Sunday, February 17, 2008

"Happy" Kosovo independence day, world!

The "happy" news - Kosovo, a small territory mostly populated with Albanians and some Serbians, has just declared independence from Serbia - today, Sunday the 17th of February.

For a while now, NATO has been providing security and stability to the troubled region. Since Serbia has lost its war against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, USA and the rest of NATO, the NATO countries' politicians have been punishing Serbia for its loss.

Bit of a history lesson - Yugoslavia was an artificial country created after World War I by the victorious allies (the entente). It was a hodgepodge of three main ethnic groups - the moslem Bosnians, the catholic christian Croats and the orthodox christian Serbs.

Do you see the fucking problem right there?

The countries with a mix of different ethnic groups work sooo well (Iraq of course comes to mind, and so does Lebanon, which had an amazing civil war from 1975 to 1990. Perhaps war is saying too much - gangs fighting and committing atrocities and terrorist acts would be more apt.

So - 3 different ethnic groups, each having its own religion - in one country.
Just fucking brilliant.

The Yugoslavia civil war inevitably happened - 1991 to 1995. This was the main civil war, with the Serbians, still calling themselves Yugoslavia, trying to at first block and then keep as much territory as they could from the moslem Bosnians and the catholic Croats.

The Serbs decided to ethnically cleanse the terrain that they wanted in Serbia from Bosnians and Croats. This resulted in massacres, and mass graves of Serbian irregulars victims - such as this one.

This was less of a war, and more an ethnic cleansing.

And don't think that only Serbs did that stuff - all sides did it. The Croats did their own share of atrocities.

A great list of warcrimes during the Yugoslav civil war is found in the, as always, incomparable Wikipedia - here.

You can see from the wikipedia article that the perpetrators were usually Serbs and Croats, and the victims usually Bosnians.

It is not because the moslem Bosnians were angelic, turn the other cheek kind of folks. No, it is mostly because, speaking in militarty terms, in terms of weapons possessed, tanks, AK74's and such, they were the weakest of the three.

The Bosnian moslems tried hard to compete, but the numbers murdered by the Bosnians do not reach the scale of the Croats and Serbs. But they did try - from ritual beheadings to murder of 200 Croat and Serb civilians. It is true that the moslems suffered the most from the other two ethnic groups, but only because they were the weakest and each group trying to grab as much territory for itself as they could - by killing the other ethnic groups' civilians on said territory.

Yugoslavia was a lovely country...

Anyway, to make a long story short, the Croats and Bosnians decided that the Serbs were a danger to them both, stopped killing each other and started to concentrate on killing the Serbs.

NATO got into the act and started to bomb the hell out of the Serbs in Operation Deliberate Force.

And the civil war in Yugoslavia was over... about 150-250 thousand deaths later.

Yugoslavia - a lovely country it was.

But wait - there is more!
You see, in their wisdom, the powers that be that created this artificial country, included a fourth ethnic group in the mix - the Albanians.

The trouble was in Kosovo, which is a province of Yugoslavia/Serbia populated mostly with ethnic Albanians. And of course, they wanted independence too.

The Serbs did the usual - torture chambers for Albanians, the deportation of several hundred Albanians and deportation of 850,000 Albanians (story here).

Of course, the Albanians did what any self respecting insurgency would do - namely, terrorism aka guerrilla war. The Kosovo Liberation Army, the KLA (catchy ain't it?) was formed and duly started to kill off Serb police, civilians and the like. And the Serbs started to pursue the guerrillas, resulting in the inevitable civilian deaths, such as the two other villages in Drenica: Cirez and Likošane. From the human rights article linked:

In both cases, special police forces attacked without warning, firing indiscriminately at women, children and other noncombatants. Helicopters and military vehicles sprayed village rooftops with gunfire before police forces entered the village on foot, firing into private homes. A pregnant woman, Rukia Nebihi, was shot in the face, and four brothers from one family were killed, apparently while in police custody. Ten members of the Ahmeti family were summarily executed by the police.
(...)
eighty-three people died, including at least twenty-four women and children.
(...)
One woman in the house, Merci Ahmeti, told a journalist from the Times:
All of our men walked out to protect the rest of us. The police beat them unconscious. Then they told us to lie on the ground and kept some policemen to watch over us for the next four hours. We heard screams outside and shots. We do not know what happened, but I knew then they were no longer alive.

