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Humanitarian Bombing vs. Iraqi Freedom

Analysis, June 2003

This June marks the 4th year anniversary of NATOs presence in the Serbian province of Kosovo. Given that the Kosovo Mission may be perceived by some as a success story, offering precedence in the approach of the international communitys strategy for dealing with post-war Iraq, it would be both timely and wise to, recap the "successes" of NATOs Mission in Kosovo. Such a reflection may prove to be a telling and honest warning to those embarking on similar, future projects in Iraq.

"Maintain civil law and order; promote human rights; and assure the safe and unimpeded return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes in Kosovo" - UNMIK Mandate

Almost four years after the United Nations established its mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), inter-ethnic hostility is
still widespread and the few Serbs remaining in the province, are afraid to travel freely.

Although the number of
ethnically motivated attacks can be interpreted in many different ways, tensions between the ethnic Albanian majority and the Serbian minority remain high. Surrounded and outnumbered by the ethnic Albanian majority (many of whom see no room for Serbs in Kosovo) the Serbs are realistically pessimistic about their future.

The ethnic make up of the population of Pristina reflects the validity of this fear. Since 1999, the population of Pristina has grown to over 500,000 people less than 200 of which are Serbs.

Since the NATOs entry into Kosovo in June of 1999, the indigent population of this region
has suffered at the hands of Albanian extremists and organized terrorists. The NATO troops, operating under the organization of KFOR (Kosovo Force), have done little to protect minority groups and have stood by and watched as over 350,000 people were ethnically cleansed from the region (primarily the Serbs and Roma) and over 2,500 Serbs were abducted or killed.More than 200,000 Kosovo Serbs have left their homes as a result of extremist violence or fearing bloody reprisals from Albanians. The 80,000 to 120,000 Serbs who remain live in isolated enclaves, sometimes as small as a single apartment block, "protected" by NATO troops.

The continual
depletion of the number of NATO soldiers committed to Kosovo is a strong indication that little will be done to help these victims or prevent the further persecution of minorities in Kosovo.

As a result of this absence of multi-ethnic tolerance, the non-Albanian population of Kosovo is forced to live in ethnic ghettos. For those living in ghettos, it is not safe to travel freely. Consequently, they can only travel if KFOR provides an armed escort. The people are left to the mercy of the schedules and goodwill of the KFOR unit assigned to this escort task. Should the particular KFOR unit "not feel like" providing this service, trips to the hospital, the market, school, church or polling booths are not possible.

While Kosovos Serbian National Council has demanded that the
UN Security Council and NATO urgently develop a plan for the protection of the Serbian communities within the province, the reality is that the KFOR check-points, guaranteeing some level of security to the remaining Serbian enclaves, have all but disappeared.

The decision to remove the checkpoints was ordered by the UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosovo) administrator Michael Steiner, who believed that the security situation had improved significantly.

Mr. Steiners position was contradicted by the provinces UN Ombudsman, Marek Anton Novicki, who
stated that: "The situation is not in the least bit optimistic for the Serbs who have been expelled to return to urban regions, and at the moment there are no basic conditions for their return."

At the same time, the
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) claim that Kosovos minorities lack access to education, healthcare services and equitable employment.

The report issued by these organizations states that one concern is primarily the minority Serb and Roma populations, which find it harder to move around freely and therefore to live normal lives in Kosovo where ethnic Albanians are an overwhelming majority.

The question is then, on the foundation of what information does the UN Administrator base his position? The inconsistency in the two positions indicates an inherent lack of communication between the two UN agencies, the UNMIK and the UNHCR.

As a warning to the unfounded and bias position of the UNMIK, the incident rate of murder, terrorist activities and hate crimes in the region is, despite the presence of the international community, increasing.

