support from Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda was conveniently ignored.
The recent dearth of news in the North American media regarding the increase in violence in Kosovo compared to the comprehensive coverage in the European press strongly suggests that we Canadians don't like to admit it when we are wrong. On the contrary, selected news clips on this side of the ocean continue to reinforce the popular spin that those dastardly Serbs are at it again.
A case in point was the latest crisis that exploded on March 15. The media reported that four Albanian boys had been chased into the river Ibar in Mitrovica by at least two Serbs and a dog (the dog's ethnic affiliation was not reported).Three of the boys drowned and one escaped to the other side. Immediately, thousands of Albanians mobilized and concentrated in the area of the divided city. Attacks on Serbs took place throughout the province resulting in an estimated 30 killed and 600 wounded. Thirty Serbian Christian Orthodox churches and monasteries were destroyed, more than 300 homes were burnt to the ground and six Serbian villages cleansed of their occupants. One hundred and fifty international peacekeepers were injured.

Totally ignored in North America were the numerous statements from impartial sources that said there was no incident between the Serbs, the dog and the Albanian boys. NATO Police spokesman Derek Chappell stated on March 16 that it was "definitely not true" that the boys had been chased into the river by Serbs. Chappell went on to say that the surviving boy had told his parents that they had entered the river alone and that three of his friends had been swept away by the current. Admiral Gregory Johnson, the overall NATO commander, further stated that the ensuing clashes were "orchestrated and well-planned ethnic cleansing" by the Kosovo-Albanians. Those Serbs forced to leave joined the 200,000 who had been cleansed from the province since NATO's "humanitarian" bombing in 1999. The '"cleansees" have become very effective "cleansers."

In the same week a number of individuals posing as Serbs ambushed and killed a UN policeman and his local police partner. During the firefight one of them was wounded which caused an immediate switch from Serbian to Albanian as he screamed, "I've been hit"! The UN pursued the attackers and tracked them to an Albanian-run farm where they discovered weapons and the wounded Albanian who had died from his wounds. Four Albanians were arrested. Once again, the ambush had been reported in the United States but not the follow-up which clearly indicated yet another orchestrated provocation by the Albanian terrorists.
Kosovo is administered by the UN, the very organization many Canadians have indicated they would like to see take over from the United States in Iraq. The fact the UN cannot order its civilian employees to go or stay anywhere -- they have to volunteer -- combined with recent history that saw the UN abandon Iraq after a single brutal attack on their compound in Baghdad and the reality that Kosovo, under the organization's administration, is a basket case, disqualifies it from consideration for such a role.

Since the NATO/UN intervention in 1999, Kosovo has become the crime capital of Europe. The sex slave trade is flourishing. The province has become an invaluable transit point for drugs en route to Europe and North America. Ironically, the majority of the drugs come from another state "liberated" by the West, Afghanistan. Members of the demobilized, but not eliminated, KLA are intimately involved in organized crime and the government. The UN police arrest a small percentage of those involved in criminal activities and turn them over to a judiciary with a revolving door that responds to bribes and coercion.
The objective of the Albanians is to purge all non-Albanians, including the international community's representatives, from Kosovo and ultimately link up with mother Albania thereby achieving the goal of "Greater Albania." The campaign started with their attacks on Serbian security forces in the early 1990s and they were successful in turning Milosevic's heavy-handed response into worldwide sympathy for their cause. There was no genocide as claimed by the West -- the 100,000 allegedly buried in mass graves turned out to be around 2,000, of all ethnic origins, including those killed in combat during the war itself.

The Kosovo-Albanians have played us like a Stradivarius. We have subsidized and indirectly supported their violent campaign for an ethnically pure and independent Kosovo. We have never blamed them for being the perpetrators of the violence in the early '90s and we continue to portray them as the designated victim today in spite of evidence to the contrary. When they achieve independence with the help of our tax dollars combined with those of bin Laden and al-Qaeda, just consider the message of encouragement this sends to other terrorist-supported independence movements around the world.
Funny how we just keep digging the hole deeper!

Maj-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie, now retired, commanded UN troops during the Bosnian civil war of 1992.
Power User
Posts: 42512

« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2008, 07:35:13 AM »

The reliability of this source is unknown to me.  I post it as an example of part of the case being made that our support of Kosovo independence is a mistake.  Note the date.

