June 29th 2015 01:23:35 AM
One recurring theme over the past two years of the Crimea affair has been the invocation of Kosovo by reporters and pundits who barely remember the word. Surprisingly, Geraldo Rivera — despite having flown a helicopter for America’s terrorist allies the KLA — invoked Kosovo in the proper context on “The O’Reilly Factor,” saying, “Like it or not, Kosovo was the precedent for this.”
But more often, the attempt is to counter the Crimea-Kosovo analogy, and sometimes it’s a strained attempt to accuse Russia of hypocrisy for supporting Crimean separatism (as with South Ossetian, Abkhazian, and Transdniestrian), while having been against Albanian separatism in Kosovo.
One instance came this past February, in an otherwise fine article by former Herald Tribune columnist Jonathan Power:
Please put your hand up if you support giving lethal arms to the Ukrainian army and also supported the US going to war with Iraq in 2003 and with Libya in 2011, the former which unbalanced much of the Middle East and the latter which has left a country almost destroyed, semi-ruled by malicious militias. Also raise your hand if you supported in 1999 the West going to war against Serbia in order to wrest away its province of Kosovo and give it independence — a move which ironically Russia opposed, arguing that this would set a precedent for territorial separation by force of arms. If you supported all these three interventions don’t take offence if I question your judgment on the issue of arms for Ukraine.
Excellent points all. I just need to address the use of “ironically,” which others have also used when describing Russia’s position on Kosovo in contrast to its positions since. (In addition to a bit of it in 2008, in March of last year, in an article that reads like an all-too-famliar State Department press release about Kosovo, Patrick Goodenough of cnsnews.com obliged Washington bureaucrats by putting sarcastic quotes around the word “precedent,” and writing, “Ironically, the same government now invoking a Kosovo ‘precedent’ led the international opposition to Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence….Moscow warned the move would embolden separatist movements everywhere; the U.S. insisted that Kosovo was a unique case, and that it set no legal precedent.”)
Payback is a bitch. It’s not “irony.”
If you’re giving someone a taste of their own medicine — of the reality they created against better sense; if you’re demonstrating the peril and instability that playing with borders and reordering the world invites — which you’ve spent more than a decade imploring them to reconsider — your original position doesn’t retroactively become “ironic.”
Unless a writer is only now waking up to Kosovo, and is naturally all confused about how we got to Here. Here is where Russia gets to show the West what can happen in this messy new world, and why Russia was against it to begin with. Only the perk Here is that, unlike Kosovo — where America had no national interest — Russia (and others) can invoke the foul precedent in cases that do serve its national interest (and aren’t nearly as destructive as ‘Kosova’). How devious.
If the U.S. is willing to embolden worldwide separatism by setting a precedent — while unilaterally proclaiming it a “non-precedent” and reserving it the “unique case” designation despite more justifiable and deserving separatism — Russia can help make that happen. If you’ve squandered your “special” button on something that wasn’t even in your national interest, don’t blame Russia for going about it more smartly. We sure make it easy for Russia to look clever, while working day and night to make it look sinister.
Russia is making a point. That it can help you reap the fruits of your labor. Why do only we get in on the world-redesign? Russia can paint too. Especially since it’s better at coloring within lines, unlike the messy finger-painting we’ve been doing.
So, the separatism that Russia supports today isn’t a contradiction of the whole Kosovo affair, it’s a continuation. And a continuum.
Although the following may be giving Russia too much credit, every self-determination case it supports may also serve as an invitation for Washington and Brussels to come back to sanity. A sort of mutable tough-love olive branch that can remorph back into enmity if that’s what the West continues to choose. In the case of Kosovo specifically, even though Washington and its Albanian masters would have us think it’s a fait accompli, reversal is possible. Especially with all the buyer’s remorse that’s been voiced internationally. If that leads to the “disbanded” KLA retaking up arms again — this time against our troops as they repeatedly threatened to do throughout the early post-war years — then maybe it’s time Washington learned to fight actual enemies, as opposed to inventing ones like Serbia and Russia.
Nor is it just a case of Russia self-fulfilling its own prophecy about a domino effect, as we can see not only from Palestinian invocations at the UN of the Kosovo precedent, but also from the plethora of irredentist and self-determination movements asserting themselves since Kosovo’s February 2008 UDI.
As for this wanton reordering of the world, it’s not just an issue of shifting European borders, which the world agreed after WWII to not do (and today’s statesmen re-profess it at every chance, adding, “Just as soon as we get this Kosovo thing done.”) It’s also an attitude, one that has manifested in Washington-led actions turning international norms on their head. In an email back-and-forth over the past year, Balkans observer Nebojsa Malic put it this way:
Russia’s view of the world is that there is an order, established at the end of WW2, for which they’ve paid with millions of lives (and we with hundreds of thousands). Even through the Cold War, it mostly held together.
The assumption in 1991 was that the US and NATO would adhere to this order — which is why the Russians agreed to dismantle the Soviet Union. Instead, the US violated it, essentially saying “the law don’t apply to us, just you,” and went nuts. Bombing, regime-changing, color-revolutionizing and “reforming” everyone to Hell and gone. Terrorizing the world is bad. When it’s a self-appointed cop doing it, that’s worse.
Moscow asked nicely, over and over again, if the West — from London and Berlin to Washington — was really, really sure it wanted to do this. What they got was “We are the Empire, we make the rules, obey or perish.” Also a resurgence of U.S.-backed Nazis (Croatia, Ukraine, etc).
The American perspective is that the order became “obsolete” in 1991, when its constraints prevented the untrammeled use of American “leadership” — so America decided to selectively dismantle it. Even though that’s the very order that gives its power any actual legitimacy, as a victor of WW2 who defined the international order (setting up the UN, Bretton Woods, World Bank etc).
The “we beat the Nazis so we can do whatever” excuse wore out over time. For two reasons: a) the Soviets did the disproportionate amount of actually beating the Nazis; and b) writing the law doesn’t put one above it.
Russians have been grumbling about all this since 1999 — but for years they weren’t in a position to do much about it. The US backing Nazis in Kiev, of all places, was the last straw, considering the Soviets had 27 million dead fighting that beast back in the 1940s…
In the Russian view, there is room on this planet for everyone, so long as they don’t trespass. In the American view, there is room on this planet only for those who play ball. The rest will submit or die. How very like some folks we know…
And then, as icing on the cake, the West deliberately snubbed the last major celebration of Victory Day that any veterans may still be alive for (don’t reckon many will be around 5 years hence). Some insults one just cannot forgive.
So while US hipsters mark “VE Day” by dressing up in 1940s costumes left over from the set of Captain America, and organize a half-our air spectacle named “Arsenal of Democracy,” millions of Russians march with the photographs of their parents and grandparents who fought in the war, and call them the “Immortal Regiment.”
Three guesses as to who I think will win.
Indeed, one eye-roller for my Russo-loathing parents has always been the popularly held Russian sentiment that some great destiny awaits Russia. I fear America may finally show Russia the way to it, just by wreaking so much havoc. But I also fear that in the end the destiny will be the opposite of great.
In Nebojsa’s analysis above, I would only substitute the word “Washington” where “America” appears, since America and Americans are not represented by the Washingtonians. “American” behavior in the past 20 years has been anything but, and there is a huge disconnect between Washington and Americans, like so many third-worlders led around by the nose by their leaders, until it ends in anguish for the masses when the consequences of their leaders’ policies arrive. We sometimes dismiss it with, “People get the leaders they deserve.” Let’s remember that when it comes our time to pay the price for Washington’s foreign misadventures, something we’ve already had a taste of.
Meanwhile, the 70-year snub — complete with the spectacle of Washington telling world leaders to boycott Russia’s observances (which backfired when the Czech president kicked out baby ambassador Andrew Schapiro and reaffirmed that his visit would be a thank-you to Russia “for not having to speak German in this country” — was foreshadowed three years earlier by Nebojsa in his “Victory Day” article:
[W]hen you look at the EU, it resembles nothing so much as what Nazi slogans described as the “European family of nations” working together for the prosperity of all. The whole endeavor has roots in National-Socialism…Then there is the bizarre situation that the map of Europe today looks suspiciously like the one from 1942, and all of Hitler’s allies in the Balkans are now the staunchest allies of the American Empire. In that corner of Europe, at least, WW2 is still being fought. Only this time, the Luftwaffe and the panzers are supposedly the “good guys”.
The newly reunited Germany, the nascent European Union and the rising American Empire [risen, but overreaching] all saw an opportunity in dismembering Yugoslavia. What followed was an eerie re-run of the 1940s carnage. Croatia’s [1990s] “democratic” president, Franjo Tudjman, led an NDH [WWII Croatia] revival — but because he was allied with the U.S. and not Hitler this time around, he succeeded where his predecessor failed. In Bosnia, Alija Izetbegovic had Washington’s support to make a bid for an Islamic state, causing a bloodbath when both Serbs and Croats objected. Albanians were likewise armed and supported to re-establish the “Natural Albania” of 1941-45.
But the cruelest twist was that these [actual Nazi heirs] accused the Serbs of Nazism — and their PR flacks used Communist propaganda to do so….Who would have ever thought to see American bombers, German tanks and Communist propaganda working together towards a goal Hitler once had: to crush Serbia as an example to others.
When Hitler invaded, Yugoslavia had been rotten already. Croats actually greeted the Wehrmacht with flowers. Few have dared ask how Tito could have put Yugoslavia back together, after all that. Yet the answer is very simple: he allowed many of the Nazi collaborators to change their uniforms at the last moment, defecting to the winning team….No wonder only Russia still celebrates Victory Day. In the rest of Europe, it’s Hitler’s ghost that rejoices.
A poignant letter to that effect in Pravda last month, written by Michael Gardner of Jacksonville, Fl.:
…My father was drafted into the US Army in 1942…He fought bravely as a rifleman under General Patton in the US Third Army group. Thank God, after victory in Europe, he came home in one piece…I watched the great celebrations that took place in Moscow…the place that was the very epicenter of sacrifice….When I heard our US government was not going to send a delegation to Moscow for the 70th anniversary victory celebrations, I was very angry. It was an insult to the men of all the Allied Forces who fought and died in Europe. Their sacrifice was ignored because of petty politics by the US government. Many of us here in the US are ashamed by this boycott of such an honorable event…I was moved by what I saw in Moscow, and it made me decide to do something I never thought of doing before. US government boycott or not, I will be in Moscow in 2020 for the 75th anniversary victory celebration and I will carry a picture of my father, Corporal James P Gardner, and honor all those who fought in the Great Patriotic War.
Earlier I mentioned there being buyer’s remorse on a global scale over Kosovo independence. Below is a sad snippet of the character of these regrets over recent years (though much has since been resolved in Kosovo’s favor, naturally). The backtracking has come even from the Vatican, which had stood at the forefront of almost every Balkans separation (Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo):
“Vatican will not recognize Kosovo” (B92, March 21, 2013)
The Vatican will not recognize Kosovo, claims Serbian Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkić, adding that some countries could rescind their decisions to recognize Kosovo.
Mrkić told daily Večernje novosti that Serbian officials had been assured that the Vatican would not change its stance on Kosovo…When asked why he thought that some countries could rescind their decisions to recognize Kosovo, Mrkić said:
“Some countries have already done it. Sao Tome and Principe has annulled the decision to recognize Kosovo’s unilaterally declared independence. Mali was for a long time among the countries that recognized Kosovo on all sites until their president sent a letter to the public stating it was not true,” he explained, adding that it was quite possible that more countries would rescind their recognition.
A possibility indeed, if one couldn’t count on arm-twisting by Washington. Several countries at the 2011 Non-Aligned Movement summit described the enormous and constant pressure from the U.S., Britain, and France, “depending on whose former colonies they were.” (Also illustrating first-world desperation over Kosovo — in addition to America’s begging tours in places like Bangladesh — is the way its mighty representatives pounce on every new recognition, no matter by how obscure a country, principality or island. Such as when recognition was announced in February 2009 by Maldives — which had been considering de-recognizing amid a probe into whether officials took a $2 million bribe for recognition — “US secretary of state Hillary Clinton thanked Maldives for its decision…[and] welcomed [Foreign Minister] Shaheed’s efforts to encourage other countries to support Kosovo.”)
Here was Italy three years after Kosovo’s unilateral declaration, and three months after the Council of Europe’s revelations about the KLA’s murder-for-organs business:
Kosovo is mistake, Italian MEP says (B92, March 27, 2011)
MEP Pinno Arlacchi has said that Kosovo is the international community’s biggest mistake in the past 12 years, adding that [the] EULEX mission is a complete failure… “We created a mafia state and we care only about not letting the truth come out,” the Italian MEP added…[T]he EU and the international community should stop having a false image of Kosovo as a stable place.
“…The political situation in Kosovo and the fact that organized crime dominates its territory represent a huge threat to the security of the EU and the regional countries, even Albania,” said Arlacchi…who actively took part in the creation of Italy’s structures for combating mafia in the 1980s. “EULEX has been a complete failure. They have no strategy or idea what to do, and they did not take into account Europe’s experience in combating organized crime,” he underscored.
Remorse by Poland came a year after the declaration of independence:
Kaczynski: Polish Recognition was a Mistake
President of Poland Firmly Against Severing Kosovo from Serbia (May 14, 2009)
…While visiting Belgrade on Wednesday [President Lech] Kaczynski said he, along with Polish opposition, is against the decision of Donald Tusk’s government to recognize southern Serbian province of Kosovo as an independent state…[and] also openly backed the policy of the Serbian government and President Tadic in regards to the preservation of southern Kosovo-Metohija province.
According to polls, the majority of Polish people share President Kaczynski’s firm position that Poland should not have backed Pristina Albanians’ unilateral declaration of independence. Apart from Poland’s president, one of the most prominent voices on [the] Polish and EU political scene fiercely opposed to the wanton mutilation of [the] Serbian state is Sylwester Chruszcz, a Member of the European Parliament and President of the League of Polish Families, who didn’t hesitate to declare the recognition of UDI by Albanian secessionists in the Serbian province was a “fatal mistake”, nor to remind that, regardless of the illegal individual recognitions, “Kosovo is Serbia”.
