*****SEE 2 UPDATES AT BOTTOM*****
I meant to blog this when the item first appeared last month, so while this comes belatedly, it’s too rich to let go without comment:
A delegation from Tripoli has visited Pristina as it believes Kosovo’s post-conflict transition process could serve as a useful model for Libya, a government official told Balkan Insight.
Kosovo’s Deputy Security Forces Minister, Shemsi Veseli, told Balkan Insight that a delegation from Tripoli had visited Pristina recently to learn about Kosovo’s experience in reintegrating former Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, fighters after the conflict in Kosovo ended in 1999.
“They wanted to know… what we did first after the end of the war, how we transformed the KLA into the Kosovo Protection Corps and then the Kosovo Security Forces, and how the transition period, the amnesty and disarmament processes went,” he said.
What they did first was ethnically cleanse every town and village of its Serb and Roma populations and of any Albanian opposition, with NATO help. And disarmament? Like the Albanians laugh: “What disarmament?!” (“No one can disarm Albanians. That’s just NATO propaganda.” — Florin Krasniqi, arms smuggler in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, 2005)
…Shemsi Veseli said the Libyan delegation was also interested in getting training from Kosovo Security Forces, an emergency response force built up by NATO.
He said the Kosovo government has expressed its readiness to help Libya with the experience it had gained throughout the transition period.
“We were asked [by the Libyan delegation] if we could help Libya in training their future forces, and said ‘Yes’,” Veseli said.
“We even said we were ready to send our troops on a peacekeeping mission to Libya as we have expertise in demining, search and rescue operations, and paramedics. Whether NATO will allow that, we don’t know,” he added.
The Kosovo Security Force is a professional, multi-ethnic, lightly armed and uniformed force that is subject to democratic and civilian control. It numbers 2,000 soldiers.
Its primary mission is to conduct crisis response operations in Kosovo and abroad; civil protection operations within Kosovo; and assist the civil authorities in responding to natural disasters and other emergencies.
The government has announced a possible further transformation of the force by the end of this year, making the KSF into a regular army.
Exactly what international law stipulates it could never turn into. That’s why when in March 2008 Bush backed the NATO-assisted transformation of the KLA=>KPC=>KSF into Kosovo’s own regular army, Russia was aghast:
…By supplying weapons to Kosovo’s government, the United States was arming “former terrorists” [that’s generous] and the move could stoke violence in the region, Tass quoted Russia’s ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin as saying.
U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday authorized arms supplies to Kosovo, saying it would “strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace”, according to a document on the White House Web site.
“They (Washington) say the weapons will help fight terrorism. At the same time, it is namely former terrorists who are in power in Kosovo right now,” Itar-Tass quoted Rogozin as saying in Brussels.
“How can you fight terrorism, supplying weapons to former terrorists?”
“I have addressed NATO’s secretary-general with a proposal to hold an emergency meeting of the Russia-NATO council to discuss U.S. plans to supply weapons to Kosovo.”
“Under the Ahtisaari plan, which is the basis for Kosovo’s supervised independence, Kosovo is allowed a lightly armed 2,500 person security force,” The White House said in a written statement. “The Kosovo Security Force (KSF) would be subject to NATO oversight and training.”
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted that the only legitimate basis for the Kosovo settlement was U.N. Security Council resolution No. 1244 adopted before the region’s official declaration of independence.
“This resolution does not allow Kosovo to create its own army and allows no arms supplies to Kosovo, except for equipping an international contingent deployed there,” Russia’s Vesti-24 channel showed Lavrov saying during a news conference in Israel.
“Any other (arms) supplies are illegitimate.”
Kosovo’s ethnic Serbs, who want to remain part of Serbia, clashed this week with U.N. and NATO security forces.
“I would hate to think that these arms supplies aim to coerce Serbs and other ethnic minorities by force to stay within the borders of an illegally proclaimed state,” Lavrov said.
“I don’t believe this will add stability to the Balkans — probably, just the other way round.”
No sooner did I finally get to this blog than this came in:
Syrian activists turn to Kosovo for advice (Israel News, April 26)
A Syrian dissident says the country’s opposition is turning to Kosovo’s former rebels-turned-politicians for advice on how to topple Bashar Assad’s regime in Damascus.
Ammar Abdulhamid, an exiled anti-Assad activist, said Thursday that seeing a new country “emerging out of the nightmare and emerging as a state” could be inspiring for Syrian dissidents.(AP)
About those Syrian “dissidents”:
We want war, and we want it now (Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, Apr. 6)
…Picture Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal - who seems to have a knack for sending US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton into rapture - feverishly arguing that the House of Saud, those paragons of democracy, had “a duty” to weaponize the Syrian “revolutionary” opposition.
And picture al-Faisal ordering an immediate ceasefire by the Bashar al-Assad government, guilty - according to the House of Saud - not only of cruel repression but crimes against humanity.
No; this was not a Monty Python sketch.
To make sure he was milking the right cow, al-Faisal also said that the Gulf Counter-revolution Club (GCC), also known as Gulf Cooperation Council, wanted to get further into bed with the United States. Translation, if any was needed; the US-GCC tag team, as expressed by the weaponization of the Syrian “rebels”, is meant to body slam Iran.
But then into this mess in Istanbul Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki - whose power is a direct consequence of Washington’s invasion and destruction of Iraq - steps in with quite a bang… “We reject any arming [of Syrian rebels] and the process to overthrow the [Assad] regime, because this will leave a greater crisis in the region … The stance of these two states [Qatar and Saudi Arabia] is very strange … They are calling for sending arms instead of working on putting out the fire, and they will hear our voice, that we are against arming and against foreign interference … those countries that are interfering in Syria’s internal affairs will interfere in the internal affairs of any country … It has been one year and the regime did not fall, and it will not fall, and why should it fall?”
Maliki knows very well that the ongoing and already escalating weaponizing of Sunni Syrians - many of the Salafi and jihadi kind - will inevitably spill over into Iraq itself, and threaten his Shi’ite-majority government. And that irrespective of the fact that his administration supports the close Iran-Syria relationship.
Maliki, by the way, was back in power in the autumn of 2010 because Tehran deftly intervened to make sure the Sadrists would support him…So Washington is now merrily embarking in a remix of the 1980s Afghan jihad - which, as every grain of sand from the Hindu Kush to Mesopotamia knows, led to that ghostly entity, al-Qaeda, and the subsequent, transformer “war on terror”.
The House of Saud and Qatar have institutionalized that motley crew known as the Free Syrian Army as a mercenary outfit; they are now on their payroll, to the tune of $100 million (and counting). Isn’t democracy wonderful - when US-allied Persian Gulf monarchies can buy a mercenary army for peanuts? Isn’t it great to be a revolutionary with an assured paycheck?
