Syrious Balkans Jihadists and Not So Syrious Kosovo Analogies: Year in Review, July 2013-July 2014

With the recent detention in Kosovo of three Syria-linked Albanian terrorist-recruiters — one of them having fought alongside Syrian rebels and a raid of their safe house having produced military uniforms and propaganda material — it seems an update on Syria-connected Balkans jihadists is in order.

As of January this year, 15 Bosniaks (11 from Bosnia and four from Serbia’s Sandzak region) have been killed in Syria, while “the surge of volunteers joining militants in Syria” prompted Kosovo parliament to pass laws (after criticism for being silent on the issue) “with prison sentences of up to 15 years for those joining armed groups abroad.” (Apparently they hadn’t seen this trend coming when they tore away from the host society to be all on their Muslim own.)

A month before the June arrests came this May news item: Another Macedonian Albanian Reported Killed in Syria:

Adnan RexhepiA 31-year-old man formerly convicted of planting a bomb in Kumanovo [which injured three people in 2003] has reportedly been killed fighting in Syria, increasing the number of Macedonian citizens killed in the violence there to at least six.

Thirty-one-year-old Adnan Rexhepi from Kumanovo, northern Macedonia, died on Saturday while fighting with a rebel group… “We have received the news that our brother Adnan died as a martyr in Sham…we feel proud that we had him,” friends were cited writing on Facebook by the Albanian-language INA news agency.

Rexhepi was a former insurgent of the now defunct National Liberation Army, NLA, which fought the Macedonian security forces during the conflict in the country in 2001. [That was the Kosovo Redux that spilled over to Albania after Bill Clinton sent NATO planes against Serbia to “contain” the Kosovo conflict. The KLA offshoot NLA is as “defunct” as the KLA, wink-wink. Yet another example of Albanian terrorists who cut their teeth as our allies, predictably moving on to other jihads.]

…Some unofficial reports say that more than 300 Albanians from Macedonia might have already joined Syrian rebels…Macedonian law forbids citizens from taking part in foreign paramilitary groups…Local ethnic Albanian analysts say the Macedonian citizens fighting in Syria are not mercenaries…

This past March, meanwhile, a news item missed by all had some Syria-connected Albanians biting one of the countless hands that feed them, Turkey:

Third assailant captured after suspected Al-Qaeda attack on gendarmerie in central Turkey (Daily Hurriyet, March 21, 2014)

…Two of the assailants, 18-year-old E.S. and E.A, were Albanian citizens, while 23-year-old Ç.R was a citizen of Kosovo, although all were speaking Arabic…Police seized seven grenades, three kalashnikovs, two mufflers and three bayonets…A gendarmerie soldier, police officer and truck driver were killed in the attack, while five others were wounded.

‘I did a good deed by killing a Turkish gendarme,’ Niğde assailant says (Hurriyet Daily News, March 21, 2014)

CR… “I did a good deed by killing the Turkish gendarmerie soldier,” the perpetrator identified as Ç.R., a Swiss national who was first reported as being from Kosovo, told police…All of the assailants, captured within hours, are suspected of being members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is linked with al-Qaeda.

“I don’t render an account to anyone but Allah. I will not give any testimony. You are all pagans,” he was also quoted as saying. He also reportedly said Turkey was considered an “enemy” for being a NATO member.

A third assailant M.Z., a national of Macedonia, was also arrested by the court. Following the attack, Turkish officers said the information they received pointed to Syrian links…


ISIL CONNECTION IN ATTACK AGAINST TURKISH SECURITY FORCES
(Daily Sabah, March 25, 2014)

Çendrim Ramadani, Benjamin Xu…along with the third suspect, Macedonian national Muhammed Zakiri…of Albanian and Kosovar origin, entered Turkey through the Syrian border…The suspects were travelling from Hatay, the Turkish province on the Syrian border, to Istanbul when they were stopped at a checkpoint. They fired shots at the officers at the checkpoint, killing military officer Adil Kozanoğlu and policeman Adem Çoban. They also killed a driver whose truck they hijacked to flee the scene.

