Kosovo’s stark warning

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Kosovo's US-backed declaration of independence is deeply troubling. By setting a precedent of legitimizing the secession of disaffected minorities, it weakens the long-term viability of multi-ethnic states. In so doing, it destabilizes the already stressed state-based international system.

States as diverse as Canada, Morocco, Spain, Georgia, Russia and China currently suffer problems with politicized minorities. They are deeply concerned by the Kosovo precedent. Even the US has latent sovereignty issues with its increasingly politicized Hispanic minority along its border with Mexico. It may one day experience a domestic backlash from its support for Kosovar independence from Serbia.

Setting aside the global implications, it is hard to see how Kosovo constitutes a viable state. Its 40 percent unemployment is a function of the absence of proper economic and governing infrastructures.

In November, a European Commission report detailed the Kosovo Liberation Army's failure to build functioning governing apparatuses. The report noted that "due to a lack of clear political will to fight corruption, and to insufficient legislative and implementing measures, corruption is still widespread… Civil servants are still vulnerable to political interference, corrupt practices and nepotism." Moreover, "Kosovo's public administration remains weak and inefficient."

The report continued, "The composition of the government anti-corruption council does not sufficiently guarantee its impartiality," and "little progress can be reported in the area of organized crime and combating of trafficking in human beings."

Additionally, the prosecution of Albanian war criminals is "hampered by the unwillingness of the local population to testify" against them. This is in part due to the fact that "there is still no specific legislation on witness protection in place."

The fledgling failed-state of Kosovo is a great boon for the global jihad. It is true that Kosovar Muslims by and large do not subscribe to radical Islam. But it is also true that they have allowed their territory to be used as bases for al-Qaida operations; that members of the ruling Kosovo Liberation Army have direct links to al-Qaida; and that the Islamic world as a whole perceived Kosovo's fight for independence from Serbia as a jihad for Islamic domination of the disputed province.

According to a 2002 Wall Street Journal report, al-Qaida began operating actively in Kosovo, and in the rest of the Balkans, in 1992. Osama bin Laden visited Albania in 1996 and 1997. He received a Bosnian passport from the Bosnian Embassy in Austria in 1993. Acting on bin Laden's orders, in 1994 his deputy, Ayman Zawahiri set up training bases throughout the Balkans including one in Mitrovica, Kosovo. The Taliban and al-Qaida set up drug trafficking operations in Kosovo to finance their operations in Afghanistan and beyond.

In 2006, John Gizzi reported in Human Events that the German intelligence service BND had confirmed that the 2005 terrorist bombings in Britain and the 2004 bombings in Spain were organized in Kosovo. Furthermore, "The man at the center of the provision of the explosives in both instances was an Albanian, operating mostly out of Kosovo… who is the second ranking leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Niam Behzloulzi."

Then, too, at its 1998 meeting in Pakistan, the Organization of the Islamic Conference declared that the Albanian separatists in Kosovo were fighting a jihad. The OIC called on the Muslim world to help "this fight for freedom on the occupied Muslim territories."

Supporters of Kosovo claim that as victims of "genocide," Kosovar Muslims deserve independence. But if the Muslims in Kosovo have been targeted for annihilation by the Serbs, then how is it that they have increased from 48% of the population in 1948 to 92% today? Indeed, Muslims comprised only 78% of the population in 1991, the year before Yugoslavia broke apart.

In recent years particularly, it is Kosovo's Serbian Christians, not its Albanian Muslims, who are targeted for ethnic cleansing. Since 1999, two-thirds of Kosovo's Serbs – some 250,000 people – have fled the area.

The emergence of a potentially destabilizing state in Kosovo is clearly an instance of political interests trumping law. Under international law, Kosovo has no right to be considered a sovereign state. Even UN Security Council Resolution 1244 from 1999, which the KLA claims provides the legal basis for Kosovar sovereignty, explicitly recognizes Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo.

For Israel, Kosovo's US-backed declaration of independence should be a source of alarm great enough to require a rethinking of foreign policy. Unfortunately, rather than understand and implement the lessons of Kosovo, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government is working actively to ensure that they are reenacted in the international community's treatment of Israel and the Palestinians. Today, Israel is enabling the Palestinians to set the political and legal conditions for the establishment of an internationally recognized state of Palestine that will be at war with Israel.

By accepting the "Road Map Plan to a Two-State Solution" in 2004, Israel empowered the US, the EU, Russia and the UN, who comprise the international Quartet, to serve as judges of Palestinian and Israeli actions toward one another. In November 2007, at the Annapolis conference, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government explicitly empowered the US to "monitor and judge the fulfillment of the commitment of both sides of the road map."

