Guess Kosovo wasn’t that ‘unique’: Separatism in the Caucasus



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A study of differences and similarities between the break-away states of South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh in the Caucasus and Kosovo in the Balkans.

After February 2008 when Kosovo Albanian-dominated Parliament proclaimed Kosovo independence (without organizing a referenda) with obvious US diplomatic support (unilateral recognition) with explanation that the Kosovo case is unique in the World (i.e., it will be not repeated again) one can ask the question: is the problem of the southern Serbian province of Kosovo-Metochia really unique and surely unrepeatable in some other parts of the World as the US administration was trying to convince the rest of the international community?[1]

Domino effect in international relations

The consequences of recognition of Kosovo independence by bigger part of the international community are already (and going to be in the future) visible primarily in the Caucasus because there are some similarities in these two regions.[2]

At the Caucasus region (where about 50 different ethnolinguistic groups are living together)[3] a self-proclaimed state independence is already done by Abkhazia and South Ossetia[4] only several months after the self-proclaimed independence of Albanian “Republic of Kosovo”,[5] following the pattern of both the Nagorno-Karabakh (formally a province in Azerbaijan) in 1991 and Kosovo in 2008.

The experts from the German Ministry of the Foreign Affairs expressed already in 2007 their real fear that in the case of the US and EU unilateral recognition of Kosovo independence the same unilateral diplomatic act could be implied by Moscow by recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as a matter of diplomatic compensation and as a result of domino effect in international relations.[6]

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It is also known and from the official OSCE sources that Russian delegates in this pan-European security organization have been constantly warning the West before 2008 that such scenario is quite possible, but with one peculiarity: from 2007 they stopped to mention possibility of the Russian recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh’s self-proclaimed independence (on September 2nd, 1991).

It is most probably for the reason that Moscow does not want (up to now) to deteriorate good relations with Azerbaijan – a country with huge reserves of natural gas and oil.

Why the South Ossetia could be different?

On the first glance it can be said that the Orthodox South Ossetians are equally separatist as the Muslim Albanians from Kosovo. However, the South Ossetians are having sympathies towards the Serbs (not for the reason that both of them are the Orthodox Christians), but not towards, as we could expect, separatist Kosovo Albanians.

The real reason of such sympathies is similar legal state rights applied by both the Serbs in Kosovo and the South Ossetians.[7]

Historically, the South Ossetia was never really integral and authentic part of sovereign Georgian state,[8] in contrast to Kosovo-Metochia which was not only integral, but culturally and politically the most important region of the medieval Serbian state (called as the Ancient Serbia or Serbia proper) till the mid-15th century when Kosovo-Metochia became occupied by the Ottomans.[9]

The territory of present-day Georgia historically was never before it became part of Russia politically firmly united around its capital Tbilisi in contrast to Serbia which before it lost independence in 1459 was having a long period of experience of the unified state territory with Kosovo-Metochia as its center.

When Serbia gained the autonomy status within the Ottoman Empire in 1830/1833 and was later recognized by the European Great Powers at the Berlin Congress in 1878 as an independent state it was known for her rulers and politicians which historical territories belonged to her: Kosovo-Metochia was on the first place.[10]

The present day territory of Georgia entered the Russian Empire in parts – segment by segment. Ossetia as united territory (i.e., not divided into the Northern and the Southern Ossetia as today situation is) became (according to the Russian historiography) voluntarily part of the Russian Empire in 1774.

In the other words, the Russian Empress Catherine the Great (1762−1796), in order to be surely convinced that the Ossetians are really independent, before incorporation of this province into the Russian Empire sent a special commission which informed St. Petersburg that “the Ossetians are free people subordinated to no one”.[11]

Georgia itself became part of the Russian Empire in 1804 (27 years later then Ossetia). This fact is the most important argument used by the South Ossetians in their dispute with the Georgian authorities.

The Southern part of Ossetia was given to be administered by Georgia only in the USSR by decision of three Georgian Communists – J. V. Stalin, Sergei Ordzonikidze and Avelj Enukindze. It has to be also stressed that the border between two parts of Ossetia (the Northern and the Southern) never existed before 1994.

What concerns the Kosovo Albanian case, it is known that the Albanians started to settle themselves in the region of Kosovo-Metochia from the present-day Northern Albania only after the First Serbian Great Migration (or Exodus) from the region in 1690. In the other words, before the Ottoman occupation of Serbia there were no Albanians in Kosovo-Metochia in any significant number (only 2% according to the Ottoman census in 1455).[12]

According to several Byzantine and Arab historical sources, the Balkan Albanians are originating from the Caucasus Albania – in the 9th century they left the Caucasus and have been settled by the Arabs in the Western Sicily (and the South Italy) which they left in 1043 and came to the Balkans.[13] The borders of the present-day territory of Kosovo-Metochia are fixed by the Yugoslav Communist authorities in 1945,[14] who in fact separated this province from the rest of Serbia together with the Province of Vojvodina.[15]

In addition, the Yugoslav Communist People’s Assembly issued the decree according to which it was forbidden for about 100.000 expelled Serbs from Kosovo-Metochia during the Second World War by the Albanian authorities to return back to the province.

This decesion was followed by migration of up to 200.000 Kosovo-Metochia Serbs during the period of the Socialist Yugoslavia from the province to the Central Serbia. In addition, during the Socialist Yugoslavia it is estimated that up to 300.000 Albanians from Albania migrated to Kosovo-Metochia.

Together with enormously high birth-rate of the Kosovo Albanian population,[16] these are the main reasons for drastically altered demographic picture of the province in Albanian favor during the time of the Socialist Yugoslavia thus making legal case for Serbs stronger to challenge Albanian thrive for Kosovo independence (and inclusion into Albania).

The people of the South Ossetia on the referendum about the future of the USSR on March 17th, 1991 voted for existence of the Soviet Union (like the Serbs upon Yugoslavia, but and Kosovo Albanians on referendum to become an independent from Serbia like the Georgians from the USSR).[17]

The referendum on March 17th, 1991 was organized two months after Georgian army started the war against the South Ossetia in which till September of the same year 86 Ossetian villages have been burned. It is calculated that more than 1.000 Ossetians lost their lives and around 12.000 Ossetians emigrated from the South to the North (Russia’s) Ossetia.

This is the point of similarity with expelled at least 200.000 Serbs from Kosovo-Metochia by the Albanian the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army[18] after the NATO peace-keeping troops entered and de facto occupied this province in June 1999.

A state’s independence of the Republic of South Ossetia from the Republic of Georgia was formally proclaimed on May 29th, 1992. However, this legal act can not been understood as a “separatist” one for the reason that at that time Georgia was not recognized by no one state in the world as an independent political subject and Georgia was not a member of the United Nations.

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However, in contrast to the case of the South Ossetia, the unilateral proclamation of the state independence of Kosovo by the Albanians on February 18th, 2008 cannot be treated by the international community as a legitimate act (without permission by Belgrade) as Kosovo by the international law and agreements is an integral part of Serbia (the same legal reason was applied by the international community to the case of self-proclaimed the Republic of Serbian Krayina in 1991 from Croatia).[19]

Differently from the case of Georgia, when the South Ossetia proclaimed the state independence in May 1992, Serbia in 2008, when the Albanian dominated Parliament of Kosovo proclaimed the state independence, was an internationally recognized independent state and a member of the United Nations.

This is a common point of similarity between the Ossetians and the Serbs as the nations: both of them are fighting against separation of one part of their national body and the land from the motherland.

However, Tbilisi is doing the same like Belgrade, from this point of view, i.e. claiming that the South Ossetia (and Abkhazia) is historical and state’s part of Georgia.[20] From that point of view, there is a similarity between political claims of both states – Serbia and Georgia with one significant difference: historical rights of Serbia over Kosovo-Metochia are much more stronger in comparison with the same rights of Georgia over the South Ossetia (and Abkhazia).