Not missing a beat, Washington has set up its own fund as well, for “humanitarian” assistance to Syria and “non-lethal” aid to the “rebels”; “non-lethal” as in ultra battle-ready satellite communications equipment, plus night-vision goggles. Clinton’s silky spin was that the equipment would allow the “rebels” to “evade” attacks by the Syrian government. No mention that now they have access to actionable US intelligence via a swarm of drones deployed all over Syria.
Maliki can clearly see the writing on the (Sunni) wall. The House of Saud invaded Shi’ite-majority Bahrain to protect the extremely unpopular Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty in power - their “cousins”. Maliki knows that a post-Assad Syria would mean Muslim Brotherhood Sunnis in power - sprinkled with Salafi-jihadis. In his worst nightmare, Maliki sees this possible dystopian future as an al-Qaeda in Iraq remix on steroids.
So this is what the Istanbul-based “Friends of Syria” bash turned into; a shameless legitimizing - by Arabs allied with the US - of civil war in yet another Arab country. The victims will be average Syrians caught in the crossfire.
This US-GCC weaponizing entirely dissolves the United Nations Syria envoy and former secretary general Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan. The plan calls for a ceasefire; for the Syrian government to “cease troop movements” and “begin pullback of military concentrations”; and for a negotiated political settlement.
There will be no ceasefire. The Assad government accepted the plan. The weaponized “rebels” rejected it. Imagine the Syrian government beginning the “pullback of military concentrations” while swarms of weaponized “rebels” and assorted mercenaries (from Libya, Lebanon and Iraq) keep deploying their torture tactics and launching a barrage of improvised explosive devices.
[Yes, just imagine it! OR, refer to weaponized KLA violently filling in the void after the pullout that the Serbs accepted to do. And this is of course without equating Belgrade with Damascus.]
I landed in Beijing eager to learn more about the upcoming joint Russia-China naval exercise in the Yellow Sea, but instead I was stuck with a Henry Kissinger op-ed in the Washington Post. Here it is, in Dr K’s own words:
“The Arab Spring is widely presented as a regional, youth-led revolution on behalf of liberal democratic principles. Yet Libya is not ruled by such forces; it hardly continues as a state. Neither is Egypt, whose electoral majority (possibly permanent) is overwhelmingly Islamist. Nor do democrats seem to predominate in the Syrian opposition.
“The Arab League consensus on Syria is not shaped by countries previously distinguished by the practice or advocacy of democracy. Rather, it largely reflects the millennium-old conflict between Shi’ite and Sunni and an attempt to reclaim Sunni dominance from a Shi’ite minority. It is also precisely why so many minority groups, such as Druzes, Kurds and Christians, are uneasy about regime change in Syria.”
Well, China scholar Dr K at least got this one right (and in total agreement with Maliki, no less). A full-fledged mercenary army paid for by autocrat Arabs to overthrow an Arab government is pure and simple regime change - US rhetoric about “democracy” and “freedom” notwithstanding. It’s all about classic, imperial divide and rule, profiting from pitting Sunnis against Shi’ites.
And then my divine roasted duck revealed to me that realpolitik stalwart Dr K is not getting much traction in Washington these days.
Sharply catching the Kosovo-Libya-Syria terror state parallels, Jim Jatras wrote in a general email, quoting a recent MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) analysis paper: “Saudi paper spells it out: Syria = Chechnya = Bosnia”:
…III. Russian Minority Rule in Chechnya akin to ‘Alawite Minority Rule over a Sunni Majority’
Some write[r]s claimed that it was no surprise that Russia supported Assad’s ‘Alawite minority rule over a Sunni majority, considering that Russia itself rules over and oppresses a Muslim majority in Chechnya and the Caucasus. Some also claimed that Russia employed the same tactics as Assad in oppressing and murdering the minorities under its rule.
Jasser ‘Abd Al-’Aziz Al-Jasser, a columnist for the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, wrote: “…Lavrov has adopted the mentality of a spy or a gangster. He is denying 80% of the Syrian people the right to rule over their own land, and claiming that ‘a Sunni regime in Syria will support terrorism in the region.’ These are the same claims the Russians made in supporting the Serbian rule in Yugoslavia and in justifying the murder of Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which only ended with NATO’s military intervention. The Russians do not want the Muslims to rule their own countries and to break free of the minority governments that sustain themselves through killing and oppression – as the Russians themselves do in Chechnya and the Caucasus, where the Muslim majority is subject to a Russian minority that rules it with fire and the force of arms…”
Jatras: “The common denominator? In each case — Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, Syria, and of course Chechnya — U.S. and NATO come down on the side of Saudi-supported Sunni jihadists, while Russia is against them.”
Closing with a flashback segment about our “demilitarization” of the KLA before our uber-militarization of it under new names: NATO Must Disarm the Kosovo Liberation Army — Now (by Kate Joseph and Christina Hertzler, of the British American Security Information Council, L.A. Times, June 18, 1999)
As long as officials fail to address Kosovo’s light weapons, KLA fighters with guns will erode the control of the international peacekeeping force, or KFOR. Reports indicate that the KLA has installed checkpoints, seized Serb weapons and harassed departing troops. Near Gnjilane, 200 KLA fighters refused to hand their guns over to French troops, preferring to retreat into the mountains. In Prizren, Kosovo fighters can be found directing traffic with AK-47s in hand and holding press conferences declaring the city under KLA control in defiance of KFOR’s mandate.
…[M]any members of the KLA are retaining their arms in hopes of achieving independence…The weapons could be used to carry out revenge attacks on Kosovo Serbs or ignite tensions elsewhere in Serbia or in Macedonia. The massive outflow of Serbs is a testimony to NATO’s failure to address these possibilities…In a tense situation, armed citizens or militias might turn their weapons on the peacekeepers themselves…It won’t be easy to [disarm the KLA], but if we don’t try, future conflict is certain. KFOR must stop alluding to disarmament and take action to initiate it.
And so it came to pass. NATO basically said, If you can’t beat the terrorists, join ‘em.
Here was that transition in action:
By STEVEN LEE MYERS
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia — The agreement reached early Monday to disband the Kosovo Liberation Army included, at the insistence of its commanders, a pledge by the NATO allies to consider letting the rebels form a provisional army for Kosovo modeled on the National Guard in the United States.
The agreement, signed in the dead of night after a frenetic weekend of military and political wrangling…gave no timetable for creating an army and no details of its size or mission.
But the inclusion of the pledge ensures that even after laying down its arms, the Kosovo Liberation Army can pursue its ambition to remain an organized political and military force in the Yugoslav province.
