[L-I] Kosovo war and problem of Muslim minorities: A PLO view

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at xxxxxxxxxxx.xxx
Mon Oct 16 14:27:49 MDT 2000

Palestine Times

Issue No. 97 - July 1999


Kosovo war and problem of Muslim minorities

                                By Munir Shafiq*

When the war launched by NATO and led by the United States reached an
end, negotiators from the U.S., Russia and the European Union gathered
round the negotiations table to lay down conditions to stop the NATO
strikes against Yugoslavia. The results of those negotiations were
conveyed to the Yugoslavian President Milosevic to take his approval.
But no one paid any attention to the stands of the representatives of
the Kosovo Albanians who were a main party in the Rambouillet, France,
negotiations. The Kosovo Albanians were completely excluded from the
negotiations, which led to stopping the air strikes and entry of the
NATO forces into Kosovo.

This tragic end of the war indicates that the war was launched for
reasons that have nothing to do with the injustice practiced against the
Kosovo Albanians. In fact, it was waged to achieve goals that are far
from the goal adopted by the Kosovo Muslims. Using the injustice created
by the Serbs against the Kosovo Albanians as a pretext to wage the war
does not really mean that the war was started to defend the Kosovo
Albanians. This reality would not change if the Kosovo Muslims had some
of their objectives achieved because what they will get was not meant to
be achieved by this war.

The first remark that should attract attention is that the
representatives of the Kosovo Albanians were kept away from the
negotiations table and were not given any say in the agreement on
Kosovo, their homeland. The referendum about the future of Kosovo was
also kept at a distance.

The second remark is that the negotiations were mainly conducted between
the Russians and the Americans with a second-class European partnership.
This shows that it was a war between the United States and Russia, not a
war against Milosevic. This fact does not change given Russia’s weak and
hesitant position during the war, especially after firing Primakov’s
government. The leadership of the Russian army got the message of war,
which caused it to announce its reservations on the agreement reached
between Chernomyrdin and NATO. This attitude by the Russian army was
proved when the Russian troops rushed to occupy Pristina airport in
Kosovo, which distracted the attention from the celebrations of what
Clinton called the NATO victory and Milosevic’s defeat.

The occupation of Pristina airport by the Russian troops and their
preventing NATO troops from entering the airport led to a direct
confrontation between the U.S. and Russia. This proves that the war
waged by the United States against the Serbs was in essence a war
against Russia or a part of a strategy to contain the Russians and to
weaken their international role, especially in Europe.

The third party concerned with this war was Europe, which seemed to be
subject to the Americans and involved the military policies of the U.S.
Administration. It is not an exaggeration to say that the second main
reason of the war that was planned by the U.S. is to contain Europe
after it began expanding its margin of independence economically after
issuing the unified European currency (Euro) and politically after
adopting a more distinctive role towards many international issues,
including the Arab and Islamic ones. In the military field, Europe also
began creating a unified and independent military force inside and
outside NATO. It was clear that Europe, except Britain, was compelled to
participate in the war. Europe tried to end the war as soon as possible
by different means. It tried to establish for itself a political role
during the negotiations and a military one through the final
arrangements in Kosovo. This made it a competitive partner of the United
States and not a mere subordinate partner that lacks any role or will of
its own.

Anyone who looks into Kosovo’s map after the end of the war does not
doubt Milosevic’s defeat. Kosovo became a NATO protectorate with a
Russian partnership under the moral supervision of the United Nations.
Although the Kosovo Albanians became free of ethnic oppression, they
also fell under foreign protection and have no right to control their
land or draw their future more than what they already had under the
Serbian control. On the contrary, the Kosovo Albanians under the Serbian
rule had a cause to defend and political demands to fight for. But now
they are not able to ask NATO to give them their self-determination or
to determine their authorities and rights. This means that they lost
their cause and lost the right to map out their future. The only gains
they received are the freedom from ethnic oppression and the right to
return to their homes. They could get more and better if they accepted
to be ruled by the Serbs in the way they are now ruled
by NATO.