…Benjamin Xu…resided in Berlin. Ramadani said he was a Swiss citizen…Benjamin Xu told the prosecutor they were returning home after fighting in Syria. “I don’t know Ramadani well. He offered to travel to Kosovo with me and I accepted…I later found out he secretly placed weapons in my bag. When he saw the soldiers at the checkpoint, he drew his gun and started firing…”

Turkey, a staunch critic of the Assad regime and host of the Syrian opposition, is accused of arming and helping ISIL militants in Syria. […]

Abu Abdullah al Kosovi Image from the SITE Intelligence GroupAbu Abdullah al Kosovi
Image
from the SITE Intelligence Group

And in October we got an ISIS fighter from Kosovo praising jihad in Syria in his native Albanian tongue:

In addition to all the Balkans volunteers to Syria previously noted, new reports streamed in steadily last summerl.  Last August came this AFP roundup of Balkans jihadists in Syria:

Balkan former guerrillas join Syria rebels (AFP, Aug. 7, 2013)

Sniper Video Games File – A former sniper in the Kosovo Liberation Army, who also fought with rebels in Syria, plays video games at his home near the town of Pristina on June 11, 2013. (AFP photo Armend Nimani) Proving that violence can lead to video games.Some fought as guerrillas during the bloody Balkans wars of the 1990s, battling powerful tanks and artillery. Others grew up under the influence of radical Islam that has gained ground [since Western interventions]…Migena Maliqaj, an Albanian, had not heard from her husband Halil….In June, she received a text message from an unknown number saying that Halil had been killed in Syria.

The first Ermal Xhelo’s mother knew of her son’s involvement in Syria was when the 35-year-old’s remains were brought home to her in Albania’s southern city of Vlora…Illir Kulla, a security expert from Albania, estimates that “at least 300 Albanians from Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia have left for Syria… “They are not mercenaries, but volunteers convinced that they are fighting for a good cause…”

In May, street signs in Novi Pazar, the main town in Serbia’s Muslim-majority southern region of Sandzak, were covered with obituaries for Eldar Kudakovic, a 27-year-old killed in Syria…reportedly with another man from the area. “All of us are with them. And all of us are Mujahideen,” read a message posted on a Sandzak radical Islam web portal….

One father-of-three from Podujevo, a small town in northern Kosovo, was making the final preparations for his journey to Syria, which he was to enter illegally…Also planning to depart for Syria was a former sniper in the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army….along “with about a dozen war comrades, experts in different weaponry….”

…Experts believe that the Salafist presence is strongest in Bosnia, as many foreign fighters joined Muslim forces against Bosnian Serb troops and settled there after the bloody 1992-1995 war. Esad Hecimovic, a Bosnian security expert, told AFP that volunteers for the war in Syria said they were motivated by the fight for what they describe as a single “Islamic homeland.”

[Oh. So in 1995 we weren’t helping establish an ‘independent, democratic, multi-ethnic, Westward-facing Bosnia,” but a caliphate? Golly.]

“This is the original motive, the same one which motivated some foreigners to come and fight in Bosnia, and now motivates Bosnians to go to Syria,” Hecimovic said.

“I absolutely don’t care what becomes of my children”

The IPS wire service carried a similar piece at the time:

Balkans Feed the Syria Battle (Inter Press Service, Aug. 2, 2013)

…Muaz Sabic (41) died near Aleppo two months ago…[His brother] Ilijas said his brother left Sarajevo for Istanbul in March. Muaz travelled with a couple of young men from Zenica and nearby Kakanj. According to the local reports, Muaz is one of 52 Bosniak Salafis who left for Syria…Most [volunteers] join the Al-Nusra unit…

Bosnian Muslims are Sunnis. Many have re-invented their religion after the 1992-1995 war…Bajro Ikanovic (37) is among those taking Bosniak Muslims to Syria. In 2007, he was sentenced to eight years in prison by a Sarajevo court on charges of terrorism. His home in Hadzici near Sarajevo was found to be a storage for explosives…Ikanovic was freed after four years, and began to organise volunteers for Syria.