In the other words, Kosovo-Metochia was all the time, from historical, cultural, state’s and identity point of views, a central/proper part of Serbia, while both the South Ossetia and Abkhazia have been just borderland provinces of Georgia.[21]

International system of governing and separation

The main argument for the western politicians upon the case of Kosovo self-proclaimed independence, as “unique case” in global perspective, is the fact that according to the “Kumanovo Agreement” between Serbia and the NATO, signed on June 10th, 1999, and the UN Resolution of 1244 (following this agreement), Kosovo-Metochia is put under the UN protectorate with imposed international system of governing and security.

However, such “argument” does not work in the case of the South Ossetia as the Ossetians are governing their land by themselves and much more successfully in comparison with the “internationally” (i.e., the NATO) protected Kosovo-Metochia.

This was quite visible in March 2004 when the international organizations and military troops could not (i.e., did not want to)[22] protect the ethnic Serbs in Kosovo-Metochia from violent attacks organized by the local Albanians when during three days (March 17−19th) 4.000 Serbs were expelled, more than 800 Serbian houses were burned and 35 Serbian Christian Orthodox churches and cultural monuments were destroyed or severely damaged.

The “March Pogrom” of 2004 revealed the real situation in the region of Kosovo-Metochia. The position of the South Ossetians in independent Georgia from 1991 to August 2008 could be compared with position of the Serbs in Kosovo-Metochia after June 1999 which is under the total Albanian domination.

The fact is that the South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Pridnestrovje[23] showed much more political-legal bases and capabilities to be recognized as an independent for the reason that they showed real ability to govern themselves by only themselves, but not by the international organizations as it is in the case of the Albanian-governed Kosovo (the “Republic of Kosovo” from February 2008) after June 1999 up today. They also proved much more democracy and respect for human and minority rights in comparison with the Albanian-ruled Kosovo.[24]

The Nagorno-Karabakh and Kosovo-Metochia

There are several similarities, but also and dissimilarities between conflicts in the Nagorno-Karabakh province and Kosovo-Metochia. In both cases the international community is dealing with autonomy of a compact national minority who is making a majority on the land in question and having its own national independent state out of this territory.

Both the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians and the Kosovo Albanians do not want to accept any other solution except separation and internationally recognized independence (and later unification with their motherlands).[25]

Both conflicts are in fact continuations of old historic struggles between two different civilizations: the Muslim Turkish and the Christian Byzantine. In both conflicts the international organizations are included as the mediators. Some of them are the same – France, the USA and Russia as the members of both Contact Groups for ex-Yugoslavia and the Minsk Group under the OSCE umbrella for Azerbaijan.

Serbia and Azerbaijan were against that their cases (Kosovo-Metochia and the Nagorno-Karabakh) will be proclaimed as the “unique” as therefore it would be a green light to both Albanian and Armenian separatists to secede their territories from Serbia and Azerbaijan without permissions given by Belgrade and Baku (what in reality already happened).

However, there are differences between Kosovo-Metochia and the Nagorno-Karabakh cases.

Firstly, Kosovo-Metochia was internal conflict within Serbia (which is after June 1999 internationalized), but in the case of the Nagorno-Karabakh there is external military aggression (by Armenia).

Secondly, in difference to Armenia in relation to the Nagorno-Karabakh, Albania formally never accepted any legal act in which Kosovo was called as integral part of a state territory of Albania (with historical exception during the Second World War when Kosovo-Metochia, the Eastern Montenegro and the Western Macedonia have been included into Mussolini’s the so-called “Greater Albania” with the capital in Tirana).

Delegation from Albania did not take any participation in the talks and negotiations upon the “final” status of Kosovo-Metochia between Prishina and Belgrade in 2007−2013, while Armenia has official status of “interested side” in the conflict in regard to the Nagorno-Karabakh. However, the Armenians from the Nagorno-Karabakh such status did not obtain.

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While the Armenian army (i.e. from the Republic of Armenia) was directly involved in the military operations in the Nagorno-Karabakh, officially part of an independent state of Azerbaijan,[26] in the Kosovo-Metochia conflict of 1998−1999 the official regular army of the Republic of Albania was not involved (differently from a great number of the volunteers from Albania).

As a result, Armenia occupied 1/5 of Azerbaijan territory and the victims of ethnic cleansing are mainly the Azerbaijani. A military weaker Azerbaijan side in comparison to Armenia, which was supported by Russia in arms and other war material, did not apply to the NATO for the military help, but military weaker Kosovo Albanian side in comparison to Serbia’s police and the Yugoslav army forces did it during the Kosovo conflict of 1998−1999.[27]

Conclusion

It can be concluded that the Albanian unilaterally proclaimed Kosovo independence in February 2008 is not “unique” case in the world without direct consequences to similar separatist cases following the “domino effect” (the South Ossetia, the South Sudan, the Crimean Peninsula, the Eastern Ukraine, Scotland, Catalonia, Bask region…).

That is the real reason why, for instance, the government of Cyprus is not supporting “Kosovo Albanian rights to self-determination” as the next “unique” case can be easily the northern (Turkish) part of Cyprus which is, by the way, recognized only by the Republic of Turkey and under de facto Ankara’s protection and the occupation by the regular army of the Republic of Turkey from 1974 onward.[28]

Finally, that Kosovo “domino effect” well works in the practice showed the Russian authorities in the spring 2014 when Moscow recognized separation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine based on the self-determination of the local inhabitans exactlly calling the 2008 Kosovo case of self-proclaimed independence.


[1] The region of Kosovo (under such name known in the western politics and science) is traditionally and historically called by the Serbs as Kosovo-Metochia, while by the Albanians as Kosova or Kosovë. The western portion of the region is Metochia and the eastern one is Kosovo.

[2] “Южную Оссетию смерили косовским взглядом”, Коммерсант, 15. 11. 2006: http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/721626.

[3] On history, antropology, religion and ethnography of the Caucasus, see: N. Griffin, Caucasus: A Journey To The Land Between Christianity And Islam (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2004); B. Grant, L. Yalcin-Heckmann (eds.), Caucasus Paradigms: Antropologies, Histories and The Making of A World Area (LIT Verlag, 2007); Ch. King, The Ghost of Freedom: A History of The Caucasus (Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 2008); Th. De Waal, The Caucasus: An Introduction (Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); J. Forsyth, The Caucasus: A History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); A. Tsutsiev, Atlas of The Ethno-Political History of The Caucasus (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014); G. M. Hahn, The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland & Company, 2014). On ethnopolitical conflicts in the Caucasus, see: S. E. Cornell, Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus (London−New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2001); E. Souleimanov, Understanding Ethnopolitical Conflict: Karabakh, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia Wars Reconsidered (New York−London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013).

[4] On self-proclamation of the state’s independence by Abkhazia and South Ossetia and followed war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008, see: S. E. Cornell, S. F.  Starr (eds.), The Guns of August 2008 Russia’s War in Georgia (M. E. Sharpe, 2009); R. D. Asmus, A Little War That Shook The World: Georgia, Russia, and The Future of The West (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010); D. Gierycz, The Mysteries of The Caucasus (Xlibris Corporation, 2010).

[5] Up today there are more than 100 states in the world, according to Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who recognized this territory as an independent state. Among them are and 26 EU member states. However, Kosovo is not still a member of any international political, economic or sport organization. The first two states which recognized Kosovo proclamation of independence in February 2008 were Afghanistan and the USA. The number of states who really recognized Kosovo independence is very questionable.

[6] Moscow used the domino effect principle in the case of unification of the Crimean Peninsula with Russia in the spring 2014 and can use the same principle for the unification with Russia of any other region of Ukraine or other ex-Soviet republics with significant number of the Russian-speaking population or at least to support their autonomous or separatist political movements.