The government of Premier Tusk characterized a decision to recognize a mafia state on Serbian territory — which it called “difficult” — as boiling down to a “choice Poland had to make between its key allies in the European Union on the one side and aligning with Russia on the other.”
Meanwhile, here is where the Czechs were on “Independence Day” in 2008:
Czech lawmakers ask intl. community to support Serbia (B92, Feb. 17, 2008)
…The letter stresses that international law and the rule of law, although imperfect, “are the only wall standing between us and the rule of evil, the only wall capable of diminishing the rules of jungle in international relations.”
The current Kosovo status crisis is seen as an example of a breach of both these basic elements of civilization.
They remind that the valid UN SC Resolution 1244, adopted in 1999, defines Kosovo as an autonomous territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, SRJ, and thus guaranties its successor-state, Serbia, territorial integrity.
“Obviously, the U.S. and Europe are using two different yardsticks: one for Serbia, another for Kosovo, Croatia — where the Serb population was exiled from their homes in Slavonia and Krajina — and Turkey, with its fight against ‘Kurdish separatism’,” the letter continued.
The Czech lawmakers and former statesmen believe that Serbia’s offer of a broad autonomy is the only possible solution within the known principles of morality and law.
“A violent, internationally legitimized secession of this historic province from the Republic of Serbia would make a dangerous precedent for small states in Europe and beyond,” the appeal concluded. […]
In 2010, analyst Rick Rozoff pointed out that “The EU nations that led the drive to recognize Kosovo’s secession were Britain, France, Germany and Italy, the same four countries that met in Munich 70 years earlier to cede the Sudetenland and then all of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany.”
In a sad twist, the Czech Republic itself joined that pathetic crowd, answering not to its outraged public, but to international diktat:
Czech President: “How Ashamed I Am Of Czech Kosovo Recognition” (B92, May 24, 2008)
…”I was very upset by the words of Ambassador Vereš, who said that Serbs did not take personally Kosovo recognitions by countries such as Finland, Holland or Germany, but that the Czech government’s move hurt them,” Klaus wrote in an article for Mlada Fronta Dnes daily, which he entitled, “How ashamed I was”.
The Czech president reminded that he personally cannot be at peace with the recognition, and that for this reason he decided to receive Vereš, which the diplomats describe as a highly unusual move….He added that Vereš reminded him of several key moments in the common history of the two nations.
“The ambassador’s father studied in Prague after the war, to be sent home by our authorities after 1948, because he would not renounce Tito in favor of Stalin,” Klaus continued…[A]s the Warsaw Pact troops entered Czechoslovakia in 1968, Yugoslavia was the only country to declare its own mobilization.
The Czech government’s decision to recognize the unilateral independence, which Serbia rejects as illegal, has caused a storm in the local political scene, which continues unabated for the third day.
The leader of the Czech communists, Vojteh Filip, said last night… “Legally, the Czech decision to recognize Kosovo will be finalized once the president appoints the Czech ambassador to Priština. We have asked Vaclav Klaus to block the appointment of Janjina Hžebičkova,” Filip explained.
Czech: request to cancel the recognition of Kosmet independence (June 14, 2008)
Vice President of the Czech Parliament House of Commons Wojtech Fillip has stated that he has prepared a proposal for MPs to vote on the cancellation of Governmentʼs decision to recognize the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosmet. While stressing that the decision of the Government in Prague is contrary to the international law, Filip underlined that this act should be put out of power in a legal manner, and that the current authorities should be disabled from making moves without the consensus of the majority of citizens, MPs and politicians…The legal cancellation of governmentʼs decision would represent a positive precedent not only in Czech, but in the whole Europe, as it would send a message that the recognition of Kosmet independence means a huge jeopardy for the international legal system in the whole world, emphasized Wojtech Filip.
Favorite to win Czech elections calls Kosovo “terrorist” (B92, DANAS, Jan. 24, 2013)
…Speaking for the ČTK news agency, [Miloš Zeman] said that if elected, he would “not allow a Czech ambassador to be sent to Priština”.
“I would withdraw even the charge d’affaires that is there now, let alone send an ambassador. I consider Kosovo a terrorist regime financed by narco-mafias,” Belgrade-based daily Danas is quoting Zeman as saying.
It was the opposition of the outgoing president, Vaclav Klaus, that prevented the appointment of an ambassador in Priština, although the Czech Republic is among the 22 of EU’s 27 nations that have recognized Kosovo.
Also experiencing at least momentary buyer’s remorse was racing-to-recognize Switzerland:
There are also concerns about the Swiss position and the fact that some politicians have been calling for the country to retract recognition for Kosovo – after being one of the first to recognise it.
Media Question Wisdom of Recognising Kosovo (Swiss Info, Dec. 17, 2010)
Does Switzerland bear a responsibility for the legitimacy of the Kosovo government, given it was one of the first nations to recognise Kosovo’s independence?
There have been criticisms expressed in the Swiss media this week of Switzerland’s diplomatic move, following a Council of Europe report accusing Kosovo’s leader of heading a mafia-style organisation.
According to [Swiss politician] Dick Marty, the European Union, the United States and the United Nations were all aware of the crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), but turned a blind eye in favour of short-term stability.
His report accuses Thaci of being the head of an organised crime ring during the Kosovo Albanian guerrilla war against Serbia in the late 1990s – a ring that assassinated opponents and trafficked in drugs as well as organs harvested from murdered Serbs.
And newspapers like Geneva’s Le Temps took Switzerland to task. On Thursday, it said that Switzerland was following and even encouraging the trend of quasi-absolving crimes committed by the Albanians…. “How blind! How could such a careful country that insists on human rights be so partisan,” asked Le Temps.
In Le Temps’ view, Switzerland carries a larger part of the burden than other countries on account of its connections with the KLA. […]
Hit with a war just five months after Kosovo’s unilateral secession, Georgia too lapsed into self-preserving sanity:
Georgian Opposition Wants U.S. To Renounce Recognition Of Kosovo (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Nov. 5, 2009)
…Labor Party Secretary-General Joseph Shatberashvili…says that Labor Party leaders believe that if Washington would revoke its recognition of Kosovo’s independence it would cause Russia to reconsider its decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.
Shatberashvili said that after the talks in the United States, Natelashvili — who is known as one of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s “most consistent critics” — will travel to Moscow to hold similar talks with Russian officials.
Moscow recognized the Georgian republics as independent countries after a brief war with Georgia in August 2008. […]
As well, an MEP from one of Washington’s chief cohorts in the Kosovo affair spoke up belatedly:
MEP Van Orden: ‘Not happy’ about Kosovo outcome (EurActive, April 9, 2008)
British Conservative MEP and foreign affairs committee member Geoffrey Van Orden believes greater autonomy for Kosovo within Serbia would have been a better solution, strengthening reformists in Serbia and improving Western relations with Russia…
“I’m not happy personally about the outcome in Kosovo. I’m not sure that was the best we could come to and I think we should have tried harder to find a way to give Kosovo greater autonomy within Serbia. I’m not looking for ways to make relationships with Russia more difficult than they are. On the contrary, I want good relations with Russia and I think it’s in Russia’s strategic interest to have good relations with the West. I don’t see a lot of point in just finding issues which are going to put Russia on a different side to ourselves, and this is one of them. And after all, we are not dealing with a Serbia ruled by Milosevic, we are dealing with a democratically elected government in Serbia, and it seems very strange, that now that we have a democratically elected government, that we kick them in the most sensitive place.”
Even one of the chief architects of reversing WWII in 1990s Yugoslavia, Germany, had a former official with second thoughts (after laying the groundwork for what he’s complaining about):
Former German chancellor terms recognition of Kosovo an error (India — Top News, May 5, 2008)
In an interview with Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, Schroeder said the declaration had come too early and was thus wrong…It had created new problems without solving old ones, he said. The European Union had succumbed to pressure from the United States on the Kosovo issue. […]
(Though really, Schroeder was more concerned that the fast pace could hurt the future of Serb compliance: “Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder says that EU member-states have been too quick in recognizing Kosovo’s unilateral independence….he hoped that the EU would realize its responsibility for leaving Serbia’s pro-European forces out on a limb.”)
Any Kosovo recognizers feeling genuine buyer’s remorse would find support from non-recognizers Romania, Spain, Greece and Slovakia, that last one reaffirming its non-recognition in June 2013:
“Consensus in Slovakia not to recognize Kosovo” (B92, June 5, 2013)
Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčak has told the Tanjug news agency…that his country would not recognize Kosovo…Commenting on the announcement of Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta that he will discuss possible recognition of Kosovo with his Slovak counterpart Robert Fico, Lajčak said:
“When people ask me whether Slovakia will change its position or why it still has not changed the stance, I ask them if they heard any politician, read any article, heard any journalist, representative of a non-governmental organization or a citizen say that Slovakia should recognize Kosovo. They have not.
“This stance is based on a resolution of the Slovak parliament but is also accepted by the entire society…So, when Prime Minister Ponta arrives next week, I am sure he will get the same answer from my prime minister,” Lajčak stressed. […]
Lajcak: Kosovo’s independence is illegitimate (Aug. 12, 2009)
“Kosovo’s decision was based on political instead of legal criteria. Two elements were missing in the process: an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina and legalization of the process through international institutions, mainly the UN Security Council,” said Lajcak…
Here was Romania before its 2013 bout of faltering:
Basescu: “Problem started with Kosovo must be stopped” (Aug. 23, 2008)
… “It is wrong to grant ethnic minorities collective territorial rights,” [Romanian president Traian] Basescu said. “Western forces do not realize this and the consequences are major problems with territorial integrity in the Balkans, the Black Sea region, and in other parts of Europe.” […]
Spanish paper: Mistake called Kosovo (B92, Jan. 24, 2008)
One of Spain’s most influential dailies says that Kosovo’s independence is imminent, and wrong.
“Kosovo will soon declare independence, with the backing of Germany and the United States, despite the fact that the border change was not in keeping with international law, nor EU practice, and Spain is not heard or listened to by anyone in the EU,” ABC said today in an editorial.
“The creation of an independent state for Kosovo Albanians will set a precedent for many parts of Europe with minorities who, often without reason, consider themselves discriminated,” the daily wrote.
The author, [Pedro] Schwarz, pointed out that state borders, “at least in the European continent,” are inviolable, and that this principle was “more important than succumbing to the temptation to create new states in line with ethnic principle.”
The article stressed that Kosovo Albanians, encouraged by the support of the UN special envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, and the promise of independence by the United States and some EU members, “did not show the least readiness to reach a reasonable agreement with Belgrade.”
Kosovo independence was declared rashly: Greek President (FOCUS News Agency, Dec. 3, 2009)
Greek President Karolos Papoulias said in an interview to Czech Pravo newspaper Kosovo independence was declared rashly and the states which have not recognized it are in fact defending their national interests, the Serbian BETA agency informs.
According to him, the international community should have insisted on negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina to continue because the plan of the UN envoy Martin Ahtisaari has been prepared “hastily”…Kosovo will be a center of conflicts. […]
Meanwhile, on the eve of the declaration itself: Former NATO commander in Kosovo General Fabio Mini: RECOGNITION OF KOSOVO INDEPENDENCE A BIG MISTAKE (Serbian Press Agency SRNA, Feb. 16, 2008)
“If the UN recognizes Kosovo, tomorrow everyone will have the right to ask for the same: Northern Ireland, the Chechens, the Basques, etc.,” assessed Mini. The Italian general does not understand the international community’s hurry to recognize the unilateral proclamation…because, he said, a few years is not enough for such processes.
In an interview for the Milan daily “Corriere dela Serra”…[Mini] assessed that Italy would be making “a horrible mistake” if it recognized Kosovo, even bigger than its recognition in record time of Croatia in 1992. “The independence of Kosovo [will] only serve the ruling clans….”
Lot of mistakes done to Serbia by European States, diplomat (Serbianna.com, Aug. 5, 2008)
Former Italian foreign minister Gianni de Mikelis, who is also a member of the European Parliament, said…that recognition…was a mistake, as well as the sending of the EULEX mission to Kosovo. According to him, it is evident that Kosovo will not become a UN member, as the majority in the General Assembly, not only China and Russia, would be against it. Serbia will not allow admission of Kosovo in the UN, but it cannot go backwards either, and such a situation creates instability and [a] problem for the whole of Europe.
UPDATE: After letting the cat out of the bag in January 2013 that UN membership for Kosovo — as well as Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo — are indeed part of the grand plan — then trying to stuff the cat back in — the Reich asserted itself: March 25, 2013 — Germany Urges Serbia to Allow Kosovo UN Seat:
[N]ormalization of the relations between Kosovo and Serbia should eventually include a UN seat for Kosovo… “If the situation developed this way, we in Bundestag would be ready to tolerate [Serbia’s] failure to fulfill some of the additional conditions.”
UPDATE: In case we hadn’t guessed, “normalizing relations” now also means what Europe has been impossibly swearing it wouldn’t:
March 28, 2013 — Serbia Must Recognise Kosovo: “German MEP Elmar Brok said neither Serbia nor Kosovo can hope to join the European Union if they have not recognised each other first.” What’s more, longstanding UN member Serbia and the newest non-state Kosovo “’should join the EU at the same time’, in order to avoid a situation similar to that between Macedonia and Greece, whereby Serbia could ‘use the veto to obstruct Kosovo’s membership in the union.’”
Explanation of how it works: “Whenever the both sides are urged to negotiate, it is mostly…to get the Serbs to accept something…more things leading to Serbia recognizing Kosovo.”
You don’t have to be Russian to be infuriated.
Well, not exactly an update, but I stumbled across this clever, related posting on De-Construct.net from June 1, 2009, just over a year after Kosovo’s UDI, titled “Signs of Unraveling”:
…Macedonia and Montenegro openly complained of the unrelenting pressure by Washington, London and Brussels, which forced their recognition of the fake state in Serbia.
While some recognitions sounded more like shame-ridden confessions that the states in question are, in fact, US colonies, like the Japanese recognition dripping with apologies and discomfort, some were left open-ended from the start, such as Costa Rica’s pledge to withdraw the recognition if the International Court of Justice ruled against severing of Kosovo province.
