Written by Julia Gorin
This past September 11th, Western leaders hailed the “fully” and “irreversibly” independent Kosovo—still unrecognized by most UN members—for achieving additional “full independence.” The International Steering Group’s Civilian Office, which had the power to block laws or ministerial appointments, closed shop, and Dutch international rep Pieter Feith gave a speech in Albanian which concluded that “Kosovo has realistic prospects” for EU membership.
The ISG explained its decision to grant Serbia’s Albanian separatists this fuller full autonomy, by citing the region’s “clear support of a democratic and multi-ethnic state.” President Obama said Kosovo has made "significant progress," parroting Kosovo “prime minister” Hashim Thaci, who said that “Kosovo has made significant progress…in building the institutions of a modern, multi-ethnic, inclusive and democratic state."
Always on hand to promote the American-made Muslim state of Kosovo, The Wall St. Journal praised Obama’s praise and rhapsodized in typical Slavophobic tones how in 1999 President Clinton “bypassed the United Nations and sent in the U.S. Air Force…President Bush stood up to Russian bluster and European ambivalence to push for its independence.…though Serbia and Russia have tried to undermine it.” The editorial closed with a straight-faced reference to something that elicits snickers among those in the know: “The capital, Pristina, has streets named after Bush and Clinton.”
The disconnect between Kosovo on paper and Kosovo reality is what happens when U.S. bureaucrats, relying on American disinterest, distance, and short memories, are able to operate in the shadows and birth what international observers have called a mafia statelet run by an “ethnic tyranny,” with an economy based on international aid and heroin.
Yet nary an “expert” could be found who wasn’t in sync with the official mantras. Deutsche Welle’s choice of foot soldier was “Balkan expert” Norbert Mappes-Niediek: “You're independent when you comport yourself as such. And that's what Kosovo has done,” he said. Being an expert, Mappes-Niediek also said there probably wouldn’t be a military offensive by KFOR (NATO’s Kosovo force) against the last of the resisting Serbs of northern Kosovo, not only because more talks are ahead but because “it would cause 40-50,000 people to flee.”
And yet at this moment—indeed since July 2011—our National Guard soldiers, in conjunction with German, Austrian, Hungarian, Croatian and other Axis allies, have their guns trained on the reluctant Serbs, in preparation for a final solution to the “northern problem.”
B92: KFOR: We'll shoot; Serbs start building new road (Nov. 2011)
The climate has turned explosive as the police—stocked with former KLA terrorists—have been given increased autonomy, which on June 28th they used to harass, undress, drag and beat Serbian pilgrims coming to the Patriarch’s liturgy on St. Vitus Day.
On August 23rd KFOR seized one of the last barricades the Serbs had put up (against the ‘official’ border crossings they’re to use), arresting two people and pointing guns at the rest, who made a disciplined retreat and set up another roadblock.
In September there was an explosion after a service at a destroyed church, attended by displaced Serbs who were visiting the ruins of their homes; on the way back one of the houses was on fire. This is why, when refugees come to tend the overturned graves of their loved ones, an ambulance is on hand.
German peacekeepers secured a bridge in Rudare, June 1, 2012
To seal the next stage of Kosovo’s dark evolution, KFOR will dismantle the last of the barricades, during which we are likely to see a provocation—used intermittently to goad Serbs into reacting—which then will “necessitate” forceful action to finally integrate them into Kosovo’s institutions. This will achieve a de facto acceptance of Kosovo as reality and, for our part, the fulfillment of Albanian territorial demands.
“Those crazy Serbs,” against whom our troops are being pitted, will be fingered as causing the problems. Just in time, the otherwise sparse cameras will be invited back in, to get the approved Kosovo story, reinforcing the edifice of lies upon which “the world’s newest country” is built.
“KFOR announces reinforcements with the new unit that should discipline Serbs in northern Kosovo,” is how Radenko Nedeljkovic, head of Kosovska Mitrovica county, put it. He called on Serbs not to be provoked but to continue with peaceful means of staying in Kosovo. However, the organized Kosovo-wide pogroms of March 2004—one of those truly defining events that nonetheless managed to slip into Balkan oblivion—gave us a taste of their likely fate, should they stay in an independent Kosovo. Internationals there noted that the deadly riots only stopped when Thaci and Agim Ceku (then ‘prime minister’ and today the “security forces” minister) said Stop—three days in. The pogrom was a message to the international community to move faster on independence. It was successful.