Ikanovic told the religious [jihadist] site www.putvjernika.com in an interview that “…I absolutely don’t care what becomes of my children, we leave them to the law of Allah and we’ll be proud of our deeds and our lives the way we lived them.”

White al QaedaThe blue-eyed ‘White al Qaeda” they told us they’d activate. This could have been an ad for trail mix, but that just wasn’t austere enough for Bajro.

…Two young men from the southern Serbian town Novi Pazar died in Syria in May. Their deaths were praised on the local www.sandzakhaber.net site. Known under their battle names Abu Bera and Abu Merdia, Eldar Kundakovic and Adis Salihovic died in an effort to free prisoners from the Al-Safira jail near Aleppo. [And in January, 19-year-old Mirza Ganic was the third from Novi Pazar to die in Syria.]

[A State Investigation and Protection Agency] official told IPS that “the war in Bosnia opened the doors for re-invention of Islam; jihad fighters who came here to fight along their Muslim brethren against Serbs or Croats brought their ideology, customs and enthusiasm…”

“It is no secret that people are being paid to go to Syria or other fronts for that matter,” a local resident told IPS…The monthly income for jihadis paid through ‘humanitarian agencies’, can be about 600 dollars…

And Then There Were None

Below is an excerpt from a July 2013 piece, subheaded with this common disclaimer: “Even though conservative Islam is not much appreciated among the liberal and secular Bosniak and Albanian communities, radical groups show an increasing online and real-life presence.” Which as usual misses the point: Many of those “nominal” Muslims wanted what they wanted, and caused what they caused; now they must live with the consequences, as must their neighbors and now the rest of us.

From YouTube to Jihad – Balkan volunteers in Syria (TransConflict, July 18, 2013, By Vladimir Ninković)

…With respect to the Balkans, media outlets suggest that around 300 local Islamists went to fight for the Sunni cause in Syria, primarily from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia and Serbia (from its Southwestern part, called ‘Raska oblast’ by Serbs, and ‘Sandzak’ by Bosniaks). Two Serbian citizens – Eldar Kundakovic from Novi Pazar and Adis Salihovic from Rozaje – recently lost their lives…Another young man, Muaz Ahmeti…[from Bujanovac] was killed in Syria in May. The death of Naman Demoli from Pristina last year, meanwhile, figured prominently in the Kosovo media.

[S]ome 52 volunteers left Bosnia and joined the Al Nusrah front….their recruitment was organized by the extremist leader of the Salafi community in the village of Gornja Maoca… [which popped up on the radar a month after 9/11]….

Another factor contributing to the influx of Balkan Muslims is the extensive media coverage of Syria, echoing the nineties wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, in which Muslim Bosniaks and Albanians were represented as victims by the Western media [which itself contributed to the influx of nastier Muslims to those regions], as it is currently the case with the rebels…

In a roundup of Balkans terrorism, extremism, and “militant Islamism,” a painstakingly researched article this past February by Gordon Bardos, former assistant director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute, included some interesting details about Our-Friends-the-Docile-Balkans-Muslims. The headline “Our Goal is Jerusalem” – Militant Islamists in Southeast Europe” is a reference to the above-mentioned Bajram Ikanović, cited in Serbia’s Politika magazine in July 2013 after an interview he gave to the Bosnian website Source.ba. This Bosnian Muslim recruiter has “as a goal to die ‘especially in battle against Jews…Syria absolutely does not matter to us, our goal is Jerusalem…’”

Kosovo in particular has had at least a five-part role in this whole Syria thing: In addition to contributing fighters, weapons have been funneled through it; Syrian rebels have trained there; Kosovo’s ex-terrorist “leadership” has politically mentored both Libyan and Syrian oppositions (though Doug Saunders of Canada’s Globe & Mail felt reassured by Kosovo officials that Syrian rebels weren’t “actually training in Kosovo [perhaps those plans were scrapped because Russia urged against turning Kosovo into a training ground for militants, using reopened KLA bases, after an April 2012 guerrilla warfare experience-share attempted to make such a deal]; rather, their leaders…held numerous meetings with leaders of Kosovo and former fighters from the KLA…[D]eputy foreign minister Petrit Selimi…described Kosovo as ‘a quiet meeting place away from the spotlight that comes with gathering in larger capitals such as Istanbul or Cairo.’”); finally, Kosovo also has been extensively cited as an inspiration, road map, and precedent for both Libya and Syria.

