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9/19/2017 7:27:10 PM
Posted: 12/16/2003 12:02:55 PM EDT
Crime, terror flourish in 'liberated' Kosovo
Ethnic cleansing, smuggling rampant under UN's aegis

Isabel Vincent
National Post

December 10, 2003

Four years after it was "liberated" by a NATO bombing campaign, Kosovo has deteriorated into a hotbed of organized crime, anti-Serb violence and al-Qaeda sympathizers, say security officials and Balkan experts.

Though nominally still under UN control, the southern province of Serbia is today dominated by a triumvirate of Albanian paramilitaries, mafiosi and terrorists. They control a host of smuggling operations and are implementing what many observers call their own brutal ethnic cleansing of minority groups, such as Serbs, Roma and Jews.

In recent weeks, UN officials ordered the construction of a fortified concrete barrier around the UN compound on the outskirts of the provincial capital Pristina. This is to protect against terrorist strikes by Muslim extremists who have set up bases of operation in what has become a largely outlaw province.

Minority Serbs, who were supposed to have been guaranteed protection by the international community after the 78-day NATO bombing campaign ended in the spring of 1999, have abandoned the province en masse. The last straw for many was the recent round of attacks by ethnic Albanian paramilitaries bent on gaining independence through violence.

Attacks on Serbs in Kosovo, a province of two million people, have risen sharply.

According to statistics collected by the UN criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague, 1,192 Serbs have been killed, 1,303 kidnapped and 1,305 wounded in Kosovo this year.

In June, 1999, just after the NATO bombing, 547 Serbs were killed and 932 were kidnapped.

Last summer, in one of the more grisly massacres, two Serb youths were killed and four others wounded by ethnic Albanian militants while swimming in the Bistrica River, near Pec.

The violence continues despite an 18,000-strong NATO-led peacekeeping force and an international police force of more than 4,000.

Serbs, who now make up 5% of the population of Kosovo, down from 10% before the NATO campaign, are the main targets of the paramilitary groups.

The bombing was partly launched by NATO countries to end the ethnic cleansing of Albanians by Serb security forces in the region. In its immediate aftermath, many Serbs left Kosovo to settle in other parts of Yugoslavia, now known as Serbia and Montenegro.

Last week, Harri Holkeri, the province's UN leader, suspended two generals and 10 other officers, all members of an ethnic Albanian offshoot of the Kosovo Liberation Army, an insurgent group that emerged in the late 1980s to fight Serb security forces.

Mr. Holkeri made his decision -- the strongest UN response to violence in the province so far -- after a UN inquiry into the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC). Although the civilian defence organization is supposed to help local residents, over the past four years, its mostly ethnic Albanian military officials have been involved in violent confrontations with Serbs.

The inquiry found last April's bomb attack on a Kosovo railway was the work of the KPC.

"The whole process of rebuilding Kosovo-Metohija as a democratic, multi-ethnic society failed due to both the inability of the UN mission and [NATO] forces to protect Serbs and other non-Albanians from large-scale ethnic cleansing, this time primarily against Serbs," said Dusan Batakovic, a Serb diplomat and leading expert on Kosovo.

Dr. Batakovic and other Balkan experts, who attended a conference in Toronto last month to discuss Kosovo's future, say the situation is deteriorating rapidly.

"NATO forces made a real mess of Kosovo," said James Bissett, a former Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia. "The bombing of Yugoslavia was a dreadful failure on humanitarian grounds. It failed to stop ethnic cleansing, which has continued after the so-called peace treaty."

In addition, "Balkan Taliban" -- Muslim ethnic Albanian paramilitary groups -- have vandalized Serb cemeteries and destroyed many of the region's Orthodox Christian monasteries and churches.

"This is a strategy of cutting Kosovo Serbs off from their historical and religious traditions," said Dr. Batakovic in his report to the North American Society of Serbian Studies conference.

Moreover, Kosovo has turned into one of Europe's biggest hubs for drug trafficking and terrorism.

Al-Qaeda has set up bases in the province, which has become an important centre for heroin, cigarette, gasoline and people smuggling.