That these moves have made Israel dependent on the kindness of strangers was made clear this week when Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni instructed Israel's ambassadors to launch a campaign to convince the international community that Israel and the Palestinians are making great strides in their negotiations toward the establishment of a Palestinian state. Livni's move was precipitated by growing European and US dissatisfaction with the pace of those negotiations and by reports from the meeting of Quartet members in Berlin on February 11. There all members voiced anger at the slow pace of negotiations and opposition to Israel's military actions in Gaza, which are aimed at protecting the western Negev from rocket and mortar attacks.

The US representative at the Quartet's meeting, Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, reportedly told his colleagues, "First, we must not allow the suicide bombing in Dimona and the shooting on Sderot to affect the negotiations."

Welch reportedly added, "It is also important to us that neither the Palestinians in Gaza nor the Israelis in Sderot are hurt. Also, we must continue to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas and Salaam Fayad."

Moreover, Ran Koriel, Israel's ambassador to the EU, reportedly warned Livni that the Russians are pushing for the re-establishment of a Fatah-Hamas government. Several EU states, including France, are reconsidering their refusal to recognize Hamas.

If Israel had not empowered the Quartet generally and the US specifically to determine whether the PA and Israel are behaving properly, a European or Russian decision to recognize Hamas would have little impact. But given their role as arbiters, Quartet members can take punitive action against Israel if it fails to comply with their wishes. The Quartet can replace international law in determining who can assert sovereignty over Gaza, Judea and Samaria and how Israel can exercise its own sovereignty. And so, Livni is reduced to begging them not to recognize Hamas.

Once the US decided in 1999 to commit its own forces to NATO's bombing of Serbia and subsequent occupation of Kosovo, the jig was up for Serbian sovereignty over the area. The fact is, NATO forces in Kosovo were deployed for the express purpose of blocking Serbia from exercising its sovereignty over Kosovo, no
t to prevent violence between the Kosovars and the Serbs or among the Muslims and Christians in Kosovo. That is, NATO deployed in Kosovo to enable it to gain independence.

And if US or NATO forces are deployed to Gaza or Judea and Samaria, they will not be there to protect Israelis from Palestinian terror or to prevent the areas from acting as global terror bases. They will be there to establish a Palestinian state.

Failing to understand the meaning of Kosovo, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government refuses to understand this point. Indeed, the government is actively lobbying NATO to deploy forces in Gaza. Just as it wrongly hoped that UNIFIL forces in south Lebanon would fight Hizbullah for it, so today, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government insists that NATO forces in Gaza will fight Hamas for it.

If applying the lessons of UNIFIL to Gaza is too abstract for the Olmert-Livni-Barak government, Israel has experience with EU monitors in Gaza itself to learn from. Wrongly assuming that the Europeans shared Israel's interest in preventing terrorists and weapons from entering Gaza, Israel requested that EU monitors set up shop at the Rafah terminal linking Gaza to Egypt after Israel withdrew from the border in 2005. Yet whenever confronted by Fatah and Hamas terrorists, rather than fight the EU monitors flee to Israel for protection. And its monitors' experience with Palestinian terrorists taking over the border has never caused the EU to question its support for Palestinian statehood.

Then, too, since the US, EU, UN and Russia all consider Gaza, Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to be one territorial unit, it is not surprising that Israel's request for NATO forces in Gaza has been greeted by a US plan to deploy NATO forces in Judea and Samaria. If NATO forces in Gaza would do nothing to secure the border with Egypt or to fight terrorists and would scuttle Israeli operations in the area, NATO forces in Judea and Samaria would not simply prevent Israel from protecting its citizens who live there. They would also prevent Israel from taking action to prevent the Palestinians from attacking central Israel and asserting control over the border with Jordan. And yet, as The Jerusalem Post reported this week, Israel is conducting talks with the US regarding just such a NATO deployment.

What the Serbs made NATO fight its way in to achieve, Israel is offering NATO on a silver platter.

Not surprisingly, Abbas's adviser and PA propaganda chief Yasser Abd Rabbo reacted to Kosovo's declaration of independence by recommending that the Palestinians follow the example. Abd Rabbo said, "Kosovo is not better than us. We deserve independence even before Kosovo, and we ask for the backing of the United States and the European Union for our independence."

