Title: Message


Apis Group, Belgrade
April 12, 2004

Kosovo: A watershed for NATO

The most recent security reports from various sources confirm that in
some parts of Kosovo the Kosovo Liberation Army is reactivating and that
Kosovo Albanian militants are intensifying preparations for the
continuation of armed attacks against Serbs and international forces.
Belgrade officials, the Return Coalition (Povratak) and the Serbian
Orthodox Church have already requested an immediate increase in troop
numbers from NATO and broader measures of engagement against Albanian
terrorist formations because new attacks can be expected in the near
future as soon as Albanian extremists comprehend that NATO is indecisive
on the issue of how to effectively face the situation on the ground.
Like in a hijack operation the Albanian terrorists have already detected
the indecision of the five leading Western governments (the Quint -
U.S., Britain, France, Germany and Italy) where some believe the cost of
their political failure can be covered up by recognizing the
independence of Kosovo. Many of them hope that this will placate the
"hijackers" and help the plane to land safely with all the passengers
hopefully still alive. However, the mentality of the terrorists is
different. Concessions have proven to be signs of weakness and the
terrorists will soon comprehend they can do more or perhaps serve as an
inspiration to others to redefine the map of Europe using similar

At the same time, Kosovo Albanian leaders are buying time by issuing
pathetic appeals for "peace" while they seek to avoid personal
responsibility for the March pogrom. Appeals by Hashim Thaci and others,
resembling more or less calls to chastity and virtue by pimps, are
becoming the subject of jeers even in the Kosovo Albanian media. Several
leading international officials (including Javier Solana, Jaap de Hoop
Scheffer, Gregory Johnson and others) have clearly pointed out that
intelligence reports indicate that the attacks on the Serbs and KFOR
during the period from March 17-19 were planned and well orchestrated.
Hundreds of young Albanians, many of them armed, were transferred by bus
to Mitrovica and Pristina to set fire to the houses of Serbs or attack
KFOR soldiers and international police. Trucks and other vehicles
blocked the maneuvers of KFOR troops in the most critical locations.
There are too many coincidences to believe that the violence was

Regardless of the extent to which the present UNMIK policy, under
pressure from some Western governments who are trying to cover up their
own failure and wrong assessments, attempted to convince everyone to
believe that the pogrom represented a spontaneous reaction by people
dissatisfied with social conditions, it remains clear that neither NATO
nor UNMIK police have yet undertaken concrete action against the
organizers and terrorist groups which took part in the orchestration of
the violence by the rampaging mob in Kosovo. As someone wisely observed
"the clock was turned back a few weeks" and a strategy of amnesia was
adopted in order assist in the rehabilitation of the failed mission. The
UNMIK bureaucrats reemerged from their rat holes with their programs for
refugee returns, assessments, diagrams and schemes, lecturing on
something they themselves no longer believe. It is a well-known fact
that UNMIK failed to act in the most critical moments while Harri
Holkeri personally lacked all control outside his own offices. The flag
of the Republic of Albania was flying over almost all the police
stations in the province as well as, needless to add, all public
buildings. Perhaps what happened could be described as a putsch? It is a
fact that on March 17 and 18 Kosovo institutions ceased to function and
all power was in the hands of the violent mobs in the streets.

In any case, considering the attempts to hush up the problem of "Kosovo
Albanian extremism" thus described, to everyone's complete surprise, by
self-proclaimed Kosovo president Ibrahim Rugova for the British media,
international peacekeeping forces will be hard pressed to save their own
damaged reputation and credibility unless they urgently undertake
radical and surgical measures.

Their hesitation, television and other media appeals and attempts to
make everything look relaxes in fact only demonstrates the lack of a
clear strategy and the surprising truth that Kosovo Albanian terrorist
groups have already taken the initiative on the battleground. After
years of dressed up and self-lauding reports from Pristina, many in the
West can hardly believe that their Kosovo success story is in fact a
hard blow to the solar plexus of Europe. The aftermath of the March
event sin Kosovo for NATO and the Western governments can be very
adequately compared with the aftermath of September 11, 2001 in the
United States of America. In both cases, the hard blows came from former
allies (who had been useful for a while in the past).