That’s right — the political establishment that brought you the 15-year “Kosovo Is Not a Precedent” mantra/instruction, spent 2013 pointing to Kosovo as a precedent. Applying the precedent in every which way but how it fits, the political and media classes were justifying a Syria intervention by pointing to our Kosovo one (no sooner than they’d done the same for Libya).

Perpetual war-stoking early bird and Bosnia relic Christiane Amanpour’s April 2012 piece “Bosnia’s Lesson for Syrian Slaughter” (as well as “Syria must not become new Bosnia: U.N. rights boss” and “UN repeating mistakes of Bosnia, says Turkish PM”) foreshadowed the following slew of Syria-Kosovo analogies based on the same kind of original fiction as Amanpour’s Bosnia one:

In fact, Kosovo is a precedent in every way that they don’t want you to notice. In addition to the biggest one — as a separatism domino — we were again seeing:

* U.S. backing radicals, emboldening multinational jihadists (Washington backed jihadist elements in Kosovo, now in Syria — “The Western media’s coverage of the Syrian conflict has drawn comparisons to how it covered…the disintegration of Yugoslavia… ‘taking a complex situation involving atrocities and violence committed on both sides of the conflict, and attributing them only to one side. What you do is come up with a concept, and you fit the facts into the concept…’ [former Senate policy adviser James] Jatras noted… ‘Why is it that in the name of fighting terrorism and promoting democracy, the United States always seems to find itself on the side of jihadist elements engaging in terrorism…?’”);

* Christians and other non-Muslims and semi-Muslims being mowed down;

* The U.S. Constitution and international law being flouted (As the UK’s Muslim News reported in March 2012: “Pentagon is working on a Kosovo-type intervention in Syria even in the absence of a mandate from the UN Security Council…military intervention cloaked as providing security for the humanitarian mission….Ankara [has] begun echoing… But it is hard to imagine that without a UN mandate of some sort, Turkey or NATO would have the audacity to intervene… [“Imagine” it in 1999.] The Western ploy would be to cast Russia and China as blocking the international community’s noble mission to render humanitarian help to the Syrian people in distress.” Meanwhile, Madeleine Albright finally made a half-admission this year: “What we did in Kosovo wasn’t legal, but it was right.” It was “right,” of course, because Serbs are “Disgusting!” Maybe in another 15 years she’ll admit it also wasn’t right. And of course, Hillary Clinton: “‘Faced with a neutered Security Council, we have to redouble our efforts outside of the United Nations.’ [I]t was Mrs Clinton’s husband who took action in Kosovo without direct UN authorisation.”);

* Speaking of Turkey, the next similarity is the way Turkey agitated for action in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Syria alike (Sydney Morning Herald, Oct. 2012: “Erdogan [who had been calling for Assad’s ouster for two years] lashed out at the UN’s inaction, saying world powers are repeating the mistakes they made in Bosnia…[and] called for a change in the structure of the UNSC, where reluctance by any member…can stymie action.”

* “Limited/targeted airstrikes” not being called an act of war (again, an undeclared war);

