NATO announced the commitment of 25,000 more troops to the Balkans on May 24, taking the number of troops available to enter Kosova ‘when the time is right’ to 50,000. The announcement was presented as a sign of the west’s resolve to go into Kosova if necessary. But everyone knows the troops will not go into a ‘non-permissive’ environment - in other words, without Slobodan Milosevic’s permission. If NATO had had any intention of risking their troops’ lives in order to help the Kosovars, they would have gone in weeks ago, when there was still something for them to do, not now that the Serbs have achieved their goals.
And the Serbs have achieved their goals. There is no doubt about that, despite the regular strong words from NATO spokesmen. Huge areas of Kosova have been totally cleared of Muslims. Nearly one million have led the country and are sheltering in camps in Macedonia and Albania. Whether these will ever return to Kosova remains to be seen. The Serbs are insisting that only those who can prove their citizenship can return -- and they destroyed the papers of many of the refugees before allowing them to leave. Over fifty years after being driven from Palestine, the Palestinians remain scattered around the world. Tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslims will never be able to return to their homes. The Kosovars know better than to expect the west to live up to their big words. Kosova’s infrastructure has been destroyed, and its institutions decimated. The main force available to protect them, the KLA, is holding out in some areas. But the west has promised Serbia that the KLA will be ‘demilitarised’, so that is not a problem. There is really nothing left for the Serbs to fight for.
And the west also has nothing left to fight for. All their original objectives have long been rendered obsolete, and their impotence totally exposed. The war continues only because neither side knows how best to end it. Their requirements are similar: both need to come out looking good. Image is everything. Quite possibly the 50,000 NATO troops will apparently be sent into ‘hostile’ territory once the Serbs have assured NATO that they will not be harmed. This way NATO would have the best of both worlds: the image of firm action, and the assurance of zero losses. One way or another, international forces will ‘secure’ Kosova and - as in Bosnia - ensure that the Serbs’ enemies are disarmed and rendered harmless. A ‘political settlement’ agreed between the west and the Serbs will be imposed on the Kosovars and everyone (important) will be happy.
The point is: where have the Muslims been in all this? True, some charities have worked within the western relief effort; but why has the west been able to set the agenda without Muslims having a say? In Bosnia, arms and equipment from Iran and other Muslim sources kept the Muslims alive for long enough to oblige the west to intervene. Some mujahideen from different parts of the Islamic movement also contributed. But in Kosova the movement has been left on the sidelines - heckling both sides, as one British Muslim recently said, without doing anything ourselves. There is an undeniable element of truth is this, unfortunately; and it is a reflection of our weakness. It is better we face the reality than try to ignore it. Muslims have not been able to lead history for centuries. The west sets the agenda on all issues of note because they have built a globally hegemonic civilization at our expense. Until we turn history in our favour, we will remain without a say at such times. But the good news is that history is turning in our favour, slowly but surely, alhumdulillah. The contrast in Muslim fortunes from the 1970s, before the Islamic Revolution, and now, could hardly be greater.
The Kosovars are not going anywhere. One way or another, they will survive to fight for their homeland and their identity again in the future. From Tartaristan to Sudan to Mindanao, Muslim victims of history on the frontiers of Islam and kufr are keeping up the fight and waiting for history to turn their way. Sooner now rather than later, the Kosovars will get a chance to fight again for Kosova and Islam; the challenge for the Islamic movement is to re-assert our civilizational and moral values and principles in the heartlands of Islam so we that are in a position to help them next time, insha’Allah.
Muslimedia: June 1-15, 1999