by Eric Margolis © 1998 Eric Margolis
Six months ago, NATO ordered Serbia to halt ethnic cleansing in Kosova or face heavy air attacks. This was `the final warning,' thundered the world's most powerful alliance.
Six months later, ethnic cleansing continues unabated in the rebellious, Serb- controlled region, with three new offensives launched in the past week alone by the Serb army and paramilitary police.
Serb forces are using heavy artillery, tank fire, and heavy automatic weapons to raze villages and kill livestock. This scorched earth policy has driven 300,000 Albanian civilians into the forests and hills, where temperatures are already dropping to freezing at night, and snows will begin in another month. A third of all Albanian Kosovars are now refugees, living in the open like animals. So much for NATO's `final warning.'
As in Bosnia, Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic knows just how to play NATO. While NATO members fret and debate over Kosova, Serb forces press ahead with their campaign to drive most of Kosova's 2.1 million Albanians - 92% of the total population - out of the province and into neighboring Albania, Macedonia, or Montenegro. When NATO threatens military action to halt Serb savagery, Milosevic wrong-foots the alliance by quickly offering empty peace talks. Russia runs interference for Serbia's Slavic nazis at the UN.
Washington's foolish hopes that Serbia would merely crush lightly-armed Albanian independence fighters, and then halt operations, have been dashed by Milosevic's relentless attacks on Kosova's civilians. As a vast human tragedy engulfs Kosova, NATO and the UN Security Council are muttering again this week about air strikes against Serb forces.
Meanwhile, NATO's stage-managed election in Bosnia just went terribly wrong. Hard-line Serbs defeated the west's hand-picked `moderate' Serb candidate. The phony Dayton peace accords that suspended the war in Bosnia are unraveling.
Events in Albania were even more ominous. The leader of Albanian resistance fighters in Kosova, Ahmet Krasniqi, was murdered in Tirana, Albania's capital. The killers were either from Serbia's notorious intelligence service, or former Sigurimi agents, the brutal secret police who terrorized Albania during five decades of Stalinist rule.
Albania's government is now entirely controlled by old Stalinist communists. Sigurimi agents have returned from exile and are now waging a war of terror against former president Sali Berisha's pro-western democrats, and other anti- communists. Last week, Sigurimi assassins murdered a leading Democratic leader, Azem Hajdari, provoking massive anti-regime protests in Tirana.
Little Albania has splintered along tribal lines. In the south, Tosks, who dominated the old communist party, now run the regime in Tirana. The north belongs to Ghegs, fierce, anti-communist mountaineers. Sali Berisha, a Gheg, and Albania's most capable leader, is aiding Kosovar resistance forces. The communist in Tirana are stabbing their Albanian Kosovar compatriots in the back by trying to cut off their arms and supplies - and, now, killing Kosovar leaders.
Albania's neo-Stalinist regime was engineered into power by the west when Berish's government collapsed after financial scandals. Today, the communists are sustained by aid from the western powers and Italy's powerful communist party, which is seeking to restore marxism in the Balkans. Better the communists than anarchy, argues the west, completely ignoring Albania's democrats.
The communists in Tirana are doing NATO's bidding by sabotaging Kosova liberation fighters and helping keep Serbia-Yugoslavia together. So western money keeps flowing to these `reformed' murderers and torturers who ran postwar Europe's most nightmarish totalitarian regime.
The west sinks deeper each day into the Balkan morass, a victim of its own cowardice, indecision and contradictory policies.
Senator Bob Dole, just returned from Bosnia and Kosova, summed up the situation with his usual clarity and honesty. The most urgent issue was not President Clinton's flawed character, Dole said, but the questionable character of the United States. Two American presidents had vowed the horrors of Bosnia would not be allowed to happen in Kosova. But they are.
[Eric Margolis is a syndicated foreign affairs columnist and broadcaster based in Toronto, Canada.]
[The International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is principal organ of
the United Nations (UN), made an announcement a few days ago that Public
hearings in the case concerning Application of the Convention on the
Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and
Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro) will open on Monday February 27,
2006. This is the first time after the Nuremberg Trial that nations are
on trial for the crime of genocide. In the period from 1992 to 1995,
two countries of former Yugoslavia committed aggression over sovereign
nation of Republic Bosnia and Herzegovina and committed genocide by
killing over 250,000 innocent civilians. Just in Srebrenica 10,000
Muslim men and boys (ethnic Bosniacs) were killed, 15,000 Bosniacs
killed in Prijedor, and over 20,000 Bosniac women raped. 50% of
territory of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was cleansed from all
those who were non-ethnic Serbs (Bosniacs and Croats). In process,
aggressors destroyed all monuments of the non-ethnic Serb cultures,
including religious monuments and grave yards. All these crimes were
well documented at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia during the trials to individuals for the war crimes in Bosnia
and Herzegovina, including a trial of Mr. Milosevic, President of Serbia
and former Yugoslavia.
The war in Bosnia and Herzegovina ended with Dayton Agreement in
1995 which instead of punishing Serbia and Montenegro for aggression and
genocide, rewarded them by creating ethnic Serb state Serbian Republic
(Republika Srpska) on the territory of the sovereign nation of Republic
of Bosnia and Herzegovina. One signatory of the Dayton deal was Mr.
Milosevic who is now indicted for war crimes and genocide in Bosnia and
Herzegovina.--"Interview with Prof. Francis A. Boyle," Bosnian Congress
USA, February 19, 2005]
Copyright © 1998 Eric Margolis - All Rights Reserved