Article on Kosovo

Paul Flewers hatchet.job at
Wed May 31 16:30:02 MDT 2000

List members may be interested in the article below. It is going into the next
issue of New Interventions.   Paul F   ++++++++++++++++++  

Jim Riddle

Kosovo One Year After

IN some quarters, there seems to have developed a view that the humanitarian
intervention in Kosovo didnt succeed, that it was a mistake, or that it made
things worse. Some newspapers ran quite serious reports on a wide range of
problems on the anniversary of the start of the war on ex-Yugoslavia. The
Guardian, which had been a keen supporter of military intervention in the
Yugoslav wars, carried reports by Maggie OKane and Jonathan Steele that seemed a
bit disillusioned with the outcome. On 13 March, for example, the former
described the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA/UÇK) as maybe dependent on the drug
families who partly funded the KLAs operations in Kosovo last year. On 16 March,
the latter wrote that senior figures in the now disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army
were suspected of being involved in drug-running. Interestingly, he also
reported that: The European Union has also made it clear it sees Kosovo as a
typical communist economy "in transition". The old welfare system must go, to be
replaced by "means tested social welfare payments to the needy instead". On 11
May, the Guardian reported General Sir Michael Jacksons replies to a
parliamentary committee regarding the Nato bombing in Yugoslavia. It was
certainly not the decisive factor in ending the war. General Jackson saw the
role of Russia as pivotal. Milosevic was prepared to bluff it out waiting for a
crack in Nato, but Chernomyrdin seems to have persuaded him that the Russians
could get him the best deal he was likely to get. The same issue quoted a
Pentagon report that Nato, upon entry into Kosovo, found only the wreckage of 14
tanks, 10 armoured personnel carriers and 20 artillery and mortar pieces.

The New Statesman on 3 April had John Simpson, the BBC reporter in Belgrade
until he was thrown out, and who the warmongers attacked for just reporting what
he saw, reviewing Michael Ignatieffs Virtual War under the title of We were
Suckered. Ignatieff had been one of those liberals who had enthused about the
new trend towards bombing people for humanitarian purposes, but his book
expresses scepticism about it all.

Jamie Shea, Natos cheerful cockney PR man, appears to be promoting himself
around Europe in a series of public speeches, perhaps looking for a new career
in PR or, at worst, as an after-dinner wit. The Berlin paper Junge Welt on 3
April commented on Sheas speech in Switzerland (as reported in the Neue Zürcher
Zeitung) under the title of How Does One Sell a Conflict The Ultimate Public
Relations Challenge. Speaking to astonished business and management types, Shea
told how, in a good cause he had, if not exactly misled, then considerably
massaged the public. If you have no story, make one, he said, and told how, on a
day when he had nothing much to say, he organised a visit by Cherie Blair and
Hilary Clinton to a refugee camp, for which CNN was grateful and sent the
pictures around the world remember Cherie wiping a tear from her eye?

Junge Welt on 31 March, commenting how German ministers misled the people in
order to promote the war, picked up the Racak massacre story. The Berliner
Zeitung did some a detailed research into it, and concluded that, just as many
journalists present at the time did, the corpses of UÇK combatants fallen in
battle were placed there in order to give a picture of Serbian atrocities.

Interesting in this respect is the speech by James Bisset, a previous Canadian
ambassador in Belgrade, to the Foreign Policy and International Trade Committee
of the Canadian parliament on 15 February, reported in Junge Welt on 20-21
April. Bisset denounced the war and exploded the PR myths spread by Nato, whose
apologists like Shea he accused of lying. He, too, believes the French
journalists who saw no massacre at Racak, but believed it to be a put-up job in
which William Walker was involved. He quoted Jiri Dienstbier, the
ex-Czechoslovak Foreign Minister who was an OSCE observer in Kosovo, that in the
last five months of the OSCEs presence (Walker pulled the OSCE out because of
the Racak events), there was no international refuge problem in Kosovo, and that
only a few thousand were on the move prior to the bombing. Dienstbier, now UN
Commissioner for Human Rights in ex-Yugoslavia, says that the bombing solved no
problems, but multiplied the existing ones, and created new ones. Bisset says
that it was no easy thing to get hold of the Rambouillet document from Nato, and
tells how the Defence Committee of the French National Assembly only got a copy
a few days before the UN Peace Agreement was signed. He talks of the Roma and
Sinti, Serbs, Jews and Slavic Muslims being driven out under the eyes of 45 000
Nato troops. Murder and anarchy rule in Kosovo, where the UÇK and other criminal
elements have taken power.