[7] There is a claim that the Ossetians are only European nation in the Caucasus, but this claim is up to now not scientifically proved. The Ossetians themselves believe to originate from the Sarmatian tribe of Alans. The Ossetians speak a language that is remotely related to the Persian.

[8] See: Ph. M. Parker (ed.), Ossetia: Webster’s Timeline History 1204−2007 (ICON Group International, Inc., 2010).

[9] The Serbian Christian Orthodox cultural heritage in Kosovo-Metochia is of the crucial importance for the national identity of all Serbs (Политичка ревија, Тема броја: Косово и Метохија, питање идентитета и српског националног интереса (Београд: Институт за политичке студије, vol. 35, no. 1, 2013)).

[10] М. Екмечић, Дуго кретање између клања и орања. Историја Срба у Новом веку (1492−1992) (Београд: Евро−Ђунти, 2010), 203−94.

[11] On history of Georgia, see: R. G. Suny, The Making of The Georgian Nation (Indiana University Press, 1994); D. Rayfield, Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia (London: Reaktion Books Ltd., 2012); S. F. Jones, Georgia: A Political History Since Independence (I. B. Tauris, 2014).

[12] For instance, see: H. Hadžibegić, A. Handžić, E. Kovačević (urednici), Oblast Brankovića: Opširni katastarski popis iz 1455. godine (Sarajevo: Orijentalni institut u Sarajevu, 1972).

[13] About this issue, see: Кавкаски Албанци лажни Илири, Проширени текстови реферата изложених 21. јуна 2007. године на мултидисциплинарном округлом столу у САНУ „Методолошки проблем истраживања порекла Албанаца“, Београд: Пешић и син, 2007; Ј. И. Деретић, Д. П. Антић, С. М. Јарчевић, Измишљено досељавање Срба (Београд: Сардонија, 2009).

[14] Before 1945 it was hardly known what the exact borders of this province have been as it historically depended on the power of the local feudal lords (ex. the Branković’s) or foreign power (ex. the Kosovo Vilayet in the Ottoman Empire) which was administering the province.

[15] The Albanian minority in Serbia within the region of Kosovo-Metochia in the Socialist Yugoslavia enjoyed all kind of minority rights according to the international law and even above it. The region has its own president, constitution, parliament, police, academy of science, law, press, education system, etc. In the other words, Albanian-run and dominated Kosovo- Metochia was in fact an independent political subject in Yugoslavia equal with all Yugoslavia’s republics. Within such political conditions Kosovo Albanians developed a high range of the policy of the oppression and expulsion from the region of the ethnic Serbs with a strong tendency to separate the region from the rest of Serbia and include it into a Greater Albania. What S. Milošević’s government did in 1989 it was abolishment of just political independence of both autonomous regions in Serbia – Vojvodina and Kosovo-Metochia in order to protect the country from territorial destruction. However, even after 1989 Kosovo Albanians enjoyed minority rights according to the basic standards of the international law. Many minorities in Europe or elsewhere today can just dream about minority rights left to Kosovo Albanians by Serbia’s government in 1989. For the matter of comparison, for instance, the Kurds in Turkey (from 1999 a candidate country for the EU membership) enjoy no single minority right for the very reason as they are not recognized as minority group at all. From the legal point of view by the Turkish government, the Kurds do not even exist in Turkey as the ethnocultural and linguistic group. For this reason, the process of Kurdish assimilation in Turkey is on the way on. On the Kurdish question in Turkey, see: M. Heper, The State and Kurds in Turkey: The Question of Assimilation (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); C. Saraçoglu, Kurds of Modern Turkey: Migration, Neoliberalism and Exclusion in Turkish Society (Tauris Academic Studies, 2010); M. M. Gunter, The Kurds: The Evolving Solution to the Kurdish Problem in Iraq and Turkey (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011); N. Beratsky (ed.), The Kurds (Greenhaven Press, 2013); R. Aras, The Formation of Kurdishness in Turkey: Political Violence, Fear and Pain (London-New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2014). On Slobodan Milošević from the western perspective, see: L. Sell, Slobodan Milosevic and the destruction of Yugoslavia (Durham-London: Duke University Press, 2002); A. LeBor, Milosevic. A Biography (London-Berlin-New York-Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2012).

[16] The Kosovo Albanian birth-rate after the Second World War is highest in Europe and even higher than in Albania for the very political reason to claim Kosovo-Metochia to be exclusively Albanian territory – a claim to be based on the ethnic rights as the Albanians do not have any historic right on this province ((P. V. Grujić, Kosovo Knot (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: RoseDog Books, 2014)).

[17] The South Ossetian referendum is called by Georgia as illegal like Kosovo Albanian referendum is also called by Serbia’a authorities as not legally based. At the moment of the Kosovo Albanian referendum this South Serbian province did not have any political autonomy. Kosovo-Metochia enjoyed very wide political autonomy until 1989 when it was cancelled by Belgrade in order to prevent separation of the province from the rest of the country. It was left to Kosovo-Metochia after 1989 cultural and education autonomy for the local Albanians – the right which they enjoyed in Montenegro and the FYR of Macedonia. The South Ossetia was never enjoying such wide political autonomy (semi-independence) in the USSR as it was the case of Kosovo-Metochia in the Socialist Yugoslavia till 1989.

[18] On the Kosovo Liberation Army, see, for instance pro-Albanian and pro-western points of view on historical background for the Kosovo Liberation Army with described its activities up to and including the NATO intervention: H. H. Perritt Jr., Kosovo Liberation Army: The Inside Story of An Insurgency (University of Illinois, 2008); J. Pettifer, The Kosova Liberation Army: Underground War to Balkan Insurgency, 1948-2001 (London: C. Hurst & Co. (Publishers) Ltd, 2012). The last book is official history of the Kosovo Liberation Army ordered and financed by the Albanian-run Kosovo government composed by the Kosovo Liberation Army veterans. The Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army is not lesser separatist and terrorist than, for instance, the Kurdish PKK. However, it is allowed for the Turkish government by the „international“ community to use all legal and other means to fight the PKK including and a clear violation of the human rights.

[19] About the case of the Republic of Serbian Krayina see: В. Ђурић, Република Српска Крајина. Десет година послије (Београд: „Добра воља“, 2005). Regarding the case of destruction of ex-Yugoslavia in the 1990s, see: J. Guskova, Istorija jugoslovenske krize (1990−2000), I−II (Beograd: ИГАМ, 2003). Up today, the Republic of Kosovo is not a member of any international political, sport, cultural or economic organization.

[20] According to 1989 data, ethnic breakdown of Georgia was: the Georgians 69%, Armenians 9%, Russians 5%, Azerbaijanis 3%, Ossetians 3%. In 1993 it was 146.000 refugees in Georgia. At the same time about one million persons left Georgia, live in break-away regions or were expelled after 1989 (I. Ivekovic, Ethnic and Regional Conflicts in Yugoslavia and Transcaucasia: A Political Economy of Contemporary Ethnonational Mobilization (Ravenna: Longo Editore Ravenna, 2000), 18.

[21] See: C. Francis, Conflict Resolution and Status: The Case of Georgia and Abkhazia (1989−2008) (Academic & Science Publishers, 2011); A. Saparov, From Conflict to Autonomy in the Caucasus: The Soviet Union and the Making of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno Karabakh (New York−London: Routledge, 2014).

[22] Neue Zürcher Zeitung (14. 05. 2004).

[23] An unrecognized the Republic of Pridnestrovje, the break-away region of the Republic of Moldova is very good example of transitional, or uncompleted statehood. It is de facto not under Moldovan control, possessing all formal attributes of a sovereign state, like the “Republic of Kosovo”. Pridnestrovje, or Transdniestria, forms part of the world-wide belt of “pseudo states” (V. Kolossov, “A Small State vs a Self-Proclaimed Republic: Nation-Building, Territorial Identities and Prospects of Conflict Resolution (The Case of Moldova-Transdniestria)”, S. Bianchini (ed.), From the Adriatic to the Caucasus: The Dynamics of (De)Stabilization (Ravenna: Longo Editore Ravenna, 2001), 87). Abkhazia, the South Ossetia and Pridnestrovje are the only “states” in the world who recognized the self-proclaimed independence of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh in 1991. However, it is not done up today by any of the UN member states.