For its part, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government has responded to Kosovo's declaration of independence with customary confusion. But the lessons of Kosovo are clear. Not only should Israel join Russia, Canada, China, Spain, Romania and many others in refusing to recognize Kosovo. It should also state that as a consequence of Kosovo's independence, Israel rejects the deployment of any international forces to Gaza or Judea and Samaria, and refuses to cede its legal right to sovereignty in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem to international arbitration.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

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  • Marc Handelsman 02/22/2008 at 19:30

    The current Israeli regime may eventually recognize Kosovo, and allow NATO forces to patrol near the Green Line. If these events occur, an independent Palestine could become a reality. Israelis must persuade Shas to leave the government, and bring on new elections. The consequences of inaction include: reduced territory for Israel, and a radicalized Palestine with Israel’s destruction on its agenda.

  • LazarOfSerbia 02/22/2008 at 21:54

    Excellent article Caroline! For all who are not familiar with the Balkans, there’s great documentary “Yugoslavia – The Avoidable War”:
    1. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5860186121153047571
    2. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6371060303901674397

  • dona 02/23/2008 at 4:10

    the war was not about Muslims and Christians in Kosovo but albanens kosovar and serbs…Its tru that many albanens are muslim, but many are also katolics and juw’s. read more about the konflikt before you write.
    so stop making this about islam and muslims… War, conflict is about power, money, hate and other stupied things… albaniens don’t diffined them by religion byt language and culture

  • 33rd 02/23/2008 at 11:17

    You weaken any other arguments you might have by being such an absolutist towards anything Moslem.
    As a Croatian American after reading the Jewish ciommunitie’s comments at LGF all I can say is-that you are Instant Experts.
    Trust me you cannot be a partime internet expert on the Austro-Hungarian empire.
    Here start with googling Tito and try not to get too hung up on the “communist” label.
    “on 22 June 1941 (the day of the German invasion of the Soviet Union) in the Brezovica forest near the city of Sisak, Croatia, the communist partisans formed the famous First Sisak Partisan Brigade (mostly consisting of Croats from the nearby city). This shows that Tito, in fact, took advantage of the Pact to prepare as best he could for the inevitable, so that his men could rise up on the very first day of Operation Barbarossa. Despite the delays caused by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, this unit was one of the earliest anti-fascist military formations in Europe.
    The communist partisans soon began a widespread and successful guerrilla campaign and started liberating chunks of territory. The activities of the partisans provoked the Germans into “retaliation” against civilians. These retaliations resulted in mass murders (for each killed German soldier, 100 civilians were to be killed and for each wounded.”
    Then follow that up with a little study of the “Bloody Buckets” and the ethnicity of that unit.
    What you are doing here is absolute ugliness.

