When Kosova declared its independence from Serbia on February 12 (becoming the seventh state to emerge from the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991), the US and nineteen members of the European Union (EU) backed the declaration.
On the face of it, Kosova’s declaration of independence from Serbia on February 17 should have been grounds for celebration across the Muslim world. The fact that, a few short years later, Kosova’s declaration of independence, and its recognition by much of the international community, should be greeted with so muted a response among Muslims requires some explanation. As for so much in the Balkans, the explanation lies in history, albeit recent.
Albanians constitute at least 90 percent of Kosova’s population, populating virtually the entire country, while the tiny Serb minority is mostly in an enclave in the north and in much smaller ones in the predominantly Albanian-populated areas. The Albanians laid the basis for their country’s independence and for the exercise of their right to self-determination under international law as a result of the 1998–99 Kosova war that successfully ended Serbia’s control.
It was as long ago as 1999 that NATO launched air attacks on Serbia, ostensibly to end the ‘ethnic cleansing' of Kosovan Albanians, and the UN Security Council turned Kosova into a protectorate of the UN, with six countries – America, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia – acting as the ‘contact group'. Yet the UN is still administering the province, and NATO troops (about 17,000 of them) remain in place to preserve a grudging peace between the Albanian Kosovars and the remaining Serb minority.
It is not as unfair as it might sound to describe the management of Kosova’s affairs (mismanagement, according to many analysts) by the UN and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) as meddling...
Four years after being forced to leave Kosova (1999), Serbian politicians have stepped up what Kosovar prime minister Bajram Rexhipi calls "diplomatic attacks on Kosova". As on many occasions in Serbia’s recent history, Serbian politicians appear to be competing in their use of nationalist rhetoric against non-Serb neighbours in order to rally support (presidential elections are due next year) and to divert atttention from domestic issues.
Macedonia, which a year ago was on the verge of civil war, has held elections. They were marred only by sporadic incidents of violence traceable to criminal elements and Slav extremist groups. As in Kosova, the Muslim Albanians are blamed for the unrest.
Until a month ago it was a firm western policy to arm the Macedonian military and isolate Albanian fighters by branding them as ‘terrorists’ out to break up the country in their alleged pursuit of ‘Greater Albania’.
Former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic appeared before the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague on July 3, to hear the charges of murder and crimes against humanity being brought against him.
From Kosova to Kashmir, and many other places yet further afield, Muslims are being deprived of their lands and lives. In some cases, the ‘international community’ expresses concern and intervenes; in others, it is apparently oblivious.
Had the king of Saudi Arabia or a member of the House of Saud been insulted by the western media, chances are that all hell would have broken loose. There would be diplomatic protests and the Saudi ambassador from the offending country’s capital--London, Paris etc--would be recalled to Riyadh for consultations.
As Australian and other troops representing the UN prepare to secure East Timor, ostensibly for the Timorese, and a de facto international protectorate establishes new institutions of government in Kosova...
A meeting in London recently witnessed a minor argument between a Kosovar alim and activist and an Iranian alim about the NATO bombing. In his speech, the Kosovar brother welcomed the NATO bombing, saying that the Muslims of Kosova hoped to be able to build an independent Muslim country in the new geo-political realities of the region.
Will the American killing- machine ever be satisfied? How long must the entire world remain hostage to the American ambition for supremacy and its reckless quest for power? Even the dreaded monster in children’s fairy-tales retreats to his cave once he has kidnapped a child from a nearby village.
Nato’s intervention in Kosova failed to save the country’s infrastructure from destruction and its Muslim population from genocide, but it has saved the territory for Serbia, asserting the ‘principle’ that it is an integral and inalienable part of Yugoslavia, and disarming the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA).
NATO’s 11-week war with Yugoslavia over Kosova appeared finally to have ended on June 10, when its Secretary General Javier Solana suspended military operations saying that alliance intelligence sources had verified that Yugoslavia troops had begun to withdraw from Kosova.
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.
As confused as they have always been regarding their stance in world conflicts, many Muslims seem unable to form a coherent and comprehensible position on NATO’s bombardment of Yugoslavia
The US admitted on December 3 that its troops in Kosova are helping the Serbs to maintain control of the region and to prevent local people from returning to their homes. That is the upshot of the US confirmation that they are providing armoured escorts to Serb police patrols in the Malisheva region, and a telling reflection of their true role in Kosova.
Fighting in Kosova continued apparently unabated despite last month’s supposed ‘withdrawal’ of Serbian forces after the Holbrooke-Milosevic pact of October 13 and the lifting of the threat of NATO airstrikes against the Serbs.