* The West and rebels co-staging atrocities (During the Bosnian war, every time a critical decision was pending at the UN or Congress, there would be a “Serb mortar attack”; that’s not mentioning the staged atrocities by KLA-CIA in Kosovo. Anti-terrorism expert Yossef Bodansky called this one out last August, even catching Rush Limbaugh’s attention: Could the Chemical Attack in Ghouta be the Markale of the Syrian War? — “In August 1995…negotiations with the Serbs were going well as Pres. Slobodan Milosevic was…accepting virtually all the demands… Hence, it was becoming politically and legally impossible for the US-led West to launch the NATO military intervention which Pres. Clinton had promised Bosnia-Herzegovina….Then, on August 28, 1995, a mortar shell appeared to hit the Markale market-place in Sarajevo, killing 38 people and wounding another 90…[A]n UNPROFOR team [rushed] to the supposed Bosnian-Serb mortar positions and ascertained that none of them could have been used… Nevertheless, NATO launched the air campaign against Bosnian-Serb forces and shortly afterwards decided the war in favor of the Bosnian-Muslims. On August 31, 1995, Jean Daniel, then Editor of the magazine Le Nouvel Observateur…recounted an exchange he had just had with French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur…. ‘They [the Muslims] have committed this carnage on their own people?’ Daniel asked. ‘Yes,’ confirmed Balladur without hesitation, ‘but at least they forced NATO to intervene.’” It all certainly gives deeper resonance to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s words in October 2012: “It appears that every time hope for progress in the Syrian situation arises, somebody…deliberately fuels the continuation of the bloodshed…” Lavrov cited some unspecified opposition groups as telling Russia that Western countries urge them to continue the resistance.”);

* NATO as air force for KLA/al-Q;

(On the four counts immediately above, this time we did hear some American trepidation: Aug. 28, 2013 — “‘So what, we’re about to become Al-Qaeda’s air force now?’ said Kucinich…[H]e doubted the allegations that President Assad had used chemical weapons… ‘This is being used as a pretext,’ he said. ‘The verdict is in before the facts have been gathered. What does that tell you?’ … [Further,] ‘Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the U.S. exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers…” says the letter [to Obama from Kucinich and 21 Republicans]…The Syrian government has warned that an assault on the country would not be easy for Western powers. ‘We have two options: either to surrender, or to defend ourselves…’ Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told a televised news conference.” (Defending itself was something Serbia was condemned for as proving itself “the enemy.”)) Continuing now with the Kosovo-as-precedent bullet points:

* Victorious rebel forces not disarming, then instituting lawlessness with “revenge killings, detention, ethnic cleansing and torture continu[ing] unabated” and “rather than being grateful for NATO helping drive out Gadhafi [or Insert Strongman Here], the al-Qaida elements have begun targeting British, American and UN facilities”;

* Again the bizarre logic that worked out so well in Kosovo and Bosnia, of “We’re helping the rebels so they don’t turn to the bigger radicals (Canada’s Globe & Mail, Feb. 2013: “Mr. Kerry said one reason for sending money to the Syrian coalition is to try to counter the influence of extremists.” And similar words from “Jihad John” Mc thank-god-for-the-Saudis Cain, who early on said it was shameful we weren’t helping the Syrian rebels: “‘Inaction denies us the opportunity to have influence with forces in Syria who will one day inherit the country, ceding that to foreign states that may not always share our values….the longer this conflict drags on, the more radicalized it becomes.’ [So support the more radical side?]…Failure to act could result in Syria becoming a failed state, riven by extremist violence and sectarian conflict, he said… ‘It’s not a civil war, because all the military strength is on one side, and not the other. At least we ought to give them a chance to have a fair fight.’”);

* Which brings up the familiar “we have to even out the playing field” mentality, which is what actually does prolong the conflict and increase the chaos and casualties. (To wit, The NY Times‘ Malcolm Rifkind, in “A Call to Arm Syria’s Rebels” (Aug. 2012), wrote: “…Yugoslavia’s helpless foreign minister, Budimir Loncar, requested that the UN Security Council establish a global arms embargo that would apply to all parties….the only example of a government demanding sanctions on its own country…In fact, the embargo…consolidated the Bosnian Serbs’ overwhelming superiority of arms due to their access to the stockpiles of the Yugoslav National Army…And we are now making the same mistake in Syria….”);

* And again the “we have to do something” mentality — which actually creates the “failed state, riven by extremist violence and sectarian conflict” (UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said in October 2012,”It should not take something as drastic as Srebrenica to shake the world into taking serious action…”; and Angelina Jolie, director of a movie recycling the debunked version of Bosnia, had her “do something” moment for Syria in Feb. 2012, from Sarajevo no less: “Angelina Jolie said [to Al Jazeera Balkans] the world should intervene to stop the violent crackdown in Syria, and condemned powers that have vetoed a UN resolution…[Her] wartime love story in Bosnia…she has called a ‘wake-up call’ to prevent atrocities like those now happening in Syria.”);