NATO created
the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), a local constabulary allegedly comprised of terrorists from the supposedly disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). From the time of its establishment, this organization has presented only roadblocks in the path of those trying to establish stability in the region. The KPC is openly engaged in organized crime. They run the regions largest drug trafficking operations and fund themselves through protection rackets across Kosovo - shopkeepers, businessmen and contractors across the province (including Pristina, Suva Reka, Dragash, Istok and Prizren) are required to pay the KPC "protection". Instead of focusing on building and establishing the civic foundations for the future of Kosovo, the international community has been forced to commit its time and resources to investigating and persecuting the criminal and terrorist cells that exist within the KPC, and that operate not only within the province of Kosovo but have infiltrated Macedonia and other regions within Serbia as well.

Macedonia remains volatile after a 2001 conflict between ethnic
Albanian insurgents and Macedonian government troops. A renegade ethnic Albanian group, known as the "Albanian National Army", who operates from Kosovo, plans, organizes and executes occasional terrorist attacks in Macedonia. This group advocates the unification of ethnic Albanian-dominated areas in several Balkan countries.

It is clear that the UNMIK Mission in Kosovo has turned a blind eye to the corruption that has infiltrated this operation. It is impossible to imagine that the KPC, and those
groups similar to them, can operate their international-scale drug rings (to the extent that they have been tagged as the "heroin bridge" linking the orient and Europe), without the intentional ignorance of the UNMIK. The watchful leaders of the UNMIK appeared to have disregarded organized crime in Kosovo, and are seemingly unmotivated to take any action in combating the drug trafficking, prostitution rings, organized crime and threat of potential terrorism that exists in the province. Even the Albanian population in Kosovo has come to see that the UNMIK is clearly incapable of instituting positive and proactive change in the province.

Multi-ethnic tolerance in Kosovo
has not been established. The murder and persecution of ethnic minorities in the province not only continue to happen, but these incidents are not even reported by the provinces media outlets, which are of course, owned and operated by the Albanians. Moreover, anything and everything that bears any resemblance to a culture other than Albanian, is destroyed.

This politically corrupt and culturally intolerant climate continues to strengthen its hold on the province. And in spite of the efforts of renowned
international human rights agencies (such as Amnesty International), who have voiced their concerns over Kosovos oppressed minorities, nothing has been done to instigate change. Amnesty International has conclusively stated that: "Unless such rights can be guaranteed, minority refugees and internally displaced people in other parts of Serbia and Montenegro will be unable to return to their homes."

When assessing the shortcomings of progress in Kosovo, the ineffectiveness of the Government in Belgrade to take a proactive role cannot go unmentioned. As the primary stakeholder, Belgrade has failed to propose a constructive or detailed plan for their vision of the future of Kosovo. More importantly, the Serbian Government has been unable to create enough presence in order to hold the international force responsible and accountable in governing this province according to resolution 1244 and as an integral part of their sovereign state.

READ MORE:  http://www.balkanpeace.org/our/our14.shtml
Robert Fisk and others on Wesley Clark & Iraq: What is Happening Is An Absolute Slaughter Every Night of Iraqi People

Democracy Now!, September 18, 2003


ROBERT FISK: I have to say first of all about General Clark, that I was on the ground in Serbia in Kosovo when he ran the war there. He didn't seem to be very antiwar at the time. I had as one of my tasks to go out over and over again to look at the civilian casualties of that have war. At one point NATO bombed the hospital in which Yugoslav soldiers, against the rules of war, were hiding along with the patients and almost all the patients were killed. This was the war, remember, where the first attack was made on a radio station, the Serb Radio and Television building. Since then we've had attacks twice on the Al Jazeera television station. First of all in Afghanistan in 2001, then killing their chief correspondent, and again in Baghdad, this year. This was a general who I remember bombed series of bridges, in one of which an aircraft bombed the train and after, he'd seen the train and had come to a stop, the pilot bombed the bridge again. I saw one occasion when a plane came in, bombed a bridge over a river in Serbia proper, as we like to call it, and after about 12 minutes when rescuers arrived, a bridge too narrow even for tanks, bombed the rescuers. I remember General Clark telling us that more than 100 Yugoslav tanks had been destroyed in the weeks of that war. And when the war came to an end, we discovered number of Yugoslav tanks destroyed were 11. 100 indeed. So this was not a man, frankly whom, if I were an American, would vote for, but not being an American, I don't have to. . . . (read more)