Polish President Lech Kaczynski…punctuated his position by blocking an opening of the Polish embassy in the fake state. The rift caused in the Czech Republic by issuing recognition of Kosovo province was even more pronounced, and considered a trigger for toppling Mirek Topolanek’s government.
Citing Albanian and Macedonian dailies, B92 today wrote Skopje is considering revoking its recognition of the mafia state on Serbian territory. The report was instantly followed…[with an order to] Skopje and Priština [by EU High Rep Javier Solana] to “waste no time and start building good relations” — the best possible confirmation that the Macedonian government is indeed reconsidering its earlier, forced decision.
And while there can be no doubt Macedonians will once again be exposed to the full extent of London/Brussels fury, with [Macedonia’s] violent Albanian population possibly taking up arms yet again, one wonders whether the latest soundbites coming from France might suggest a u-turn neither Washington nor Brussels (nor London, in particular) could hammer back in line.
What is entirely clear from the recent visit by Serbian President Boris Tadić to the Elysée Palace is that France has made a decision Serbia will no longer be abused — enough is enough, Sarkozy said.
Reminding of the “great sacrifices” Serbs have suffered in Kosovo province, the French president said that “Serbia has suffered a lot, it was humiliated and it’s time to end that”. He added that “conditions must not be imposed on Serbia again”.
On the eve of Tadić’s visit to France, Serbian-language edition of BBC carried an insightful interview with French deputy Jacques Myard from Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party, who is also a member of French Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee.
Asked to comment on the statement of American vice president Joseph Biden that United States considers amputation of the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija an “irreversible” act, Myard said there is nothing “irreversible” in politics.
“France recognized Kosovo, and that is its government’s official position. However, in politics and international relations there is only one rule: Never say never. Nothing is irreversible. Many French deputies believe something will have to change, being that a dangerous precedent has been created in Kosovo which, for example, Russia used last summer in Georgia, when it occupied South Ossetia and Abkhazia. France is fully aware Serbia will never recognize Kosovo and it will not request any such thing, since that would be entirely absurd,” Myard said.
June 22nd 2015 04:56:43 AM
Is it a coincidence that earlier this month, the following call to Jihad by IS was issued specifically to Balkan Muslims: IS to Balkan Muslims: “Either join, or kill over there”
Well, Alen Rizvanovic killed over there. Not exactly “lone” or “deranged” (beyond the mental disorder otherwise known as Islam which, yes, is lame. And now so are 34 Austrians, plus three dead).
Austria is of course very vulnerable to feeling the effects of the call of the wild, thanks to the Bosnian Muslims it welcomed back when it served as the financing center of the Bosnian Jihad, known to Westerners as the Bosnian war, or “Serbian genocide against Bosniaks.” Official Austria was front and center in helping make the war go in favor of the Muslims who demanded to carve their own Islamic state in Europe out of Yugoslavia.
But getting to the main question at hand: Gee, why would IS think it can recruit Balkan Muslims? Of all people. Didn’t we make it clear that those Muslims aren’t like those Muslims? IS and its forebears must not have gotten the memo that the West proclaimed the Muslims of the Balkans to be modern, secular, European, Western-facing, moderate, and so on — and gave them the upper hand in the war, and then in the peace. Because that way there would be no risk that these Muslims would turn into those Muslims, right? I mean, if they drink alcohol and eat pork — as their advocates constantly point out — then there’s no way they’ll choose Islamic solidarity over the West. Right?
Here was that IS call:
IS to Balkan Muslims: “Either join, or kill over there” (B92, RTS, vocativ.com, June 5, 2015)
The Islamic State has published a propaganda video that threatens Balkan countries and calls on Muslims to either join it, or launch attacks in the Balkans.
The video, titled “Honor is in jihad, a message to the Balkans”, has been published by the Alhayat Media Center - a propaganda center established to reach audiences in the West with Islamic messages.
The video, that lasts a little over 22 minutes, has an English language narrator talking about the history of the Balkans, while showing historical footage, and about the Muslim communities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania “and other countries in the region.”
Members of the Islamic State who came from the Balkans are shown, with several of them calling on other Muslims to go to Iraq and Syria, “where they can safely and with dignity live with their families.”
Among the identified Islamists are Abu Bilkis, aka Al Albani and Abu Mukatil, aka Al Kosovo, as well as Abu Muhammad al Bosni.
[What names these are! “Al-Bosni, Al-Albani, Al-Kosovi.”? Who could have foreseen it? Those very same “moderate” and “pro-American” Muslims.]
“Many of you complain that they cannot grow a beard or wear a niqab. Now is your chance, make Hijra,” said one of those featured, Salahudding Al Bosni.
He also told the audience that “to think back to the last war in Bosnia-Herzegovina”.
As in other propaganda videos, the jihadists are telling those who are “unable to emigrate to the land of Islam” to attack “dictators in Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania”, as well as their armies.
“Fight them over there. If you can, put explosives under their cars, in their houses, all of them. If you can, take some poison, put in it their drink, in their food, let them die. Kill them in every place and wherever you can. In Bosnia, in Serbia, in Sandzak. You can do it, Allah will help you,” Salahudding Al Bosni is heard saying.
This clip has been “much better produced than the dozens of previous propaganda materials made for the Balkan Islamists in the past 20 years,” said the reports.
Well that must have done the trick. Rizvanovic was motivated enough to extrapolate “over there” to his own adopted home of Austria, not far from the Balkans. It’s a call-up that has Deutsche Welle asking, “Are the Balkans a gateway for ‘IS’?”
Now, why would the Balkans per se — more than some other part of Europe — be IS’s gateway? I mean, what is different about the populations of the Balkans from those of the rest of Europe? Surely it couldn’t be the countless Westward-facing Muslims that populate that region. In any case, when has the word “extremism” ever been associated with Balkan Muslims? Yet that is the category Deutsche Welle placed the story under:
Are the Balkans a gateway for ‘IS’?
Millions of Muslims live in the Balkans. According to media reports, Islamist terrorists are increasingly trying to influence them. But opinions are split on how dangerous the situation really is.
The history of the Balkans over the past 100 years is nothing but a chronology of Muslim oppression, at least according to the “Islamic State” (IS) terrorist group, whose propaganda targets the region. [Funny, that’s also according to the Bosnian and Albanian ‘not-like-those’ Muslims.] The only solution in the fight against the communists, so-called “crusaders” and Jews is jihad, they say. In an elaborately produced video, “IS” urges Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegowina, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia to kill their “infidel” neighbors.
“Put explosives under their cars and houses, pour poison into their food, let them croak,” a young bearded man shouts in Bosnian. The terrorists in the video even have nicknames, depending on where they come from: Al-Bosni, Al-Albani, Al-Kosovi.
The propaganda has already served one purpose: for days, all of the regional media reported that “IS” has its sights on the Balkans. Such reports are extremely useful to the Islamists, warns Vlado Azinovic, a political scientist and journalist from Bosnia.
“Via Twitter alone, the IS publishes more than 200,000 short messages per week,” the terrorism expert says. “They all contain such threats in several languages, so it’s wrong to believe that IS is targeting the Balkans in any way,” Azinovic told DW.
But, notions that the Balkans represent a gateway for jihadists are nothing but media hype and an expression of “hysteria”, he added.
[That’s right, Folks. Stay on-program. There’s no difference between short twitter messages and an elaborately, professionally produced video specifically in the Balkanites’ own language.]
Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper also reported that radical Islamists are increasingly networking in the western Balkans, offering “a kind of initial training for would-be jihadists.” The paper quoted German security officials as saying the situation is so alarming that it was discussed at the most recent G7 summit.
“The threat posed by IS should be taken seriously,” says Filip Ejdus, a Belgrade political scientist. While the expert doesn’t believe “IS” can create branches in the Balkans at this point, he fears the terrorists will soon carry out more attacks in Europe…
Experts may disagree about the extent of the threat posed by “IS” in the Balkans, but there is no doubt that the “Islamic State” has been recruiting many new backers in the region.
A record 250 men from Kosovo have gone to war for “IS”, media reports say. Bosnia-Herzegowina is also said to be at the top of the jihadist recruitment list…
…Ejdus says… “Although a majority of Muslims in the Balkans rejects these anti-civilizing ideas, they still unfortunately find their way to some people.”
The same is true for Kosovo, says Ismail Hasani, an expert on the sociology of religion from Pristina. Some Imams, who were trained in the Middle East, propagate a non-traditional interpretation of Islam, he told DW. “But in the Balkans, these radical versions don’t fall on fertile soil.” Hasani is convinced these interpretations will soon be a thing of the past…
Not soon enough, obviously. So, back to the present. Here is the UK Daily Mail report:
‘Deranged lone assassin’ drives at 90mph into crowds of shoppers in Austria before stabbing bystanders, killing four-year-old boy and two adults, and leaving 34 injured (June 20, 2015)
A four-year-old boy is reported to be one of three people killed after an SUV ploughed into a crowd of people in Graz, Austria.
Another 34 people were injured in the attack, with six - including two children - said to be in a serious condition.
Eyewitnesses say the driver rammed into crowds at up to 90mph before he got out and began randomly stabbing bystanders, which included the elderly and policemen.
The three victims killed in the attack have been described as a 28-year-old Austrian man, a 25-year-old woman and a four-year-old boy.
The woman and boy were both killed as the driver ploughed through crowds on the main Herrengasse shopping street before reaching the city’s main square.
The governor of the state has described the driver as a ‘deranged lone assassin’.
The National Police Director, Josef Klamminger, said the man, who is believed to be a 26-year-old Austrian truck driver, was suffering from ‘psychosis’ related to ‘family problems’.
The attacker is believed to be married with two children.
Police director Klamminger added that the man was under a restraining order keeping him away from the home of his wife and two children, after a domestic violence report was filed against him last month. [So far, we’re hitting on all the tropes of being a pious Muslim male.]
The driver did not resist when he was arrested by the police - who say he acted alone - and they have no reason to believe it was an act of terrorism.
The mayor was reported to be riding his Vespa in the street when the SUV sped past him, just feet away.
He only avoided being hit by driving onto the pavement, according to local media.
Always doing his homework, writer Daniel Greenfield found an Alen Rizvanovic on facebook, who has twice “liked” jihadist Bosnian war criminal Naser Oric, commander of Muslim soldiers at Srebrenica whom we are to again memorialize this July 11th. (And with extra gusto, please, as it’s the 20th anniversary of “the worst atrocity in Europe since WWII.”)
By the way, isn’t Graz where the Bosnian Muslims and Croats stole off to in the first place, to have their secret referendum on secession? Graz even sounds like a shortened Grazie — as in ‘Thanks, Austria, for not extraditing that Bosniak war criminal on the Serbs’ warrant, and thanks for trying to block Serbia’s EU accession start. Doing everything “right” for the Bosnian Muslims sure goes a long way.
June 18th 2015 12:45:31 AM
“Ex-White House aide reveals — Clinton Fighting Dementia!”
Well that’s good. Because he sure as hell didn’t fight al-Qaeda.
(Or is Dementia the name of a mistress?)
Meanwhile, the subhead reads: “Can’t Remember Being President.”
That’s funny, I can’t remember him being a president either.
Anyway, no biggie. Some would argue Bill Clinton has had dementia for the last 30 years.
June 17th 2015 04:18:35 AM
A surprisingly decent and thorough report on Bosnia-related terror and “Islamism,” from a year ago, forwarded to me recently by Mickey a Serbianna.com. Written by an establishmentarian, no less — Leslie S. Lebl, who had been “Political Advisor to the Commander of Stabilization Forces (SFOR) in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the late 1990s.”
Put out by Strategic Studies Institute and U.S. Army War College Press, and available in paperback. It’s only a little disconcerting that she thinks the ICTY and The Hague are in the Czech Republic. (If I understood correctly.) I reduced the report to its more salient parts, bolding the most salient parts. Lebl’s third paragraph below is especially noteworthy, given the familiar balking at the suggestion that Balkan Muslims have the potential to be anything but secular. Her response recalls that of author Christopher Deliso, whom she mentions a few times and whose 2007 book The Coming Balkan Caliphate Lebl cites in her endnotes.
ISLAMISM AND SECURITY IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (By Leslie S. Lebl, May 2014)
…Although the levels of Islamist terrorism and separatist movements are comparable to those elsewhere in Europe, they are particularly troublesome in Bosnia for two reasons. First, senior political and religious Bosniak (Muslim) leaders have long-standing ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist terrorism, including al-Qaeda and Iran, that they are very reluctant to abandon. Second, Islamism contributes significantly to Bosnia’s dysfunction as a country. Calls to re-impose traditional Islamic law, or sharia, arouse opposition from Bosnian Serbs and Croats, as does the nostalgia for the Ottoman Empire and Islamic Caliphate shared by key Bosniak leaders, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the Turkish government.
…The European Command and the Office of the Secretary of Defense should alert Washington policymakers to the danger to NATO policymaking and day-to-day operations arising from the Islamist ties of some Bosniak leaders and representatives.
ISLAMISM AND SECURITY IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
…Most Western observers dismiss warnings about the dangers of Islamism as crude Serb or Croat propaganda intended to undermine the Bosnian state. In so doing, they usually note that Islamism is unlikely to become a significant force because most Bosniaks continue to adhere to their traditionally moderate and relatively secular version of Islam. However, evidence drawn primarily from Bosniak and Western sources reveals a more nuanced and alarming picture…
Islamism first appeared in Bosnia in 1941 when Alija Izetbegović and others formed the Young Muslims, a group patterned after the Muslim Brotherhood. Izetbegović’s famous political tract from the early 1970s, the Islamic Declaration, contained many Islamist concepts, confirming his personal attraction to the ideology.
This ancient history suddenly sprang to life when Izetbegović founded a political party with former Young Muslims as its inner core, outmaneuvered his more moderate rivals, and became president of Bosnia in 1990. He filled that position during and after the Bosnian war, from 1990-96, and then became a member of the joint presidency (which rotates between a Serb, a Croat, and a Bosniak) from 1996-2000. He died in 2003, but his legacy lives on, as his long-time associate, Haris Silajdzić, and son, Bakir, follow in his footsteps, both as presidents of Bosnia and as Islamist sympathizers.