Albanians and Afghans fight for the heirs of to Bosnia's SS past

Daily Telegraph, 29 December 1993
By Robert Fox in Fojnica (Bosnia)
"DOCUMENTS!" shouted a man in a beret with an insignia in green Arabic script outside the UN house in the Bosnian mountain town of Fojnica. He was hostile and demanded our presence at the police station.
Later the police chief apologised, but made clear that authority had passed to the men with the Koranic texts hanging from their fatigues.
Last summer Muslim and Croat leaders in Fojnica asked the WN to declare it a "zone of peace". Since then war has ravaged the town, bringing murder, mayhem and exile to at least half its original population of 12,000. Different, and alien, forces are now in charge -- some of the toughest in the Bosnian Muslim army.
These are the men of the Handzar division. "We do everything with the knife, and we always fight on the frontline," a Handzar told one UN officer.
Up to 6000-strong, the Handzar division glories in a fascist culture. They see themselves as the heirs of the SS Handzar division, formed by Bosnian Muslims in 1943 to fight for the Nazis. Their spiritual model was Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who sided with Hitler.
According to UN officers, surprisingly few of those in charge of the Handzars in Fojnica seem to speak good Serbo-Croatian. "Many of them are [Muslim] Albanian, whether from Kosovo (the Serb province where Albanians are the majority) or from Albania itself."
They are trained and led by veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan, say UN sources. The strong presence of native Albanians is an ominous sign. It could mean the seeds of war are spreading south via Kosovo and into Albania, thence to the Albanians of Macedonia.
Pakistani fundamentalists are known to have had a strong hand in providing arms and a small weapons industry for the Bosnian Muslims.
Hardline elements of the Bosnian army, like the Handzar, appear to have the backing of an increasingly extreme leadership in Sarajevo, represented by Mr Ejup Ganic, Foreign Minister, Mr Haris Silajdzic, Prime Minister, and Mr Enver Hadjihasanovic, the new army chief.
The Handzars are working closely with other units around Fojnica, preparing for the long assault on Kiseljak to the east and Prozor to the west, a campaign likely to last years.
The first political act in this new operation appears to have been the murder of the two monks in the monastery. Last month Brother Nikola Milicevic, 39, and Brother Mato Migic, 56, were surprised by a four-man squad.
After an argument, Brother Nikola was shot dead on the spot. His colleague was only wounded, but finished off by a shot in the neck.
Mysteriously, the police guard disappeared a few minutes before. The murder squad withdrew after the killings.
The Provincial for the Franciscans of Bosnia, Petar Andjelovic, demanded an explanation. He received condolences from President Alija Izetbegovic and a note from the police in Sarajevo that the matter was under investigation.
The Provincial is convinced this was a political murder to deepen the division between Croats and Muslims. He also believes it was sanctioned by Sarajevo.
"I can say that for the moment all responsibility for this killing falls at the door of the Bosnian army," he told an Italian Catholic magazine last week. "Somebody very powerful must have organised this."
The way the Handzars have settled in Fojnica suggests they are playing for a long war. The town is self-sufficient in meat, vegetables and cereals. The terrain is ideal for guerrilla operations.
More significant is the nature of the Handzars, and the influences of the Albanians in their command, and the support from Pakistan. These suggest, politically and militarily, the war in Bosnia has spread - under the dozing eyes of the West.
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Posts: 42512

« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2008, 07:37:20 AM »

Third article of the morning giving the case against our support of Kosovo secession.  Again, the reliability of the source is unknown.

Genocide in Kosovo
Albanian Skenderbeg Division

The historical and political precedents for the creation of a greater Sqiperia or Greater Albania was set during World War II when the Kosovo and Metohija regions along with territory Southwest of lake Skutari from Montenegro and the western region of Southern Serbia, or Juzna Srbija (now part of Macedonija), were annexed to Albania by the Axis powers led by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, under a plan devised by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler to dismember and to destroy the Serbian Nation and people, which the Germans and Italians perceived as the main threat to the axis powers and to the Third Reich in the Balkan.
On April 7, 1939, Italian troops invaded and occupied Albania forcing the Albanian ruler King Zog I Ahmed Bey Zogu, to flee to Greece. Italy formally annexed into the Kingdom of Italy under the Italian king Victor Immanuel and established a military government and viceroy. The Italian began a program to colonize the country when thousands of settlers emigrated to Albania. An Albanian Fascist Party was established with Albanian Black skirts based on Italian models. The Albanian Army consisted of three infantry brigades of 12 000 men.
On October 28 1940, Italy invaded Greece from Albania with 10 Italian divisions and the Albanian Army but were driven back.

Germany sought to assist the Italian-Albanian offensive by operation Alpine Violet, a plan to move a corps of tree German mountain divisions to Albania by air and sea. Instead German built up a heavy concentration of the German Twelfth Army on the northwest Greek Border with Bulgaria, from where the German invasion was launched.
On April 6, 1941, Nazi Germany and the axis powers invaded Yugoslavia, Operation Punishment, and Greece forcing the capitulation of Yugoslavia on the 17th, and Greece on the 23rd. Yugoslavia was subsequently occupied and dismembered. The Axis powers established a greater Albania or greater Shqiperia at the expense of Serbia and Montenegro. Territory from Montenegro was annexed to Greater Albania. From Serbia, the Kosovo and Metohija were ceded to greater Albania, along with the western part of Southern Serbia (Juzna Srbija), now part of Macedonia, an area which was part of Stara Srbija (Ancient Old Serbia). This Kosovo-metohija region and the surrounding territory annexed to Greater Albania was called "New Albania".
To create an ethnically pure Shqiptar Kosovo, which Albanian called "Kosova", the Shqiptari (Albanians) launched a widescale campaigns of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Ethnic Serbs in the Kosovo-Metohija regions were massacred, and their homes were burned, and survivors were brutally driven out and expelled in policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide.
The Balli Kombetar (BK or National Union) was an Albanian nationalist group led by Midhat Fresheri and Ali Klissura whose political objective was to in incorporate Kosovo-Metohija into a Greater Albania and to ethnically cleanse the region of Orthodox Serbs