How the battle lies were drawn
The Spectator - June 14, 2003

By: Neil Clark

The WMDs haven't turned up. In 1999 there was no genocide in Kosovo. But, says Neil Clark, Tony Blair has never allowed the facts to get in the way of a good war

If you ever get to Belgrade Zoo, don't miss the snake house. There, in nicely heated tanks, you will see two rather fearsome-looking pythons, one named Warren and the other Madeleine. The names of Bill Clinton's secretaries of state - Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright - will not be forgotten quickly in the capital of the former Yugoslavia. Seeing the two pythons slithering in their tanks reminded me of the murderous foreign policy of the Clinton administration and the enthusiastic support it received from New Labour.

For amid the present furore over the noshow of Iraqi WMDs, let us remember that in Kosovo our humanitarian Prime Minister dragged this country into an illegal, USsponsored war on grounds which later proved to be fraudulent. In 2003 Tony's Big Whopper was that Saddam's WMDs 'could be activated within 45 minutes'. In 1999 it was that Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia was 'set on a Hitler-style genocide equivalent to the extermination of the Jews during World War Two'. Clare Short now complains that the Prime Minister 'duped' the public over the non-existent Iraqi threat. But four years ago, Short and her fellow Cabinet resigner Robin Cook were enthusiastic collaborators in Blair's equally squalid campaign to 'dupe' the British public over Kosovo.

Cook's role in the war on Yugoslavia was described by the late Auberon Waugh as a 'national disgrace'. A closer examination of the part played by the former foreign secretary in the military conflict makes you wonder why he too did not end up commemorated in a Belgrade snake house.

Consider his role in the farcical 'peace negotiations' at Rambouillet - the successful conclusion of which Washington and London desired as much as they wanted Hans Blix's weapons inspectors to be able to complete their mission in Iraq.

Cook claimed that 'the reason they the Serbs refused to agree to the peace process was that they were not willing to agree to the autonomy of Kosovo, or for that autonomy to be guaranteed by an international military presence at all'. In fact, the Yugoslavs had by February 1999 already agreed to most of the autonomy proposals and had assented to a UN (but not Nato) peacekeeping team entering Kosovo.

It was the unwelcome prospect of Milosevic signing up to a peace deal and thereby depriving the US of its casus belli that caused Secretary of State Albright, with the connivance of Cook, to insert new terms into the Rambouillet accord purposely designed to be rejected by Belgrade. Appendix B to chapter seven of the document provided not only for the Nato occupation of Kosovo, but also for 'unrestricted access' for Nato aircraft, tanks and troops throughout Yugoslavia.

The full text of the Rambouillet document was kept secret from the public and came to light only when published in Le Monde Diplomatique on 17 April. By this time, the war was almost a month old and the casting of Milosevic as the 'aggressor' had already successfully been achieved.

The Kosovan war was, we were repeatedly told, fought 'to stop a humanitarian catastrophe'. 'It is no exaggeration to say that what is happening is racial genocide' - claimed the British Prime Minister - 'something we had hoped we would never again experience in Europe. Thousands have been murdered, 100,000 men are missing and hundreds forced to flee their homes and the country.' The Serbs were, according to the US State Department, 'conducting a campaign of forced population movement not seen in Europe since WW2'. One US Information Agency 'fact' sheet claimed that the number of Albanians massacred could be as high as 400,000. Undeterred by the complete lack of evidence to back up the claims of Washington and London, political pundits, from Lady Thatcher to Ken Livingstone, weighed in with op-ed pieces comparing Slobodan Milosevic to Adolf Hitler.

But despite its overwhelming military superiority, Nato's assault on Yugoslavia did not go according to plan. The second week of April was a particularly bad news week for the humanitarian interventionists. On 12 April Nato bombers hit a passenger train in southern Serbia, killing 10 civilians and injuring 16 others. It was also revealed that the alliance was, despite earlier denials, using depleted uranium. And, worst of all for the hawks in the US and Britain, EU leaders were due to meet to discuss a German peace plan which would involve a 24-hour suspension of bombing and UN peacekeepers entering Kosovo.