The list of abuses, executions and beatings by the Serbian police forces goes on and on in that article. It's a decent read if you are particularly bored.

Of course, inevitably, NATO got involved yet again, and yet again bombed the hell out of Serbians. Happened in 1999, was called Operation Allied Force and was a success - peace broke out and everybody was happy. Hooray!

Errrr... of course not.

First, as is usual in the Yugoslavia area, the KLA were not nearly the angels portrayed by the Western media. Another Human Rights article:

the KLA was responsible for serious abuses in 1998, including abductions and murders of Serbs and ethnic Albanians considered collaborators with the state. In some villages under KLA control in 1998, the rebels drove ethnic Serbs from their homes. Some of those who remained are unaccounted for and are presumed to have been abducted by the KLA and killed. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, ninety-seven Kosovo Serbs who went missing in 1998 were still missing as of May 15, 2000.

The KLA detained an estimated eighty-five Serbs during its July 19, 1998, attack on Orahovac. Thirty-five of these people were subsequently released but the others remain missing as of August 2001. On July 22, 1998, the KLA briefly took control of the Belacevac mine near Obilic. Nine Serbs were captured that day, and they remain on the ICRC's list of the missing.

Elements of the KLA are also responsible for post-conflict attacks on Serbs, Roma, and other non-Albanians, as well as ethnic Albanian political rivals. Immediately following NATO's arrival in Kosovo, there was widespread and systematic burning and looting of homes belonging to Serbs, Roma, and other minorities and the destruction of Orthodox churches and monasteries. This destruction was combined with harassment and intimidation designed to force people from their homes and communities. By late-2000 more than 210,000 Serbs had fled the province; most of them left in the first six weeks of the NATO deployment.
.

Reread the last paragraph please, as it explains the situation that came about just now in the oh so happy Kosovo independence day, then think on what you just read.

Done?

What happened once the KFOR, the NATO force sent in as a peacekeeping force and to protect all parties, in effect supervised the ethnic cleansing done by the Albanians done on the Serbs and the Roma Gypsies, brutally ethnically cleansed by Albanian "freedom fighters".

A campaign of intimidation took place, resulting in over 200,000 Serbs (and Gypsies) fleeing for their lives from their own homes to Serbia. KFOR did a bang up job of protecting the Albanians, perhaps not so good protecting the Serbs and the Gypsies (Roma)...

So think on what you just read - NATO force moves in and looks on as christian churches are burned and the christians (of the orthodox variety) are ethnically cleansed from their homes.
The Serbians run for their lives from their own homes...

Way to go NATO and the USA!
Heck of a job being impartial!

So now we have the "happy" day of Kosovo independence - the Reuters article is here. After the Serbs have run away, the Gypsies run for their lives, all that was left in the province was the NATO "protection" (sic) force and the ethnic Albanians.

So of course - all that was left for the Albanians to do was to declare "independence".

I have a few issues with this "happy" scenario.

First, there never was a nation of Kosovo. What always was, though was the fact that the Albanians in the Kosovo area wanted to split from Serbia (or Yugoslavia) and join Albania. Perhaps that is why the Reuters article informs us that "Ethnic Albanians partied in the streets of the Kosovo capital Pristina, and in Tirana in neighbouring Albania".

The reason why ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs in Kosovo is: Middle Ages Ottoman Turkey and World War 2. During WW2 conflict, Albanians sided with Hitler, forming an SS division called Skanderbeg . The Albanian SS division fought against communist anti Nazi guerrillas (Croat led - Tito was an ethnic Croat - but mainly Serbian in membership). Of course, SS division Skanderbeg participated in ethnic cleansing of Serbs during its existence.

As we all know, Nazi Germany lost that WW2 fracas.

Yugoslavia, after World War 2, was a communist country, which was kept on a tight leash by its Communist Party led by Tito (born as Croat Josip Broz). To that end, any stirrings of ethnic unrest were brutally squashed, whether Serbian, Albanian, Croat or Bosnian.