The Abanian Committee of Kosovo organized massive campaigns of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Orthodox Serbian inhabitants of Kosovo- Metohuja. A contemporary report described the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Serbs as follows:
Armed with material supplied by the Italians, the Albanians hurled themselves against helpless settlers in their homes and villages. According to the most reliable sources, the Albanian burned many Serbian settlements, killing some of the people and driving out others who escaped to the mountains. At present other Serbian settlement are being attacked and the property of individuals and of communities is either being confiscated or destroyed. It is not possible to ascertain at the present time the exact number of victims of those atrocities, but it may be estimated that at least between 30.000 and 40.000 perished.
Bedri Pejani, the Muslim leader of the Albanian National committee, called for the extermination of Ortodox Serbian Cristians in Kosovo Metohija and for a union of a Greater Albania with Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Rashka (Sandzak) region of Serbia, into a great Islamic state. The grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin El Husseini was presented to Pejani a plan which he approved as a being in the interest of Islam. The Germans however rejected the plan.
On September 3, 1943, Italy capitulated by signing an armistice with the Allies. The German were now forced to occupy Albania with the collapse of the Italian forces. The Germans sent the 100th Jaeger Division from Greece and the 297th Infantry Division from Serbia and the German 1st Mountain Division to occupy Albania. These troops were organized into the XXI Mountain Corps which was under the command of General Paul Bader.

Additional security forces for the interior were needed, however, to free up Germans troops for defense of the coastline. The decision was made to form an Albanian SS mountain division for this purpose. In April in 1944, recruitment for the Albanian SS division began under direction of the newly formed Albanian Nazi party, which has been formed through the efforts of Ernst Kaltenbrunner. Acting upon instructions of Reichsfuehrer SS Henrich Himmler, the SS main office ordered the formation of an Albanian volunteer mountain division on April 17, 1944. SS Brigadefuehrern and Generalmajor of the Waffen SS Josef Fitzhum, who Headed the Higher SS and Police Command in Albania, oversaw the forming and training of the division.
The SS high Command planed to create a mountain division of 10.000 men. The Higher SS and Police Command in Albania, in conduction with the Albanian National Committee, listed 11.398 possible recruits for the Waffen SS mountain division. Most of these recruits were "kossovars", shqiptar Ghegs from Kosovo Metohija in Serbia. The Shqiptar Tosks were found mainly in southern Albania. Most of the Shqiptar collaborators with the nazi forces were theNazi forces were the so-called Kossovars, ethnic Shqiptars from the Kosmet of Serbia. The Nazi German-sponsored Albanian gendarmes, special police and para-military units were made up by Kossovars. The Kossovars were under the direct control of the Albanian Interior Minister Xhafer Deva.
The Skanderbeg Division was formed and trained in Kosovo and was made up mostly of muslim Shqiptar Kossovars. There were only a small number of Albanians from Albania proper in the division. The Skanderbeg Mountain Division of the Wafen SS was thus essentially a Kosovo or Kosmet Division. The Division was stationed and operated in Kosovo and other Serbian regions almost exclusively.

Its a long article but worth reading............. the rest is here ------->
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« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2008, 09:05:27 AM »

Kosovo's stark warning
CSP Security Forum | Feb 22, 2008

by Caroline Glick

Kosovo's independence may cause more problems than it solves.
Kosovo's US-backed declaration of independence is deeply troubling. By setting a precedent of legitimizing the secession of disaffected minorities, it weakens the long-term viability of multi-ethnic states. In so doing, it destabilizes the already stressed state-based international system.

States as diverse as Canada, Morocco, Spain, Georgia, Russia and China currently suffer problems with politicized minorities. They are deeply concerned by the Kosovo precedent. Even the US has latent sovereignty issues with its increasingly politicized Hispanic minority along its border with Mexico. It may one day experience a domestic backlash from its support for Kosovar independence from Serbia.

Setting aside the global implications, it is hard to see how Kosovo constitutes a viable state. Its 40 percent unemployment is a function of the absence of proper economic and governing infrastructures.

In November, a European Commission report detailed the Kosovo Liberation Army's failure to build functioning governing apparatuses. The report noted that "due to a lack of clear political will to fight corruption, and to insufficient legislative and implementing measures, corruption is still widespread... Civil servants are still vulnerable to political interference, corrupt practices and nepotism." Moreover, "Kosovo's public administration remains weak and inefficient."

The report continued, "The composition of the government anti-corruption council does not sufficiently guarantee its impartiality," and "little progress can be reported in the area of organized crime and combating of trafficking in human beings."

Additionally, the prosecution of Albanian war criminals is "hampered by the unwillingness of the local population to testify" against them. This is in part due to the fact that "there is still no specific legislation on witness protection in place."

The fledgling failed-state of Kosovo is a great boon for the global jihad. It is true that Kosovar Muslims by and large do not subscribe to radical Islam. But it is also true that they have allowed their territory to be used as bases for al-Qaida operations; that members of the ruling Kosovo Liberation Army have direct links to al-Qaida; and that the Islamic world as a whole perceived Kosovo's fight for independence from Serbia as a jihad for Islamic domination of the disputed province.

According to a 2002 Wall Street Journal report, al-Qaida began operating actively in Kosovo, and in the rest of the Balkans, in 1992. Osama bin Laden visited Albania in 1996 and 1997. He received a Bosnian passport from the Bosnian Embassy in Austria in 1993. Acting on bin Laden's orders, in 1994 his deputy, Ayman Zawahiri set up training bases throughout the Balkans including one in Mitrovica, Kosovo. The Taliban and al-Qaida set up drug trafficking operations in Kosovo to finance their operations in Afghanistan and beyond.