* Last and most, the Holocaust analogies (Brendan O’Neill in September: “Holocaust relativism is rampant…usually as a form of moral blackmail to get people to support military action against some tinpot tyrant said to be ‘the new Hitler’, [which] has the effect of making the Holocaust mundane, unexceptional, an event that happens again and again…[John Kerry] says America’s stand-off with Assad is ‘our Munich moment’ [after our last not-so-Munique moment, Albright’s in 1999]. He describes the…chemical-weapons attacks in Syria as being reminiscent of those who “lost their lives…to German gas”…Harry Reid likewise… ‘”Never again”, swore the world.’ …[C]ommentators have gone into Holocaust-milking overdrive, arguing that ‘the gassing of Syrians with vaporised sarin’ is on a par with the Nazis’ ‘gassing of Jews with Zyklon B 70 years ago’. [See this whopper from American University’s Lori Handrahan.]…The Muslim Council of Britain once boycotted Holocaust Memorial Day on the basis that it failed to commemorate conflicts in Bosnia and Chechnya….[T]he Serbs were frequently referred to by liberal observers as Nazis….It took Elie Wiesel to point out the difference…: ‘The Holocaust was conceived to annihilate the last Jew on the planet. Does anyone believe that Milosevic…seriously planned to exterminate all the Bosnians, all the Albanians…?’”)

* Which leads us to that other great Balkans-era hallmark: recruiting the Jews. (“Obama ordered AIPAC to go to Capitol Hill to lobby for the Syria strikes,” Caroline Glick wrote last September. On cue, Patrick Buchanan had a field day, though not an easily dismissible one.)

Balkans: The Ultimate Gateway Drug

And still, despite all these parallels, we’re not supposed to believe that Bosnia and Kosovo were a gateway drug. Specifically: In the context of a 20/20-hindsight-on-1980s-Afghanistan world, our again helping in the early 90s — less excusably this time — Muslims against infidels, seems to have opened the door to additional and more dangerous addictions.

Last August, former Senate policy adviser Jim Jatras sent out the following email about the ironic Syria-Kosovo analogies being made by those who instructed us that Kosovo was no precedent:

I routinely check news searches for “Syria” and “Kosovo.” Up til a few days, ago, you only saw a handful of hits. Now the news is full of gleeful advocates of the “Kosovo precedent.” The bottom line is always the same:

  • …provoke or invent the casus belli (as we define it, a “red line” massacre, gas attack, WMDs, impending “humanitarian crisis” in Benghazi [again, check out CNN, Sept. 2, 2013: Free Syrian Army general Salim Idris tells Wolf Blitzer that “in the coming days” —  right around when Congress was to vote on war authorization — Assad’s forces would use chemical weapons to kill 20,000 or 30,000 people. How would he know that and have the figure of victims? The video has been pulled, but here’s another example and another. Perhaps the “chemical attack” was scrapped in light of the general’s heads-up, or maybe because the Russians and Turks traced chemical weapons to the rebels, Buchanan wrote that September, and suggested, “Why not tell the Russians to meet us in the Security Council where we will prove our ’slam-dunk’ case?…The idea of launching missiles based on evidence we will not reveal….]);

  • bully or entice at least some of our satellites (starting with the London poodle) into joining in so we can cite the opinion of the “international community”;

  • make sure the designated Muslim client…comes out on top, so they’ll love us…;

  • show the Russians and Chinese their vetoes on the Security Council don’t count, only ours does (and those of our puppets, London and Paris): international law is what we say it is.