For their part, the rebels agreed to a phased demilitarization, an immediate cease-fire and a cessation of hostilities. [This is how the masters of the universe work: For the sake of immediate gratification and appearance of calm under their watch, they accept flimsy, for-the-moment signatures from the violent side in exchange for permanent concessions that will permanently cripple the region. But what the hey. Like Churchill said when questioned about handing Yugoslavia over to the Communists: “Do you intend to live there?”]
While NATO stopped far short of endorsing the idea, promising only to give it “due consideration” as the future of Kosovo is debated in the months ahead, the rebel group’s leaders spoke Monday as though an army for a free Kosovo was, in their minds, a foregone conclusion.
“We will form an army according to NATO’s standards, while at the same time staying loyal to our national and historical traditions,” Gen. Agim Ceku, the Kosovo Liberation Army’s commander in the war against Yugoslav forces, said in an interview after the announcement.
What to do with the rebel group — said to include 10,000 hardened fighters and some 30,000 irregulars…has proved to be one of NATO’s foremost challenges as its peacekeepers have moved to exert control over Kosovo.
The consideration of an army — let alone the creation of one — is sure to infuriate Yugoslavia, which accused NATO of aiding the rebels’ cause throughout 78 days of bombing. But even some NATO members, particularly Germany, opposed including the pledge in the final document. The objections, from NATO’s political arm, delayed its approval and signing until the early hours Monday morning, even though rebel commanders and NATO military officials had reached agreement late Saturday night, toasting it with Bushmill’s Irish whisky at Ceku’s wartime home in the mountains of central Kosovo.
Germany relented only after Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met the German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, over dinner on Sunday night at the conference of the major industrial powers in Cologne and explained that the rebel leaders would not agree to disarm unless the agreement included the provision.
The State Department’s spokesman, James Rubin, who appeared at a news conference here Monday with the rebels’ political leader, Hashim Thaci, said the paragraph outlining the idea of an armed force was “an expression of the aspirations of the Kosovo Liberation Army” and, for now, nothing more.
Before the war with Yugoslavia, the United States and other NATO nations strongly opposed independence for Kosovo….
Under the agreement, the rebels must immediately respect a cease-fire and renounce the use of force. They must also stop setting up checkpoints, laying mines or conducting any other “military, security or training-related activities,” though the agreement did not deny them the right to self-defense….
[The KLA] spread to virtually every city and village in Kosovo as the Serbian forces withdrew over the last 11 days…Thousands of Serbian civilians have fled Kosovo, citing the presence of the fighters, whom they fear as terrorists bent on violent domination.
At his news conference, Jackson again pledged that NATO would be even-handed in enforcing the peace, protecting all of the province’s civilians, Albanians, Serbs and Gypsies. “I hope all — and I stress all — who left in fear will return,” he said.
Jackson also apologized for the widespread looting and burning of Serbian homes on Sunday — in several instances under the watch of NATO troops — as the last Yugoslav army and police units withdrew…
Underscoring the sensitivity of appearing to endorse the creation of a provisional army, he insisted that this was not a formal pact with NATO, like the one with Yugoslav generals that laid out the deadlines for withdrawing their troops.
That part of the agreement proved to be the final obstacle in talks that began on the military level in Albania on Tuesday and continued straight through Saturday, when Thaci become involved as the rebels’ “commander in chief.” The paragraph dealing with an army was repeatedly inserted and taken out, until NATO’s negotiators realized that the rebels would not agree without it.
With the concessions, the rebel leaders clearly were pleased with the agreement, even though, for now, it means handing over their weapons to NATO…Once the deal was signed, President Clinton and Albright called Thaci to express support for the rebels’ willingness to abide by NATO’s demands and begin a transition to civilian life.
“They understood that it was a very difficult decision for the KLA after for so long pursing their objectives through military means,” Rubin said, “that it was a difficult act of political courage to transform this organization.”
Illuminating for us this “political courage” and “transformation,” along with how “handing over their weapons” went is an excerpt of an excerpt taken by the Kosovo.net site from the 2001 book Fool’s Errands by Gary Dampsey and Roger W. Fontaine of the CATO Institute:
A False Peace
… “Without a doubt,” concedes NATO’s first commander in Kosovo, Gen. Michael Jackson, “the KLA had seen NATO and the air campaign as all part of what they were doing, which was creating an independent state.”
…After a major NATO seizure of KLA weapons in June 2000, for instance, there were multi-day demonstrations by ethnic Albanians calling for the withdrawal of NATO peacekeepers from Kosovo. The protests were the first outright anti-NATO demonstrations held by Kosovo’s Albanians since the arrival of peacekeepers 12 months earlier. Most of Kosovo’s Albanians had viewed NATO as their savior, and such protests were previously unthinkable. But when NATO started tightening its leash on the KLA, the ubiquity of that support began to slip…Many ethnic Albanians, moreover, are today tiring of the foreign-run government in Kosovo. They have nearly everywhere adopted the double-headed eagle flag of neighboring Albania as their own, and popular music now directs open threats at KFOR peacekeepers and UNMIK police. One song, sung in English to maximize the effect, warns NATO and UN personnel, “The future’s gonna be the same as the past if you don’t change your ways very fast / cause there is no bullet-proof vest to protect when I strike and blast.”
(This is a useful reminder that the U.S.-Kosovo “eternal friendship” was fraying as early as 2000.)
There were, however, earlier indications that the KLA and Washington’s nation builders might not see eye to eye. In February 2000, NATO peacekeepers and ethnic Albanians openly clashed in the streets of the divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica. Ethnic Albanian militants, wanting to bring the entire city into their vision of what an independent Kosovo should look like, shot and wounded two French peacekeepers who were maintaining the city’s line of separation. The French responded by killing one rooftop sniper and wounding at least four others. NATO soldiers subsequently arrested more than 40 people suspected of involvement in the bloodletting….
On the political front, things were not going as smoothly as Washington’s nation builders had hoped either. In June 2000, the KLA’s former political leader, Hashim Thaci, began a boycott of the Interim Administrative Council, the centerpiece of the unelected structure set up by Special Representative [Bernard] Kouchner to involve Kosovo’s local leaders in decision-making. Thaci said his new political party, the Democratic Party of Kosovo, had suspended formal cooperation with the Interim Administrative Council. That move followed the signing the week before of a memorandum of understanding between the United Nations and leaders of the Serb minority promising them better security and access to local public services in their enclaves. Members of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority expressed anger at the deal, which they said allowed the Serbs to have their own institutions. Specifically, the United Nations promised to “take special measures” to protect Serbs, including creating a neighborhood-watch system and a special committee to oversee protection of Serbian Orthodox religious sites. A senior member of Thaci’s party said they found the agreement unacceptable because the arrangement could be a first step toward dividing Kosovo into ethnic regions, which threatens ethnic Albanian aspirations to rule all of Kosovo. Outside observers, moreover, speculated that the memorandum of understanding was a handy excuse and that Thaci’s decision was a sign of his growing impatience with the United Nations and NATO’s interference with his efforts to consolidate power and create an independent state.
