– A False Victory
as the disastrous consequences of imperial politics in the
Balkans seem to finally reach the brink of full destruction,
the situation shifts ever so slightly and the danger of meltdown
slips away. Disaster seems to have been averted, while the
voices of criticism and concern usually retreat before the
"success" of the policies they had considered doomed
as one experience after another has proven beyond reasonable
doubt – and quite a few unreasonable ones as well – in the
Balkans, nothing is exactly as it appears; not the people,
not the events, and certainly not the outcomes.
week, the self-proclaimed "Liberation Army" of Presevo,
Medvedja and Bujanovac in southern Serbia proved their mettle
in combat for the first time. One of its "units"
ventured into a Serb village just outside of the zone where
the UCPMB enjoyed NATO’s protection. Within a day, they were
and forced to surrender
by the Yugoslav Army. The battle sounded
a death knell for the "Army" of bandits that
has terrorized the Serb countryside for over a year.
has helped create the "UCPMB" as an instrument of
pressure against Belgrade. Though ineffective against Milosevic’s
government, the "Army" managed to distract and unbalance
the new regime somewhat. Apparently, that was not enough for
its patrons. As it outlived its usefulness, this KLA clone
had to be put out of its misery. So on Monday, the bandits
an agreement to disband and demilitarize. One commander
that refused to surrender was allegedly
the time this column is posted, Yugoslav troops should have
their return into Sector B, the last remnant of the Ground
Safety Zone that harbored the bandits. The "UCPMB"
will be history.
in the peninsula comes this easy, though. If, as documents
show, the UCPMB was supported by NATO, then all it took was
for NATO to pull the plug. But why? Could it be because
the Serbs did not rise to the bait, and avoided a rerun of
Racak? Or is it perhaps that the goal behind the Presevo rebellion
was to "draw international attention" to the Albanian
question, as the UCPMB claims?
It might sound cynical, but maybe ending the Presevo rebellion
was NATO’s quid pro quo to the Serbs, a favor for Belgrade
in return for Serbia and Yugoslavia standing idly by as UN/NATO’s
governor of Kosovo gave the occupied province a quasi-independence
"Constitution" last week.
course, the UCPMB "surrender" could be as real as
that of the original KLA, which went on to become militia
for Kosovo’s organized crime. As usual, only time will tell.
UCPMB "soldiers" turn themselves and their weapons
to their former allies, NATO’s occupation force in Kosovo,
their colleagues south of the border have no intention of
going down without a fight. Besieged and shelled daily by
the increasingly nervous Macedonian military, the "National
Liberation Army" shows no signs of giving up.
a disturbing twist of events, NATO announced Tuesday that
it intercepted phone calls between the "NLA" and
its mother organization in Kosovo, claiming that 1,000
KLA veterans were on the march to join the war in Macedonia.
NATO also showed no signs of preparing to stop them.
none of this should come as a surprise to those who have been
"NLA" claims it is fighting for Albanian "rights"
in Macedonia – Albanian as official language, Albanians as
a constituent people, quotas for Albanians in civil service
and other government jobs, especially the police. Albanian
political parties share
this goal of virtual apartheid – and are supported by
the United States in their demands. As a consequence of intense
pressure from the US, EU and NATO, the Macedonians have
agreed to include these parties in the unity government. Far
from taking the wind out of the rebellion, this move seems
to have bolstered it. Rather than legitimize the politicians
at the expense of terrorists, the unity government legitimized
the demands of both.
is why the "NLA" is still entrenched in villages
along Macedonia’s northern border, and why pressure grows
on Skopje to give in to Albanian demands. Meanwhile, Macedonia’s
fighting the "NLA" have to look over their shoulders
for possible betrayal by their civilian leaders – a situation
bound to quickly exhaust any army. With each passing day,
Macedonia’s position deteriorates further. The longer it waits
to strike at the "NLA," the angrier its loyal citizens
– and the bolder its separatists – will be.
how should Skopje act? The only other victim of Albanian separatism,
Serbia, offers little or no hope. After a decade of half-hearted
fighting and easy "compromises" with NATO, the Milosevic
regime collapsed – only to be succeeded by a government that
seems to have little integrity and even less regard for national
would be a deadly mistake for Macedonia to practice the same
kind of "restraint" Serbia showed in Presevo. Far
from being a "victory for Serb moderation," the
Presevo rebellion more likely induced Belgrade to give up
Kosovo and move Yugoslavia closer
to NATO, only two years after the Alliance’s bombs nearly
destroyed the country.
from its electoral promises of dignity and sovereignty, the
new government has meekly accepted American blackmail. It
did nothing as NATO’s Reichskommisar rejected
every Serb amendment to the proposed "constitution"
of Kosovo. It is preparing to pass
a law sacrificing Yugoslavia’s judicial sovereignty to
a NATO court, in hope of possibly receiving millions
of dollars in loans at loan-shark interest rates – only to
be used for paying
back creditors among NATO nations.
an end to Kosovo Serbs’ tax protests, called after the
occupation authorities decided to establish checkpoints and
charge duties on goods coming from the rest of Yugoslavia.
Apparently, Belgrade is hoping the UN will heed "recommendations"
to remove the customs posts, and maybe form a joint tax service.
Apparently, the UN’s pillaging of Kosovo Serbs is quite all
right, as long as Belgrade gets a share.
final straw has to be the recent initiative by Nebojsa Covic,
deputy Prime Minister in charge of the Presevo situation,
partition Kosovo into ethnic entities. According to Covic’s
recent statements, this would satisfy both the "Serb
historical and Albanian ethnic claims" to the province.
What it does accomplish, right here and now, is to relinquish
Yugoslavia’s legal right to its territory in favor of recognizing
the principle of ethnic separatism. Truly brilliant, coming
from a Minister who called his own troops "dogs of war"
and falsely accused them of looting and war crimes. Could
someone please find a sex
scandal in his past?
it becomes increasingly obvious, even the demise of "UCPMB"
cannot offset the enormity of the crisis plaguing the central
Balkans, specifically Macedonia and Serbia. NATO is still
occupying Kosovo – if nothing, that province is virtually
independent now more than ever – while Belgrade’s new government
is squandering its political capital on pandering to foreign
powers. Meanwhile, the cornered Macedonians are down
to praying for deliverance from the closing jaws of KLA
and NATO. For all its soi-disant "spirit of cooperation"
with Skopje and Belgrade, NATO’s leaders, past and present,
are still unrepentant
about their role in the 1999 Kosovo War, from which all
the current problems in the region directly derive.
picture is none the rosier elsewhere. However many elections
"moderates" may win, their country will still
be Serb-free and they will not lift a finger to change that.
President can visit Belgrade as many times as he wishes,
but that will not make Bosnia more of a country, or make the
Bosnian Muslim hatred of Serbs any less palpable.
the years, the Balkans has shown incredible ability to hover
at the very brink of Armageddon, only to bounce back into
chronic disaster. There is every indication this trend will