In 2006, John Gizzi reported in Human Events that the German intelligence service BND had confirmed that the 2005 terrorist bombings in Britain and the 2004 bombings in Spain were organized in Kosovo. Furthermore, "The man at the center of the provision of the explosives in both instances was an Albanian, operating mostly out of Kosovo... who is the second ranking leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Niam Behzloulzi."

Then, too, at its 1998 meeting in Pakistan, the Organization of the Islamic Conference declared that the Albanian separatists in Kosovo were fighting a jihad. The OIC called on the Muslim world to help "this fight for freedom on the occupied Muslim territories."

Supporters of Kosovo claim that as victims of "genocide," Kosovar Muslims deserve independence. But if the Muslims in Kosovo have been targeted for annihilation by the Serbs, then how is it that they have increased from 48% of the population in 1948 to 92% today? Indeed, Muslims comprised only 78% of the population in 1991, the year before Yugoslavia broke apart.

In recent years particularly, it is Kosovo's Serbian Christians, not its Albanian Muslims, who are targeted for ethnic cleansing. Since 1999, two-thirds of Kosovo's Serbs - some 250,000 people - have fled the area.

The emergence of a potentially destabilizing state in Kosovo is clearly an instance of political interests trumping law. Under international law, Kosovo has no right to be considered a sovereign state. Even UN Security Council Resolution 1244 from 1999, which the KLA claims provides the legal basis for Kosovar sovereignty, explicitly recognizes Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo.

For Israel, Kosovo's US-backed declaration of independence should be a source of alarm great enough to require a rethinking of foreign policy. Unfortunately, rather than understand and implement the lessons of Kosovo, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government is working actively to ensure that they are reenacted in the international community's treatment of Israel and the Palestinians. Today, Israel is enabling the Palestinians to set the political and legal conditions for the establishment of an internationally recognized state of Palestine that will be at war with Israel.

By accepting the "Road Map Plan to a Two-State Solution" in 2004, Israel empowered the US, the EU, Russia and the UN, who comprise the international Quartet, to serve as judges of Palestinian and Israeli actions toward one another. In November 2007, at the Annapolis conference, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government explicitly empowered the US to "monitor and judge the fulfillment of the commitment of both sides of the road map."

That these moves have made Israel dependent on the kindness of strangers was made clear this week when Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni instructed Israel's ambassadors to launch a campaign to convince the international community that Israel and the Palestinians are making great strides in their negotiations toward the establishment of a Palestinian state. Livni's move was precipitated by growing European and US dissatisfaction with the pace of those negotiations and by reports from the meeting of Quartet members in Berlin on February 11. There all members voiced anger at the slow pace of negotiations and opposition to Israel's military actions in Gaza, which are aimed at protecting the western Negev from rocket and mortar attacks.

The US representative at the Quartet's meeting, Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, reportedly told his colleagues, "First, we must not allow the suicide bombing in Dimona and the shooting on Sderot to affect the negotiations."

Welch reportedly added, "It is also important to us that neither the Palestinians in Gaza nor the Israelis in Sderot are hurt. Also, we must continue to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas and Salaam Fayad."

Moreover, Ran Koriel, Israel's ambassador to the EU, reportedly warned Livni that the Russians are pushing for the re-establishment of a Fatah-Hamas government. Several EU states, including France, are reconsidering their refusal to recognize Hamas.

If Israel had not empowered the Quartet generally and the US specifically to determine whether the PA and Israel are behaving properly, a European or Russian decision to recognize Hamas would have little impact. But given their role as arbiters, Quartet members can take punitive action against Israel if it fails to comply with their wishes. The Quartet can replace international law in determining who can assert sovereignty over Gaza, Judea and Samaria and how Israel can exercise its own sovereignty. And so, Livni is reduced to begging them not to recognize Hamas.

Once the US decided in 1999 to commit its own forces to NATO's bombing of Serbia and subsequent occupation of Kosovo, the jig was up for Serbian sovereignty over the area. The fact is, NATO forces in Kosovo were deployed for the express purpose of blocking Serbia from exercising its sovereignty over Kosovo, not to prevent violence between the Kosovars and the Serbs or among the Muslims and Christians in Kosovo. That is, NATO deployed in Kosovo to enable it to gain independence.

And if US or NATO forces are deployed to Gaza or Judea and Samaria, they will not be there to protect Israelis from Palestinian terror or to prevent the areas from acting as global terror bases. They will be there to establish a Palestinian state.

Failing to understand the meaning of Kosovo, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government refuses to understand this point. Indeed, the government is actively lobbying NATO to deploy forces in Gaza. Just as it wrongly hoped that UNIFIL forces in south Lebanon would fight Hizbullah for it, so today, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government insists that NATO forces in Gaza will fight Hamas for it.