The Muslim minorities should possess a deep and correct awareness
concerning any attempt to separate them from the countries they are
living in, or rather their own countries. They should be aware of the
dangers and consequences of being moved by a few elite powers towards
separation and against the non-Muslim majorities. Such attempts,
regardless of their causes and reasons, will lead to massacres, misery
and ethnic cleansing. They will make the Muslim minorities toys in the
hands of the international and regional powers. They will also lose
control over their future and fate.

A deliberate reading of the international and regional situations and of
the situation of the Muslim Nation does not allow any illusion about the
dangers of the calls for separation of any Muslim minority from the
country they have been living in for hundreds and thousands of years.
Whatever the injustice being experienced by the Muslim minority is, they
should beware of any attempt to separate because the international
balance of power and the situation of the Islamic Nation will make their
just and fair demands a toy or a pretext for the regional and
international powers in their conflicts among themselves. They will also
make this minority the first victim of these conflicts. Each minority
should deal positively with other citizens in their country. They should
follow the path of patience, peaceful Jihad and the step-by-step policy
in order to free themselves from the injustice. This way will remain
safer in most of the cases than the other way that was adopted by the
Kosovo Albanians or other Muslim minorities in the world. However, it
should not be understood that the causes of the Muslim minorities in
these parts of the world are not just. But these minorities should
assess their own situation and choose the lesser evil and less harmful
way. It is also a strategic issue related to the serious questions of
the Muslim Nation, on the top of which is the confrontation of the
American-Zionist strategy because it is the most important obstacle that
prevents that Muslim Nation from achieving its goals. If, for example,
the United States will be the greatest party that benefits from a local
problem stirred by or against a Muslim minority, especially when it is
escalated to a civil war and an ethnic cleansing, we will find ourselves
in contradiction between our higher strategy and our stand towards this
local or secondary problem. This was clear in the recent Kosovo crisis.
For the whole Muslim Nation had no other option but to stand beside the
Kosovo Muslims. But this stand also served the higher strategy of the
United States, which eventually harms the interests of the Muslim Nation
in general and the Palestinian cause in particular.

The results of the war in Yugoslavia will never be local but rather
international. We will be affected and harmed because the United States
went victorious out of the war. Its power has increased more, which will
enable it to rearrange the international situation, especially the
situation in the Arab region. This will help the U.S. Administration to
impose the Israeli conditions and domination over the Palestinians and

Therefore, open discussions and dialogues should be organized to review
the best and correct strategy that should be adopted by the Muslim
minorities in treating their causes and problems. There should be a
general and international strategy in addition to the local strategies
of every Muslim and Arab society. The general strategy consists of
principles and guidelines that save the Muslim minorities from
separation, civil war, or ethnic cleansing. It also helps these
minorities to build positive strategies that can be accepted by the
local situation and which can lift the injustice against the Muslims
gradually and peacefully. We should emphasize that the other way is
disastrous and does not achieve the goals of the Muslim minority.

The Americans can say that they succeeded in forcing the Serbian army
out of Kosovo and that they are on their way to repatriating the Kosovo
Albanian refugees to their homes. They can also say that NATO remained
united and that it was not forced to start a land war.

But, on the other side, Milosevic can say that Kosovo has remained
legally and officially under the Yugoslavian sovereignty, and that the
NATO troops in Kosovo work under the umbrella of the United Nations and
not under their own flag as was agreed upon in the Rambouillet talks. He
can also say that the existence of Russian troops among the
international forces in Kosovo is a positive point that serves his

Despite the humiliation it received by the air strikes against Belgrade,
Russia can say that the war ended only after the United States
recognized its decisive role and participation in the international
force. This role was also recognized through direct negotiations with
Russia. In short, Russia can be proud of achieving something, especially
in the settlement that was reached after its troops occupied Pristina

The most significant outcome of this war is that it will push the
international arena to more conflicts and confusion. It did widen the
rift between Russia and the United States. Europe has also found itself
subject to the U.S. Administration, which will lead it to build a
military force of its own, parallel to the NATO forces.

The war in Yugoslavia has opened a new page of conflicts and disputes
among the big powers and allowed new international confusion.

* Palestinian thinker and writer and former director of the PLO Planning


Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
PhD Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222

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