Our Kosovo intervention “demonstrated to the world that terrorists can indeed successfully alter the borders of sovereign nations,” read a recent letter in The Jerusalem Post by reader Michael Pravica. (Israel, take note. Upon Obama’s reelection, the Palestinians have announced they’ll go to the UN this month asking for the Kosovo scenario.) He was responding to an article by Michael Freund reminding us that the Kosovo war was Europe and the U.S. unthinkably “seeking to force a sovereign state to relinquish part of its territory.”
It continues to this day, with a looming military solution to the political problem of dealing with people who refuse to live under “modern, democratic, multi-ethnic” Albanian rule, currently headed by a ‘prime minister’ who has indulged in killing both Serb and Albanian civilians, power rivals, and “collaborators.” That’s why Washington has been waging a simultaneous PR war--to lend respectability and legitimacy to Kosovo’s rulers, all of them notorious mafia kingpins and one-time terrorists even according to U.S. records.
And so Thaci’s byline has been popping up in American newspapers, most recently in Christian Science Monitor and McClatchy News Service (and previously in the Balkan-terrorist mouthpiece Wall St. Journal), where he called the end of supervision “a recognition that Kosovo has evolved into a mature, independent democracy.” In reality, Thaci knows that, as a police insider told Spiegel Online this week, Kosovo officials have been on their haunches, just waiting for the “high-minded reformers to leave.”
Myopically published under the ironic McClatchy banner “Truth to Power,” Thaci went on to repeat the official fiction of his people having endured “genocide”--something even The Hague disproved in the course of trying to prove it.
This is a man who started out as a petty crook, then parlayed his talents into domestic terrorism, heroin-trafficking, murder and organ-harvesting. His criminal history and countless rackets are legendary in Albania. A recent two-year Council of Europe investigation exposed that Hashim “The Snake” Thaci “is the head of a ‘mafia-like’ Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs,” read the UK Guardian in December 2010. “Thaçi over the last decade exerted ‘violent control’ over the heroin trade.” AFP reported, “Thaci and other senior commanders…set up the [organ] traffic,” working with the Albanian mafia, government, and secret services.
Several Albanians recently have risked their lives to come clean about what they witnessed in 1999-2000 as guards of the holding pens, drivers of the doomed, and organ-deliverers. Yet even with this macabre Kosovo story that uncharacteristically managed to make it to American shores, the confounding Kosovo pattern prevailed: the story had no legs and was soon forgotten. Such that soon after, we were treated to the spectacle of Thaci ringing the NASDAQ bell.
A notorious gangster widely known to have once killed his own roommate, Thaci also executed his political rivals. Over the summer the EU’s justice mission in Kosovo, EULEX, issued a report that Thaci’s party, PDK (Democratic Party of Kosovo), pursued a strategy of eliminating dozens of senior political figures and activists from rival parties after the war, including as recently as 2003. (More recently, it emerged that another senior PDK official, Xhabir Zharku, had planned to assassinate two EULEX prosecutors and a judge.)
Thaci’s predecessor, Ramush Haradinaj, was also a prolific killer, airlifted to a U.S. hospital in 2000 after a gunfight he started with a rival clan. U.S. officials from Camp Bondsteel removed evidence in the case, and suppressed the investigation, according to The London Observer and AFP.
A British former soldier told The Observer how “someone would pass [Haradinaj] some information and he would disappear for two hours. The end result would be several bodies in a ditch.” In the course of his 2007 war crimes trial at The Hague, several witnesses were killed and others were threatened and dropped out.
Such are the U.S.-approved prime ministers of the ‘independence-worthy’ Kosovo public. Meanwhile, Kosovo president Atifete Jahjaga—heralded in the West as “a female president of a Muslim country”—has been making the rounds to America’s editorial boards, universities, and “Women in the World” conferences, her hosts blissfully clueless that she shills for a terrifying group of ghouls--who last year had to be counter-threatened by U.S. Ambassador Christopher Dell into making her president in the first place.