If applying the lessons of UNIFIL to Gaza is too abstract for the Olmert-Livni-Barak government, Israel has experience with EU monitors in Gaza itself to learn from. Wrongly assuming that the Europeans shared Israel's interest in preventing terrorists and weapons from entering Gaza, Israel requested that EU monitors set up shop at the Rafah terminal linking Gaza to Egypt after Israel withdrew from the border in 2005. Yet whenever confronted by Fatah and Hamas terrorists, rather than fight the EU monitors flee to Israel for protection. And its monitors' experience with Palestinian terrorists taking over the border has never caused the EU to question its support for Palestinian statehood.

Then, too, since the US, EU, UN and Russia all consider Gaza, Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to be one territorial unit, it is not surprising that Israel's request for NATO forces in Gaza has been greeted by a US plan to deploy NATO forces in Judea and Samaria. If NATO forces in Gaza would do nothing to secure the border with Egypt or to fight terrorists and would scuttle Israeli operations in the area, NATO forces in Judea and Samaria would not simply prevent Israel from protecting its citizens who live there. They would also prevent Israel from taking action to prevent the Palestinians from attacking central Israel and asserting control over the border with Jordan. And yet, as The Jerusalem Post reported this week, Israel is conducting talks with the US regarding just such a NATO deployment.

What the Serbs made NATO fight its way in to achieve, Israel is offering NATO on a silver platter.

Not surprisingly, Abbas's adviser and PA propaganda chief Yasser Abd Rabbo reacted to Kosovo's declaration of independence by recommending that the Palestinians follow the example. Abd Rabbo said, "Kosovo is not better than us. We deserve independence even before Kosovo, and we ask for the backing of the United States and the European Union for our independence."

For its part, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government has responded to Kosovo's declaration of independence with customary confusion. But the lessons of Kosovo are clear. Not only should Israel join Russia, Canada, China, Spain, Romania and many others in refusing to recognize Kosovo. It should also state that as a consequence of Kosovo's independence, Israel rejects the deployment of any international forces to Gaza or Judea and Samaria, and refuses to cede its legal right to sovereignty in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem to international arbitration.
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« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2008, 02:26:12 PM »

February 24, 2008
Yippy Ti Yi Yo, Europe!
Neuroticism abroad.
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online

In the last few days, we’ve been reminded yet again that Europe’s radical secularism, atheism, socialism, multiculturalism, childlessness, and aging population make a fascinating but unstable mix — a lovely, fragile orchid in a thinly protected greenhouse.

Kosovo has just declared its independence from Serbia, and what follows could be nightmarish. An oil-rich, bellicose, and rearming Russia doesn’t much like the new breakaway state. But France, Germany, and most of the European Union — other than its Orthodox members and those in close proximity to Vladimir Putin — encouraged it. To paraphrase Joseph Stalin, “How many divisions does the E.U. have?”

Recently Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking on German soil, told cheering Turkish workers and Germans of Turkish ancestry that assimilation is "a crime against humanity" — in between demands that the European Union admit his increasingly Islamicized Turkey to full membership. The American press passed over Erdogan’s broadside, but it was a revolutionary, nationalist appeal to German residents of Turkish backgrounds, over the head of, and contrary to, the German government itself — eerily like, mutatis mutandis, Hitler’s appeal in the late 1930s to the supposedly oppressed Germans of Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile Norway is about to request 100,000 Turkish guest workers for its cash-rich but labor-poor economy. The French, however, are sighing ‘been there, done that,’ as police sweep public housing projects in the Paris suburbs looking for Muslim immigrants implicated in past riots.

The British press claims that Muslim immigrants committed over 17,000 acts of “honor” violence in Britain last year. Perhaps in response, the Archbishop of Canterbury conceded that imposition of a parallel system of sharia law in the United Kingdom might be “unavoidable.” Iran just warned Denmark to silence its newspapers, which once again are republishing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

Meanwhile, many European NATO troops in Afghanistan rarely venture into combat zones, even as U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates pleads in vain for Europe to send over a few more thousand from its nearly two-million-man standing army. A recent Pew poll revealed that in many European countries only about 30-40 percent of those surveyed have a positive opinion of the United States.

How do all these diverse narratives and agendas add up? The vaunted European multicultural, multilateral, utopian and pacifist worldview is now on its own and thus will get hammered as never before in the unrelenting forge of history. Very soon there will be no more George W. Bush to dump on, hide behind, and blame for the widening cracks in the Atlantic alliance. Instead Europeans may well have to call on the old pro, Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama, to lead them in negotiating sessions with jihadists, Iran, and Russia.

Consider Kosovo again. Europe is invested, quite rightly I think, in promoting its independence. But it is a Muslim country in a post-9/11 landscape, with a history of drawing not only Albanian but also Middle Eastern jihadists to its defense. Russia and Serbia together have the military wherewithal to invade it tomorrow — Serbia by land, Russia by air — and end its breakaway experiment — to the relief of some Eastern European and Orthodox European states, and to the humiliation of the E.U. What stops them is not a few NATO peacekeepers but the commitment of the United States to use its vast resources to further the European agenda of stopping Serbian ethnic cleansing and aggression.

Yet consider our dilemma. Why would we intervene abroad in a third war when our allies have lectured us ad nauseam about the amorality of military intercession, have shown little interest in fighting jihadism in Afghanistan or Iraq, and have made clear that they want very little to do with the United States? And after 9/11, why would the United States rush to the aid of a Muslim country in a war whose earlier incarnation, under Bill Clinton, was never authorized by the U.S. Congress or the U.N.?