In the first four months after NATO arrived, there were 348 murders, 116 kidnappings, 1,070 lootings, and 1,106 arsons aimed largely at Serbs and other non-Albanians…As early as August 1999, Human Rights Watch estimated that more than 164,000 Serbs and Gypsies had been driven from or had left Kosovo because of the violence aimed at them.
By April 2000, however, Secretary of State Albright approvingly reported, “The murder rate in Kosovo is now lower than in many American cities.” Similarly, in June 2000, National Security Adviser Berger touted, “The murder rate has declined by 90 percent in the past year.” Albright and Berger, however, failed to point out that the murder rate had fallen in Kosovo precisely because the province had been virtually cleansed of non-Albanian murder targets. Indeed, reports at the time estimated that as many as 240,000 non-Albanians, including Goranies, Croats, Turks, and Jews had fled the province since NATO arrived…Unfortunately for Albright and Berger, who were still trying to sell the idea that NATO’s presence — rather than Kosovo’s shrinking non-Albanian population — was responsible for the slowdown in ethnic violence, newspapers such as the London Independent were reporting:
“Trouble in Pristina comes fast, and almost always involves automatic weapons, organized crime, or ethnic hatred. Last Tuesday, two Serbian women in their twenties were strolling through the bustle of Mother Teresa Avenue, the city’s central thoroughfare. It was 9:30 p.m…Two gunmen opened fire on both women, hitting one in the chest and one in the legs. Totally ignored by Kosovo Albanians crowding down the street, they staggered bleeding into the arms of a British soldier. Their crime: being Serbs.”
The GDW, which compiles research from 80 countries, is regarded as Europe’s most authoritative monitor of the international drug trade…. The GDW bulletin identified Albanian nationalists in Kosovo and Macedonia as key players in the region’s accelerating drugs-for-arms traffic and noted that they were transporting up to $2 billion worth of heroin annually into Central and Western Europe “in order to finance large purchases of weapons” from black-market arms dealers in Switzerland. At the time the report was written, more than 500 Albanians from Kosovo and Macedonia were in prison in Switzerland for drug- or arms-trafficking offenses, and more than 1,000 others were under indictment.”
Over the next few years, police forces in at least three European countries discovered evidence that drug money was funding the KLA. In the Czech Republic, police tracked down a drug dealer from Kosovo who had escaped from a Norwegian prison where he was serving a 12-year sentence for heroin trading. A raid on the dealer’s apartment turned up documents linking him with arms purchases for the KLA. In Italy, a criminal court convicted an Albanian drug trafficker who admitted obtaining weapons from the Italian Mafia in exchange for illegal drugs. In Germany, federal police agents froze two bank accounts of the United Kosovo organization when they uncovered deposits totaling several hundred thousand dollars from a convicted drug trafficker from Kosovo. By 1999, Western intelligence sources estimated that more than $250 million in illegal drug money had been funneled into the KLA, and an internal NATO report conceded:
Some funds from the drug trade…reportedly are being used to purchase weapons for the Kosovo insurgents…this activity is a significant source of income for the insurgency and other Albanian causes.
From “Terrorists” to Partners
On January 7, 1998, the KLA for the first time took responsibility for attacks outside Yugoslavia, admitting that it had bombed two police stations in Macedonia three days earlier. In a faxed statement, the group said its armed forces complied with orders issued by its chief of staff to begin attacks in “operational zone number 2.” Over the next several weeks the KLA began a killing spree, gunning down unarmed people, including a physical education teacher, a bar manager, and a forest ranger. It also conducted armed attacks on buildings housing the families of Serbian police in Kosovo. By February 23, U.S. special envoy to the Balkans Robert Gelbard had little difficulty in denouncing the KLA in the strongest possible terms. The KLA, he said, “is, without any questions, a terrorist group,” and “we condemn very strongly terrorist actions in Kosovo.”
Gelbard’s remarks came just five days before a KLA attack on Serbian police left two policemen and five KLA members dead. A few days later, Serbian police began a massive security sweep through central Kosovo that resulted in at least 20 deaths, including several civilians and four policemen. Concerned that Gelbard’s earlier remarks about the KLA were interpreted by the Milosevic regime as a “green light” to crack down on the KLA, the House Committee on International Relations asked him to clarify his views. Although the KLA has committed “terrorist acts,” Gelbard told the committee, it has “not been classified legally by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization.”
Over the course of the ensuing 12 months, Washington decided to embrace the KLA as a partner, and demanded that the Serbs meet in Rambouillet, France, to accept a peace plan with Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians…Albright told the KLA that it would be made the official police force of Kosovo under Washington’s proposed peace plan and be given training in the United States. “We want to develop closer and better ties with this organization,” explained deputy State Department spokesperson James Foley…
The KLA, however, had ideas of its own…After Milosevic finally withdrew his forces from Kosovo in June, following 11 weeks of NATO bombing, the KLA swept across the province, organized its own provisional government, and set up a “Ministry of Public Order.” As quickly as NATO began deploying peacekeeping troops in Kosovo, the KLA began driving out the province’s Serbs and other non-Albanians, seizing property and businesses, extorting money, and intimidating moderate ethnic Albanians. Human Rights Watch, which for years had catalogued abuses committed by Serbian authorities in Kosovo, acknowledged the new reality in August 1999, noting “the most serious incidents of violence . .. have been carried out by the KLA.” “The frequency and severity of the abuses,” added the rights group, “make it incumbent upon the KLA leadership to take swift and decisive action to prevent them.”
KLA officials did no such thing. In fact, the abuses and killings continued, often committed by the “secret police” connected with the KLA’s so-called Ministry of Public Order. By December 1999, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe published a damning report that cataloged the human rights violations committed in Kosovo since NATO peacekeepers had arrived five months earlier. Serbs and other non-Albanians, said the report, were the targets of “executions, abductions, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary arrests … house burnings, blockades restricting freedom of movement, discriminatory treatment in schools, hospitals, humanitarian aid distribution and other public services … and forced evictions from housing.” In many of the cases, the report added, “there are serious indications that the perpetrators of [these] human rights violations are either members of the former KLA, people passing themselves off as members of the former KLA or members of other armed Albanian groups.”