[24] On the issue of violation of minority rights in Albanian-governed Kosovo-Metochia, including and the policy of ethnic cleansing, see, for instance: The March Pogrom in Kosovo and Metohija (March 17−19, 2004) with a survey of destroyed and endangered Christian cultural heritage (Belgrade, 2004); H. Hofbauer,  Experiment Kosovo. Die Rückker des Kolonialismus (Wien: 2008); M. Чупић, Отета земља. Косово и Метохија (злочини, прогони, отпори) (Београд: Нолит, 2006), 387−88; V. B. Sotirović, “Kosovo & Metohija: Ten Years After The ‘March Pogrom 2004’”, Српска политичка мисао (Serbian Political Thought), vol. 43, no. 1, (Belgrade: Institute for Political Studies, 2014), 267−83. Such policy of violation of minority rights including and ethnic cleansing, at least at such extent, is not recorded in the cases of the South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Pridnestrovje. According to Miroljub Jevtić, both Kosovo Albanian secesionism and destruction of Serbian Christian Orthodox national and cultural heritage in this province have Islamic background (М. Јевтић, „Исламска суштина албанског сецесионизма и културно наслеђе Срба“, Национални интерес (National Interest), vol. 17,  no. 2 (Belgrade: Institute for Political Studies, 2013), 231−52). On Islamic fundamentalism, see: L. Davidson, Islamic Fundamentalism: An Introduction (Santa Barbara, California: Praeger, 2013).

[25] On the case of Nagorno Karabakh, see: H. Krüger, The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: A Legal Analysis (Springer−Heidelberg−Dordrecht−London−New York: Springer, 2010); B. Balayev, The Right to Self-Determination in the South Caucasus: Nagorno Karabakh in Context (Lexington Books, 2013).

[26] On political history of Azerbaijan since 1991, see: Svante E. Cornell, Azerbaijan Since Independence (M. E. Sharpe, 2010).

[27] Azerbaijan did not apply fot the NATO help for at least three reasons: 1) not to spoil good relations with Russia; 2) not to provoke Iran – a country which was supporting Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia; and 3) the NATO at that time was not ready for the confrontation with Russia in the region which was de facto recognized by Brussels and Washington as the Russian zone of interest. On the Kosovo-Metochia War in 1998−1999 in the context of destruction of ex-Yugoslavia, see: C. Hadjimichalis, “Kosovo, 82 Days of an Undeclared and Unjust War: A Geopolitical Comment”, European Urban and Regional Studies, Vol. 7, No. 2, (2000), 175-80; T. Judah, Kosovo: War and Revenge (New Haven-London: Yale University Press, 2002); A. Finlan, The Collapse of Yugoslavia 1991-1999 (Ospray Publishing, 2004). On the NATO’s air war for Kosovo-Metochia in 1999, see: T. G. Carpenter (ed.), NATO’s Empty Victory: A Postmortem on the Balkan War (Cato Institute, 2000); B. S. Lambeth, NATO’s Air War for Kosovo: A Strategic and Operational Assessment (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2001); D. Henrikson, NATO’s Gamble: Combining Diplomacy and Airpower in the Kosovo Crisis 1998-1999 (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2007). On the NATO’s „humanitarian“ intervention in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999, see: D. N. Gibbs, First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2009).

[28] The author of this article has strong belief that the USA and the Russian administrations simply decided in 2008 to recognize at the moment de facto situation upon the Balkans and the Caucasus affairs: Kosovo-Metochia will be recognized as the USA domain, while the South Ossetia and Abkhazia as the Russian one. By now, and of course, such a “secret diplomacy” deal cannot be proven by any document.

2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirovic 2015

_____________________

Original source of the article: http://russia-insider.com/en/2015/01/10/2319

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How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground for ISIS



Kosovo ISIL Ridvan Haqifi and Lavdrim Muhaxheri

PRISTINA, Kosovo — Every Friday, just yards from a statue of Bill Clinton with arm aloft in a cheery wave, hundreds of young bearded men make a show of kneeling to pray on the sidewalk outside an improvised mosque in a former furniture store.

The mosque is one of scores built here with Saudi government money and blamed for spreading Wahhabism — the conservative ideology dominant in Saudi Arabia — in the 17 years since an American-led intervention wrested tiny Kosovo from Serbian oppression.

Since then — much of that time under the watch of American officials — Saudi money and influence have transformed this once-tolerant Muslim society at the hem of Europe into a font of Islamic extremism and a pipeline for jihadists.

Kosovo now finds itself, like the rest of Europe, fending off the threat of radical Islam. Over the last two years, the police have identified 314 Kosovars — including two suicide bombers, 44 women and 28 children — who have gone abroad to join the Islamic State, the highest number per capita in Europe.

They were radicalized and recruited, Kosovo investigators say, by a corps of extremist clerics and secretive associations funded by Saudi Arabia and other conservative Arab gulf states using an obscure, labyrinthine network of donations from charities, private individuals and government ministries.

“They promoted political Islam,” said Fatos Makolli, the director of Kosovo’s counterterrorism police. “They spent a lot of money to promote it through different programs mainly with young, vulnerable people, and they brought in a lot of Wahhabi and Salafi literature. They brought these people closer to radical political Islam, which resulted in their radicalization.”

After two years of investigations, the police have charged 67 people, arrested 14 imams and shut down 19 Muslim organizations for acting against the Constitution, inciting hatred and recruiting for terrorism. The most recent sentences, which included a 10-year prison term, were handed down on Friday.

It is a stunning turnabout for a land of 1.8 million people that not long ago was among the most pro-American Muslim societies in the world. Americans were welcomed as liberators after leading months of NATO bombing in 1999 that spawned an independent Kosovo.

 American bombing of Serbian positions in Kosovo in 1999 during the air campaign by NATO. Credit Jerome Delay/Associated Press

After the war, United Nations officials administered the territory and American forces helped keep the peace. The Saudis arrived, too, bringing millions of euros in aid to a poor and war-ravaged land.

But where the Americans saw a chance to create a new democracy, the Saudis saw a new land to spread Wahhabism.

“There is no evidence that any organization gave money directly to people to go to Syria,” Mr. Makolli said. “The issue is they supported thinkers who promote violence and jihad in the name of protecting Islam.”

 A portrait of Bill Clinton on a back street in Pristina near Bill Clinton Boulevard. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Kosovo now has over 800 mosques, 240 of them built since the war and blamed for helping indoctrinate a new generation in Wahhabism. They are part of what moderate imams and officials here describe as a deliberate, long-term strategy by Saudi Arabia to reshape Islam in its image, not only in Kosovo but around the world.

Saudi diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2015 reveal a system of funding for mosques, Islamic centers and Saudi-trained clerics that spans Asia, Africa and Europe. In New Delhi alone, 140 Muslim preachers are listed as on the Saudi Consulate’s payroll.

All around Kosovo, families are grappling with the aftermath of years of proselytizing by Saudi-trained preachers. Some daughters refuse to shake hands with or talk to male relatives. Some sons have gone off to jihad. Religious vigilantes have threatened — or committed — violence against academics, journalists and politicians.

The Balkans, Europe’s historical fault line, have yet to heal from the ethnic wars of the 1990s. But they are now infected with a new intolerance, moderate imams and officials in the region warn.

How Kosovo and the very nature of its society was fundamentally recast is a story of a decades-long global ambition by Saudi Arabia to spread its hard-line version of Islam — heavily funded and systematically applied, including with threats and intimidation by followers.