In short, I doubt the United States will “surge” anything in the Balkans. We will be quite happy to see a postmodern European solution to an essentially European problem. No doubt Sen. Harry Reid or Speaker Nancy Pelosi will remind the public that President Bill Clinton never got a formal congressional treaty authorization to deploy and station American troops in the former Yugoslavia.

The more labor that a secular, increasingly sterile European populace imports, the more social problems will accrue from unassimilated Muslim immigrants who like the economy and freedom of the West but are reluctant to relax any of their own religious and cultural views to participate fully in the postmodern society of their hosts. The resulting “can’t live with them, can’t live without them” is not a static situation, but one that will be resolved either in multicultural/appeasement fashion (grant de facto sharia law at home and seek friendly realignment with Middle Eastern dictatorships abroad) or with tough assimilationist and immigration policies, coupled with increasingly explicit distrust of expansionary Islam.

Europe is short on energy and depends on illiberal Russia and the Middle East for its fuel. Both these regions are sick and tired of Europe’s empty lectures about human rights and feel only disdain for its absence of military might to back up its sermonizing. But Europe is also anti-American, and now in a world of Ahmadinejihads, Putins, Chinese communist apparatchiks, and thuggish Latin American strongmen, it has more or less alienated the only reliable and capable resource it might have drawn on — the goodwill of the United States.

Europe is in a classic paradox. Emotionally and culturally, Europeans are invested in a leftist such as Obama who reflects their soft socialist values and fuzzy multilateralism. But given their inherent military weakness and rough neighborhood, they have grown to count on an antithetical America — religious, conservative, militarily strong — that is not afraid to use force to fulfill its obligations to preserve the shared Western globalized system from its constant multifarious challenges. I’m not sure they privately want a President Obama calling Sarkozy or Merkel and announcing, “I think we should co-chair a worldwide Islamic conference to hear out Iran’s grievances.” Much better it would be for the U.S. to ensure that Iran doesn’t get the bomb — at which point the French elite would trash America in Le Monde for being unilateral, cowboyish, and preemptive.

Our response to this Euro-neuroticism?

We are weary and tired of it. As our ancestors out West used to sing, “Yippy ti yi yo, get along little dogies, It's all your misfortune and none of my own…”
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« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2008, 11:13:21 PM »

Organization of Islamic Conference: ‘Independence of Kosovo will be an asset to the Muslim world and further enhance the joint Islamic action’

February 20th, 2008 INFORMATION (via an email dated Feb. 18, 2008) :

With regard to the declaration of independence by Kosovo yesterday, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu made the following remark today (18 February 2008) in Dakar at the opening of the OIC Senior Officials Meeting preparatory to the forthcoming OIC Summit to be held there on 13-14 March 2008:
“…a very important event took place yesterday. Kosovo has finally declared its independence after a long and determined struggle by its people. As we rejoice this happy result, we declare our solidarity with and support to our brothers and sisters there. The Islamic Umma wishes them success in their new battle awaiting them which is the building of a strong and prosperous a state capable of satisfying of its people. There is no doubt that the independence of Kosovo will be an asset to the Muslim world and further enhance the joint Islamic action.”
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« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2008, 12:36:46 PM »

Continuing our search for Truth, the following seems to me to have some disingenuous aspects, but worth the time for the perspective it offers:
Kosovo, Russia, and the Last Grasps of American Unipolarity

Posted by Nikolas Gvosdev on February 25, 2008

In the aftermath of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence on Feb. 17, Moscow and Washington are trading accusations as to which country has acted more irresponsibly.

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns complained that Moscow had been given the opportunity to help facilitate the separation of Kosovo from Serbia in a stable, orderly fashion: “So we gave Russia every chance, both in the Security Council last spring and summer, in the negotiations which we co-sponsored with the Russians, but now we have to move ahead,” he told reporters.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, speaking at the Nixon Center in Washington, DC, had a different version. The United States pushed ahead with independence for Kosovo despite the “significant damage” this might do to the fabric of an international order predicated on the territorial integrity of states. And by holding out for independence as the only possible solution, Washington both stymied genuine negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo and also undercut the United Nations. Kosovo is not just a “U.S.-Russia” issue, Peskov said; Washington and Moscow had a responsibility for “joint care” of the international system.

Kosovo is the latest irritant in what was already a deteriorating U.S.-Russia relationship. Disagreements over energy policy, the best way to pressure Iran to abandon its quest for nuclear weapons, the U.S. decision to deploy components of a missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, a further round of NATO expansion to encompass former Soviet republics like Ukraine and Georgia, as well as the course of Russia’s own domestic political and economic evolution (away from the preferred model endorsed by the United States) have all contributed to a growing chill in ties between Moscow and Washington. Gone is the talk heard in the aftermath of 9/11 of a “strategic partnership” between the two countries—and visible, public flare-ups such as Putin’s 2007 Munich speech divert attention from those areas where there is a productive Russian-American relationship (in stemming nuclear proliferation, cooperation in fighting terrorism, and growing business ties).

But the Kosovo issue has the potential to spoil relations even further, especially because it is becoming inextricably linked to other contentious issues such as efforts to diminish European dependence on Russia as the continent’s principal supplier of energy, the ongoing plans to deploy BMD in eastern Europe, and whether NATO will undergo a third round of expansion to eventually encompass former Soviet republics like Ukraine and Georgia.