Brotherhood ties today are very important to another senior Bosniak, Mustafa Cerić. Cerić served for years as Grand Mufti of Sarajevo and the head of the official Islamic Community. In addition, he is considered to be a leading Bosniak political figure in his own right.
Thus, while little is said or written about Muslim Brotherhood activities in Bosnia, the most senior Bosniak leaders — viewed by Westerners as representing moderate, relatively secular Muslims — are, in fact, closely connected to, or deeply sympathetic with, that organization. [In 1997, “Cornell University stated that ‘Silajdzic today represents the forces for an integrated, secular and multinational Bosnia. He…is a proponent of multiethnicity, political pluralism and parliamentary democracy in the country.’” — From Lebl’s Endnotes] Their views and their relationships steer Bosnia toward Islamism and the Muslim world, while alienating Bosniaks from Bosnian Serbs and Croats, their fellow citizens.
Islamism received a tremendous boost with the arrival of Islamic fighters, or mujahideen, to fight on the Bosniak side during the 1992-95 war. Their military value has been disputed, but the accompanying financial and military support from Saudi Arabia and Iran was vital to the Bosniak war effort. While those two countries are rivals, they arrived at an accommodation in Bosnia to support the mujahideen. Saudi Arabia focused on financing and logistical supplies, and Iran on importing the fighters and on military aid.
The war in Bosnia definitely gave al-Qaeda a huge boost, both in terms of organization and recruitment, and helped radicalize European Muslims…Many jihadists later directed their fighting skills against European and American targets. Since the war ended in 1995, Bosnian veterans from various countries have figured in terrorist activities in countries around the globe, among them France, Indonesia, Iraq, Malaysia, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Yemen.
The best-known initiatives to combat Islamist terrorism were the 1996 IFOR raid on an Iranian-run terrorist training camp in Pogorelica and numerous steps taken after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (9/11), on the United States. At that time, SFOR interrupted terrorist plots aimed at NATO and other Western targets and raided the Saudi High Commission and other Saudi charities [in Bosnia] that were funding terrorist organizations.
By 2004, terrorism expert Evan Kohlmann, in a book warning about the Afghan-Bosnian terrorist connection, concluded that al-Qaeda had largely failed to take root in Bosnia. He noted the progress made in shutting down various terrorist operations and expressed the opinion that al-Qaeda had failed because moderate Bosniaks rejected its extremist ideology. However, Kohlmann may have spoken too soon. Box 1 shows a continuum from 1996 through 2006 in which Bosnia served as an active link in the al-Qaeda network.
The “Bosnian Connection” in International Islamist Terror.
• Starting in 1996, senior mujahideen leaders such as Abu el-Ma’ali and Abu Sulaimann al-Makki, then living as “civilians” in Bocinja Donja, oversaw plots in France, Italy, and Jordan designed to avenge the deaths of other leaders.
• In 2008, the Office of the High Representative (OHR) in Sarajevo reportedly uncovered evidence that senior Bosniak politician Hasan Čengić signed off on a money transfer intended to finance the attacks of 9/11.
• Karim Said Atmani, the document forger for the group plotting the 2000 Millenium [sic] plot bombing, was a frequent visitor to Bosnia. He obtained his first Bosnian passport in 1995 and subsequently was allowed to stay without a valid passport after he was deported by Canada in 1998.
• In late October 2001, Algerians with Bosnian citizenship were arrested by the Bosnian authorities on charges of plotting to fly small aircraft from Visoko and crash them into SFOR bases in Tuzla and Bratunac. [All of the Algerians were released after some years spent at Guantanamo Bay; it is unclear whether these charges stuck or not.]
• The 2005 plot to bomb the funeral of Pope John Paul II in Croatia reportedly originated in Gornja Maoča. The plot involved smuggling rocket launchers, explosives, and detonators into Italy.
• Also in 2005, Bosnian police raided an apartment connected to a group seeking to blow up the British Embassy in Sarajevo, seizing explosives, rifles, other arms, and a video pledging vengeance for jihadists killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. One of those arrested, a Swedish citizen of Bosnian origin, ran a website on behalf of Abu Musab Zarqawi, head of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
• In 2006, a group of Bosnians and Macedonians [usually code word for Macedonia’s majority-Albanian Muslims] linked to al-Qaeda were arrested in northern Italy after smuggling some 1,800 guns into that country from Istanbul.
Nor were the Iranians routed after the 1996 raid in Pogorelica. Today, both the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and National Security (VEVAK) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) have a presence in Bosnia…An Israeli expert, cited by Christopher Deliso, concluded that Bosnia posed the biggest danger in the region because “There remain pro-Iranian elements in the government, and Iran is active through the embassy in Sarajevo and charities.”
Today, Islamist terrorism persists in Bosnia, whether involving al-Qaeda, Iran, or home-grown sources…. Many Western analysts largely have dismissed this terrorism as not being a major issue. The 2013 Congressional Research Service report on Bosnia, for example, makes only a brief mention of terrorism, and recent State Department and EU terrorism reports suggest that the level of terrorism in Bosnia is no greater than elsewhere in Europe.
On the other hand, a leading Bosnian law enforcement official said that the only reason there have not been more terrorist attacks was that “We’ve had more luck than brains.” The actual number of individuals involved is not trivial; Almir Džuvo, the director of the Intelligence and Security Agency of BiH (OSA), estimated in July 2010 that there were 3,000 potential terrorists in Bosnia, out of a population of just under four million people.
…[J]ust because the terrorist threat is not unusual does not [necessarily mean] it is unimportant. Comparisons with Western Europe can be misleading, as terrorism is much more dangerous to a fragile state than to a robust democracy.
One mujahideen leader predicted in 1996 that “[f]oreign fighters will not be a problem for Bosnia. They will move on. But we planted a seed here and you will have more and more Bosnian Muslims practicing traditional Islam.”
…Estimates of the numbers of Wahhabis or members of similar sects vary widely. Observers were surprised by the crowd of more than 3,000 people, half of them Bosnians, who attended the funeral of a Wahhabist leader in 2007, as well as by a 2013 conference in Tuzla that drew 500 participants, mostly young men. Given that an estimated 4,000 people gather each Friday to hear radical sermons preached at the Saudi-backed King Fahd Mosque in Sarajevo, the number of Wahhabis could be quite high. But the most likely figure is that given by Federation police (not the police of the Serb Republic), who estimated in 2009 that there were up to 5,000 practicing Bosnian Wahhabis.
Unsurprisingly, the Wahhabis recruit followers from the least privileged classes…There have been cases in which new members are paid several hundred euros per month for their loyalty…[and] for convincing their wives to wear the hijab in public, among other things.
The Saudi role in this process is extensive. The Saudis financed an extensive mosque-building program after the war, of which the $30-million King Fahd Mosque is only the most visible and influential, and built a parallel religious educational structure to that offered by the official Islamic Community. The Saudis are also believed to fund various Wahhabi groups, to educate young Bosnians in Saudi Arabia, and to send operatives to Bosnia who typically marry Bosnian women and blend into local society.
As the Wahhabi movement has gained momentum, militants have engaged in violent clashes with traditional Bosniaks and sought to impose their standards of behavior on the public…
Some Bosniaks have always been anti-American, but the vast majority were openly grateful to the United States for intervening to stop the war and then to keep the peace. No recent polls appear to have measured how these views may have changed. It is, however, unrealistic to expect young people born during or after the war to share that sense of gratitude, or indeed, to expect older people to continue to feel gratitude as the political system imposed at Dayton fails to deliver results.
While Wahhabi violence and proselytization are quite visible, these Islamists are even better known for their separatist enclaves, which function as “no-go-zones.” …The first such enclave was in the village of Bocinja Donja, formerly a Bosnian Serb village, where the Bosniak government settled former mujahideen after the war.
The mujahideen married Bosnian women and so acquired Bosnian citizenship. The village provided them a safe haven in which to maintain their terrorist contacts under the guise of simple farmers. In the 1990s, the hostility of the inhabitants of Bocinja Donja to outsiders, including SFOR, was palpable, undermining their claims of innocence. Eventually the enclave was closed down, and the village returned to its original owners. Now the best-known enclave is in Gornja Maoča, a remote village where native Bosnians reside along with foreign-born former mujahideen.
While the Bosnian Serbs continue to insist that these enclaves pose a significant security risk, Bosniak policy has been bifurcated. [On] one hand, there has been pressure to isolate and marginalize the Wahhabis….Analyst Stephen Schwartz speculates that Bosniak political leaders have “pursued a strategy of trying to confine the Wahhabi agitators to remote locations, rather than settling the problem by consequential legal proceedings.” Not all Bosniak officials are willing to settle for this approach, however. The authorities have made numerous arrests, including a massive 2010 raid on Gornja Maoča and the arrests of two of the enclave’s leaders following the 2011 attack on the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo. Up to now, though, they have failed to obtain an indictment, let alone a conviction. As a result, a cloud of mystery is likely to cloak Gornja Maoča and other similar enclaves for some time to come, making it difficult to determine the degree of danger they pose to Bosnia’s internal security or their potential links to international terrorism.
Some observers caution that many Wahhabis are peaceful and should not be classified as terrorists, for fear of driving them into the arms of groups espousing violence. The Islamic Community, the official Muslim religious organization in Bosnia, has refused to condemn the Wahhabis, and attacks those who criticize them. But the Bosniak public remains unpersuaded; when last asked, 71 percent rejected Wahhabism, suggesting that this form of Islam remains for them both distinct from traditional Bosnian Islam and unwelcome.
The Wahhabis do not yet appear to have gained control of any significant governmental or official religious offices. Nor, although actual numbers are hard to estimate, have they created no-go zones in urban areas, as has happened in Western Europe. This lack of progress is most likely due to visceral opposition from local Bosniaks. Attempts to take over mosques have ended in violence; in one instance, a resident commented: “They should shave their beards and use deodorant instead of coming here like dogs. For me, they are wolf-dogs, they will attack our children. I have female children and do not dare to send them to [the religious school] at all.” These locals’ contempt of the Wahhabis is unmistakable.
Yet, current descriptions of the Federation suggest it is much more radicalized than was the case in the late 1990s. Given that the trend is pointing in the wrong direction, it would be foolish to regard Wahhabism as purely marginal, especially when an expert like Sarajevo professor Rešid Hafizović describes it as a “potentially deadly virus” for Bosnian Muslims. When times are hard and the future is bleak, such movements can gain momentum quickly.
ISLAMIST TIES OF SENIOR BOSNIAK LEADERS
…One factor that makes [Islamists] a greater danger in Bosnia than elsewhere, though, is their close connection to Bosniak leaders, in particularly three men (Bakir Izetbegović, Haris Silajdžić, and Alija Izetbegović). These men have occupied the Bosniak chair of the central state’s rotating presidency since its establishment. The danger of the Islamists in Bosnia has also been increased by their closeness to Mustafa Cerić, the mufti who until recently headed Bosnia’s official Islamic Community.
Those men, along with their associates and subordinates, have pursued policies inimical to the views and goals of moderate Muslims, and those of Bosnian Serbs and Croats. They have supported Islamist terrorism and Wahhabism, encouraged alienation between Bosniaks and other Bosnians, and sought closer ties with Islamist countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The most prominent Bosniak official today is Bakir Izetbegović, the current Bosniak member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bakir served during the war as personal assistant and advisor to his father, Alija Izetbegović, who was then President of Bosnia. After the war, from 1999 to 2003, Bakir was a member of the managing board of the humanitarian Islamic charity, Merhamet. Like other Islamic charities, Merhamet used its humanitarian work as a cover during the war to deliver weapons to Bosnia.
It is unlikely that Izetbegović, as a personal assistant to the President, would have been unaware of these activities. Nor could he have been unaware of the initiative to bring mujahideen into Bosnia. In fact, Dževad Galijašević, a former Party of Democratic Action (SDA) official, in 2008, accused Izetbegović of being one of the chief protectors of the mujahideen who remained in Bosnia after the war.
Bakir, who for years directed the Construction Bureau of Sarajevo Canton, was involved in the construction of the King Fahd Mosque and reportedly arranged for the land on which the complex was built, previously owned by Serbs, to be donated to the Saudis. This mosque, the largest house of worship for Muslims in the Balkans, is also known for its key role as the center of Wahhabi influence and power in Bosnia…
Another indication of Bakir’s ideological orientation comes from his involvement in a secular initiative to advance the observance of sharia….He was responsible for coordinating the construction of the Bosna Bank International (BBI) Center in Sarajevo, described as “the only commercial shopping mall in Bosnia and Herzegovina that has prohibited sales of pork and alcohol.” The BBI Center was built by the BBI, the only bank in Bosnia to offer sharia-compliant finance. Among the principal goals of sharia-compliant finance is enhancing the appeal of an Islamic political order. Another is to generate funds that can be used to advance Islamist goals.
Finally, Bakir Izetbegović is known for his sympathies toward Iran. During his tenure in the BiH presidency, bilateral ties between Bosnia and Iran have expanded, including in trade and investment. Izetbegović called for even closer Iranian-Bosnian ties during a meeting with then Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in February 2013 in Cairo, Egypt, on the margins of an [OIC] meeting. While a small country like Bosnia naturally seeks to maintain good ties with powerful countries, these initiatives stand out, coming as they did at a time when the UN, the United States, and the EU have put sanctions in place to isolate the regime in Tehran.
Some of those connections are particularly controversial. The Sarajevo weekly Slobodna Bosna reported that, according to the Iranian opposition, the Iranian Ibn Sina Institute in Sarajevo, described as a scientific research institute, is, in fact, the IRGC’s headquarters in the Balkans. The magazine also questioned the bona fides of some 200 Iranian “businessmen” who entered Bosnia in the first half of 2012, noting that they appeared to lack business contacts.