The Serbian Orthodox church in Podujevo was burned down and dynamited.
The Czech-Slovak KFOR contingent protecting the only remaining Serbian
church in the area was powerless before the well organized Albanian mob.
After destroying the church the mob headed for the Serbian cemetery and
began desecrating the graves and scattering the bones of the deceased. A
moving account by a Czech officer published in the Prague Post on March
25 states:

"We were defending a Serb Orthodox church in the town of Podujevo
against a mob of 500 Albanians, but there were too many for us,"
recalled the officer. "When they broke through the wall [around the
church], we got orders to retreat. ... They smashed everything inside,
including our communications center, made a big pile in front and set it
on fire. Then they turned their attention to the adjacent Serb cemetery.
They knocked over tombstones, dug up the coffins and scattered the bones
in them. ... I have never seen anything like it," said Czech captain
Jindrich Plescher.

The failure of some KFOR contingents (especially the German one), the
collapse of the command system in some parts of Kosovo and the need for
engagement of troops from other sectors demonstrated that the plan for
the rapid reduction of KFOR troops by the end of 2004 has become a
completely unreal dream based on false assumptions. The most shocking
fact of all is that some KFOR units were even distributing ammunition to
the Serbs since they were unwilling to fire into the Albanian mob which
was armed and ready to kill even their former allies. By the same token
those institutions which were believed to be the pillars of internal
stability in Kosovo (including the much praised Kosovo Police Service)
faltered in the most critical moments. UNMIK police, with the exception
of a few more professional and better trained contingents, also proved
to be incapable of offering/meeting standards of basic security. The
Indian antiterrorist police, with their Gandhi-like methods and sky blue
helmets was a comic spectacle before the wildly rampaging Albanian mob
which so easily brushed them aside on Veternik Hill near Caglavica. Only
when U.S. troops appeared with clear orders to shoot did the Albanian
mob withdraw in the direction of Pristina, rioting in the streets,
setting fire to UNMIK vehicles and burning down the Serbian church of
St. Nicholas from the 19th century in passing. There were rumors that
Holkeri was on the brink of a nervous breakdown while the German general
Kammerhoff apparently already turned over his command to a U.S. general.
The next day's emergency visit by Admiral Gregory Johnson from NATO
forces stationed in Naples was an even clearer indicator that things had
gone from bad to worse. In fact, the Albanian stampede had completely
wiped out the authority of UNMIK and KFOR like a castle in the sand in
just a matter of hours.

Now, as NATO and other international experts painfully strive to prepare
new assessments and find a strategy to avoid direct confrontation with
the complex Albanian terrorist network, while at the same time
protecting the Serbs from further ethnic cleansing, Albanian extremists
are already making further attempts to take advantage of the state of
confusion in UNMIK and KFOR. KFOR is presently in an almost hopeless
situation. Let's take a look at just a few of the burning issues:

1. KFOR does not have enough manpower to crush the Albanian terrorist
groups. Even 20,000 KFOR troops on the ground cannot effectively control
the territory where armed Albanian groups are moving unobstructed and
regrouping, bringing in new weapons from neighboring Albania, as they
also did during the time of Milosevic's rule. Currently KFOR effectively
controls only the large urban centers, the remaining Serb enclaves and
the main roads (at least during daylight).

2. If KFOR makes the decision to apply a radical operation on a broad
scale against the terrorist groups, its opponents will probably resort
to the tried and true method of guerrilla warfare behind the shield of
the civilian population (as it did during KLA battles against the
Yugoslav Army and the Serbian state police) or like the Shiite militants
in Iraq. KFOR will find itself in the thick of a guerrilla war for which
the majority of its troops have not been trained. In almost every part
of Kosovo, during period of violence, children were placed in the front
rows, followed by youths and older civilians, while armed terrorists
directed the movements of the mob or targeted Serbs and members of KFOR
on their sniper scopes (especially in Mitrovica).

3. On the other hand, allowing the Albanians to repeat their pogrom
against the Serbs would further compromise NATO because it came to
Kosovo to prevent ethnic violence, not to take part in it by evacuating
the targeted population and allowing the Albanians to destroy their
property and holy sites. No one will be able to hide the truth that NATO
has suffered a great defeat at the hands of its own former allies, the
KLA and its satellite terrorist organizations. This would also lead to
further destabilization of the situation in Serbia because the Serbian
army definitely will not stand by and watch as tens of thousands of its
compatriots are expelled from their homes and their churches and
monasteries are transformed into ruins.