The KLA was also implicated in efforts aimed at silencing moderate ethnic Albanians with a terror campaign of intimidation, kidnappings, beatings, bombings, and killings. In October 1999, Kosovapress, a news agency tied to the KLA, issued a veiled death threat to Veton Surroi, editor of the popular Albanian-language newspaper Koha Ditore, when he criticized the widespread violence directed at Serbs and other non-Albanians in Kosovo. Surroi was singled out for expressing the following view in an editorial:
“Today’s violence … is more than simply an emotional reaction. It is the organized and systematic intimidation of all Serbs simply because they are Serbs…. Such an attitude is fascist. It will dishonor us and our own recent suffering which, only a few months ago, was broadcast on television screens throughout the world. And it will dishonor the memory of Kosovo’s Albanian victims….we are ourselves becoming persecutors and have allowed the specter of fascism to reappear. Anybody who thinks that the violence will end once the last Serb has been driven out is living an illusion. The violence will simply be directed against other Albanians.”
Kosovapress’s response to Surroi’s editorial was immediate. In a strongly worded column, it warned that he risked “eventual and very understandable revenge,” claimed that “such criminals and enslaved minds should not have a place in the free Kosovo,” and accused him of having a “Slav stink” about him.”
As worrisome, the KLA was linked to attacks across Kosovo targeting offices and members of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), a political party whose leader, Ibrahim Rugova, was Kosovo’s most popular politician before the war. LDK party activists who have survived severe [beat]ings have said their attackers claimed to be from the “true KLA” or the “Ministry of Order.” One victim who did not survive his attack was Haki Imeri, a schoolteacher who had recently been appointed a member of a local board of the LDK. He was abducted and killed on November 2, 1999. He was last seen entering a car licensed to an intelligence officer with the KLA. In another incident, Ismet Veliqi, a local LDK activist and schoolteacher, was abducted, beaten, shot, and left for dead on February 23, 2000. Veliqi said his assailants were ethnic Albanians who asked him during their attack, “Why do you still support Rugova?” At the time of his abduction, there were five “unofficial” KLA Ministry of Order police stations still operating in Pristina alone. On June 15, 2000, a moderate LDK politician, Halil Dreshaj, was shot and killed when two attackers forced their way into his home in the western Kosovo village of Nabrdje. The victim’s wife was quoted as saying the attackers wore uniforms with the red-and-black emblem of the Kosovo Liberation Army. Special Representative Kouchner, however, blamed the murder on nonspecific “extremists” who “do not want us to succeed.”
The KLA “Demilitarizes”
According to Secretary of State Albright, Washington’s peace plan for Kosovo had three main elements: “the KLA would disarm, the Serbs would pull their forces out, and there would be an international force that would go in there to help implement it.”
But after Belgrade indicated it was willing to pull its forces out of Kosovo, Washington decided that disarmament was not what it really meant. Indeed, after Belgrade said it would capitulate, a reporter asked State Department spokesperson Rubin if the United States would “press for a complete disarmament of the KLA.” Rubin’s response: “The proper word here is ‘demilitarization.’ I’ll get you a copy of the Rambouillet accords, which describes demilitarization as envisaged in those accords…”
Under the demilitarization terms reached between NATO and the KLA, the KLA agreed officially to disband but would form the core of the new Kosovo Protection Corps, which would consist of 5,000 full-time and reserve personnel. According to the agreement, the KLA would turn in an unspecified number of weapons and fully demobilize by September 20,1999. The new KPC would then limit its activities to providing disaster relief, performing search and rescue, delivering humanitarian aid, assisting in demining the countryside, and contributing to the rebuilding of Kosovo’s infrastructure. “We believe the Kosovo Protection Corps will make a useful contribution to the restoration of peace and security for all the communities of Kosovo and its progress towards democracy,” said Secretary Albright in a prepared statement.
After the KLA turned in roughly 10,000 guns, many of them broken or antiquated, NATO declared the demilitarization a success and claimed the KLA no longer existed. “The Kosovo Liberation Army has demilitarized and has been transformed into the Kosovo Protection Corps,” claimed NATO’s supreme allied commander, Gen. Wesley Clark, before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. What Gen. Clark did not mention was that a few days before the KLA was supposed to finish demilitarizing, German KFOR soldiers stumbled on a secret cache of 10 tons of ammunition.
When UNMIK held a ceremony to swear in some of the first members of the new Kosovo Protection Corps in early 2000, the event was opened with an address by an UNMIK official. In keeping with UNMIK’s claim that the KPC would be an organization of a multiethnic character, the official’s remarks were being translated into both Serbian and Albanian. In the middle of the UNMIK official’s speech, however, the new members of the KPC — all of whom were ethnic Albanian — disrupted the ceremony by walking out of the room in protest of the Serbian translation. KPC family members and other ethnic Albanians present at the ceremony greeted the action with applause. The KPC members returned to the ceremony only after they were assured the event would continue exclusively in Albanian…
Shortly after the KPC was outfitted and organized throughout Kosovo, Special Representative Kouchner invited journalists to inspect a KPC work group removing ice from the roads in Pristina…Outside the Clinton White House, however, few people bought [it], and by March 2000, analysts at the otherwise pro-nation building International Crisis Group were reporting that… “Some parts of the old KLA operate openly and essentially as before; others have been transformed; some new elements have been added; and much remains underground.” Just two weeks earlier, UN authorities had warned that the KLA’s official successor, the KPC, was engaged in illegal activities and human rights abuses. More specifically, the UN human rights unit in Kosovo said in an internal report that several members of the KPC tortured or killed local citizens and illegally detained others, illegally attempted to conduct law enforcement activities, illegally forced local businesses to pay “liberation taxes,” and threatened UN police who attempted to intervene and stop the wrongdoing. UN officials also expressed concern about the fact that the KPC distributed 15,000 uniforms despite being limited to a maximum strength of 5,000 members. Moreover, UN police and NATO soldiers voiced worries about seizing hundreds of forged and counterfeit KPC identity cards from people claiming to be members of the organization. To date, Western taxpayers have contributed more than $10 million to the creation and maintenance of the KPC.
Still, advocates of nation building refused to admit that the KLA was responsible for any of the instability in Kosovo, and instead habitually blamed Belgrade for Kosovo’s postwar troubles. Writing in the Los Angeles Times in the summer of 2000, for example. International Crisis Group consultant Susan Blaustein did not once mention the KLA and asserted that “allied nations have tolerated a porous border with Serbia … enabling Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to pursue his destabilizing agenda in Kosovo.” The harsh reality, however, was and still is that NATO and UN officials find themselves not with a peacekeeping operation in Kosovo, but with a KLA management operation. Indeed, the popular Koha Ditore newspaper warns that KLA elements run “illegal businesses,” exploit “their position and the might of arms” for personal gain, “intrude on the privacy of certain individuals,” and are directly and indirectly “implicated in political developments.”