 Idriz Bilalli, an imam in Podujevo, has sought to curb extremists and has received death threats. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

The Missionaries Arrive

After the war ended in 1999, Idriz Bilalli, the imam of the central mosque in Podujevo, welcomed any help he could get.

Podujevo, home to about 90,000 people in northeast Kosovo, was a reasonably prosperous town with high schools and small businesses in an area hugged by farmland and forests. It was known for its strong Muslim tradition even in a land where people long wore their religion lightly.

After decades of Communist rule when Kosovo was part of Yugoslavia, men and women mingle freely, schools are coeducational, and girls rarely wear the veil. Still, Serbian paramilitary forces burned down 218 mosques as part of their war against Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians, who are 95 percent Muslim. Mr. Bilalli needed help to rebuild.

When two imams in their 30s, Fadil Musliu and Fadil Sogojeva, who were studying for master’s degrees in Saudi Arabia, showed up after the war with money to organize summer religion courses, Mr. Bilalli agreed to help.

The imams were just two of some 200 Kosovars who took advantage of scholarships after the war to study Islam in Saudi Arabia. Many, like them, returned with missionary zeal.

Soon, under Mr. Musliu’s tutelage, pupils started adopting a rigid manner of prayer, foreign to the moderate Islamic traditions of this part of Europe. Mr. Bilalli recognized the influence, and he grew concerned.

“This is Wahhabism coming into our society,” Mr. Bilalli, 52, said in a recent interview.

Mr. Bilalli trained at the University of Medina in Saudi Arabia in the late 1980s, and as a student he had been warned by a Kosovar professor to guard against the cultural differences of Wahhabism. He understood there was a campaign of proselytizing, pushed by the Saudis.

“The first thing the Wahhabis do is to take members of our congregation, who understand Islam in the traditional Kosovo way that we had for generations, and try to draw them away from this understanding,” he said. “Once they get them away from the traditional congregation, then they start bombarding them with radical thoughts and ideas.”

“The main goal of their activity is to create conflict between people,” he said. “This first creates division, and then hatred, and then it can come to what happened in Arab countries, where war starts because of these conflicting ideas.”

From the outset, the newly arriving clerics sought to overtake the Islamic Community of Kosovo, an organization that for generations has been the custodian of the tolerant form of Islam that was practiced in the region, townspeople and officials say.

Muslims in Kosovo, which was a part of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years, follow the Hanafi school of Islam, traditionally a liberal version that is accepting of other religions.

But all around the country, a new breed of radical preachers was setting up in neighborhood mosques, often newly built with Saudi money.

In some cases, centuries-old buildings were bulldozed, including a historic library in Gjakova and several 400-year-old mosques, as well as shrines, graveyards and Dervish monasteries, all considered idolatrous in Wahhabi teaching.

From their bases, the Saudi-trained imams propagated Wahhabism’s tenets: the supremacy of Sharia law as well as ideas of violent jihad and takfirism, which authorizes the killing of Muslims considered heretics for not following its interpretation of Islam.

The Saudi-sponsored charities often paid salaries and overhead costs, and financed courses in religion, as well as English and computer classes, moderate imams and investigators explained.

But the charitable assistance often had conditions attached. Families were given monthly stipends on the condition that they attended sermons in the mosque and that women and girls wore the veil, human rights activists said.

“People were so needy, there was no one who did not join,” recalled Ajnishahe Halimi, a politician who campaigned to have a radical Albanian imam expelled after families complained of abuse.

Gjilan, a town of about 90,000 where a moderate imam was kidnapped and beaten by extremists. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Threats Intensify

Within a few years of the war’s end, the older generation of traditional clerics began to encounter aggression from young Wahhabis.

Paradoxically, some of the most serious tensions built in Gjilan, an eastern Kosovo town of about 90,000, where up to 7,000 American troops were stationed as part of Kosovo’s United Nations-run peacekeeping force at Camp Bondsteel.

“They came in the name of aid,” one moderate imam in Gjilan, Enver Rexhepi, said of the Arab charities. “But they came with a background of different intentions, and that’s where the Islamic religion started splitting here.”

One day in 2004, he recalled, he was threatened by one of the most aggressive young Wahhabis, Zekirja Qazimi, a former madrasa student then in his early 20s.

Inside his mosque, Mr. Rexhepi had long displayed an Albanian flag. Emblazoned with a double-headed eagle, it was a popular symbol of Kosovo’s liberation struggle.

But strict Muslim fundamentalists consider the depiction of any living being as idolatrous. Mr. Qazimi tore the flag down. Mr. Rexhepi put it back.

“It will not go long like this,” Mr. Qazimi told him angrily, Mr. Rexhepi recounted.

Within days, Mr. Rexhepi was abducted and savagely beaten by masked men in woods above Gjilan. He later accused Mr. Qazimi of having been behind the attack, but police investigations went nowhere.

Ten years later, in 2014, after two young Kosovars blew themselves up in suicide bombings in Iraq and Turkey, investigators began an extensive investigation into the sources of radicalism. Mr. Qazimi was arrested hiding in the same woods. On Friday, a court sentenced him to 10 years in prison after he faced charges of inciting hatred and recruiting for a terrorist organization.

Before Mr. Qazimi was arrested, his influence was profound, under what investigators now say was the sway of Egyptian-based extremists and the patronage of Saudi and other gulf Arab sponsors.

By the mid-2000s, Saudi money and Saudi-trained clerics were already exerting influence over the Islamic Community of Kosovo. The leadership quietly condoned the drift toward conservatism, critics of the organization say.

Mr. Qazimi was appointed first to a village mosque, and then to El-Kuddus mosque on the edge of Gjilan. Few could counter him, not even Mustafa Bajrami, his former teacher, who was elected head of the Islamic Community of Gjilan in 2012.

Mr. Bajrami comes from a prominent religious family — his father was the first chief mufti of Yugoslavia during the Communist period. He holds a doctorate in Islamic studies. Yet he remembers pupils began rebelling against him whenever he spoke against Wahhabism.

He soon realized that the students were being taught beliefs that differed from the traditional moderate curriculum by several radical imams in lectures after hours. He banned the use of mosques after official prayer times.

Hostility only grew. He would notice a dismissive gesture in the congregation during his sermons, or someone would curse his wife, or mutter “apostate” or “infidel” as he passed.

In the village, Mr. Qazimi’s influence eventually became so disruptive that residents demanded his removal after he forbade girls and boys to shake hands. But in Gjilan he continued to draw dozens of young people to his after-hours classes.

“They were moving 100 percent according to lessons they were taking from Zekirja Qazimi,” Mr. Bajrami said in an interview. “One hundred percent, in an ideological way.”

Evening prayer at the mosque of the radical imam Fadil Musliu on the outskirts of Pristina, the capital. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Extremism Spreads

Over time, the Saudi-trained imams expanded their work.

By 2004, Mr. Musliu, one of the master’s degree students from Podujevo who studied in Saudi Arabia, had graduated and was imam of a mosque in the capital, Pristina.

In Podujevo, he set up a local charitable organization called Devotshmeria, or Devotion, which taught religion classes and offered social programs for women, orphans and the poor. It was funded by Al Waqf al Islami, a Saudi organization that was one of the 19 eventually closed by investigators.

Mr. Musliu put a cousin, Jetmir Rrahmani, in charge.

“Then I knew something was starting that would not bring any good,” said Mr. Bilalli, the moderate cleric who had started out teaching with him. In 2004, they had a core of 20 Wahhabis.

“That was only the beginning,” Mr. Bilalli said. “They started multiplying.”

Mr. Bilalli began a vigorous campaign against the spread of unauthorized mosques and Wahhabi teaching. In 2008, he was elected head of the Islamic Community of Podujevo and instituted religion classes for women, in an effort to undercut Devotshmeria.

As he sought to curb the extremists, Mr. Bilalli received death threats, including a note left in the mosque’s alms box. An anonymous telephone caller vowed to make him and his family disappear, he said.