4. Doing nothing and simply acting as if nothing happened in order to
reduce tensions (which appears to be the current strategy) will
encourage the Albanian extremists and give them more time to prepare
further steps to discredit the authority of NATO and give it the
appearance of a paper tiger before the global community. The more time
passes, the more authority NATO loses on the ground and the more Serbs
lose confidence that they will be protected. In many parts of Kosovo
Albanian children no longer greet NATO soldiers with shouts of
encouragement and signs of victory but pass in front of them with a
finger drawn across the throat, sending them a clear message of enmity -
we will slit your throats (the usual "greeting" for Serbs). The more
time passes, the more authority is lost and the extremists gain
increasing strategic advantage.

In conclusion, years of believing in erroneous assessments and the
misplaced hope that the pact with the devil from 1999 could be
transformed into a successful nation building exercise has shown itself
to be a complete wrong. At a point in time when some of its architects
and foreign mentors actually began to believe that they had reached the
top of the house they were building and only the roof was still missing
(the final status of Kosovo), the entire construction proved to be
unstable and collapsed in a mass hemorrhage of organized and
orchestrated ethnic violence directed not only against the Serbs but
also against their Western allies. It has become clear to everyone that
an independent Kosovo would be the ethnically purest state in Europe and
that the entire Serbian Christian heritage would be turned into ashes
and dust, like in Prizren on March 17-18.

The only way out of the present dead end remains a combination of
carefully selected military and political "surgical" measures, namely:

1. Deployment of NATO rapid reaction forces which would not depend on
KFOR sector restrictions and which would be able to develop and act with
surgical precision against terrorist bases and training centers in
Kosovo and Northern Albania (Tropoja, Bajram Curri). NATO command must
be more effective and flexible. of late, the KFOR command (staff) has
become, through its self-satisfied complacency, equal to what its
command headquarters used to be called before 1999 - Film City (a place
for the production of dreams and erroneous assessments). Although the
former KFOR commander, Italian general Fabio Mini, warned NATO officials
and generals that the situation remained critical, especially with
respect to the Kosovo Protection Corps (which is de facto a cover and
sanctuary for various terrorist groups, like the AKSh), many continued
to believe in the rosy reports coming from Pristina, which gave a
completely inaccurate picture of the situation on the ground.

2. Rapid arrest operations of leaders and planners of the pogrom,
crushing of their terrorist groups and destruction of weapons caches.
NATO intelligence already has very precise information but political
decisions need to be made at the level of the governments of the members
of the NATO alliance. Governments of the countries which sent
contingents (contributed to KFOR forces) are worried that casualties
among their troops may pressure public opinion, especially among those
politicians who have built their careers on the "liberation of Kosovo"
in 199 and the demonization of the Serbian people. However, it must be
not be forgotten that when the head of the snake is effectively crushed,
it will not be so simple to organize unrest. So far UNMIK and KFOR have
been playing with the tail of the snake and avoiding its lethal head.
Millions of euros have been spent on the Kosovo Protection Corps, which
turned out to be nothing short of an attempt to douse a fire by pouring
gasoline on it because the KPC is the main logistical structure of
Albanian extremism and terrorism.

3. Temporary dissolution of all Kosovo institutions, placement of the
province under the jurisdiction of martial law, blocking of roads,
introduction of curfew, prohibition on public gathering, even censorship
of the work of certain media if it is necessary to prevent widespread
unrest. Extremist leaders will try to take advantage of nationalist
sentiment and Albanian patriotism as a means of inciting the masses
against KFOR and the media will be used an instrument to fan anti-KFOR
and anti-UNMIK sentiments. The role of the Albanian language media on
March 17 is an extremely important topic for further discussion.

4. Political isolation of those so-called political parties which are
nothing but a smokescreen for paramilitary organizations and mafia
gangs. UNMIK police and KFOR already have very precise information
regarding paramilitary and mafia structures but they lack manpower and
political support. A political "green light" has not been forthcoming
from the capitals of the Quint governments out of fear of revealing that
the mission has experienced a fiasco and that they bombed the wrong side
in 1999. After the events of mid-March, any further procrastination on
the part of these countries will only serve to help the extremists to
buy a little more time to reorganize their own ranks.

5. Public coming out of a new Kosovo Albanian political elite to consist
of individuals and groups desiring to share in the democratic and
European vision. Strong political messages from the West could
strengthen the new elite and force the Kosovo Albanians to comprehend
that international support will go only to those leaders who share in
the vision of a civilized world and who have an untarnished political
reputation. (The problem is whether such a political elite exists at all
because so far everyone has believed that the extremists could be
controlled by the former leaders of the KLA who have supposedly
legitimized themselves through purportedly "democratic" parties - a
truly tragic mistake.)