…In the spring of 2013, Bakir became embroiled in a dispute with Bosniak political rival Fahrudin Radončić, a former businessman who is currently the state-level minister of security. Bakir reportedly intervened to oppose expelling two Iranian diplomats whom Radončić had accused of improper activities and declared personae non grata. The diplomats eventually left, and a third was expelled in June 2013. Two of the three had reportedly made contact with the Wahhabist leader in Gornja Maoča. While no one has alleged any direct contact between Izetbegović and the Iranian diplomats, or between him and the enclave of Gornja Maoča, the reports do raise questions about whether Bosnia’s most senior Bosniak politician is opening the door to Iranian intelligence services and terrorist operatives.
Izetbegović’s predecessor in the tri-presidency was Haris Silajdzić. A prominent SDA politician, Silajdzić was a former close associate of Alija Izetbegović and a senior member of his wartime cabinet, serving first as foreign minister and then as prime minister. During that time, he also oversaw directly the effort to bring mujahideen to Bosnia. Silajdzić was an effective spokesman for the Bosniak cause, making the case that his side was Western, secular, and democratic. However, his true convictions apparently lay with the mujahideen: In July 1995, he declared an Islamic holy war on Sarajevo TV and invited all Islamic states to fight on the side of Bosnia’s Muslims.
After the war…he continued to hold high government positions, but in 1997 he left the SDA to form the Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He resigned his government and party positions abruptly on September 21, 2001, reportedly because of his radical connections, but reemerged 5 years later to win the election to the tri-presidency.
In 2006, Silajdzić ran on a platform to abolish the Federation and the Serb Republic entities and strengthen the central Bosnian state — an unacceptable proposal for any official of the Serb Republic. In office, he engaged in a very public and polarizing dispute with Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, thereby contributing to the radicalization of Bosnian society. In the opinion of analyst Steven Oluic, Silajdzić took Bosnian society and politics back to the painful days of 1995. It is also noteworthy that the Iranian government not only expressed pleasure at his election but pledged him its continuing support. In 2008, Silajdzić was among those identified by Galijašević as one of the chief Bosnian protectors of the mujahideen since the war…
Neither of those men, however, has had as lasting an impact on Bosnian politics and society as Alija Izetbegović, Bakir’s father. Izetbegović, the man affectionately called “Dedo” (Grandpa) by many Bosniaks, was Bosnia’s president during the war and then the first Bosniak member of the tri-presidency. Throughout, he became the embodiment and symbol of embattled Muslims. Many U.S. policymakers considered him a leading proponent of multiethnic democracy and tolerance. Yet, Izetbegović left numerous signs pointing to his Islamist ideology. Even more importantly, he succeeded in forming an Islamist cadre of insiders, including Haris Silajdzić and Bakir Izetbegović, which remains highly influential today and has done much to shape Bosnia’s post-war history.
Izetbegović’s Islamist ideology is laid out in his famous political manifesto, The Islamic Declaration….Simply put, Muslims living in a non-Muslim majority country should play by the rules of that country — until they are strong enough to overthrow the system and install an Islamic government. Nothing in the Declaration suggested any compromise toward this goal.
Most Westerners ignored the Declaration or dismissed its contents on the assumption that it had been attacked by the Yugoslav government simply because it was an anti-communist tract. [NOTE: Similarly, they dressed up Croatian fascism — and especially one of its clerical heads (Aloysius Stepinac) — as anti-communist heroism/protest/freedom-fighting/pro-Westernism/pro-democracy.] But the Declaration was much more than that — and it was politically relevant after the fall of Yugoslavia. It was published in 1990 (before that, it was distributed secretly only) and later distributed to the troops of the Bosniak army…Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzić and Milorad Dodik have both testified before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, The Czech Republic [???? sic: Netherlands], that Izetbegović intended to build an Islamic state in Bosnia based on the concepts set out in the Declaration.
Accusations of Izetbegović’s continued commitment to the ideology of the Declaration were consistent with his marked preference for the Islamist regime in Iran. That preference first surfaced in 1983, when he was accused of seeking Iranian support for his cause. Izetbegović visited Iran in May 1991 as president of Bosnia and obtained assurances of Iranian support a year prior to the outbreak of hostilities…
Ideology is, of course, of little impact without an organization to implement it. Izetbegović created such an organization in the late 1980s: the SDA. Although the SDA gave the impression of being a moderate Muslim party in order to win Bosniak votes and garner Western sympathy, its inner core was comprised of former Young Muslims…[which] based its operations and program on Islamism, and one of its main principles was the unification of the Muslim world through the creation of a large Muslim state.
Although the Yugoslav government did its best to stamp out the group, it survived underground for decades. Some of its leading members (Hasan Čengić, Omer Behmen, Edhem Bičakčić, Huso Zivalj, and Ismet Kasumagic), imprisoned with Izetbegović in 1983, were assigned the most sensitive and important tasks during the war…Muhammed Sacirbey, Izetbegović’s wartime ambassador to the UN, was the son of Nedžib Šaeirbegović who had been imprisoned with Izetbegović after World War II [for terrorist activities related to Young Muslims]…
Several Young Muslims continued their political careers in the post-war period: Zivalj became Bosnia’s ambassador to the UN, and Bičakčić became prime minister of the Federation. After the war, Čengić served as Federation deputy defense minister until the United States forced his dismissal. Behmen focused on ideology, working actively with Islamist youth organizations and educational institutions on a so-called “third offensive” of the Young Muslims movement.
The fortunes of most of these individuals have attracted little attention from U.S. policymakers, but the same cannot be said for the activity that first drew Western attention to Izetbegović’s Islamist connections: his decision to bring mujahideen to Bosnia. His personal connections reached the very top of al-Qaeda: during the war Osama Bin Laden, who had been issued a Bosnian passport, reportedly met Izetbegović in his Sarajevo office.
After the war, all foreign fighters were required to leave Bosnia under the terms of the Dayton Peace Accords. Despite the best efforts of IFOR and the U.S. Government, many still remained in the country — and Izetbegović protected them. He openly supported supposedly disbanded mujahideen military units, while numerous murders and other acts of violence, particularly against Bosnian Croats living in the Federation, were carried out by those same mujahideen and their Bosnian accomplices.
These were not just random acts of violence in a lawless post-war period. Rather, the SDA was using the mujahideen “as powerful leverage in a struggle to maintain an ethnic majority in previously mixed regions of Central Bosnia and Sarajevo. . . .”
During the same period, more than 200 Iranian agents reportedly infiltrated Bosniak political and social circles as well as the U.S. “Train and Equip” military program, collaborating closely with a pro-Iranian faction within the Bosniak intelligence service. These agents aimed to gather information, sow dissension between Bosniak and Croat participants in “Train and Equip,” and turn Bosniak leaders against the West. It is highly unlikely that Izetbegović was unaware of this activity, as the Bosniak intelligence service at that time reported directly to him.
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, a number of terrorists were apprehended, and the charities funding them were closed. Then moderate political parties won a national election, and Munir Alibabić, a senior Bosniak security expert known for opposing al-Qaeda and the Iranian influence, was appointed head of the Federation Intelligence and Security Service.
In May 2002, Alibabić arrested five senior Bosniak officials connected to the SDA on suspicion of terrorism and espionage. The officials were allegedly linked to the murders of Croats, bomb blasts at Catholic sites, and two high-profile assassinations. [”He reportedly said that the Bosniak secret police ‘had been infected by al-Qaida….’” — From Lebel’s Endnotes] The SDA protested; all were released in October 2002, and no indictment was ever brought. Instead, Alibabić was dismissed by OHR’s High Representative Paddy Ashdown for mishandling intelligence information.
The SDA soon returned to power, making revelations of its misdeeds even more unlikely, while at the same time, the accusations fester and suspicions remain regarding their Islamist sympathies. As one analyst wrote, “There are countless examples of local authorities in Bosnia failing to act properly against Islamic extremism. The majority of these criminal cases have not been resolved and when the terrorists are identified the trials take years.”
…Much about Izetbegović’s wartime activities might have become known had he lived longer: At the time of his death in 2003, the ICTY was investigating him for alleged war crimes. However, after he died, the ICTY closed its investigation, thus shutting off a major avenue of inquiry that might have illuminated some of these murky postwar terrorist activities. [Perish the thought.]
Much of the support for Bosniak nationalist parties and policies comes from former Grand Mufti of Sarajevo Mustafa Cerić. For years, he led the Islamic Community, the official Muslim organization in Bosnia… Like Silajdzić, Cerić set himself up in opposition to Dodik, continuing wartime rhetoric by portraying Bosniaks as victims in mortal danger from the Serbs.
Feted in Western Europe as a moderate Muslim, Cerić enjoys a different reputation at home, where he is known as “homo duplex,” the man with two faces. This nickname arises from numerous indications that he is anything but “moderate” — a judgment based on his ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, his view regarding the imposition of sharia, and his positions on Wahhabism. These range from refusing to condemn it to hurling accusations of Islamophobia at anyone who criticizes it.
Cerić’s current ties to the Muslim Brotherhood arise from his membership in two pan-European organizations: the European Council for Research and Fatwa, a Brotherhood-linked group chaired by Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Brotherhood, and the UK-based “Radical Middle Way,” which includes a wide range of scholars associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood.
On several occasions, Cerić has publicly advocated positions consistent with Brotherhood ideology. For example, in 2006, he issued the document, “A Declaration of European Muslims,” in which he declared European Muslims (including Bosniaks) fully committed to the values of democracy and human rights but called, among other things, for the partial implementation of sharia. Several years later he argued, in a speech in Berlin, Germany, that implementing sharia would not be contrary to Bosnia’s constitution — a position that would probably surprise most Bosniaks.
Over the years, Cerić has refused to condemn Wahhabism. His position stands in stark contrast to that of representatives and leaders of the Islamic Community in Montenegro, who did not hesitate to condemn Wahhabist activities…When asked if Saudi funding was deleterious, Cerić replied that Bosnia was in no position to turn down money from Saudi Arabia, which, after all, was an ally of the West. [Excellent point for the West to mull.]
But Cerić goes far beyond what would be required if he were simply bowing to a stronger player. He attacks critics of Wahhabism for being “Islamophobes” …and has led the way in developing the concept of “good” versus “bad” Bosniaks…Indeed, in 2010 and 2011, the Islamic Community issued reports on Islamophobia, cataloguing all the statements and actions that it believes express intolerance, hate, and hostility against Islam and Muslims. The definition deliberately obscures any differences among Muslims.
In 2012, Cerić was replaced as Grand Mufti by Hussein Effendi Kavazović, the mufti of Tuzla who is considered close to Cerić…
[T]he long-term impact of the Islamism of these men and their colleagues, subordinates, and supporters will most likely be extremely detrimental to the future of the country. Bosniak terror expert Dževad Galijašević describes the danger vividly:
“Active Islamism is pushing one’s own nation in the whirlpool of problems of other Islamic countries. It is getting Bosnian Muslims interested in events in the Arab world, in the Iranian revolution, in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It is bringing Bosnia closer to Palestine. It is turning Muslims’ true historical brothers, Serbs and Croats, into eternal and irreconcilable enemies, and turning Arabs into the only and actual brothers who look, behave, and talk differently and have a completely different view of the family, the state, and themselves.”
Analysts often blame the failure to build a Bosnian state on the Serbs and Croats…It is wrong, however, to disregard the “push” factors….One very important factor is embedded in Balkan history during the period when the Ottoman Empire enforced sharia…Bosnian Serbs and Croats have not forgotten this system of dhimmitude. When Bosniak politicians talk about tolerance, Serbs and Croats suspect that they really mean a political system in which Muslims dominate. Similarly, Serbs and Croats dismiss Bosniak leaders’ affirmations of their commitment to multi-ethnicity, since under sharia, “multiethnic” means that many different ethnicities co-exist peacefully — but only under Muslim domination and according to strict rules.
These tensions would exist to some degree, regardless of which political ideology was dominant among Bosniaks. As historian Aleksa Djilas described the problem in 1992:
“Muslims imagined Bosnia as an independent state in which they would predominate. Although it was only Muslim extremists who thought non-Muslims should be expelled from Bosnia, most Muslim leaders believed only a Muslim should be allowed full citizenship. Religious Muslims based their demand for supremacy on the traditional belief that the rule of non-Muslims over Muslims was blasphemous. But most Muslims were typical nationalists. They wanted more for their group. . . .”
The influence that Islamists hold in Bosnia is also key with regard to their publicly stated goal of establishing a global Caliphate…While talking about it may baffle or bemuse Westerners, the reference is all too clear to inhabitants of the Balkans. This Islamist goal is dangerous because it also appeals to non-Islamist Muslims and because it is shared by two increasingly important foreign players: Turkey and the OIC.
In recent years, Turkey has used its relative economic strength to build influence in the Balkans. Its trade with those countries has increased, as has its investment in Bosnia. On the cultural side, Turkish companies have built the largest university campus in the Balkans in Ilidža, a suburb of Sarajevo…Turkish diplomats have also been very active in seeking to promote reconciliation among the Balkan countries…The nostalgia of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu for the Ottoman Empire, however, is more likely to raise the hackles of non-Muslims… Were the Bosniak leadership genuinely committed to reconciling Bosnia’s ethnic groups, it would presumably find some diplomatic way to cushion or rebut such statements.
In addition to its bilateral ties to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, Bosnia has observer status at the OIC…During an April 2013 visit to Sarajevo, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu urged Bosnia to upgrade to full membership. Bakir Izetbegović suggested that full membership would be useful to Bosnia by giving it access to OIC development funding. Were this to occur, Bosnia would presumably have to adopt any existing OIC agreements or conventions, including the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights. The Cairo Declaration rules out any rights incompatible with the Koran. That principle negates much of Western human rights, such as equality for religious minorities and freedom of speech, including the right to criticize Islam.
The OIC reinforces the tenets of the Cairo Declaration by means of annual reports on Islamophobia in Western countries, similar to the reports on Bosnia prepared by the Islamic Community. Bosnian OIC membership would probably give added impetus to this exercise, making it ever more difficult to criticize Islamist policies or groups. The OIC could be expected to show an active interest in Bosnian internal developments, as it recently resuscitated its Bosnia Contact Group from the early-1990s. There is little chance that the OIC would remain neutral regarding disputes between Bosniaks and Bosnian Serbs and Croats.