Kosovo is a gangster’s paradise where even the newspapers publish threats against journalists as ‘Letters to the Editor,’ in ‘defense’ of the homicidal officials who subsidize the papers through ads. This “modern democracy” is ruled by fear, with a mafia grip over the population, some of whom are now commenting that there were never such media constrictions under Belgrade.
Last year a Foreign Policy article titled “Thug Life” called Washington out for entrenching an elite that operates above the law:
It is difficult to see how democracy or respect [for] the rule of law could develop and flourish amid such overt displays of American support for a corrupt and criminal leadership…[It] has undercut efforts to pursue indictments for war crimes and investigate high-level corruption. The war crimes…have never been fully investigated — in fact, in some cases they have been covered up.
“Our progress should be rewarded with full participation in the appropriate international organizations,” Thaci wrote in his McClatchy op-ed. “Kosovo's place within the EU family is well-deserved.”
The EU and NATO likewise are talking Kosovo membership already, while putting Serbia off until it cries “Uncle! (Sam).” In other words, a Muslim non-country is on a faster track than an ancient Christian country that was a founding UN member.
Andrea Lorenzo Capussela, writing for Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso on September 11th as someone who worked in the International Civilian Office, exposes the farce not only of the trumped-up end of supervision, but of the supervision itself:
[F]ew countries in Europe are more ethnically homogenous than Kosovo...Guiding and assisting the process [of erecting good institutions] was ICO’s job…Laws, however, are of little use if they are not implemented or are routinely ignored. This is what happens in Kosovo, where the formal institutions are the façade behind which the élite pursues its own interests…The ICO pretended not to notice....what took place under its watch was a not-too-disguised form of state capture.
Why did the ICO act thus? …Because implementing those laws would have required confronting Kosovo’s élite, which still commands people with weapons. And because the US did not allow the ICO to act independently, in accordance with its mandate…Unsurprisingly, all available indicators say that since 2008 the quality of governance in Kosovo has not improved and might even have worsened: Freedom House, for instance, still qualifies it as a “semi-consolidated authoritarian state”, the only one in Europe. So, I see little reason to celebrate today….The élite that is mismanaging their country today lost a reliable supporter and a useful screen from the public eye…
U.S. military presses commonly refer to the mission of extending the thugocracy (by tear-gassing and/or shooting the northern Serbs into submission) as “maintaining a safe and secure environment,” quoting the proud fresh faces of the next rotation. A recent American Forces Press Service article about the South Carolina National Guard beamed, “As part of KFOR, they will…help set conditions for a stable, democratic, multiethnic and peaceful Kosovo.” Speaking to Asbury Park Press at a departure ceremony in September of last year, Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth of the New Jersey National Guard said, “We as Americans are making a difference in that region. If you're looking for a success, it's the Balkans.”
“We were carrying a man who was wounded in the leg, towards the ambulance, such a wound I’ve never seen before. The bone was apparent, and they were shooting at us. I never felt when the bullet hit me in the chin. Suddenly I was unconscious.” --Mladen Antonijevic, 31, speaking to Blic in September 2011.
More injuries from September 2011:
They shot at us while we carried the wounded --Vesti, September 29, 2011, It’s unclear whether injuries were caused by rubber bullets (possible), or metal ones. At least one of the extracted bullets looks to be metallic. Video here.
Serbs passing a cabbage dish to a German soldier at Jarinje [border crossing], September 18, 2011
American soldier on Serbian land: taking down a Serbian flag…NATO troops on the scene, a mix of Americans and Germans, did not refrain from firing at medical workers and ambulance vehicles extricating the wounded. Attempts to film the aftermath of the carnage were met with warning shots. --Crappytown blog
Julia Gorin is an opinion columnist with a focus on the Balkans. Her articles have appeared in Jerusalem Post, Wall St. Journal, NY Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, NY Post, Washington Times, New York Observer, Christian Science Monitor, American Legion Magazine, and scores of others. She blogs at www.RepublicanRiot.com. When not trying to set the record straight on self-destructive Western interventions in the former Yugoslavia, Julia is a recognized name in conservative comedy.