Although the Clinton administration insisted that the KLA met its requirements to demilitarize in 1999, the rebel organization nevertheless has been able to foment an insurgency across the provincial border of Kosovo in Serbia’s predominantly ethnic Albanian Presevo Valley — which Albanian nationalists call “Eastern Kosovo.” In a disturbing replay of the strategy the KLA used from early 1998 until NATO commenced its bombing, ethnic Albanian guerrillas are attacking Serbian policemen and civilians — and ethnic Albanians loyal to Belgrade — in the hope of provoking Yugoslav authorities into a response that will incite the United States and NATO to resume their war with Yugoslavia. As a UN official in Kosovo explained, the guerrillas hope “that the Serbs will retaliate with excessive force against civilian populations and create a wave of outrage and pressure on KFOR to respond.”
In March 2000, the guerrillas promised U.S. diplomats that they would end their insurgency. “We’re happy they did it,” said one U.S. official. “We gave them a tough message, and they believed it.” …The rebel group, however, took no steps to live up to its pledge and announced the next day that it “has not ceased its activities” and that it will not stop until “Eastern Kosovo is liberated.” The guerrillas, moreover, continued to wear KLA-like uniforms, to conduct training exercises, and to cross back and forth across the neutral zone between U.S. forces in Kosovo and Yugoslav forces in Serbia proper. Though the leaders of the supposedly disbanded KLA insist they are not tied to the rebels, those killed in the Presevo Valley are buried in cemeteries reserved for KLA martyrs. Moreover, the “Homeland Calling Fund,” which was set up to raise money from the Albanian diaspora to fund the KLA, has been resurrected to fund the Presevo insurgents.
Notwithstanding those facts, Clinton administration officials downplayed KLA involvement in the violence. In fact, Secretary Albright praised the KLA for “having met its commitment to demobilize” and she stressed that a “spirit of tolerance and inter-ethnic cooperation” will take root in Kosovo as the province’s “democratic forces” come to power. America’s chief diplomat should have had a better grasp of Kosovo’s realities. The KLA and its supporters are committed to taking power in Kosovo and expanding its dominion, not to practicing multiethnic democracy.
Not all foreign officials were as gullible….Jiri Dienstbier, former Czech foreign minister turned UN special envoy for human rights, submitted a 53-page report to the UN Human Rights Commission in March 2000 [accusing] the leaders of the [KLA] of destabilizing the Presevo Valley with a view to creating a Greater Albania. Voicing similar concerns. Gen. Reinhardt, the former commander of KFOR, warned that tensions between Serbs and ethnic Albanians in the Presevo Valley could result in a new war. Like Dienstbier, Reinhardt also expressed skepticism that the rebels were dedicated to peace. “Frankly, when we see them training with mortars … I do not believe them.” Reinhardt’s concerns were underscored by same-day reports of a grenade attack on a Serbian police checkpoint on the other side of the Kosovo boundary. Other attacks followed, and by July 2000 fighting between the ethnic Albanian separatists and Yugoslav security forces intensified to the point that NATO forces could hear automatic gunfire and explosions coming from over the administrative border in Serbia proper. By the fall of 2000, the security situation in the Presevo Valley deteriorated even further as the number of ethnic Albanian guerrillas operating in the area reportedly tripled and the number of attacks on Serb policemen increased. In December, the rebels fired upon a joint American-Russian patrol, and in January 2001, a British patrol was attacked.
As troubling, ethnic Albanians from Kosovo and Albania, including KLA elements, are also involved in attempts to infiltrate and destabilize Macedonia. News reports, which began appearing as early as June 2000, highlighted the connection among organized smuggling rings, the KLA, and the political leadership in the ethnic Albanian area of western Macedonia. On June 20, 2000, two Macedonian border guards were shot near a crossing into Kosovo. The attack was attributed to ethnic Albanians who, beyond smuggling, were said to be forming the nucleus of a KLA-linked armed movement in Macedonia.” In a subsequent incident, four Macedonian border guards were kidnapped, allegedly to be exchanged for KLA activists who were being held in Macedonian prisons…By August 2000, NATO was relaying worrisome reports of paramilitary activity in western Macedonia, including a report that nearly 100 ethnic Albanians were conducting military exercises in the Sar Mountains, which straddle the border of Macedonia and Kosovo. On January 25, 2001, ethnic Albanian guerrillas attacked a Macedonian police station with automatic rifles and rocket launchers. A month later, they attacked a Macedonian police patrol near the border with Kosovo, drawing Macedonian army units into a firefight and forcing hundreds of civilians to flee. Fighting also broke out near Macedonia’s second largest city, Tetevo, when rebels entered border villages from Kosovo.
Belatedly awakening to the danger posed by the KLA’s cross-border activities, U.S. forces on March 16, 2000, raided arms caches and other logistical infrastructure used by the rebels to sustain its operations in the Presevo Valley. In mid-April peacekeeping troops in Kosovo arrested 12 ethnic Albanians on charges of illegal possession of arms and other military materiel after the driver of a truck failed to stop when flagged down at a checkpoint. In the truck, peacekeepers found 80 anti-tank mines, 40 hand grenades, and large quantities of guns and ammunition. In May, American peacekeepers seized rifles, explosives, hand grenades, and other weapons in a search operation in the eastern village of Ugljare.
On June 17, 2000, NATO peacekeepers discovered the largest cache of illegal weapons in Kosovo to date. In two 30-foot by 10-foot concrete bunkers dug into a hillside in a forested area of central Kosovo, British troops found 67 tons of weapons and explosives, including 20,000 grenades, thousands of mines, and half a million bullets. A KFOR spokesperson said the weapons were enough “to eliminate the entire population of Pristina or destroy 900 to 1,000 tanks.” Brig. Gen. Richard Shirreff, commander of the British KFOR forces leading the operation, told reporters at the scene: “This represents a major weapons haul. It is almost certainly, entirely Albanian, all evidence we got here suggests that it is former KLA material” and the fact they did not divulge any information reflects “a degree of non-compliance” with NATO.
The former military head of the KLA, Agim Ceku, denied any link between the officially disbanded organization and the massive weapons stash. “With full confidence I can say the KLA did not possess these weapons during the war,” said Ceku, who now heads the Kosovo Protection Corps. The statement came as NATO troops announced the discovery of more bunkers containing arms. Ceku claimed the fact that the weapons were found just a half mile from his wartime headquarters was a “coincidence.” The KLA has “handed in all its weapons as required of them” he added. “There is no reason for it to take responsibility for weapons that might be found.” NATO officials, however, announced that documents found at the sites indicated the weapons had, in fact, belonged to the KLA.