Given all these factors, Bakir Izetbegović’s comments in favor of full OIC membership were hardly designed to improve inter-ethnic relations…
Were Bosnia to split into three parts, the Bosniak rump state would come under strong pressure to join the OIC and could, in so doing, set a decidedly non-Western course.
Nor is the EU equipped to resolve Bosnia’s inter-ethnic tensions. On such issues, fuzzy rhetoric prevails, not constructive policies or actions. For example, EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy, in response to a complaint by Bosnian Croat Cardinal Vinko Puljić that Bosnian Muslim discrimination was driving out Catholics, countered that a “European perspective” (e.g., EU membership) “is the only way to overcome the crisis.” Exactly how this transformation would work is unclear, especially since the European Commission, in its 2012 annual report on Bosnia, devoted one short paragraph out of 60 pages to the issue of religious discrimination — and offered a high-level interfaith meeting as a remedy.
Were U.S. policymakers at some point to contemplate a mission involving U.S. forces, they would need to factor in the increased danger from Islamism…. IFOR/SFOR enjoyed only limited success in combating terrorism — unsurprisingly, as it was tasked primarily with maintaining a safe and secure environment. The list of high-profile international plots hatched during and after SFOR’s tenure (see Box 1) shows the difficulty a military force with only limited counterterrorist capabilities has in deterring such activity, especially when local officials shield the terrorists from outside pressure.
Today’s NATO presence is no better equipped to deal with a terrorist threat. Counterterrorism is not even among the top three missions of the current NATO headquarters in Sarajevo. Nor would preparing Bosnia for NATO membership help, as the accession requirements revolve primarily around issues of democratic legitimacy and defense-sector capabilities.
In addition, Islamist anti-Americanism has now had a chance to put down roots. How deep those roots are is hard to determine, but the possibility of jihadist violence against U.S. or Western troops is probably greater than it was previously. Some terrorists would likely be homegrown and able to blend more easily into the native population…
Shortly before the Dayton Peace Accords and the start of IFOR, General Charles G. Boyd, USAF (Ret.), former deputy commander of the European Command, argued that the United States should give equal weight to the fears and aspirations of Serbs as well as to those of Muslims and Croats [Imagine that!] …Eighteen years later, his analysis remains relevant. Political disputes are at the base of Bosnia’s problems, some of which reflect the destabilizing and deleterious impact of Islamism…
Balkan expert Edward P. Joseph wants the United States to refocus on achieving Bosnian membership in NATO rather than the EU, as it is more obtainable. He predicts that accelerated NATO membership would transform the political climate in Bosnia, ending any debate over changes to its territorial integrity. In a similar vein, military expert Steven Oluic writes that “Bosnia’s ability to resist extremism and radical Islam depends on continued Western engagement in the region and the recent phenomena of moderate Bosniaks challenging the radical Islamists and their ideologies.” Unfortunately, if the West pushes Bosnian Serbs to transfer military facilities to the central state without acknowledging or countering their concerns about Islamism or Muslim dominance, this move is unlikely to succeed and may only increase opposition to NATO.
Bosnia’s eventual NATO membership would raise other issues, not only because part of the Bosniak political elite has ties to Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, but also because Bosnia is openly cultivating closer ties with Iran at a time when the Western world is united in applying sanctions to that country. It is also difficult to predict how Bosnia and other Balkan countries with large Muslim populations and growing Islamist influence will react to future NATO crisis operations in Muslim countries. […]
June 15th 2015 02:46:58 AM
This youtube video shows part of a 2011 speech in Berlin by Swiss MP Oskar Freysinger. My friend Lou sent it to me recently, because he caught that Freysinger mentioned Kosovo as a harbinger. The first domino. Supporting my long-held theory that Kosovo, and Bosnia before it as I learned only later, was the beginning of the end. I’ve transcribed from the translation on the video which was posted by the great activist ex-Muslim Walid Shoebat. It almost made me love the sound of German:
Europe is an idea. A cultural landscape, an intellectual space shaped by history. Europe is the cradle of the modern constitutional democracy, the treasure-house of human rights, of freedom of opinion and expression. Or at least it used to be that, until recently.
This has increasingly been put into danger as our political elite bend their necks before a certain religious dogma which is completely alien to our intellectual history, our values and rule of law. This dogma is gnawing away at the pillars of our system of laws wherever it is granted the space to do so. This dogma demands total obedience from its followers. “They should never integrate into our system of values.” That would be treason to them and is even punishable by death.
They are supposed to conquer and subdue our Western world. Not with tanks, rockets, or riflemen. Something they could never accomplish, anyway. Not through brutal revolt. No, Islam is in no hurry, it has an eternity. A long process of demoralization and slow-motion occupation of our weakened child-poor society is foreseen.
The Islamic doctrine is intended to creep into our everyday lives bit by bit, and make Fortress Europe crumble from within. Just think of how the Serbs lost Kosovo. Through demographic development and the help of NATO, which aided the founding of the first Islamic state on European soil. What a suicidal undertaking! What an ominous sign.
The Islamic dogma is now imposing itself everywhere. In Turkey, the Islamists are gradually occupying all judicial and army posts in order to obliterate the heritage of Kemal Ataturk. Lebanon will become a Muslim state in the next decades. The Arab Spring is on the point of being taken over by the Islamists. In Iraq, Egypt and Pakistan the last of the Christian communities are facing extinction. And what are we doing? We are allowing this violent doctrine to subvert our rule of law, wholly unhindered in our cultural ghettos! We just shrug our shoulders when girls are forced into marriage and integrated Muslims are pressured and threatened. And we look the other way when the women are beaten and whole city districts are taken over. We think we can soften the power-lusting “holy warriors” with social benefits. We think we can buy our way to peace of mind. What lunacy! The prophet’s beard is not for fondling.
Fanatics cannot be bought. Germany should know this, more so than any other country in the world. My dear friends in the audience, we are not fighting against people. We are fighting FOR people. We are fighting against a dogma that despises all humanity and wants to push us back into barbarity. We will not so easily give up on freedom, for which we have fought so hard over the centuries. Dear Berliners, here I stand. I cannot otherwise. Because no one in Europe will stand up even for the very pillar of our civilization, our rule of law, our humanity, the transcendental, unconditional “Love they neighbor.” That is the pillar.
— “The Arab Spring is on the point of being taken over by the Islamists. In Iraq, Egypt and Pakistan the last of the Christian communities are facing extinction“: All items that America can boast on its resume, as it has actively helped make these happen. Ruling the free world somehow has been left to craven “leaders” who, Left and Right, have been burying the free world. And what Freysinger said of the Muslims — “They are supposed to conquer and subdue our Western world. Not with tanks, rockets, or riflemen. Something they could never accomplish, anyway” — I would add: Unless the U.S. and NATO keeps helping them.
(The Serbian plight must have been on Freysinger’s radar for a while, because I notice his wiki page says he’s a member of the Serbian Writers Association.)
I must retell how at the age of 26, without having so much as heard the word Serb (Bosnia had passed me by completely in my post-teen stardom-seeking tunnel vision), and without knowing anything about Albanians other than they were in the former Soviet Bloc (I didn’t even know they were mostly Muslim), I nonetheless lost my bearings when it was announced we would be bombing Yugoslavia. The earth had fallen out from under, and for the first two weeks of war both my husband and I were dizzyingly disoriented. It was a surreal atmosphere of utter isolation. We almost couldn’t catch our breath until I cranked out my first article against the war. We couldn’t put our finger on why our reaction was what it was; it was almost more physical than intellectual, as if our very bones knew something we didn’t. That it was the beginning of the end. Or that the world we thought we lived in, never was. Now it’s visible that, aside from the immorality, the dark corner America had turned, the unthinkable being actualized, and the righteousness of America being put into question for the first time in my young mind, today we see that there was a more tangible fear to fear: the drunken trend, the spiral, the domino effect that Freysinger describes, all facilitated by and quickly following the cataclysmic Kosovo trail blaze.
Today, the Russian immigrant who once gazed upon Old Glory with a thumping heart, who would gleefully and longingly survey affluent suburban and rural lifestyles, whilst resenting such ingrates as those who made films like “Revolutionary Road” bemoaning “the emptiness of it all,” now gazes upon Old Glory with cold eyes, and comes up empty when surveying the prosperous landscapes that once caught her imagination like the American skyscraper had a young Ayn Rand’s. Because without the meaning underpinning well-stocked supermarket shelves and big houses, without the will to deliver on the promise of fighting for our freedoms — instead gorging on the remnants of something once great, indulging in what is merely a last gasp — we are delivering, finally, on the emptiness that the leftists, communists, socialists, and Soviet sympathizers told us we had.
Fittingly, there is a book, so far available only in French, titled Europe Died in Pristina:
Jacques Hogard: British SAS and Americans were attacking Serbian Churches, Monasteries, Refugees (Dec. 19, 2014)
Jacques Hogard was one of the first Western officers who entered the territory of Serbia after the signing of the Kumanovo Agreement in 1999, and there he saw that the information he was given by NATO command does not correspond to the truth.
He realized that there was no humanitarian war, but on the contrary — as a field officer he saw that KLA terrorists were constantly under control of German and British military services, even when attacking Serbian churches, monasteries and refugee columns just after the end of the NATO bombing.
This is why his unit on several occasions got into armed conflict vs. both KLA and Brits who were often seen with KLA units.
One decade and a half later, Colonel Hogard, who recently published a book “Europe died in Pristina”, spoke about details of the war in Kosovo.
“The Brits had the closest contacts with the KLA. Soldiers of the 20th SAS Regiment were actually engaged with KLA, they provided them with logistics and trained them. This is what I personally discovered on the field,” said Jacques Hogard.”
“When members of KLA ambushed a retreating convoy of Serbian refugees — and the attack was carried out with the support of the British — I called a Serbian Brigade in retreat, led by Colonel Serkovic, to return and stop Albanian aggressors, which they did.
“When Serbian civilians ran from Pec, they were attacked by Albanian terrorists. I took a helicopter and dispelled them with gunfire from air. Several minutes after the action was over, I got a call from British General Mason, who asked how come, and could it be possible that the fire was opened against his people. I replied: ‘I cannot [imagine] that your special units sided with bandits who shoot civilians’.
“Mason was quiet,” said Hogard.
“[The KLA] took property, ethnically cleansing and emptying entire towns [over] night, as happened in Vucitrn. They were killing, individually and en masse. I hope that soon their leaders will face justice.”
“Once we found a list of Serbs for execution. There were the names of some Albanians disloyal to the KLA. We submitted these documents to our superiors, but that was all — we’ve never heard anything about the issue anymore.
“The fact that the KLA was a privileged interlocutor of the EU represents a distortion of history, a violation of international law and retrogradation of the civilized world.
“United States had the interest to weaken and break up Yugoslavia and Serbia, sice Serbia is a natural support for Russia in the region. Destruction of Yugoslavia was a step closer to Russia. The consequence we see today in Ukraine.
“Also, the Germans had traditional interest in destruction of Serbia as well.
“There are other strategic reasons in a very important region such as the Balkans….After all, there were personal lucrative interests included. Madeleine Albright and Wesley Clark are now shareholders of large enterprises in Kosovo, as far as I know.
“I am very concerned about the situation in the world. We always think that there will be no war, but it turns out that the previous one was not the last … Bosnia and Kosovo were an accurate picture of what will happen later, with the same mode of action, and the same protagonists, but in different place(s).
“As for Kosovo, it will never be a self-sufficient, sovereign, independent state…If you have somewhere a majority of the population that doesn’t mean that this becomes your national state…”
So. It takes about a decade and a half for the mid-level ones to start talking.
June 12th 2015 04:30:00 AM
Bosnia charges 3 for planning attack in Sweden (Tanjug, B92, June 9, 2015)
The Prosecution of Bosnia-Herzegovina has raised indictments against three persons in a case known as “Benelux”.
The three — Bosnian citizens Adis Ramic and Amar Sljivo, and Swedish citizen Osman Abdel Salam — are accused of smuggling an explosive device meant to be used in a terrorist attack in Sweden….that could be remotely activated, and was meant to be used in the town of Malmo, Sweden….
According to the charges, Ramic struck a deal with one person currently in jail in the Netherlands, and another in Sweden, to buy the device, manufactured by Sljivo in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Abdel Salem attempted to smuggle the device out of Bosnia in an Audi with Swedish plates, but was arrested near a border crossing. The bomb was found hidden in the vehicle.
This comes four months after six other Bosnian Muslims — “U.S. citizens,” no less — were charged with supporting ISIS, an item I didn’t chronicle here at the time but most readers will remember:
6 people charged in U.S. with supporting ISIS (AP, Feb. 6, 2015)
Six Bosnian immigrants have been charged in the U.S. for allegedly supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Department of Justice said Friday.
The suspects, five of whom were arrested in the U.S., are all charged with providing material support to terrorists and conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists, the DOJ said in a statement.
They were identified as Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40, his wife Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35, and Armin Harcevic, 37, who live in St. Louis County, Missouri; Nihad Rosic, 26, of Utica, New York; Mediha Medy Salkicevic, 34 of Schiller Park, Illinois; and Jasminka Ramic, 42, of Rockford, Illinois.
The suspects immigrated from Bosnia, the Justice Department said. Three of them became naturalized U.S. citizens and the others have legal resident o[r] refugee status.
According to an indictment unsealed Friday, the defendants sent weapons, U.S. military uniforms and tactical equipment to a man named Abdullah Ramo Pazara, a Bosnian who traveled from St. Louis to Syria in 2013 to join ISIS. They also used Western Union and PayPal to transfer money to Turkey and Saudi Arabia, where third parties sent it to Syria and Iraq. Some of the equipment was also transferred through intermediaries.
Pazara was not charged because it is believed that he was killed last year. He communicated with the defendants through social media, according to the FBI and DOJ, and bragged online about killing and kidnapping several people.
Ramiz Zijad Hodzic and Rosic face the additional charge of conspiring to kill and main persons in a foreign country.