To understand why, it is important to listen to Moscow’s narrative over Kosovo.

Peskov summed up Russia’s attitude when he said this past week that Moscow could not share Washington’s view about the “uniqueness of the Kosovo case.” For many Russian officials, Slobodan Milosevic’s campaign against Albanian separatists in the 1990s was no worse than the operations carried out by the Turkish military against the Kurds in that country’s southeast—activities the United States was prepared to overlook. And when the U.S. chose to justify a military intervention against Belgrade in 1999 by appealing to NATO, bypassing the UN Security Council altogether, most in Moscow concluded that America’s definition of “consulting” with the other major powers was to tell them what position they needed to accept.

But when the air campaign produced neither a rapid capitulation on the part of Milosevic and led to a humanitarian crisis as Belgrade used the NATO operation to justify expelling hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians from the province, Washington discovered it needed Moscow. The story one hears from Russians is that a President Clinton, anxious to avoid having to send U.S. ground forces, prevailed on the Russian government to use its good offices (via the diplomatic efforts of former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin) to tell Milosevic that the U.S. would limit its ambitions for Kosovo to seeking substantial autonomy for the province, leaving a token, face-saving degree of Serbian control. This understanding was then codified in UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which placed Kosovo under an interim UN administration under whose auspices the transition to “substantial autonomy and meaningful self-administration for Kosovo” would take place. This process, however, was to respect the “principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Yugoslavia, of which Serbia is the successor state.

Then U.S. ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke now says this resolution was a tactical compromise and that “Kosovo is gone from Serbia forever” (as he wrote in the Washington Post in March 2007). But that is not what the Russians think. They thought—and continue to maintain—that the formula laid out in UNSCR 1244 reflected the consensus of the major powers. Its position (extensive autonomy but preservation of territorial integrity) is certainly is accordance with standard U.S. policy objectives in resolving other frozen conflicts in the Caucasus, the greater Middle East and in Africa and is the formula that governs relations between the U.S. and Puerto Rico, a “commonwealth” that nevertheless enjoys a distinct identity in some international forums including the Olympics. Other countries trying to balance between integrity and self-determination also welcomed this resolution, including states like India, Indonesia and South Africa. Beijing, for instance, signed onto this formulation because of the possible precedent in solving the Taiwan issue.

While the U.S. side places the blame for the lack of a final settlement squarely on the shoulders of the Serbs—for not accepting the inevitability of independence—Russia maintains the United States never put any pressure on the Kosovar Albanians to accept compromise formulations—the same ones Moscow says Washington wants the Abkhaz and South Ossetians to accept in terms of a final settlement with Georgia. These would have given a large measure of de facto independence to Kosovo but would have preserved formal Serbian sovereignty over the province. So Russians see this as yet another example of U.S. double standards.

Beyond those feelings, however, is a much more dangerous sentiment: a growing belief in Moscow that the U.S. cannot be trusted. Commenting on the U.S. decision to encourage Kosovo’s declaration of independence and to again bypass the United Nations, Evgeni Bazhanov, the vice rector of the Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy, said, “There is a real feeling of frustration in Moscow, the sense that agreements [with the United States and the West in general] don’t mean anything. They go ahead and change the terms however they wish.”

Let’s be clear: Russians understand perfectly well that if the United States feels that its vital interests are at stake, Washington is never going to seek a “permission slip” (to use the slogan uttered during the 2004 presidential race) from the UN Security Council to act. But what puzzles many Russians (and, for that matter, leading U.S. foreign policy conservatives like Bob Blackwill, Peter Rodman and John Bolton) is why insisting on independence for Kosovo as the only possible outcome—and setting what many considered to be an artificial deadline for the resolution of the province’s final status—was of such importance to the United States so as to justify the current upset.

Americans are free to disagree with the Russian version of events. But what we are not at liberty to do is to dismiss Moscow’s perspective as being of no concern.

The problem is that this growing belief in Russian foreign-policy circles that U.S. guarantees on Kosovo weren’t worth a continental is only the latest such incident. For years, Russians have that informal guarantees that were extended to Moscow in the wake of German reunification in 1990 that NATO would not expand—the Russians maintain that then U.S. Secretary of State James Baker had told Mikhail Gorbachev and Eduard Shevardnadze that “NATO would not move an inch eastward outside of its present zone of action”—flew out the window once it was no longer convenient to the United States. (Russians also often cite then-Secretary General of NATO Manfred Warner’s speech of May 17, 1990, when he declared, “the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee.”

I have been told time and again by Russians that if the United States or other European countries genuinely believed that a post-Soviet Russia posed a real military threat to east European states or former Soviet republics, they could have extended security guarantees without having to expand NATO. And the response they say they have received is that none of these informal understandings “had been codified in any formal treaty or agreement and that, even if Western leaders such as Helmut Kohl or John Major reiterated what Baker or Worner had said, it was now of no consequence,” to use the words of Russian commentator Aleksey Pushkov.