“Anyone who opposes them, they see as an enemy,” Mr. Bilalli said.

He appealed to the leadership of the Islamic Community of Kosovo. But by then it was heavily influenced by Arab gulf sponsors, he said, and he received little support.

When Mr. Bilalli formed a union of fellow moderates, the Islamic Community of Kosovo removed him from his post. His successor, Bekim Jashari, equally concerned by the Saudi influence, nevertheless kept up the fight.

“I spent 10 years in Arab countries and specialized in sectarianism within Islam,” Mr. Jashari said. “It’s very important to stop Arab sectarianism from being introduced to Kosovo.”

Mr. Jashari had a couple of brief successes. He blocked the Saudi-trained imam Mr. Sogojeva from opening a new mosque, and stopped a payment of 20,000 euros, about $22,400, intended for it from the Saudi charity Al Waqf al Islami.

He also began a website, Speak Now, to counter Wahhabi teaching. But he remains so concerned about Wahhabi preachers that he never lets his 19-year-old son attend prayers on his own.

The radical imams Mr. Musliu and Mr. Sogojeva still preach in Pristina, where for prayers they draw crowds of young men who glare at foreign reporters.

Mr. Sogojeva dresses in a traditional robe and banded cleric’s hat, but his newly built mosque is an incongruous modern multistory building. He admonished his congregation with a rapid-fire list of dos and don’ts in a recent Friday sermon.

Neither imam seems to lack funds.

In an interview, Mr. Musliu insisted that he was financed by local donations, but confirmed that he had received Saudi funding for his early religion courses.

The instruction, he said, is not out of line with Kosovo’s traditions. The increase in religiosity among young people was natural after Kosovo gained its freedom, he said.

“Those who are not believers and do not read enough, they feel a bit shocked,” he said. “But we coordinated with other imams, and everything was in line with Islam.”

The entrance to the grounds of the Serbian Orthodox monastery in Decani in western Kosovo. In January, four armed Islamists passed through the checkpoint and were arrested at the monastery gates. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

A Tilt Toward Terrorism

The influence of the radical clerics reached its apex with the war in Syria, as they extolled the virtues of jihad and used speeches and radio and television talks shows to urge young people to go there.

Mr. Qazimi, who was given the 10-year prison sentence, even organized a summer camp for his young followers.

“It is obligated for every Muslim to participate in jihad,” he told them in one videotaped talk. “The Prophet Muhammad says that if someone has a chance to take part in jihad and doesn’t, he will die with great sins.”

“The blood of infidels is the best drink for us Muslims,” he said in another recording.

Among his recruits, investigators say, were three former civilian employees of American contracting companies at Camp Bondsteel, where American troops are stationed. They included Lavdrim Muhaxheri, an Islamic State leader who was filmed executing a man in Syria with a rocket-propelled grenade.

After the suicide bombings, the authorities opened a broad investigation and found that the Saudi charity Al Waqf al Islami had been supporting associations set up by preachers like Mr. Qazimi in almost every regional town.

Al Waqf al Islami was established in the Balkans in 1989. Most of its financing came from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain, Kosovo investigators said in recent interviews. Unexplained gaps in its ledgers deepened suspicions that the group was surreptitiously funding clerics who were radicalizing young people, they said.

Investigators from Kosovo’s Financial Intelligence Unit found that Al Waqf al Islami, which had an office in central Pristina and a staff of 12, ran through €10 million from 2000 through 2012. Yet they found little paperwork to explain much of the spending.

More than €1 million went to mosque building. But one and a half times that amount was disbursed in unspecified cash withdrawals, which may have also gone to enriching its staff, the investigators said.

Only 7 percent of the budget was shown to have gone to caring for orphans, the charity’s stated mission.

By the summer of 2014, the Kosovo police shut down Al Waqf al Islami, along with 12 other Islamic charities, and arrested 40 people.

The charity’s head offices, in Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands, have since changed their name to Al Waqf, apparently separating themselves from the Balkans operation.

Asked about the accusations in a telephone interview, Nasr el Damanhoury, the director of Al Waqf in the Netherlands, said he had no direct knowledge of his group’s operations in Kosovo or the Balkans.

The charity has ceased all work outside the Netherlands since he took over in 2013, he said. His predecessor had returned to Morocco and could not be reached, and Saudi board members would not comment, he said.

“Our organization has never supported extremism,” Mr. Damanhoury said. “I have known it since 1989. I joined them three years ago. They have always been a mild group.”


Kosovars celebrating the independence of Kosovo from Serbia in 2008. Credit Bela Szandelszky/Associated Press

Unheeded Warnings

Why the Kosovar authorities — and American and United Nations overseers — did not act sooner to forestall the spread of extremism is a question being intensely debated.

As early as 2004, the prime minister at the time, Bajram Rexhepi, tried to introduce a law to ban extremist sects. But, he said in a recent interview at his home in northern Kosovo, European officials told him that it would violate freedom of religion.

“It was not in their interest, they did not want to irritate some Islamic countries,” Mr. Rexhepi said. “They simply did not do anything.”

Not everyone was unaware of the dangers, however.

At a meeting in 2003, Richard C. Holbrooke, once the United States special envoy to the Balkans, warned Kosovar leaders not to work with the Saudi Joint Relief Committee for Kosovo, an umbrella organization of Saudi charities whose name still appears on many of the mosques built since the war, along with that of the former Saudi interior minister, Prince Naif bin Abdul-Aziz.

A year later, it was among several Saudi organizations that were shut down in Kosovo when it came under suspicion as a front for Al Qaeda. Another was Al-Haramain, which in 2004 was designated by the United States Treasury Department as having links to terrorism.

Yet even as some organizations were shut down, others kept working. Staff and equipment from Al-Haramain shifted to Al Waqf al Islami, moderate imams familiar with their activities said.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia appears to have reduced its aid to Kosovo. Kosovo Central Bank figures show grants from Saudi Arabia averaging €100,000 a year for the past five years.

It is now money from Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — which each average approximately €1 million a year — that propagates the same hard-line version of Islam. The payments come from foundations or individuals, or sometimes from the Ministry of Zakat (Almsgiving) from the various governments, Kosovo’s investigators say.

But payments are often diverted through a second country to obscure their origin and destination, they said. One transfer of nearly €500,000 from a Saudi individual was frozen in 2014 since it was intended for a Kosovo teenager, according to the investigators and a State Department report.

Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations were still raising millions from “deep-pocket donors and charitable organizations” based in the gulf, the Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, David S. Cohen, said in a speech in 2014 at the Center for a New American Security.

While Saudi Arabia has made progress in stamping out funding for Al Qaeda, sympathetic donors in the kingdom were still funding other terrorist groups, he said.

Today the Islamic Community of Kosovo has been so influenced by the largess of Arab donors that it has seeded prominent positions with radical clerics, its critics say.

Ahmet Sadriu, a spokesman for Islamic Community of Kosovo, said the group held to Kosovo’s traditionally tolerant version of Islam. But calls are growing to overhaul an organization now seen as having been corrupted by outside forces and money.

Kosovo’s interior minister, Skender Hyseni, said he had recently reprimanded some of the senior religious officials.

“I told them they were doing a great disservice to their country,” he said in an interview. “Kosovo is by definition, by Constitution, a secular society. There has always been historically an unspoken interreligious tolerance among Albanians here, and we want to make sure that we keep it that way.”

 Albert Berisha, sentenced to prison for going to Syria to fight, says he did not join the Islamic State. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Families Divided

For some in Kosovo, it may already be too late.

Families have been torn apart. Some of Kosovo’s best and brightest have been caught up in the lure of jihad.

One of Kosovo’s top political science graduates, Albert Berisha, said he left in 2013 to help the Syrian people in the uprising against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. He abandoned his attempt after only two weeksand he says he never joined the Islamic State — but has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison, pending appeal.