Hodzic allegedly provided tactical advice to Pazara and other foreign fighters, the indictment said, and sent rifle scopes and range finders to Pazara, intending that they be used on sniper rifles. Rosic attempted to travel to Syria, according to the indictment. […]
Did somebody say St. Louis? Four of the people mentioned are from St. Louis — that splendid, unproblematic, largest community of Bosnian Muslims outside of Bosnia, whom we made sure to resettle here and who even recruit Jewish lawyers to handle their complaints.
June 10th 2015 04:43:44 PM
Just something I filed away a year ago and forgot about. It’s hard to make heads or tails of it; one report seems to cancel the other out. Of course, the one that denies the nature of the incident comes from a Kosovo police rep, which by definition is suspect, especially since it’s always been the interest of Kosovo officialdom to not have “Kosovars” come across as religious Muslims.
Passenger ‘threatens to blow up Swiss plane’ (Switzerland’s The Local, May 12, 2014)
A passenger threatened to blow up a plane carrying 150 people from Zurich to Pristina on Sunday, according to a report from Kosovo cited by the Swiss press.
The passenger, described as a man about 35 years old, brandished a cigarette lighter and a bottle filled with liquid and shouted threats, Italian-language Ticino newspaper 20 Minuti said on Monday.
The tabloid based its information on a report from Kosovar newspaper Koha Dittore. although this was contradicted by another account of what happened.
Albanian newspaper Gazeta Express said in an online report that the plane was operated by Swiss carrier Helvetic Airways, although the company declined to comment on the case when initially contacted.
The Kosovar newspaper quoted the man as saying “Allah is great” before threatening to blow up the plane, 20 Minuti said.
“We all go before God, do you want to go to heaven or hell,” the man is alleged to have said as the aircraft was travelling at an altitude of 10,000 metres. “God is first, then comes Mohammed.”
The Kosovar newspaper said another passenger, experienced in martial arts, neutralized the would-be bomber, to the relief of the terrified people on board.
However, the Gazeta Express quoted a Kosovar police spokesman, Baki Kelani, who downplayed the incident.
Kelani said a difference arose between the passenger and a member of the plane’s crew but he denied there was any threat of an explosion.
“We have contacted the family of the passenger in question,” the policeman is quoted as saying.
“According to the information we have received, he was suffering from psychological problems.”
[Certainly at least that part rings familiar as the standard explanation for every case of Sudden Jihad Syndrome.]
The Kosovar police representative said at no time were passengers put at risk and the man implicated did not mention the word “Allah”.
He was arrested for questioning by police after the plane arrived in Pristina.
June 07th 2015 08:19:40 PM
Pope in Sarajevo, urges lasting ethnic and religious peace (Reuters, June 6, 2015)
…”The cry of God’s people goes up once again from this city…war never again,” he said at a Mass for some 65,000 people at the stadium of the city that was once a symbol of ethnic and religious diversity in socialist Yugoslavia. This unwound in the war and Bosnia remains hamstrung by its legacy, divided along ethnic and religious lines…Earlier at a meeting with the three-member Bosnian presidency, Francis said peace initiatives between Bosnia’s Croats, Serbs and Bosniaks showed that “even the deepest wounds can be healed by purifying memories and firmly anchoring hopes in the future.” […]
About purifying those memories. It would go a long way to “heal the wounds” if some people could first admit to having made them. Seventy years and counting. (That is, years we’re waiting to hear about the still largely unknown genocide of the Serb Orthodox by Croatian Catholics, with the knowledge of the Church.) You can’t get past something until you’ve fessed up to it. Otherwise, what you’re asking is to go around it. All while having the gall to ask the victim side to apologize for much more recent crimes (1990s), which were much more two-sided.
Meanwhile, no surprise to hear no apology or mention about the very recent mass that Croatians held for their WWII fuehrer (yet again) on Dec. 28th, inside the Basilica of the Heart of Christ.
As Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Efraim Zuroff wrote on Jan. 1:
Try and imagine the following scenario…[O]n the seventieth anniversary of the death of Adolf Hitler, a memorial mass is held in the center of Berlin in the one of the city’s most important churches, which by chance happens to be located several hundred meters from the offices of the Jewish Community, and is attended by thousands who come to pay their respects to the founder of the Third Reich.
But its Croatian equivalent took place only two days ago in Zagreb, where several hundred people attended a memorial mass in memory of Ante Pavelic….one of the biggest mass murderers in the history of World War II…After the war, Pavelic was able to escape to Argentina via the infamous “ratlines,” the escape network established by Austrian bishop Alois Hudal with the help of Croatian priest Krunoslav Draganovic…One would assume that almost a quarter of a century after Croatia became a democracy, and having been recently accepted as a full member in good standing of the European Union, that such adulation for one of World War II’s biggest mass murderers would have been a thing of the past….
[T]he fact that two senior priests led the ceremony is also cause for concern. One of the them, the Dominican Vjekoslac Lasic is notorious for initiating this mass, as well as for his eulogy at the funeral of former Jasenovac commander Dinko Sakic, in which he noted that although Sakic did not observe all the Ten Commandments [Thou shalt not commit murder, for example-E.Z.], he still can serve as a model for Croatia…
As of the writing of this op-ed, not a single Croatian political or religious leader or public figure has condemned Sunday’s ceremony, which is another indication of the failure of the country’s leadership to help eradicate the vestiges of fascism and intolerance. […]
And why should they? They’re already in the EU, so the joke is on us.
Jerusalem Post had a few interesting factoids, including that anti-fascist Croatians held a protest in front of the church:
…Protesters yelling “Oppose the glorification of fascism” and other anti-fascist slogans pushed against police, who blocked them from entering the church…In a 2012 speech before the Knesset, Croatian President [Ivo] Josipović apologized for his nation’s role in the Holocaust and asked that survivors forgive Croatia. [Still no apology to the Serbs, though.]
…Thirty-three percent of Croatians harbor anti-Semitic views, according to a recent Anti-Defamation League global survey, with over half of the respondents in that country saying they believed that Jews were more loyal to Israel than to their countries of residence, that they hold too much power in business and that they speak too much about the Holocaust. […]
Maybe because Croats still haven’t admitted their full role in it? Meanwhile, the loyalty accusation against Jews is particularly rich, given that Croatia’s Jews betrayed the Serbs to side with Croatia in its aggressive 1991-95 war:
Among the most vocal campaigners for international recognition of Croatia two years ago, Jewish leaders are distressed…[that] the Croatian authorities have tacitly condoned efforts to play down Ustashe atrocities and have exonerated some of the perpetrators…The Croatian government, many observers believe, cannot afford to ignore protests from its Jewish community, whose support bolstered the republic’s request for international recognition after it seceded from Yugoslavia. “Our lobbying gave them moral credibility at a time when they were often depicted as anti-Semitic or neo-fascist,” said Mr Matic, who feels the charges were then largely unfounded. But if attempts to rehabilitate the Ustashe regime go unchecked, he warns, such accusations may soon have some justification. […]
That’s an excerpt from the Nov. 18th, 1993 UK Guardian. So not much has changed, essentially. Just look at this World Jewish Congress alert from March 1999:
A Roman Catholic mass was recently conducted in Zagreb, Croatia, to honor the memory of Ante Pavelic, the leader of the World War II Nazi puppet-state.
It’s always Groundhog Day in Croatia.
Closing with a bit of irony. Last week the Vatican gave notice of the pope’s Sarajevo visit on its website: Il viaggio del Papa a Sarajevo nell’intervista del Ctv al segretario di Stato - Nella Gerusalemme d’Europa (”A Ctv interview with the secretary of State about the Pope’s trip to Sarajevo — in the Jerusalem of Europe”). This was the artwork that the Vatican site used to illustrate the press release/interview:
It’s a painting of Sarajevo by the brilliant Jewish artist Alyse Radenovic, who is married to a Serb. She brought it to my attention: “Hi Julia, I am cracking up — my art is at the Vatican news wire today. It’s a painting of the Srpsko Sarajevo skyline and there is a Serbian church in the background — I guess they saw a cross and the word Sarajevo and figured they’d go with it ”
One would have to be truly ignorant of Sarajevo’s condition to think this is Sarajevo proper, given the glaring absence of endless mosques. In other words, the Serb-decimating, Croat-shielding Vatican went looking for art that shows European Jerusalem’s religious pluralism, and came up with an Orthodox church (like the ones that WWII Catholic Croats had locked and burned thousands of Serbs in), located in the Serb-Republic-administered and therefore more tolerant part of Sarajevo, on the outskirts of Sarajevo proper. After the Vatican fomented the war that has since left the rest of Sarajevo almost entirely Islamic, with the Catholics all but pushed out.
It’s enough to make the Catholic Crusaders who, in contrast, saved the actual Jerusalem from this very fate, turn in their fiery graves.
June 05th 2015 05:14:19 AM
This past Cinco de Mayo, the eagle-eyed Ruth S. King, board member of Family Security Foundation and columnist for Americans for a Safe Israel’s Outpost, alerted me to what she called an “appalling whitewash of Albania in American Thinker.”
Of course, it’s less appalling if one recalls my own bumpy Balkans history with American Thinker, as I’ve had with almost every other publication that had the momentary courage (or blissful naivete) to publish my minority view (a.k.a. the truth) about Kosovo and who the real aggressor was. Publisher Thomas Lifson had followed the familiar pattern wherein an editor is at first thankful that I put the subject on his radar and did the hard research — then feels immediately overburdened by the subject as soon as it causes real controversy and shows how unpopular the actual history is. Often, they turn on a dime when the hyenas of the majority view start screeching about the rare appearance of something other than the monopoly perspective — that only allowable, only existing (as far as you’re supposed to know), recent recorded history of the region.
And so American Thinker, like American Legion, Baltimore Sun and others before it, went from respect and gratitude to resentment, avoidance and annoyance at the name Julia Gorin. After kindly allowing one or two more Gorin pieces on the subject in 2007, Mr. Lifson declared that A.T. would stay away from the Balkans all together. The way the rest already do (except when it’s a rehash or tangent of the permitted narrative).
But then on Christmas 2010 he reprinted a majority-view article titled”A Srebrenica Christmas,” and when he again broached the Balkans in March 2011 with a good piece by Victor Sharpe titled “Hillary’s War” and I thanked him, he said he almost didn’t run it, since “Nobody is ever convinced to change his/her mind on the Balkans, and it is not worth the trouble focusing on it.” To which I replied, “Publishing the occasional piece on the Balkans amid the avalanche of standard-issue stuff isn’t exactly ‘focusing.’ Interesting that it feels that way to you. Sort of underscores my point about the lack of American palate, fortitude and stamina vis-à-vis the Balkans, where world wars and Orwellian societal experimentation by our elites begin. (Coming soon to Americans.)”
And so now comes the A.T. article forwarded by Ms. King. In the midst of ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the Allied Victory in Europe, it must have seemed harmless and appropriate enough to promote Albanians who saved Jews. Who could object to that, after all? Indeed, the piece is the least objectionable of this variety. Still, it must be said that it’s in line with who our clients in the Balkans are. Not only is Yad Vashem toeing that line by emphasizing the Albanian Righteous over the more numerous and more risk-taking Serbian Righteous, but so is the so-called conservative press, as evidenced by what it consciously or subconsciously chooses to highlight in the region. Which differs not at all from mainstream news sources. Which differ not at all from U.S. policy.
So it seems that on Cinco de Mayo, American Thinker went the carefree route that everyone else goes, instead of the hard way on the Balkans. They whooped it up and joined the party — ala Bush going all Clinton in Albania in 2008 — by printing an article on the hyped-up Albanian Righteous and the righteousness of Albanians — eight years after that PR started making the rounds and suckering in all the other conservative and Jewish outfits. Which makes American Thinker a latecomer to suckerhood. (And I thought Simon Wiesenthal Center was slow.) It’s like going back to school to get a degree in Flat Earth Sciences. As always, I’ll stress that it’s not wrong to let people know about the Albanian Righteous, but by this point the A.T. editor knows there’s probably more to the story, on a subject he was ostensibly steering clear of in the first place.
Albania’s History of Saving Jews By C. Hart
…In a recent ceremony at Yad Vashem, Albanian government minister Edmond Panariti and his cousin Agron were acknowledged because the Panaritis saved a Greek family from Thessaloniki, hiding them in their home in Albania.
Edmond Panariti serves in the Albania government today as Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development, and Water Administration, and previously served for a short time as Foreign Minister. He shared why the Albanians are a people who have a custom of providing refuge to others.
“This is a part of our tradition. Albanians are a very friendly people and hospitable people…They think that a guest enriches them.”
[Just let’s not mention what happens when you’re the host and they’re the guest, which the welcoming Yugoslavia found out all too painfully.]
Meanwhile, very few Jews survived in Thessaloniki, while Albania did not lose one. In fact, there were 202 Jews living in Albania before the war, and 1,800-2,000 after the war. At least 600 of them came from Greece. Not a single Jew living in Albania died at the hands of the Nazis. Albania is the only country in Europe with this record of success.
Albania’s Foreign Minister told this writer in an interview last year that his country could assist the EU in understanding the plight of the Jews in Europe today, who are experiencing a sharp increase in violent anti-Semitism. [By whom, did this foreign minister of a Muslim country mention?] Because of the experience that Albanians had in hiding the Jews during the reign of Hitler, there is an unusual sensitivity to this particular people group that is unique to the Albanians.
Edmond said it not only has to do with Albania’s tradition and culture. “We are the only country in the region that has a religious tolerance. This is not the case with our neighbors. The most amazing thing, and we are taking pride in it, is that we have coexistence between religions.”
Which neighbors? Greece? Macedonia? (Which is 25-33% Albanian and where the Albanian party is a permanent member of the ruling coalition and which has the “fifth-highest proportion of Muslims in Europe” after Turkey, Kosovo, Albania, and Bosnia.) Or did he mean Montenegro? Which is 17% Muslim. Or perhaps he means, more accurately, Kosovo? Surely he doesn’t mean the Christian but rapidly Islamicizing Bulgaria? Or Serbia, which is back to kneeling before its Bosnian and Albanian Muslims, and houses the world’s oldest Jewish choir.