Then we had the public-relations SNAFU over missile defense systems being deployed in eastern Europe, which complicated not only U.S. relations with Rus sia but also has created problems among NATO countries as well. It took nearly a year for U.S. Defense Secretary Bob Gates to propose that the U.S. would link the activation of such a system to the existence of a credible threat arising from Iran or another rogue state; up to that point, official statements from Washington did rule out the possibility of these components continuing to be stationed and operational even in the absence of a specified threat from Iran—stoking Russian paranoia to record heights. (On a related note, no senior U.S. figure has recently repeated what then-Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones proclaimed on February 11, 2002, when discussing the U.S. presence in Central Asia: “we don’t want U.S. bases in Central Asia” since “our goal with the Russians is to make sure that they understand we are not trying to compete with them in Central Asia, we’re not trying to take over Central Asia from them.”)

The current team running the Kremlin—one that will stay largely intact after the March 2 presidential elections—is highly pragmatic. Colorful figures like Russia’s representative to NATO Dmitry Rogozin might like to stir things up with tough talk about a Russian military presence in the Balkans, but, as Peskov frankly admitted, Russia is still interested in avoiding confrontation with the West, particularly the United States, since this would divert resources and attention from the overriding priority of Russian economic development. But what will continue to change is the weight accorded American statements by those in power in Russia. No longer is Russia prepared to change its stance or positions in order to receive vague U.S. assurances of “goodwill.”

We’ve already seen this clearly in regards to Iran. U.S. assertions about Iran’s intentions and its capabilities to move forward on a nuclear weapons program don’t carry much weight in Moscow (and were further undermined by the release of the National Intelligence Estimate). And this comes at a time when the United States, preoccupied by Iraq and dealing with the economic consequences of overstretch, is in less of a position to ignore what other powers, including Russia, think and want.

Perhaps the Kosovo affair is the last gasp of the U.S. worldview of the 1990s—the so-called ”unipolar moment.” If so, then dealing with its aftermath, especially in the U.S.-Russia relationship, will test whether American politicians and policymakers are prepared to adapt to the realities of a much more multipolar 21st century. So far, the jury is out.

Nikolas Gvosdev is editor of The National Interest.
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« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2008, 04:45:13 PM »


NATO's Balkan Destiny
March 27, 2008

SKOPJE, Macedonia

The NATO summit in Bucharest is less than a week away. Yet Macedonia's bid to join the trans-Atlantic alliance hangs in the balance. Strangely, the problem is the name of my country, which Greece doesn't recognize, and not our record on civil and military reforms, which Macedonia has been diligently pursuing.

Seven years ago, Macedonia was a net security consumer. We're now a net provider with 3.5% of our troops engaged in security missions abroad -- mainly in Afghanistan. Ninety percent of our citizens support NATO membership, a rarity in this region. Support for the alliance unites the multiethnic Macedonian society and cuts across ethnic, party and social lines.

Our close cooperation with NATO goes back to its 1999 intervention against the regime of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia. Macedonia was the key country in the region in assisting the alliance, providing infrastructure and logistics for NATO combat operations. We also opened our doors to 380,000 Kosovo refugees who found a shelter in Macedonia. Some stayed on to make their lives in Macedonia.

Kosovo remains a pressing security issue today, and Macedonia is honoring its end of the bargain. We are the host country of the logistics headquarters for KFOR, the Kosovo stabilization force. It is operated by the Macedonian army and financed through our budget.

Kosovo's independence last month changed the security and political outlook for the Balkans. We still don't know what the end game will look like. Much progress was made in the recent years in the Western Balkans in terms of keeping stability and expanding our economies. This has been achieved in no small part thanks to the positive roles played by the EU and the U.S. in our region in the last decade.

But there are numerous potential sources of instability. Political structures in Kosovo are underdeveloped. Political cohesion in the region is weak. From a security perspective, NATO is still needed, particularly in and around Kosovo to help administer borders and keep a close watch on trafficking and organized crime.

Positive messages from the EU and the U.S. on integration into NATO and the EU are vitally important. NATO membership is a staple of progress in our region. To this extent, progress, stability and prosperity will be enhanced in the Balkans if Albania, Croatia and Macedonia are invited to join NATO next week in Bucharest.

The more states from the Balkans we have joining NATO, the less NATO we will need in the Balkans. The alliance would then be freed up to cope with challenges further a field

Considering what's at stake, Macedonia's NATO membership shouldn't be held hostage to a bilateral dispute with Greece over my country's name. But that's just what has happened in recent months.

Our soldiers are fighting in Afghanistan shoulder to shoulder with the Greek, Americans, the Dutch, and others. No one minds the label "Macedonia" on their uniforms. Macedonia was asked to fulfill the Membership Action Plan (or MAP) criteria to be considered for NATO membership. This we did.

Our issue with Greece is a bilateral one. We are prepared to settle it together with our Greek friends. We are ready to compromise. But we won't be pushed into accepting a solution concerning our name as a condition of getting into NATO.

My country remains committed to the 1995 Interim Accord where we agreed -- with the UN serving as the guarantor -- that neither Macedonia nor Greece will block the other's membership in international organizations.

NATO membership and the start of the accession talks with the EU are the two bottom-line priorities for Macedonia -- no matter who's in power. But Macedonia will not yield to pressure.

NATO isn't where the name issue should be decided. Let's keep the alliance focused on security. With that in mind, it should be clear that excluding Macedonia from the club will do nothing to boost security in the Balkan region. It may even bring about the opposite result.

Mr. Milososki is foreign minister of Macedonia.
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