Opposition to KLA is growing

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Thu Nov 11 10:45:18 MST 1999

[Reposted from soc.culture.albanian.  No idea of the origin, so reader beware]

Opposition to KLA grows in Kosovo

The regime imposed by the Kosovo Liberation Army under the auspices of
NATO is meeting growing opposition, even amongst the Albanian majority
of Kosovo.

The Party for the Democratic Progress of Kosovo, formed by KLA leader
Hashim Thaqi, is suffering a sharp decline in popular support according
to a number of voter surveys. The reasons cited are anger over the
KLA's heavy-handed monopoly of power and disgust at its promotion of
violence against Serbs, Roma gypsies and political opponents within the
Albanian population.

Some surveys predict that the KLA would be crushed in provincial
elections at all levels and, if presidential elections were held, Thaqi
would be easily defeated by Ibrahim Rugova, head of the Democratic
League of Kosovo. Rugova is Thaqi's main rival within the Kosovan
nationalist movement. He led a 10-year, non-violent resistance campaign
against the Serbian government, but was shunted to the side when the US
decided to promote the KLA in the months leading up to last spring's
air war against Serbia.

One opinion poll found 4-to-1 support for Rugova over Thaqi. Another
survey of 2,500 voters found that Rugova would win 92 percent of the
vote in a two-way race with Thaqi. Support for the KLA, even in its
former strongholds such as Thaqi's home base in the Drenica area of
central Kosovo, is in single percentage figures, according to the polls.

On April 2, during the second week of NATO bombing, the interim or
Provisional Government of Kosovo was formed as a front for the KLA. By
late July its control had been extended to all localities and city
authorities. The United Nations governs the country under a Security
Council resolution and formally does not recognise Thaqi's government.
But neither it nor NATO does anything to challenge it, and the UN has
organised the KLA forces into the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), which
has official policing powers.

The KLA's so-called Interior Ministry has presided over a wave of anti-
Serb violence carried out by the KPC and other less formal KLA units.
In mid-October, for example, an ethnic Albanian march in Mitrovice
ended in anti-Serb rioting organised by the KLA. Earlier that same
month Valentin Krumov, a Bulgarian UN worker, was accosted by a group
of Albanian youths who asked him the time. When he answered in Serbian,
he was kicked and punched and then shot in the head in front of a large
and supportive crowd. The KLA has posted lists of suspected Serb war
criminals to be targeted for vigilante action.

Attacks on Serbs and Roma Gypsies are regularly used to seize control
of housing for KLA supporters, many of whom are gangster elements
involved in drugs, prostitution and black marketing. At least two UN
police officers are also under investigation for pressuring Serbs to
sell their homes to ethnic Albanians. Newspaper reports cite young KLA
soldiers with wads of German marks and expensive cars taking control of
municipal buildings and Serbian housing and lording it over the local

The situation facing ethnic Roma is no better. Once numbering 40,000,
they have been reduced to around 800 in one refugee camp outside the
provincial capital of Pristina. All Roma Gypsies were driven from their
homes by Kosovar Albanians and face a harsh winter in tents.

There are repeated threats of violence against everyone-from supporters
of Rugova to Albanian women who date foreign UN personnel and aid
workers. The KLA has unofficially warned that it is compiling a
register of those parties it deems fit to take part in any future

Winter will exacerbate tensions amongst the Albanian population. While
KLA officers enrich themselves, the reconstruction of 100,000 homes
destroyed or heavily damaged during the war-65 percent of the homes in
Kosovo-will not begin until spring. Hundreds of thousands face bitter
cold in temporary shelter.

A local charity worker estimates that 500,000 people still don't know
where they will spend the winter. Since the end of the war on June 12,
the population of Pristina has doubled to 200,000. Electricity and
water systems frequently break down. This, together with a lack of food
and shelter, could provoke unrest-particularly if rural residents
continue to flood into the overcrowded cities.

The NATO powers are becoming increasingly concerned at the
deteriorating situation. On his first visit to Kosovo last Friday,
NATO's new secretary-general George Robertson warned that "vigilante
justice is no justice, but a return to random violence. NATO will not
stand by and see the creation of a single-ethnic Kosovo."

Perhaps the most telling statement was made earlier by the secretary-
general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. He warned of the "built-in
tension" between the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo who want independence
and the United Nations, which is administering the territory as part of

The KLA is committed to independence and future unification with
Albania. Annan warned that holding elections too quickly may strengthen
separatist demands: "We have a mandate to administer the territory as
part of sovereign Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but those we are
administering want independence. This ambiguity is going to bring
problems down the line." Albanians could end up seeing the UN as an
"occupation force", he said, with all that this implies.

Against UN and NATO opposition, Serb leaders have responded to routine
ethnic Albanian attacks by announcing their intention to create secure
enclaves and a protection force to prevent the remaining 20,000 to
100,000 Serbs-out of a pre-war population of 200,000-from fleeing the
province. This was denounced by Bernard Kouchner, the UN administrator
of Kosovo, who said, "It is against the regulation of the UN mission
and it is unnecessary."

Throughout the war against Serbia, the KLA was portrayed as a
liberation movement fighting to free ethnic Albanians from Serbian
dominance. Its real program for the driving out of all minorities and
the creation of an ethnically pure Greater Albania was concealed, as
well as its well-known terrorist and criminal activities since its
formation in 1993.

Louis Proyect

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