In another worrisome incident, KFOR soldiers discovered a complex of bunkers and fighting positions only 12 miles from the Kosovo-Macedonia border. Without mentioning the KLA by name, a KFOR spokesperson speculated that the site was a training area “used by extremist elements,” adding that fresh tire tracks and footprints suggested that it was in recent use. KFOR units have since discovered several weapons stockpiles scattered throughout Kosovo. One included sniper rifles, machine guns, more man 80 mines, 100 pounds of TNT, and paraphernalia to detonate bombs remotely — “clear indications of a terrorist capability,” explained a prepared KFOR statement…
Notwithstanding such high-profile discoveries, NATO has been less than exhaustive in its efforts to root out illegal arms and end the cross-border activity. To do so would mean directly confronting the KLA and its supporters. That was something the Clinton administration was loathe [sic] to do because it would have exposed the main flaw in its Kosovo policy. Indeed, had NATO personnel started dying at the hands of the very people the administration said the United States was out to help — a la Mogadishu — then it would have been forced to admit that its de facto partners had not actually given up on their wartime objective and that the peacekeeping operation was a sham. Rather than risk that, the Clinton administration preferred to do as little as possible. Unfortunately, the KLA understood that priority as early as June 1999, and carried out its intolerant and militant activities without fear of serious resistance from the Clinton White House.
The legacy of the KLA has caused a multitude of problems inside Kosovo. For example, in March of 2000, Special Representative Kouchner announced that “private enterprise has restarted very well” in Kosovo. Yet almost everywhere business has restarted, violence and criminality have followed. Gerard Fischer, a senior UN mission economic official, notes that “extortion is a big problem” and he suspects that former KLA members are behind it. Similarly, the Boston Globe reports,
“Extortion is Kosovo’s most robust industry. Nearly every cafe, restaurant, and shop pays tribute. Most business owners simply shrug and pay the mobsters, some of them former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army who have morphed from freedom fighters into shakedown artists…. ‘There is no law here,’ said John Foreman, an Englishman who runs a bar in Pristina. Foreman said he has been threatened repeatedly by former Kosovo Liberation Army members who are demanding that he pay them about $3,000 a month for the privilege of doing business. They have followed him home, telling him he is a dead man. They have stolen his generators four times. Foreman says his bar has been targeted because it is multiethnic. His staff and clientele are Albanian and Serb…. ‘This is the only multiethnic bar in Kosovo, and they can’t stand the fact that we’re open,’ he said.”
Former KLA members have also been implicated in efforts to collect illegal taxes and fees to fund their postwar activities. On the Kosovo-Macedonia border, for example, they reportedly forced 1,300 or so trucks passing each day to pay a “customs duty” of $20. The leaders of the former KLA deny that any such taxes have been collected. But documents seized by UNMIK police show that Kosovo businessmen have been ordered to pay similar fees and that elements of the former KLA have established an elaborate sliding scale of illegal taxes for cigarettes, alcohol, juices, coffee, and gasoline.
Even more disturbing, many former KLA members are reportedly involved in protection rackets, prostitution, corruption, and bribery. On January 6, 2000, UNMIK police raided the home of Gani Thaci, a brother of former KLA political leader Hashim Thaci. The police seized weapons and a suitcase containing $791,000 in cash. Hashim Thaci demanded — and quickly received — an apology from UNMIK. His brother was released without charge, and his money and weapons were returned. Part of the money was from a Canadian construction company working in Kosovo that had paid Gani Thaci for what the company euphemistically called his “intermediary services” in securing lucrative reconstruction contracts after the war.
In another incident, police specialists attached to KFOR’s multinational peacekeeping force raided more than 10 premises in and around the town of Djeneral Jankovic on Kosovo’s southern border with Macedonia, arresting 10 men and seizing cash and weapons. Among those arrested was Refki Sumen, a former KLA commander and a senior figure in the guerrilla force’s civilian successor, the Kosovo Protection Corps. “The arrests were carried out as part of an ongoing investigation into an organized crime gang operating in the border area,” explained a special police spokesperson. “We suspect the group to be involved in at least three homicides, extortion, and smuggling.”
International law enforcement authorities and drug experts also worry that former KLA members have not severed their ties with the narcotics underworld. Instead, they are now paying their patrons back with political favors and using their new profits to rebuild. “The new buildings, the better roads,” explains Michel Koutouzis of the Geopolitical Drug Watch, “these have been bought by drugs.” There are also indications that former senior KLA figures have provided immunity for the criminal gangs or are directly involved in the postwar drug trade itself. Some analysts have warned that it could become difficult for international organizations to find former KLA members who “are not so tainted with criminality or other serious misbehavior as to be completely unacceptable.” One senior UN official has even lamented that the West might be creating “a narco-mafia style society” in Kosovo.
In addition to daily incidents of ethnic violence and criminality in Kosovo, many people have been left dead as a result of political rivalries between former KLA figures and their ongoing turf battles over lucrative racketeering rings and the economic spoils of war. Indeed, in the first weeks following the end of NATO’s air campaign, the New York Times reported,
“The senior commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army . . . carried out assassinations, arrests, and purges within their ranks to thwart potential rivals, say current and former commanders in the rebel army and some Western diplomats. The campaign, in which as many as half a dozen top rebel commanders were shot dead, was directed by Hashim Thaci and two of his lieutenants, Azem Syla and Xhavit Haliti, these officials said…. The charges of assassinations and purges were made in interviews with about a dozen former and current Kosovo Liberation Army officials, two of whom said they had witnessed executions of Mr. Thaci’s rivals; a former senior diplomat for the Albanian Government; a former police official in the Albanian Government who worked with the rebel group, and several Western diplomats.”
On April 18, 2000, former KLA military leader turned KPC commander, Besim Mala, was shot in the head by a .357 Magnum and bled to death on the pavement outside a Pristina restaurant. Mala was killed in an internal gangland struggle over protection rackets. Three weeks later, former KLA commander Ekrem Rexha was gunned down outside his home in the southern Kosovo town of Prizren. A known moderate, Rexha was a Thaci opponent. “This could be the first of a series of political murders” as Kosovo gears up for October’s municipal elections, explained one UN official, adding that Rexha would have been voted Prizren’s mayor “for sure” if he ran for the office. In September, Skender Gashi, a KPC district commander and former KLA officer, was found murdered with both hands cut off…
…[T]he moderate Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) party encountered “a climate of intimidation and harassment.” In the months preceding the election, a Srbica-area LDK official was kidnapped from in front of his house and later found dead, and two aspiring LDK politicians were shot and wounded in separate attacks. On September 11, 2000, journalist Shefki Popova was shot dead seven miles from Srbica…
In the area of Prizren, former KLA commander Ramush Haradinaj was wounded in a shootout before the election. According to eyewitnesses, Haradinaj and a group of KPC members initiated the incident by attacking a home about 1:00 a.m. with automatic weapons. Residents of the village said they suspected the attack was launched because many of them do not support Haradinaj’s party, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, but support the more moderate LDK. “He wants to win the election in Kosovo by force, by killing his rivals,” explained one villager. The following day, UNMIK police arrested two members of the KPC, two miles south of the shootout site. In protest of the arrests, several ethnic Albanians set up roadblocks in the area. The arrested men were later released after members of the KPC surrounded the UN police station where the two were being held and KPC chief Ceku intervened to negotiate their release.