Ismet Sakiqi, an official in the prime minister’s office and a veteran of the liberation struggle, was shaken to find his 22-year-old son, Visar, a law student, arrested on his way through Turkey to Syria with his fiancée. He now visits his son in the same Kosovo prison where he was detained under Serbian rule.

And in the hamlet of Busavate, in the wooded hills of eastern Kosovo, a widower, Shemsi Maliqi, struggles to explain how his family has been divided. One of his sons, Alejhim, 27, has taken his family to join the Islamic State in Syria.

It remains unclear how Alejhim became radicalized. He followed his grandfather, training as an imam in Gjilan, and served in the village mosque for six years. Then, two years ago, he asked his father to help him travel to Egypt to study.

Mr. Maliqi still clings to the hope that his son is studying in Egypt rather than fighting in Syria. But Kosovo’s counterterrorism police recently put out an international arrest warrant for Alejhim.

“Better that he comes back dead than alive,” Mr. Maliqi, a poor farmer, said. “I sent him to school, not to war. I sold my cow for him.”

Alejhim had married a woman from the nearby village of Vrbice who was so conservative that she was veiled up to her eyes and refused to shake hands with her brother-in-law.

The wife’s mother angrily refused to be interviewed. Her daughter did what was expected and followed her husband to Syria, she said.

Secretly, Alejhim drew three others — his sister; his best friend, who married his sister; and his wife’s sister — to follow him to Syria, too. The others have since returned, but remain radical and estranged from the family.

Alejhim’s uncle, Fehmi Maliqi, like the rest of the family, is dismayed. “It’s a catastrophe,” he said.


21-05-2016

By Carlota Gall

Source: The New York Times

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Libya: Is this Kosovo all over again?



ISIL Army

Another NATO Intervention?

Less than a dozen years after NATO bombed Yugoslavia into pieces, detaching the province of Kosovo from Serbia, there are signs that the military alliance is gearing up for another victorious little “humanitarian war”, this time against Libya. The differences are, of course, enormous. But let’s look at some of the disturbing similarities.

A demonized leader

As “the new Hitler”, the man you love to hate and need to destroy, Slobodan Milosevic was a neophyte in 1999 compared to Muammar Qaddafi today. The media had less than a decade to turn Milosevic into a monster, whereas with Qaddafi, they’ve been at it for several decades. And Qaddafi is more exotic, speaking less English and coming before the public in outfits that could have been created by John Galliano (another recently outed monster). ;This exotic aspect arouses the ancestral mockery and contempt for lesser cultures with which the West was won, Africa was colonized and the Summer Palace in Beijing was ravaged by Western soldiers fighting to make the world safe for opium addiction.

The “we must do something” chorus

As with Kosovo, the crisis in Libya is perceived by the hawks as an opportunity to assert power. The unspeakable John Yoo, the legal advisor who coached the Bush II administration in the advantages of torturing prisoners, has used the Wall Street Journal to advise the Obama administration to ignore the U.N Charter and leap into the Libyan fray. “By putting aside the U.N.’s antiquated rules, the United States can save lives, improve global welfare, and serve its own national interests at the same time,” Yoo proclaimed. And another leading theorist of humanitarian imperialism, Geoffrey Robertson, has told The Independent that, despite appearances, violating international law is lawful.

The specter of “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” is evoked to justify war

As with Kosovo, an internal conflict between a government and armed rebels is being cast as a “humanitarian crisis” in which one side only, the government, is assumed to be “criminal”. This a priori criminalization is expressed by calling on an international judicial body to examine crimes which are assumed to have been committed, or to be about to be committed. In his Op Ed piece, Geoffrey Robertson made it crystal clear how the International Criminal Court is being used to set the stage for eventual military intervention. The ICC can be used by the West to get around the risk of a Security Council veto for military action, he explained.

“In the case of Libya , the council has at least set an important precedent by unanimously endorsing a reference to the International Criminal Court. […] So what happens if the unarrested Libyan indictees aggravate their crimes – eg by stringing up or shooting in cold blood their opponents, potential witnesses, civilians, journalists or prisoners of war?” [Note that so far there are no “indictees” and no proof of “crimes” that they supposedly may “aggravate” in various imaginary ways.) But Robertson is eager to find a way for NATO “to pick up the gauntlet” if the Security Council decides to do nothing.]

“The defects in the Security Council require the acknowledgement of a limited right, without its mandate, for an alliance like NATO to use force to stop the commission of crimes against humanity. That right arises once the council has identified a situation as a threat to world peace (and it has so identified Libya, by referring it unanimously to the ICC prosecutor).”

Thus referring a country to the ICC prosecutor can be a pretext for waging war against that country! By the way, the ICC jurisdiction is supposed to apply to States that have ratified the treaty establishing it, which, as I understand, is not the case of Libya – or of the United States. A big difference, however, is that the United States has been able to persuade, bully or bribe countless signatory States to accept agreements that they will never under any circumstances try to refer any American offenders to the ICC. That is a privilege denied Qaddafi.

Robertson, a member of the UN justice council, concludes that: “The duty to stop the mass murder of innocents, as best we can if they request our help, has crystallized to make the use of force by Nato not merely ‘legitimate’ but lawful.”

Leftist idiocy

Twelve years ago, most of the European left supported “the Kosovo war” that set NATO on the endless path it now pursues in Afghanistan. Having learned nothing, many seem ready for a repeat performance. A coalition of parties calling itself the European Left has issued a statement “strongly condemning the repression perpetrated by the criminal regime of Colonel Qaddafi” and urging the European Union “to condemn the use of force and to act promptly to protect the people that are peacefully demonstrating and struggling for their freedom.” Inasmuch as the opposition to Qaddafi is not merely “peacefully demonstrating”, but in part has taken up arms, this comes down to condemning the use of force by some and not by others – but it is unlikely that the politicians who drafted this statement even realize what they are saying.

The narrow vision of the left is illustrated by the statement in a Trotskyist paper that: “Of all the crimes of Qaddafi, the one that is without doubt the most grave and least known is his complicity with the EU migration policy…” ; For the far left, Qaddafi’s biggest sin is cooperating with the West, just as the West is to be condemned for cooperating with Qaddafi. This is a left that ends up, out of sheer confusion, as cheerleader for war.

Refugees

The mass of refugees fleeing Kosovo as NATO began its bombing campaign was used to justify that bombing, without independent investigation into the varied causes of that temporary exodus – a main cause probably being the bombing itself. Today, from the way media report on the large number of refugees leaving Libya since the troubles began, the public could get the impression that they are fleeing persecution by Qaddafi. As is frequently the case, media focuses on the superficial image without seeking explanations. A bit of reflection may fill the information gap. It is hardly likely that Qaddafi is chasing away the foreign workers that his regime brought to Libya to carry out important infrastructure projects. Rather it is fairly clear that some of the “democratic” rebels have attacked the foreign workers out of pure xenophobia. Qaddafi’s openness to Africans in particular is resented by a certain number of Arabs. But not too much should be said about this, since they are now our “good guys”. This is a bit the way Albanian attacks on Roma in Kosovo were overlooked or excused by NATO occupiers on the grounds that “the Roma had collaborated with the Serbs”.

Osama bin Laden

Another resemblance between former Yugoslavia and Libya is that the United States (and its NATO allies) once again end up on the same side as their old friend from Afghan Mujahidin days, Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden was a discreet ally of the Islamist party of Alija Izetbegovic during the Bosnia civil war, a fact that has been studiously overlooked by the NATO powers. Of course, Western media have largely dismissed Qaddafi’s current claim that he is fighting against bin Laden as the ravings of a madman. However, the combat between Qaddafi and bin Laden is very real and predates the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Indeed, Qaddafi was the first to try to alert Interpol to bin Laden, but got no cooperation from the United States. In November 2007, the French news agency AFP reported that the leaders of the “Fighting Islamic Group” in Libya announced they were joining Al Qaeda. Like the Mujahidin who fought in Bosnia, that Libyan Islamist Group was formed in 1995 by veterans of the U.S.-sponsored fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Their declared aim was to overthrow Qaddafi in order to establish a radical Islamist state. The base of radical Islam has always been in the Eastern part of Libya where the current revolt broke out. Since that revolt does not at all resemble the peaceful mass demonstrations that overthrew dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, but has a visible component of armed militants, it can reasonably be assumed that the Islamists are taking part in the rebellion.