With public support for war faltering, and a Downing Street spokesman talking of a 'public-relations meltdown', it was time for the Lie Machine to go into overdrive. Dr Johnson believed patriotism to be the last refuge of the scoundrel. He clearly hadn't considered the invention of enemy rape camps. On 13 April an ashenfaced Robin Cook told journalists of 'fresh evidence' that 'young women are being separated from the refugee columns and forced to undergo systematic rape in an army camp at Djakovica near the Albanian border'. In fact, Cook's 'evidence' (which was founded solely on uncorroborated claims by Albanian refugees) was not 'fresh' at all, but had first been presented by US defense spokesman Kenneth Bacon at a press conference the week before. Not to be outdone by her Cabinet colleague, Clare Short also joined in enthusiastically to add breaches of women's rights to the long litany of Serb sins. 'The actual rape reports are still in the hundreds, ' claimed the International Development Secretary, 'but they're deliberate and organised and designed to humiliate, often in front of fathers and husbands and children, you know, just to give anguish and humiliation to the whole family.' For the record, the UNHCR found no evidence of a rape camp at Djakovica and even Human Rights Watch, the George Soros-financed NGO hardly known for its pro-Yugoslav stance, announced that it was 'concerned that Nato's use of rape camps to bolster support for the war relied on unconfirmed accounts'. The hysteria over Serb rape camps rallied support for the war, even though the next day an attack by a Nato plane on a convoy of Albanians killed 64 and wounded 20.

Apologists for the government now claim that we should not jump to hasty conclusions over the failure of coalition forces to find any Iraqi WMD. But as far as Kosovo is concerned, we have already had plenty of time to discover the truth.

When John Laughland, writing in The Spectator in November 1999, claimed that the mass graves in Kosovo were a 'myth', he was loudly denounced by Francis Wheen, Noel Malcolm and a whole host of Nato apologists and lap-top bombardiers.

Four years on, it is Wheen and the supporters of intervention in Kosovo who have the explaining to do. At the Trepca mine, where Nato told us that up to 700 bodies had been dumped in acid and whose name the Daily Mirror predicted would 'live alongside those of Belsen, Auschwitz and Treblinka', UN investigators found absolutely nothing, a pattern repeated at one Nato mass-grave site after another. To date, the total body count of civilians killed in Kosovo in the period 1997-99 is still fewer than 3,000, a figure that includes not only those killed in open fighting and during Nato air strikes, but also an unidentified number of Serbs.

Clearly it was an exaggeration - of Munchausenian proportions - for the Prime Minister to describe what happened in Kosovo as 'racial genocide'.

In both Kosovo and Iraq, the government's war strategy seems to have been threefold: 1. In order to whip up public support for war, tell lies so outrageous that most people will believe that no one would have dared to make them up. 2. When the conflict is over, dismiss questions about the continued lack of evidence as 'irrelevant' and stress alternative 'benefits' from the military action, e. g. , 'liberation' of the people. 3. Much later on, when the truth is finally revealed, rely on the fact that most people have lost interest and are now concentrating on the threat posed by the next new Hitler. An admission of the government's culpability for the Kosovan war only slipped out in July 2000, when Lord Gilbert, the ex-defence minister, told the House of Commons that the Rambouillet terms offered to the Yugoslav delegation had been 'absolutely intolerable' and expressly designed to provoke war.

Gilbert's bombshell warranted scarcely a line in the mainstream British media, which had been so keen to label the Yugoslavs the guilty party a year before.

Last week, to the party's eternal shame, only 11 Labour MPs voted for an independent judicial investigation into the way the British Prime Minister led us into war against Iraq. But, important as such an inquiry would be, it will not be enough.

What is also needed is a similar, concurrent investigation into how the Blair government also deceived the nation over Kosovo. New Labour, of course, would rather we all forgot about non-existent mass graves, mythical rape camps and phantom WMDs. The interests of democracy and accountable government - to say nothing of those killed in two shameful conflicts - mean that we must never do so.



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