6. Ground preparations for upcoming elections in which participation of
extremist parties would not be permitted. Postponement of elections
would probably be the best idea of all until an appropriate atmosphere
is created and all those responsible for the March pogrom are behind
bars. If they are re-elected, extremists will continue to hold UNMIK,
KFOR and the remaining Serbs hostage in Kosovo.

7. In the event of major escalations, a Serbia-Montenegro military
contingent should be allowed to assume protection of Serb inhabited
areas and holy sites (as foreseen by UN Security Council Resolution
1244) in conjunction with NATO troops.

Although these radical measures may appear very undemocratic and a step
back in comparison with 1999 (when such a strategy should have been
implemented before local KLA gangs assumed power), over the long term
only this strategy will salvage the reputation of the peacekeeping
mission, achieve demilitarization of the province, defeat the
extremists, preserve NATO credibility and finally encourage the Serbs to
take part in the political process in accordance with UNSC Resolution
1244. These measures will also result in a strengthening of democratic
forces in Serbia because the failure of the peacekeeping mission in
Kosovo would be thoroughly exploited by radical political groups who
will instrumentalize the suffering of the Kosovo Serbs for their own
political goals.

Without these proposed radical and martial measures against the
terrorists, the mission will remained mired in mud and further
escalation of violence, even regional armed conflicts, will become
inevitable. However, the price at that point will be far greater than it
is now. The expectation that the Serbs will agree to participate in a
failed theatrical performance as extras is completely unrealistic and,
after everything that has happened under the flag of the UN and NATO,
completely immoral. Now is the time to react quickly, decisively and
with clear determination and courage. Pacifist measures against armed
terrorist gangs holding a great number of Kosovo Albanians in the
clutches of their destructive nationalistic euphoria and false dreams
that Kosovo will ever realize its goal by resorting to violence will not
only fail but will ultimately mark the total defeat of the international
community. The dream of a democratic and multiethnic society in Kosovo,
regardless of its final status, will vanish once and for all time.

Last but not least, the UNMIK mission must be completely transformed
into an effective kind of mission which would work more closely with
KFOR and cooperate only with those political parties that have a clear,
democratic orientation. Playing the game of democracy with terrorist
groups and paramilitary organizations can only, sooner or later, lead to
an explosion in Kosovo. UNMIK officials who are already on the payroll
of Kosovo Albanian mafia bosses or receiving "benefits" of some other
kind from them must immediately be recalled and replaced with competent
people with more experience and stronger moral integrity. Some of these
officials have been touring Kosovo in recent days to convince the Serbs
that "everything is going to be alright", forgetting that they have
already lost their political and moral authority. Even the renowned
Peggy Hicks, the head of UNMIK's repatriation section, has re-emerged
from her mousehole to resume talking about returnees - even though the
returnees near Pec would have been slaughtered if Italian and Spanish
KFOR troops had not been saved them from the frenzied mob. In Belo
Polje, for example, all returnee houses were burned down.

It is extremely important to understand that the idea that the whole
problem revolves around the status of Kosovo leads to a completely wrong
conclusion. In fact, the ideology that is behind the most recent acts of
violence was precisely to convince the world that unresolved status and
the social problems that supposedly are caused by it resulted in the
riots and that Kosovo must first become independent for all these
problems to be resolved. This is a serious act of deception that was
publicly rejected by NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer who,
according to the Pristina Albanian language daily "Koha Ditore" of March
23, quite accurately said: "I don't believe that the unresolved status
has anything to do with this. This has to do with people who think
wrongly, who have illusions that by carrying out these criminal acts of
ethnic violence they get closer to their ambitions; but they must
understand that the international community will never accept this."

A healthy society, like a stable house, must have strong walls and a
strong and firm roof. The most recent explosion of ethnic Albanian
violence has proven that the Kosovo walls are rotten in their
foundations and that some of the responsibility for this lies with
UNMIK, KFOR and Western political leaders in 1999, who had the wrong
idea that they could begin building a democratic and multiethnic society
with those they knew very well were nothing more than common criminals
and murders. After all, a pact with the devil must always shoot back
like a boomerang, sooner or later. /sib

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