Willy Wimmer, a CDU Bundestag deputy and the vice-president of the OSCE
parliamentary assembly, another outspoken opponent of the war, in a declaration
reported in Junge Welt on 6 April, said that the Jews of Kosovo have, almost
without exception, fled to Belgrade, and the KLA had driven out the Serbs and
Roma remaining in Kosovo almost wholesale, the ethnic Turks had to leave, and
the Catholic Albanians report acts of violence towards them. Even Albanian
intellectuals are removing themselves from Kosovo, apparently to Belgrade.

Junge Welt cited various confidential reports which have found their way into
the international press. The 15 March edition quoted a UN report of 29 February
which blames the Kosovo Protection Force, the successor to the KLA, not only for
murder, torture and extortion, but a whole range of other criminal activities:
traffic in people and forced prostitution, intimidation, illegal "police-work",
stirring up ethnic hatred and much more. The confidential UN report makes clear
that it is not a matter of individual cases, but of organised and direct
activity by the KPF and its commander. The 20 March edition quoted a public
report of the International Crisis Group, an NGO whose chairman is Gareth Evans,
an ex-Foreign Minister of Australia. The ICG, which specialises on the Balkans,
is examining the widespread criminality in Albania in one report, and in Kosovo
in another. According to the ICG report, the UÇK (KLA) should not be compared
with a hierarchical military organisation. Rather, it would be a more or less
loose association of criminal clans Without doubt, the UÇK bears the main
responsibility for the wave of organised crime which has overtaken Kosovo since
mid-1999. According to other reports into the PPDK, the party set up by the UÇK,
Thaçi is not in control of the different factions, which are often based on
distinct clans, which would seem to back the ICG report. The various Western
agencies are looking for moderates to support, and are hoping to isolate the

There is no functioning justice system in Kosovo. Judges usually set free
arrested Albanians, while Serbs languish in jail without charge or a trial.
Serbian prisoners in Mitrovica have recently been on hunger strike because of
this. Apart from the official jails, the UÇK has a network of unofficial ones
spread over the province run by the KPF. Junge Welt on 25 April quoted a British
Institute for War and Peace Research report published just prior to Easter. This
detailed the illegal prison-camp system, in which up to 1200 kidnapped Serbs are
being held under inhuman conditions and pressed into slave-labour. The IWPR
Report No 133 quotes a Helsinki Committee from the Sandjak that managed to see
five of the UÇK jails with its own eyes, in which 142 Serb civilians were held.
The UÇK has at least two prison-camps in northern Albania, where Serbs and
pro-Yugoslav Albanians are held. This was confirmed to Amnesty International by
an Albanian ex-prisoner. The Helsinki Committee gave the results of its research
to KFOR, but it did nothing about it. It concluded that Nato is complicit in the
situation. Apparently, the UÇK had been kidnapping Serbs already before the war,
as a means of encouraging others to flee the province. The IWPR Report reckons
that between 2000 and 3000 Kosovo Albanians are in Serbian jails awaiting trial.
Most are supposedly UÇK people, the rest are ordinary criminals. The peace
agreement failed to mention the prisoners, so they have no PoW status. The
kidnappings and Gulag system appear to be a means whereby prisoners could be

Jonathan Dimbleby had a documentary on Channel 4 TV, which examined the
situation in Kosovo a year after the war, and he doubted that the conflict had
been worthwhile or had resolved anything. The April issue of Socialist Appeal
ran a two-page review article on the documentary. A far better programme was
BBC2s Moral Combat: Nato at War on 12 March. By a series of interviews, the
viewer was able to assemble a picture of how the war got off the ground, as well
as its conduction and end results. Some of the main players contradicted each
other. What did emerge clearly was that Madeleine Albright sent William Walker,
a man with a dubious pre-history in Central America, to Kosovo in order to stage
the conditions for the war. It dwelt on the Racak massacre, and implied that
Walker had arranged the pretext. Unfortunately, it did not point out Walkers
previous relationship either to the death squads in El Salvador, or to Ollie
Norths arms and drug smuggling Contragate activities regarding Nicaragua.

The humanitarian warmongers, including Blair, Cook, Robertson and countless
Labour MPs, spoke of hundreds of thousands of murdered Kosovan Albanians during
the war, and compared Serbian actions against the UÇK and its perceived
supporters with the Holocaust. There were undoubtedly some brutal deeds and even
atrocities by paramilitary, police and some army units, but this occurred after
the war began. The investigations so far put the figure at closer to 2000 than
3000 Albanians killed. When one compares the latest figures with those civilians
and soldiers killed by Nato, there is no great difference, and it certainly
backs up the futility of the war as a means of resolving the problems between
national entities in ex-Yugoslavia. Attempts are being made in Germany both to
investigate what went on regarding the war, and to indict the politicians
responsible for war-crimes. The war had no basis in international law, and, as
we mentioned in New Interventions, Volume 9, no 3, the bombing breached
international conventions in a number of ways. We need to raise these issues in
order to put a stop to wars which are imperialist in nature and have no
progressive content whatsoever.




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