British military personnel, who actually worked with Haradinaj before and during NATO’s air campaign against Yugoslavia, reported that he was a highly questionable figure. One British soldier even described him as “a psychopath” and said he terrorized his own men and the local population into unquestioning loyalty to him. “Someone would pass him some information and he would disappear for two hours. The end result would be several bodies in a ditch.” In contrast, Clinton administration officials, who were determined to keep up the appearance that their Kosovo policy was working, portrayed Haradinaj as a burgeoning democrat. U.S. military personnel removed forensic evidence from the scene of the Haradinaj gunfight — including bullets — even though the incident took place well outside the U.S. Army’s area of responsibility in Kosovo. In addition, Haradinaj was flown to Germany to be treated in a U.S. Army hospital for the wounds he received from the gunfight. During that time UN investigators were denied access to him.
Hashim Thaci…says the ouster of Slobodan Milosevic by the democratic opposition in Belgrade does not change anything in Kosovo. “Kosovo [will] never be a part of Serbia… whether it [is] a dictatorial or democratic Serbia,” he declares…[Albanians] have intentionally depopulated Kosovo of most of its non-Albanian populations and are overtly and covertly resisting the UN’s effort to create a multiethnic democracy. What is more, most of Kosovo’s Albanians say they are still willing to fight for the province’s independence from Yugoslavia…
Though some analysts may claim the “Clinton administration deserves credit for having done several things right” in Kosovo, highlighting the obvious—that not everything has gone wrong—is not a compelling defense; it is a rhetorical diversion. The uncomfortable truth is that Washington’s nation-building effort in Kosovo rests on a false peace; the KLA has not given up its wartime agenda and Kosovo’s limbo status perpetuates the competing fears of both ethnic Albanians and Serbs. There is not, in other words, a shared reason of state among Kosovo’s inhabitants…
As it turns out, where there is peace in Kosovo is where it is most unlike the Clinton administration’s intended vision for the province. And those ethnic Albanians who tend to be the most content with Kosovo’s current political limbo are those who are most certain that independence is just a question of time. For advocates of Clinton’s policy to then characterize such people and places as evidence of “progress” or a vindication of the previous administration’s efforts is intellectually dishonest.
In an extreme display of the basic incoherence of the Clinton administration’s Kosovo policy, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson warned ethnic Albanian leaders that continuing attacks against Serbs could lead the West to divide the province into separately administered sections. “Don’t underestimate our determination,” Robertson said. “We are going to protect a multiethnic society here and we’ll do it if necessary by making sure the individual groups are protected in their homes and communities…. If it involves building walls round them, barbed wire round them, giving them the protection they need, then we will do it.” But separating pockets of non-Albanians with walls and barbed wire is not multiethnicity, it is ghettoization…
Obviously, Lord Robertson’s way did not win out, as our KLA masters have been informing us every step of the way as to how things would be panning out Kosovo, especially every time one of us got similarly confused. But the “multi-ethnic” rhetoric continues to this day. Never mind that, from the beginning, we had a vision of Kosovo’s future from the horse’s mouth, as Jared Israel reminded us in a 2000 commentary:
“He, like many KLA officers, says openly that he dreams of a Kosovo without Serbs.” (Description of KLA death squad commander “The Teacher”, Agence France Presse, August 19, 1999, quoted in The roots of Kosovo fascism by George Thompson.)
The “Fool’s Errands” excerpt above opened with quotes from three political personages:
“The Kosovo mission is a success. We are building modern democratic society.”
– Bernard Kouchner, Independent, June 13, 2000
“The United States of America and the Kosovo Liberation Army stand for the same human values and principles…Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values.” — Sen. Joseph Lieberman
“The KLA is without any questions, a terrorist group…”
– U.S. Ambassador Robert Gelbard
According to U.S. officials, then, the U.S. is a terrorist. With ties to organized crime, prostitution, drug-trafficking, organ-trafficking and human-trafficking. This reinvention, all over a seemingly (to Americans) insignificant and obscure place called Kosovo.
In my descriptions above — of the KPC that is “based on the National Guard” and is to be used as a model for these other newly “liberated” places — I forgot to include this short excerpt from a Sept. 21, 2002 Der Spiegel article quoting “former prime minister of the exiled Kosovars and [then] current chairman of the New Party for Kosovo, Bujar Bukoshi”:
“After the  war the cruelest cleansings took place among the Albanians. Under the pretext that they were ‘Serbian collaborators’, [the KLA’s political opponents were liquidated by] the leaders of the KLA; old blood feuds were settled, and Albanian civilians were executed by the Albanians themselves.”
The number of the victims is estimated to be more than a thousand. The perpetrators or instigators were usually former senior KLA leaders; after the war they were integrated nearly without exception into the KLA successor organization, the civilian Kosovo Protection Corps.”
From a Feb. 22, 2002 interview by the Reality Macedonia website, with an UNMIK police officer, titled “UN And Other Organizations In Kosovo Harbor KLA Criminals” (”His identity is known to Reality Macedonia, but for his personal safety, it will stay unrevealed.”):
Reality: What is your opinion of KPC? Most of the members of KCP are ex-members of UCK. Did they fit well into the civil organization as KPC?
D.W.: TMK/KPC is the military arm of PDK. Thaqi, in my opinion, controls KPC. KPC is a very corrupt organization that has no interest in rebuilding Kosovo. Most of the members that I was familiar with were only interested in filling their pockets [with] money and carrying guns. My early experience with KPC involved evictions. KPC personnel were evicting Kosovar Albanian civilians from there homes so that the UCK “hero’s” could move in. Because KPC is composed of mainly former UCK members, in my opinion it is still a terrorist organization.
Reality: What is the connection of the KPC commander general, Agim Cheku, with crime gangs in Kosovo?
D.W.: I believe that Cheku is a major figure in organized crime in the Balkans. Unfortunately, I have no evidence to support my opinion.
Reality: There are rumours that Hashim Thaqi [or Thaci] is also involved in criminal activities in Kosovo. Can you add anything to that?
D.W.: Thaqi’s involvement in organized crime seems obvious, but again, there is no direct evidence. Thaqi’s position as a high ranking UCK officer would lead one to believe that he as intimate knowledge of the UCK’s activities before the war, including drug trafficking. It is also very obvious that opponents or enemies of PDK have been assassinated and such an order would come from Thaqi. I am embarrassed that my government recognizes this animal as a leader.