in the Balkans
week after the terrorist strikes at Manhattan and the Pentagon,
the United States was still mourning and gearing up for revenge.
But as all eyes and ears of the wounded Empire focused on
Afghanistan, another possible field of battle waited with
distinct uneasiness for the heralded crusade against terrorism
to begin unfolding.
a decade of internecine warfare over territory, occasionally
with strong religious overtones, the Balkans is likely to
become a battlefield again. For though this may come as news
to most Westerners, the United States counted on assistance
from Iran, Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda and the Saudi
Arabian Wahhabi Muslim movement to the militants and self-declared
governments of Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
FRUITS IN BOSNIA
of U.S. connections with Islamic militants during the Bosnian
war (1992-95) is long and disheartening. The US actively supported
the Muslim-led government of Bosnia-Herzegovina in its fight
against Bosnian Serbs and Croats, even though it enlisted
several thousand foreign mujahedeen. These fighters
committed terrible atrocities against Serbs and Croats, none
of which have ever been prosecuted. After the Dayton Peace
Agreement of 1995, some of these Islamic warriors were sent
home, but many remained, marrying Bosnian Muslim women and
taking Bosnian citizenship. One of them, bin Laden's close
associate Mehrez Aodouni, was arrested in Turkey two years
ago while on his way to Chechnya
with a Bosnian passport.
the U.S. had allowed Iran to gain influence in Bosnia and
Croatia by knowingly allowing Teheran to ship weapons to both
regimes in direct violation of the UN arms embargo in 1994-95.
After the war, millions of American taxpayer dollars paid
for new equipment
and weapons for the Bosnian Muslim Army, while Iranian
spies and the mujahedeen plotted to assassinate
the Pope and blow up the NATO peacekeepers' HQ in Sarajevo
(which was to be blamed on the Serbs).
postwar destitution and kleptocratic governments have contributed
to the readiness of many young Muslims to join the Wahhabi
movement, aggressively exported by Saudi Arabia. The Wahhabis'
practice of austere Islam completely foreign to Bosnia has
already destroyed many Bosnian Muslim families, as their daughters
were married off in their teens and their sons joined the
Jihad in Chechnya and Kosovo, many never to return.
This, and more, is well-documented
by the Bosnian Muslim and foreign press.
to create a Greater Albania have been less overtly Islamic
than the struggle in Bosnia, mainly because the KLA in Kosovo
and Macedonia focused more on the Albanians' ethnic, and less
on their religious, identity. Nonetheless, both the al-Qaeda
and the Wahhabis have been involved with
the KLA and inside Albania proper over the past decade.
NATO's assault in 1999, Belgrade made serious allegations
that the KLA was connected to bin Laden's terrorist network
and the muhajedeen movement in general, but the US
was not willing to listen. Now these allegations are confirmed
by none other than the CIA. More than two years after bombing
Serbia on behalf of the KLA, US officials are now quoted by
the mid-1990s, bin Laden associates have been based in Tirana,
Albania's capital, as well as in at least two other towns
in the small, formerly communist nation… Islamic radicals,
including supporters of bin Laden, have been supporting Albanian
rebels fighting in the region, including members of the Kosovo
Liberation Army. Intelligence officials have said there are
reports that KLA members have been trained at bin Laden training
camps in Afghanistan."
US government has not only known about this all along, but
has enlisted the terrorists as a useful weapon against the
Serbs, and recently the Macedonians as well. It certainly
made sense to join forces with a CIA-sponsored
movement in a fight against the common enemy. With the events
of September 11, however, that picture is likely to change.
to the authors of September 11, Slobodan
Milosevic is no threat to the United States. After his
fall, Serbia and Yugoslavia have been reduced to the margins
of the Balkans, impotent and obsequiously subservient to US/NATO
commands. Yet the Empire's victory over Milosevic now seems
largely irrelevant, even harmful as America's allies against
Milosevic in Sarajevo, Pristina and Tirana have also aided
those suspected of bombing New York and Washington DC. Bitterly
ironic, for sure, but the Balkans was built on irony.
and the KLA regime in Pristina have, of course, all vowed
complete loyalty and commitment to help the US fight terrorism.
Problem is, terrorism and militant Islam are so rooted in
their societies, they cannot get rid of it even if they honestly
11 did not just shatter the illusion
of America's invulnerability and result in thousands of
civilian and military deaths; it also revealed a festering
wound that America's interventions has inflicted on the Balkans.
Now the unholy alliance between the USA, KLA, Alija Izetbegovic's
regime, the mujahedeen and the al-Qaeda lies exposed
to the world, stinking to high heaven. No one is paying much
attention to it right now save the CIA but this situation
is likely to change soon.
the Balkans, anything is possible. As soon as he finished
pledging support to the US last week, NATO Secretary General
George Robertson continued
to back the KLA in Macedonia, insisting on a NATO military
presence past the end of the sham disarmament mission late
seems determined to remain an Empire and strike back, most
likely in Afghanistan, but possibly elsewhere in the Middle
East. The escalating rhetoric of war makes such an outcome
seem sadly inevitable. Yet how can this crusade have any effect
if the "network" Secretary Powell vowed to attack
remains alive and well in the Balkans? Can the Empire really
fight in the Middle East while leaving the Balkans tumor behind?
HOUSE OF CARDS
30,000 US troops are propping up the defunct Bosnian state
and the KLA regime in Kosovo, at the same time masters and
hostages of the KLA and the mujahedeen. Given the somewhat
precarious manpower situation of the Imperial military, Bush
The Younger will need every man and woman in uniform for his
crusade. Can he afford to keep them in the Balkans?
the rhetoric coming out of Washington is anything to judge
by, the Empire now has bigger fish to fry than aiding tin-pot
dictators of the Balkans, especially those with terrorist
ties, realize their chauvinist territorial ambitions. Suddenly,
a partial or even complete US withdrawal from the Balkans
does not seem as outlandish as it did just weeks ago.
withdrawal would inevitably mean the collapse of the artificial
edifice its interventions have created in the Balkans. Absent
its pillar of Imperial support, this order will crumble like
an ill-made house of cards. Nations of the Balkans would finally
be able to crack down on terrorism given the current situation,
who would deny them that right? and the peninsula might
move closer to peace and true stability, one that needs not
be enforced with occupying armies.
the US needs to do is bring its troops home, where they can
finally defend America
something they should have been doing in the first place.