It seemed to work while Tito was alive.

The most interesting aspect of that "holding Yugoslavia together at all costs" Communist policy that explains the Kosovo mess was the fact that "the people of Serbia, who had been expelled from Kosovo and Metohija during World War II were prohibited return to their ancient homes" by the Communist government to ease the ethnic tensions - see here.

That explains why the Albanians outnumber the Serbs in the province so heavily, 9:1 by some counts. The trend started by the turks in XV thru XVII Centuries - see here - was continued by the Communist government, attempting to minimize ethnic strife.
In the late 17th century Serbs left Kosovo in large numbers as a result of military victories of the Ottoman Turks. This caused the Serbian "center of gravity" to move northward to the region of Belgrade where it has remained ever since. This displacement of the Serb population is known in history as "the great migration".

And there you have the answer to the question: If this is the soul of Serbia, why does it now have 90% Albanian population?

And Kosovo is a mythical part of the Serbian soul (if I can wax poetic here); in fact, the Serbs consider it a cradle of their country. Their mythical place. A part of Serbia. "By 1190 Kosovo had become the administrative and cultural center of the medieval Serbian state ruled by the powerful Nemanjic dynasty. This dynasty lasted 200 years and still today Kosovo is known by Serbians as "Old Serbia"."

And it is not just the hardcore nationalists - there is no Serb alive today who will disagree with that assessment of Kosovo being uniquely Serbian.

All of them think so, from the young to the old.

Nicky Gardner, editor of Hidden Europe Magazine, writing about one of the countless Serbian medieval era orthodox christian monasteries:
There is something of the Serbian soul in this monastery, and any decent settlement for Kosovo’s future really should include some accommodation for Serbian shrines and holy places that lie within the territory of the would-be independent republic. Kosovo’s religious art, be it at Gracanica or elsewhere in Kosovo, is one of Serbia’s prize cultural assets, and so surely not something that will be given up lightly.


Kosovo independence is now but a short stop gap measure before Kosovo asks to join Albania. A great injustice has been done.

For the record, I am neither Serbian, Croat, Bosnian nor Albanian. I have no blood in my family from the Balkans, and am not Russian either before someone accuses me of being one and siding with the orthodox christian Serbs.

Bonus Material: The Historical Precedent.
Simply put - in a big country, a small area populated with a minority population has declared independence from its larger country.

All the Western European countries and the USA supported their right to do so.

Let us see now how those countries have dealt in the past and are dealing now with their own ethnic minorities.

Surely they allow a vote, and in a democratic process, if the ethnic minority wants independence they grant it?

Otherwise they would be hypocritical and make them look like jackasses in this Kosovo situation?

Spain:
MADRID - Police arrested 24 people in Spain's Basque region on Thursday during a day of strikes called by the radical left in protest at the banning of parties linked to violent separatists ETA.

Strikers, mostly teachers and academic staff according to the regional government's labour department, held banners reading "No to the violence of persecution, no to the banning of ideas".

Spain's High Court banned two Basque parties for three years on Friday because of links to the guerrilla group ETA, preventing their participation in next month's general election.


And what about UK, and its so called "troubles" with Northern Ireland?:

Both of these cases - the Basques in Spain, and the Irish who want to split the Northern Ireland from the UK - are very much so like the Kosovo scenario.

Hypocrisy.

And of course, there is another people who never historically were a country, who are forced to live in a nation that oppresses them and tries to make them leave - by an economic blockade, by using aggressive religious settlers to populate the areas.

Palestine in Israel.

What is good for the goose... is good for the gander.

I expect the even handed UN, NATO, USA to settle the Basque, Northern Ireland and Palestine issues post haste - first get NATO peacekeepers in there, then allow them to declare independence.

Fair is fair.

And what about the German minority in Poland? The Russian substantial minority in the Ukraine? The Ossetian and Abkhazia issue? The Russian minority in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia?

Perhaps the moslem immigrants in the UK should declare independence in parts of London and declare a new country? And Paris should by now be called "The New Morocco-Algeria Federation"...

The possibilities are endless.

The precedent has been set.

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