  • Adrian 02/23/2008 at 11:34

    Is it unfortunate that the thick fog of the Serbian lies and propaganda have filled the internet and blogs where people without knowledge pose as experts with “facts” straight out of Serbian Ministry of Disinformation. Many “facts” that you mention in your article are simply lies. I will deal with only a few. You say that “Osama bin Laden visited Albania in 1996 and 1997”. This is purely a fabrication, Osama bin Laden has never been in Albania, this was confirmed by the Albanian Minister of Interior in 2001. This is a lie spread out by the Serbian propaganda machine.
    “al-Qaida began operating actively in Kosovo, in 1992” ???
    “in 1994 his deputy, Ayman Zawahiri set up training bases throughout the Balkans including one in Mitrovica, Kosovo” ???
    Wow, what kind of fiction is this? For anyone that have the slightest idea about the timeline of the Kosova conflict, this is dowright ludicrous. Armed conflict in Kosova didn’t start until 1998 with the appearance of KLA (Kosova Liberation Army), and their initial sporadic attacks on the Serbian military. In 1992 and 1994, there were no bases or training camps anywhere in Kosova, in fact the situation there was under the firm grip of the Yugo army (VJ), Serbian police (MUP) and the Security Services. Kosova had been under a virtual martial law since 1989 when Milosevic striped the province of its autonomy, and ruled the province with an iron hand. The police state that he installed was so thorough that from 1990 until 1997, Amnesty International estimated that nearly 75% of the adult population had been called at least once in the so-called “informative talks” with the police that were in fact police interrogations in which many simply disappeared.
    Further, you state: “But if the Muslims in Kosovo have been targeted for annihilation by the Serbs, then how is it that they have increased from 48% of the population in 1948 to 92% today? Indeed, Muslims comprised only 78% of the population in 1991, the year before Yugoslavia broke apart.”
    Even before Serbia invaded Kosova in 1913, Albanians constituted an overwhelming majority of the population of Kosova. According to Brailsford, in 1906, more than two-thirds of the population of Kosovo was Albanian. According to the official census of 1921 of Yugoslavia, 78% of the populalation was Albanian, while 21% was Serbian. During the 20s and 30s, Yugoslavia undertook major colonization programmes to change the ethnic makeup of the province, bringing in some 70,000 Serbs (M Noel) and deporting nearly 200,000 Albanians to Turkey. During the WWII some 40,000 Serbs were expelled (Noel) and after the WWII (1948 census) 68% of the population was Albanian and 24% Serb. After WWII, the percentages raise clearly on the Albanian side due to two factors: 1. Serb emigration to more prosperous areas of Serbia (mostly Belgrade and Vojvodina) and 2. due to higher birthrate of the Albanian population that was clearly poorer, less educated and more rural. In 1991, Albanians constitute 90% of the population while Serbs less than 10%.
    In 1991 there were nearly 190,000 Serbs in the province. That’s why your number of 250,000 that left the province since 1999 is also incorrect, since there are still nearly 120,000 of them still there. According to UNHCR, the whole refugee population of Serbia is 200,000, and that includes refugees from Croatia, Bosnia and Kosova.
    I can continue on and on with your “facts”, but I’ll conclude with this jewel: “The man at the center of the provision of the explosives in both instances was an Albanian, operating mostly out of Kosovo… who is the second ranking leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Niam Behzloulzi.”
    Niam Behzloulzi???? Who is this? Behzloulzi is clearly not even an Albanian last name, and I never heard the name Niam used anywhere among Albanians. Even if this name is greatly misspelled this person could not have possibly been “the second ranking leader” of the KLA. The military leader of the KLA was Agim Ceku, the political leader was Hashim Thaci, the spokesman of the KLA was Jakup Krasniqi, and other influential leaders were Ramush Haradinaj, Sulejman Selimi, Fatmir Lima, Zahir Pajaziti etc. Niam Behzloulzi doesn’t even exist, is clearly a made up name for you naive and ignorant readers that will take anything that will somehow make sense with your own views of the world. Niam Behzloulzi is a fiction like is the rest of your narrative. It clearly shows that you have no idea what you are talking about.
    If you have an open mind, there’s plenty of information out there that’s not biased or Serbian-originated:
    Arab Betrayal of Balkan Islam
    [IWPR] Kosovars Refute Islamic Terror Claims
    You say: “Supporters of Kosovo claim that as victims of “genocide,””
    And so does the rest of the world that is not inspired by the Serbian propaganda.
    Documentary about Kosovo war:
    [The Guardian] The killing fields
    [Human Rights Watch] Under Orders: War crimes in Kosovo
    OSCE Report
    [US State Dept] Erasing History: Ethnic Cleansing in Kosovo
    Ethnic Cleansing in Kosovo: An Accounting
    Kosovo: Orders of Magnitude
    BBC Documentary uncovers Kosovo’s horrors
    CBC: Massacre at Podujevo
    Genocide and Conflict in Kosovo
    Expulsions of Albanians and Colonisation of Kosova
    Mediaclub: Serbs used rape as an instrument of war
    FreeSerbia: The Ethnic Cleansing of Kosovo
    Ian Williams: The Kosovo Numbers Game
    And finally I want to say only this: as an Albanian I’m 100% with Israel in its struggle for survival in an ocean of Arab hostility that want nothing but your extermination. We understand you better than anyone else, because we too face an ocean of Slav hostility that want nothing but our extermination. But with all our force we won’t let anyone misrepresent our struggle into anything that is isn’t.

  • brendan 02/23/2008 at 16:19

    “NATO forces in Kosovo were deployed for the express purpose of blocking Serbia from exercising its sovereignty over Kosovo, not to prevent violence between the Kosovars and the Serbs or among the Muslims and Christians in Kosovo”
    Now THAT is revisionism!!! I seem to remember Serbians running roughshod over civilians and burning villages. We went there to stop a bloodbath before they turned Kosovo into another Bosnia. The writer makes a point about precedence. Here is the precedent: unless you want to lose territory, don’t use the military to murder and terrify your civilian population in that territory.
    You do not need to worry about thoughtful people confusing Hamas for civilians. Any reasonable person knows that the IDF is not even remotely comparable to the barbarians of the Serbian military during the Balkan conflicts.

  • LazarOfSerbia 02/27/2008 at 8:28

    “I seem to remember Serbians running roughshod over civilians and burning villages.”
    No, you remember what you saw on CNN. The truth is completely different. Remember how Palestinians are manipulating media? They are amateurs compared to Albanians and Bosnian Muslims. And when they join forces with CBS and CNN, we have this:


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