But don’t expect to hear any such begged-for questions from the writer, Mr. or Ms. Hart, since even so-called ‘alternative’ U.S. media take down what Albanians say uncritically — still. Just as the journalistic establishment did with the Kosovo war. There simply is no American Thinking going on when it comes to the Balkans.
Notice that, like everyone else, A.T. had nothing about the April attack by the Albanians’ beloved KLA (”dismantled” by NATO in 2000), on a Macedonian police tower, demanding the creation of an Albanian state. Just as they’d done shortly after the Kosovo war, by starting another war, which I’ll guess you didn’t hear about. A war with Macedonia, which had harbored 400,000 Kosovo refugees. There were only short news items about the recent attack, such as this, but no commentary, no dissection, none of the usual analyses to tell us what it means. Because it’s the Balkans, and Americans simply don’t know what to think until an Albanian, Bosniak, or Croat tells us. Macedonia’s “ethnic tension,” as we in the West like to call it to keep the public from figuring out there’s an aggressor, renewed two weeks later, with a 36-hour-seige starting May 10th in Macedonia’s largest municipality, Kumanovo, on the border with Kosovo. Eight Macedonian police officers and 14 of 44 Albanian terrorists were killed, and another 37 officers wounded.
Interior Ministry spokesman Ivo Kotevski referred to the attackers as “one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the Balkans.” This would be the selfsame American BFFs: the KLA and affiliates. In fact, almost all the attackers were from Kosovo. UK Guardian reported further, “[Kotevski] said the group entered Macedonia at the start of May with an aim to launch attacks on state institutions. It was sheltered in Kumanovo’s western neighbourhood of Diva Naselba and police found a huge arsenal of weapons at the location….” Bulgaria had to send its army to the border with Macedonia, to stem any possible terror on its borders as well as a potential refugee crisis. These are all still reverberations, outgrowths, and results of the war that Bill Clinton got us into “to keep the conflict from spreading.” And “to stabilize the region.”
But hey, as long as we’ve found a set of Muslims who don’t mind Jews, who cares what they do to Slavs or what havoc they wreak in the region? Just let’s not think how they might feel about Jews if the host society they settled in was Jewish rather than Slavic, and it was Jewish land they coveted instead. Or how well Albanian hospitality could take a Jewish guest in WWII or the 90s telling his host that his people really shouldn’t be wantonly slaughtering Serbs. No, let’s not get into higher thinking. Besides, the “Kosovars” have a statue of Bill Clinton in the center of town, haven’t you heard.
Of course they do. As Professor Ilia Toli, who has experienced Albanianism from the inside — as an Albanian — put it: “Bill Clinton risked WW3 attacking Serbia in order to draw attention away from his Lewinsky [and Broaddrick] affair…I don’t know whether this is a compliment to be worshiped in the stronghold of the scum of the mankind.”
But it’s certainly fitting. Bill Clinton is a caveman’s caveman.
While I’ve responded extensively to the Albanian Jew-saving PR (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), I’ve only peripherally made the point that, in the end, all the Jews left Albania. Because while it may be “the most pro-Israel” Muslim country, or at least the least anti-Israel Muslim country, that doesn’t necessarily translate into a sense of security and comfort for a Jew living in its borders. That is, a tolerant national policy or orientation may not come across in close proximity, as some anecdotal (in addition to numeric) evidence suggests. Here is just one vignette, offered by Professor Toli in a 2013 email exchange that was mostly about Albanian Righteous:
I had a friend one year older in university…He returned from Canada and we were traveling together in the bus home, towards south [Albania]…He greatly annoyed me with his ardent Albanian patriotism all the way home. At some point to silence him I asked, “Are you Christian or Muslim?” “Muslim,” answered he, completely proud. “Well, I am Christian,” I answered back. That silenced him, but I did notice that he was very much uncomfortably quiet, agitated, and had a fight inside him. A few years later I came to know that this friend was Jewish pretending to be Muslim. He lives in Canada now, Jewish in the open. He didn’t dare to come out as a Jew in tolerant Albania.
I remember in his memoirs [Albania’s Soviet-era ruler] Enver Hoxha wrote about a very educated friend of his in childhood… “Samuel was the son of Haham Kofina, the poorest Jew in Gjirokastra…Haham occupied a small shop, there grew up Samuel, our friend. We loved him, because he was a very good person, honest, and not a ‘Jew’ in the bad meaning of the word.” [Note: “Jew” being implicitly bad was rampant in Communist Eastern Europe all around.]
Certainly there were many instances of righteous Albanian Muslims and Christians. That’s a very long shot from claiming that zero Jews were killed…And judge the following factors: Germans came to Albania only in September 1943 and left in November 1944. (In some parts of the country they never entered at all.) …Also, the pants-down test didn’t work in Albania because the Muslim population was also circumcised…In school in Albania at some point Comrade Hoxha told us that only 10 Jews perished in Albania, 2 of them partizans. At a later point the number became 2, then later on 0. He too was fond of the 0 Jews killed tale.
Indeed, “zero killed” was more like 10 to 12, according to the project The Holocaust Chronicle, while the rest of Albania’s 200 Jews were able to successfully disperse and blend in with the population, which provided them with cover and Muslim names. In Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and its Effects on the Cold War, author Christopher Simpson noted that relatively few Jews were captured and killed in Albania, but “not for lack of trying by the Balli Kombetar organization and the Albanian SS,” historian Carl Savich quoted him in 2007, adding:
In a July, 1944 [OSS] report on Albania entitled “Political and Internal Conditions”, it was reported that “[Albania’s Interior Minister, Kosovo Albanian] Xhafer Deva, [and Albanian prime minister] Rexhep Mitrovic[a] and Midhat Frasheri [president of the fascist Balli Kombetar, later imported by the U.S.] are with the Germans… Anti-semitic measures are being adopted now.” A captured SS document “revealed that Deva had been responsible for the deportation of ‘Jews, Communists and partisans’ to extermination camps as well as for punitive raids by the SS Skanderbeg Division. The small mountain territory had few Jews, so relatively few were captured and killed.”
(It also helped that Serbs and Roma were hiding Jews from Deva.)
The “Ballistas,” as America’s soon-to-be BFFFs (Best Fascist Friends Forever) were sometimes called for short, “carried out a campaign of deportation and murder of Serbs in 1943 and 1944,” Vojislav Milosevic wrote in 2012. “…Many of these Kosovo Albanians had seen prior service in the Bosnian Muslim and Croatian SS divisions which were notorious for slaughtering civilians…[In 1945,] remnants of the Kosovo Albanian fascist groups continued fighting the Yugoslav government for six years, with a major rebellion from 1945 to 1948 in the Drenica region…Sporadic violence continued until 1951. It is literally true to say that the last shots of World War II were fired in Kosovo.”
Kosovo certainly has a less pretty WWII record than Albania (see block quote under the Yeshiva World News item here), but if one considers that Albania’s borders at the time included Kosovo, the numbers of Jews killed or handed over to the camps change dramatically.
On the subject of Drenica, meanwhile, this last holdout of WWII fascist Kosovo would later become a KLA stronghold as well as the birthplace of Mr. KLA himself, “prime minister” Hashim Thaci. It was a bastion of violent Albanian nationalism, a phenomenon that spurred the following question in writer Milosevic above: “Why such passionate hatred for non-Albanians? A big factor was militant Islam. The Fundamentalist ‘Second League of Prizren’ was created in September 1943 by Xhafer Deva…to work with the German authorities…. Albanian religious intolerance was shown by their targeting Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries for destruction.”
There’s no way around it. Fascism, Islam and extreme nationalism all inform the Albanian identity. The Wikipedia entry on the SS Skanderbeg division reads:
Members took a religious oath using the Quran, pledging “jihad against unbelievers.” …Its garrison was located in the town of Prizren…Early on, it became clear that most of the division’s Muslim Albanian members seemed to be interested only in settling scores with their Christian Serb adversaries, who became the target of numerous atrocities. In order to put a stop to the crimes, the Germans had to disarm battalions of the division in the towns of Peć and Prizren and arrest the Albanian officers…It was generally better known for murdering, raping, and looting, mainly in ethnic Serb areas, and for arresting Jews, than for participating in combat operations on behalf of the German war effort. In addition to indiscriminately killing Serbs and Montenegrins, the division was responsible for the expulsion of up to 10,000 Slavic families from Kosovo as new Albanian settlers arrived from the poor areas of northern Albania.
One is never sure whether it was originally Islam that informed the Albanianism that so hates Serb Christians and destroys their churches, or whether the hyper-nationalism against the Serbian identity resulted in targeting their churches as Serbian symbols, which is what Albanians and their defenders still claim today, what with Albanianism long overshadowing Albanian Islam. It’s a means of justifying their continuing supremacist “but not anti-Christian” violence, perhaps themselves forgetting that’s what it was when it started.
The Albanian public’s record on Jews during the world war remains impressive and touching, so certainly one can understand the temptation for Jewish people to be suckers for anything that Albanians seek henceforth. But why is it human nature to be won over by the tender mercies of those who accept whatever alliance or identity — and its attendant privileges — that an era’s bully is extending (e.g., Fascism, Islam), as opposed to being won over by fellow sufferers and untermenschen under those systems, whom Jews owe something to as well? That would be the Serbian side, the implicit loser of Jewish (though so far not Israeli) support in the Kosovo tug-of-war that underlies this whole WWII Righteous promotion.
Serbs likewise managed to save Jews, and in greater numbers, despite being in a much more difficult position than Albanians. The Serbs were targets and victims of the Nazis too (100 killed — sometimes hung from trees — for every German soldier killed in Serbia), while simultaneously under assault from Albanians and Croats. It’s only touched on in this late 2010 email by late Jewish-Serbian scholar Jasa Almuli (who interviewed several Jews rescued by Serbs, who never contacted Yad Vashem for Righteous status on their behalf):
In Serbia there was not much time to save the Jews as all males were shot by the Wehrmacht during three months at the end of the first year of occupation and about 7000 women and children gassed during three months next spring…All anti-Jewish measures during the German occupation of Serbia were enacted by the Germans. [But there were] two decrees enacted six months before the war by the Yugoslav coalition government in October of 1940, passed under German pressure. One introduced Numerus Clausus for Jewish pupils and students and the other forbade the Jews to trade with foodstuff…The government which introduced these measures was composed of Serbian, Croat and Slovene politicians who acted in this way when the country was surrounded by allies of Germany.
But this is all still tug-of-war, and it’s probably not in good taste to compare one ethnicity’s Righteous to another’s. There’s a reason that it’s important to simply do the right thing in any given conflict, and not go by whether this one or that one was good to Jews, exceptional as it may be. For example, the icing for Dr. Toli on the Albanian Righteous cake: “What absolutely got to my nerves was reading an article about Jew-saving Muslim Albanians on the homepage of Hamas-CAIR.”
And therein lies the rub. Taken to the next level, while most Albanians are not jihadists, as Muslims they are vulnerable to recruitment (”Kosovo ranks eighth overall and first per capita among 22 Western states“). As opposed to Christian Serbs. So why buttress the more enemy-prone side against a comparatively problem-less ally of two world wars? Indeed, one development in the increasing number of Albanians joining Islamic State (as well as in Albanian would-be terrorists before them) is the tendency now to rail against Jews and Israel.
We supported the Albanian-Muslim side against the Serb-Christian side, as we had supported the Bosnian-Muslim side against the Serbs. Even in the Croatian war, we opted for the fascist Jew-killers of WWII. Meaning that in all three cases the West chose the Axis. In all three cases, the Jewish (albeit not Israeli) position was consistent with the prevailing, pro-Axis policy. And so we find ourselves today hearing Bosnian Muslims in Vienna shouting “Kill Kill the Jew!“; counting Albanians in ISIS; and witnessing the Simon Wiesenthal Center beseech Croatia to stop paying Nazis pensions as their clergy continue delivering masses for the Croatian fuehrer. (”It is hard to believe that in the center of the capital of a member of the European Union…hundreds of people gathered yesterday to commemorate the memory of one of Europe’s biggest mass murderers…It is also a badge of shame for the Catholic Church, which allowed such a ceremony to take place in the Basilica of the Heart of Christ….” — Efraim Zuroff. Indeed, there were just two recent years that Croatians skipped the Fuehrer Mass, or at least that we didn’t hear about it: December 2012, the eve of their EU entry the following July, and the bookend year of entry, December 2013. And yet the EU has deemed Croatia more suitable for membership than Serbia. In a way, one supposes it is.)
With such contemporary realities, one can certainly understand nostalgically turning to the past for its irrelevant comforts. But we must live in our time. And it was in our time that Albanians — including those from Albania this time — drove out the remaining Jews of Kosovo. Why did the Jews have to go? No one interrupts the Albanian self-back-patting to ask that uncomfortable question. Maybe it’s just impersonal ethnic supremacy — not aimed at Jews, who were merely collateral damage in 1990s Kosovo. Besides, it seemed to be mostly Serbian-speaking Jews who had to go, while 50-some Albanized Jews remain.
Maybe it’s just like Croatian soccer star Mario Mandzukic, who sometime after his fascist salute to Croatian fans seven months before EU entry (flanked by Albanian teammate Xherdan Shaqiri) got a Hebrew tattoo, as if saying that the seig heil is just part of the Croatian identity and need not be about Jew-killing, so don’t take it personally — and when Serbs do, it’s just Serbs not letting Croatians be Croatians. A message that’s as backwards as the Hebrew letters written from left to right. Naturally, not one among the Jewish media reporting on the internet stir this caused caught that this was the same player who last made international headlines when he did the Nazi salute.
It’s just soccer, after all, where Croatian fans can shout “Kill, kill the Serb!” to little notice, as well as “For the homeland, ready!”; and where Albanians can “harmlessly” fly a drone over a Belgrade stadium, toting a banner depicting a Greater Albania and two infamous Serb-haters, while the media go on to blame Serbs for the ensuing melee, even as Albanian politicians laud the “splendid little provocation” and the Albanian team return to a hero’s welcome.