The Albanian mafia and paramilitary groups, which security officials say are closely tied to al-Qaeda militants in the region, also oversee smuggling. More than 80% of Western Europe's heroin comes through Kosovo, where several drug laboratories have been set up, Interpol officials say.

During the wars (1991-99) that led to the breakup of Yugoslavia, drugs and other commodities were smuggled through Bulgaria and Turkey to Western Europe.

Now, more than 5,000 tonnes of heroin pass directly through Kosovo every month. In a recent article in Serbia's Vreme magazine, Kosovo was referred to as the "republic of heroin."

"The Albanians have become the alpha and omega of the drugs trade in southeast Europe," said Marko Nicovic, chairman of the International Police Association for the Fight Against Drugs.

"There are two reasons for this. The first is the fact that Kosovo is now under the control of the Albanian mafia lobby and the criminal police do not operate there. This is literally a paradise for all kinds of crime, especially narcotics."

The Albanian mafia also control trafficking in cigarettes, weapons, gasoline and women. Dozens of young women from impoverished towns and villages in the region are forced into prostitution rings centred in Kosovo, security officials say. Many of the women are taken by mobsters to work in Western European countries.

There is little consensus on the way ahead.

Many Serbs and moderate ethnic Albanian politicians would like a decision on Kosovo's legal status -- should it remain a province of Serbia or become independent?

Many ethnic Albanians are calling for independence, but their more extremist elements would like to fold the province into a Greater Albania that would see ethnic Albanians take over the mostly Albanian regions of neighbouring Macedonia as well.

The Serb government in Belgrade wants Kosovo to continue as part of Serbia.

Although it is four years since the NATO bombing, talks on Kosovo's future began only recently. Serb and ethnic Albanian leaders met in Vienna in October to discuss transportation and the return of Serb refugees to Kosovo.

"At this point, the chances for Kosovo remaining in Serbia are pretty slim," Mr. Bissett said. "There is a powerful Albanian lobby in the United States that is determined to make Kosovo independent."

Moreover, many Serb leaders know that to attract the much-needed aid and investment, they will need to give way on Kosovo, experts say.

In the meantime, the situation is expected to get worse, with renewed threats of violence against both the United Nations and Serbs in the province.

"It's a terrible situation," said Mr. Bissett. "If the United Nations and other organizations can't handle Kosovo, you wonder how they are going to do with something like Iraq."