…[T]he lies of the past are the gift that keeps on giving:

Balkan Peace and Prosperity Will Remain Elusive Unless Freed of Dead Hand of the 1990s (Diplomatic Courier, Aug. 9, 2013, By James George Jatras)

[In the Balkans,] the American and European foreign policy establishments insist that the future must be strictly confined by reverence for past idols. Two such idols stand out:

First, that the United States and NATO…brought “peace” by imposing the Dayton Agreement. In fact, in 1992 Washington played a key role in touching off the Bosnian war and was instrumental in prolonging it, notably through the April 1994 “green light” for Iranian arms shipments in violation of a U.N. embargo.

Second, that in Kosovo in 1999 the U.S.-led NATO war was the textbook example of a successful “humanitarian intervention.” In fact, far from stopping a claimed “genocide” of Albanians in Kosovo…intervention precipitated a genuine eradication of most of the province’s Serbian community, along with Roma and others. Worse, the “Kosovo precedent” became the template for actions elsewhere in contravention of the international legal order — notably the authority of the Security Council — in Iraq, Libya, and now in Syria.

[T]hese idols established the dangerous notion that…the rules of international conduct do not apply to us, and that whatever we do is right because we claim as our goals promotion of “democracy” and “human rights.”

On the local level, they established in the Balkans two simple identity-based rules and one corollary, where right and wrong are determined not by actions but by the identities of the actors and of those acted upon. These continue in force today, including disparate treatment of accused war criminals, and include:

Rule One: The Serbs are always wrong.

Rule Two: The Muslims are always right.

The Corollary: Other actors (notably, the Croats) are right when opposing the Serbs (for example, clearing them from the Krajina with U.S. assistance in 1995), but wrong when opposing Muslims (for example, expendable Croats massacred by mujahedin in central Bosnia in 1993).

“Rule Two” …remains a pillar of U.S. policy, despite abundant evidence that such favoritism leads not to the expected gratitude but to blowback….In applying “Rule Two” in the Balkans, the U.S. has been explicit in its subjective intention to help Muslim communities and movements because they are Muslim…In contrast, objective reality starts with the fact that Bosnia is not a “Muslim country” but has a Christian majority…. No matter: as recently as November 2012, Washington supported a plan for greater centralization of Bosnia and further marginalizing of Serbs and Croats.

Similarly, American and European policymakers can think of no better solution to Kosovo than pressing for more recognitions of the separatist administration in Pristina while hammering away at Belgrade’s already feeble resistance to amputation of its province.

Today, such simplistic approaches serve only to keep alight fond memories of the idolized “successes” of the 1990s. They do little to promote good governance in post-Yugoslav states…papered-over communal tensions will continue to smolder.

In a similar, shorter note Jatras sent out that May, he explained how a mountain of lies about the Balkans interventions are being used to get us into ever more disastrous interventions:

Bosnia and Kosovo have become a kind of “can-do” antidote to an Iraq or Vietnam syndrome….As for “genocide” in Bosnia or Kosovo, that’s parked somewhere near Saddam’s WMDs…Until the story is set straight of what really happened in the Balkans in the 1990s, and of the results that reverberate there to this day, the lies told then and elevated to the status of truism ever after will keep exerting their poisonous legacy and undermine a sound perception of the choices before us. 

Commenting on the Syrian “Balkans Redux,” libertarian blogger Nebojsa Malic wrote in July 2012:

One part of the Bosnia narrative that hasn’t worked well in Syria is the massacre stor[ies]…[which] have been debunked within weeks or even days…The “lesbian blogger” that captivated the Western public for months turned out to be a middle-aged American man. The “massacres” turned out to be the work of the rebels (Houla) and legitimate fighting deaths (Tremseh)…Now that the rebels have been routed from Damascus and are battling for Aleppo, the Empire [Washington] has announced it fears a “massacre.”

Consequences of the hysterical propaganda about the Bosnian War still linger….It took a decade just to establish an accurate death toll, which ended up being two to three times less than what the mainstream media had claimed. Yet the basic myth of the noble Empire swooping in to save the helpless “Bosnians” from genocide — the ultimate weaponization of human rights — continues to power the virtual reality in Washington. Without it, the Empire has no purpose. This is why it [is] so dead set on a war in Syria – and after Syria, somewhere else.

Witness Ukraine-Russia. Like clockwork.

 

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.