© National Post 2003
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 12:12:53 PM EDT
Clark in 2004!!! -HS
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 12:16:43 PM EDT
Locally, they are running a commercial for Clark telling how he was a war hero in 'Nam and that Bosnia shows what a good leader he would make as Prez. OOpppss. Mebbe it weren't such a good think to bring up that whole Kosovo thing.
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 12:18:38 PM EDT
I don't get it...He's not even mentioned in the article. clue me in...
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 12:25:54 PM EDT
F*ck Wesley Clark, all he did was follow orders. Hell, anyone can drop bombs from 10,000 ft. One thing that this should prove, the UN cannot run anything. All you ever here the liberals saying is the UN this and the UN that. Here is a perfect example of the UN doing exactly what they do best.... Nothing. They are a bureaucracy at the highest level, and multinational at that. No one making decisions, and no one taking responsibility for anything. The next time you hear someone saying that the UN should be running something, point to Kosovo.
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 12:34:46 PM EDT
Yugoslavia is one of those areas of the world destined to be a source of insanity and strife until we get tired of them and turn the place into a parking lot.
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 12:36:11 PM EDT
Another mess the UN f*cked up, and that the US military and taxpayers will have to clean up.....[rolleyes]
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 12:37:54 PM EDT
Originally Posted By 338winmag: F*ck Wesley Clark, all he did was follow orders. Hell, anyone can drop bombs from 10,000 ft. One thing that this should prove, the UN cannot run anything. All you ever here the liberals saying is the UN this and the UN that. Here is a perfect example of the UN doing exactly what they do best.... Nothing. They are a bureaucracy at the highest level, and multinational at that. No one making decisions, and no one taking responsibility for anything. The next time you hear someone saying that the UN should be running something, point to Kosovo.
View Quote
Dropping bombs from 10,000 feet isn't as easy as it sounds. But you're right, the UN is a funked up organization whose efficiency died a long time ago, shortly after it began. Let me be clear though, are you speaking of the UN? Or NATO? For the record, Wes Clark stated if you want assault weapons, you should join the military, cause they have thousands of them. Thanks Clark, that confirmed my vote in 2004.
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 12:51:17 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/16/2003 12:53:27 PM EDT by DOW]
Can't you picture Madeline Albright pronouncing Kosovo "KOSOVA" like the ethnic Albanians do? Remember that? That silly, fat, dumpy, ground hugging, frumpy, joke of a cunt had a big hand in creating a new haven for Al-Queda in Kosovo. We have her, Clinton and the rest of that administration to thank as they were the driving force behind creating the abortion that is contemporary liberated Kosovo. Thanks!
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 1:03:29 PM EDT
No surprise - the [b]U[/b]seless [b]N[/b]ations screwing up [b]another[/b] country. Why is it that so many people still see the UN as something glorious and wonderful. Oh, nevermind. I know why - the world is full of sheeple. CMOS
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 1:38:24 PM EDT
Originally Posted By MAC-DADDY: I don't get it...He's not even mentioned in the article. clue me in...
View Quote
Ol' Wes touts operations in the former Yugoslavia as his "success story" and a good reason to make him the next President.
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 4:28:24 PM EDT
The only way to keep "relative" peace in the Balkans is just like the Middle East. Arm both sides equally so neither side has the upper hand. There will be small squabbles here and there and that is the best it will ever be.
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 4:33:34 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Jarhead_22:
Originally Posted By MAC-DADDY: I don't get it...He's not even mentioned in the article. clue me in...
View Quote
Ol' Wes touts operations in the former Yugoslavia as his "success story" and a good reason to make him the next President.
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Isn't it ironic as hell that the ones touting his part in that boondogle of an operation are the very ones critizing Bush's supposed "lack of a plan" in Iraq, and we haven't even been there a year yet. Hmmmmm.
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 4:49:14 PM EDT
first thing i thought when i saw his 'military service' commercials was, that the whole time he was in the service he was a Republican, he didn't turn democrat until he decided to be a sleazeball politician
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 5:12:23 PM EDT
Come on you guys, cut the crap and quit pickin on the UN. I mean look at the swell job they did in Rwanda and Somalia...!
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 5:51:41 PM EDT
When I see his Service Commercial all I can think of is Body Count Clark! Not my vote in 2004! Bob [shock]
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 9:25:23 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/16/2003 9:26:10 PM EDT by raven]
Originally Posted By 95thFoot: Another mess the UN f*cked up, and that the US military and taxpayers will have to clean up.....[rolleyes]
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Ditto. The shitty situation in the Balkans right now is mainly a function of the UN's mismanagement, not Clark. That's why I laught when I hear pundits and the 9 dwarves bleating for help from the UN in Iraq. Why? So they can fuck everything up as usual? Fill out the ranks of their useless bureaucrats who do nothing? Not that it matters anyway. The UN's too cowardly to go anywhere near Iraq. Their Iraq office is in Cyprus, over 1000 miles away.
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 10:08:13 PM EDT
Originally Posted By 338winmag: F*ck Wesley Clark, all he did was follow orders. Hell, anyone can drop bombs from 10,000 ft. One thing that this should prove, the UN cannot run anything. All you ever here the liberals saying is the UN this and the UN that. Here is a perfect example of the UN doing exactly what they do best.... Nothing. They are a bureaucracy at the highest level, and multinational at that. No one making decisions, and no one taking responsibility for anything. The next time you hear someone saying that the UN should be running something, point to Kosovo.
View Quote
Wasn't NATO the principal in Bosnia? [devil]
Link Posted: 12/16/2003 10:11:04 PM EDT
... Never ceases to amaze me the number of people that don't know about him.
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