Refusal of negotiations

In 1999, the United States was eager to use the Kosovo crisis to give NATO’s new “out of area” mission its baptism of fire. The charade of peace talks at Rambouillet was scuttled by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who sidelined more moderate Kosovo Albanian leaders in favor of Hashim Thaci, the young leader of the “Kosovo Liberation Army”, a network notoriously linked to criminal activities. The Albanian rebels in Kosovo were a mixed bag, but as frequently happens, the US reached in and drew the worst out of that bag.

In Libya, the situation could be even worse

My own impression, partly as a result of visiting Tripoli four years ago, is that the current rebellion is a much more mixed bag, with serious potential internal contradictions. Unlike Egypt, Libya is not a populous historic state with thousands of years of history, a strong sense of national identity and a long political culture. Half a century ago, it was one of the poorest countries in the world, and still has not fully emerged from its clan structure. Qaddafi, in his own eccentric way, has been a modernizing factor, using oil revenues to raise the standard of living to one of the highest on the African continent. ;The opposition to him comes, paradoxically, both from reactionary traditional Islamists on the one hand, who consider him a heretic for his relatively progressive views, and Westernized beneficiaries of modernization on the other hand, who are embarrassed by the Qaddafi image and want still more modernization. And there are other tensions that may lead to civil war and even a breakup of the country along geographic lines.

So far, the dogs of war are sniffing around for more bloodshed than has actually occurred. Indeed, the US escalated the Kosovo conflict in order to “have to intervene”, and the same risks happening now with regard to Libya, where Western ignorance of what they would be doing is even greater.

The Chavez proposal for neutral mediation to avert catastrophe is the way of wisdom. But in NATOland, the very notion of solving problems by peaceful mediation rather than by force seems to have evaporated.


2011-03-08

About the author:

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions. She can be reached at diana.josto@yahoo.fr

Original source of the article: http://www.nspm.rs/nspm-in-english/libya-is-this-kosovo-all-over-again.html

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Bill Clinton worked hand in glove with Al Qaeda: “Helped turn Bosnia into militant Islamic base” (A prelude to creation of Kosovo ISIL in 1999)



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Known and documented, since the Soviet-Afghan war, recruiting Mujahideen (“holy warriors”) to fight covert wars on Washington’s behest has become an integral part of US foreign policy.

A 1997 Congressional document by the Republican Party Committee (RPC), while intent upon smearing President Bill Clinton, nonetheless sheds light on the Clinton administration’s insidious role in recruiting and training jihadist mercenaries with a view to transforming Bosnia into a “Militant Islamic Base”.

In many regards, Bosnia and Kosovo (1998-1999) were “dress rehearsals” for the destabilization of the Middle East (Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen).

With regard to Syria, the recruitment of jihadists (according to Israeli intelligence sources) was launched prior to 2011 under the auspices of NATO and the Turkish High command in liaison with the Pentagon.

The RCP report reveals how the US administration – under advice from Clinton’s National Security Council headed by Anthony Lake – “helped turn Bosnia into a militant Islamic base” leading to the recruitment through the so-called “Militant Islamic Network,” of thousands of Mujahideen from the Muslim world:

Perhaps most threatening to the SFOR mission – and more importantly, to the safety of the American personnel serving in Bosnia – is the unwillingness of the Clinton Administration to come clean with the Congress and with the American people about its complicity in the delivery of weapons from Iran to the Muslim government in Sarajevo. That policy, personally approved by Bill Clinton in April 1994 at the urging of CIA Director-designate (and then-NSC chief) Anthony Lake and the U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith, has, according to the Los Angeles Times (citing classified intelligence community sources), “played a central role in the dramatic increase in Iranian influence in Bosnia.

(…)

Along with the weapons, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and VEVAK intelligence operatives entered Bosnia in large numbers, along with thousands of mujahedin (“holy warriors”) from across the Muslim world. Also engaged in the effort were several other Muslim countries (including Brunei, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Turkey) and a number of radical Muslim organizations.

For example, the role of one Sudan-based “humanitarian organization,” called the Third World Relief Agency, has been well documented. The Clinton Administration’s “hands-on” involvement with the Islamic network’s arms pipeline included inspections of missiles from Iran by U.S. government officials… the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA), a Sudan-based, phoney humanitarian organization … has been a major link in the arms pipeline to Bosnia. … TWRA is believed to be connected with such fixtures of the Islamic terror network as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (the convicted mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and Osama Bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi émigré believed to bankroll numerous militant groups. [Washington Post, 9/22/96] emphasis added

The Republican Party Committee report quoting official documents as well as US media sources confirms unequivocally the complicity of the Clinton Administration with several Islamic fundamentalist organisations including Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda.

What was the ultimate purpose of this report?

The Republicans wanted at the time to undermine the Clinton Administration. However, at a time when the entire country had its eyes riveted on the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the Republicans no doubt chose not to trigger an untimely “Iran-Bosniagate” affair, which might have unduly diverted public attention away from the Lewinsky scandal.

The Republicans wanted to impeach Bill Clinton “for having lied to the American People” regarding his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. On the more substantive “foreign policy lies” regarding covert operations involving the recruitment of “Jihadists” in the Balkans, Democrats and Republicans agreed in unison, no doubt pressured by the Pentagon and the CIA not to “spill the beans”. Clinton’s support of “jihadist” terrorist organizations in Bosnia and Kosovo was a continuation of the CIA sponsored recruitment of Mujahideen implemented throughout the 1980s in Afghanistan, under the helm of the CIA.

The “Bosnian pattern” described in the 1997 Congressional RPC report was then replicated in Kosovo. Among the foreign mercenaries fighting in Kosovo (and Macedonia in 2001) were Mujahideen from the Middle East and the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union as well as “soldiers of fortune” from several NATO countries including Britain, Holland and Germany.

Confirmed by British military sources, the task of arming and training of the KLA had been entrusted in 1998 to the US Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Britain’s Secret Intelligence Services MI6, together with “former and serving members of 22 SAS [Britain’s 22nd Special Air Services Regiment], as well as three British and American private security companies”. (The Scotsman, Glasgow, 29 August 1999)

The US DIA approached MI6 to arrange a training programme for the KLA, said a senior British military source. `MI6 then sub-contracted the operation to two British security companies, who in turn approached a number of former members of the (22 SAS) regiment. Lists were then drawn up of weapons and equipment needed by the KLA.’ While these covert operations were continuing, serving members of 22 SAS Regiment, mostly from the unit’s D Squadron, were first deployed in Kosovo before the beginning of the bombing campaign in March. (ibid)

While British SAS Special Forces in bases in Northern Albania were training the KLA, military instructors from Turkey and Afghanistan financed by the “Islamic jihad” were collaborating in training the KLA in guerilla and diversion tactics. (Truth in Media, April 2, 1999)

Bin Laden had visited Albania himself. He was one of several fundamentalist groups that had sent units to fight in Kosovo, … Bin Laden is believed to have established an operation in Albania in 1994 … Albanian sources say Sali Berisha, who was then president, had links with some groups that later proved to be extreme fundamentalists. (Sunday Times, London, 29 November 1998, emphasis added).

Below is the complete text of the RPC congressional document, which confirms that the Clinton administration was collaborating with Al Qaeda. The actions taken by the Clinton administration were intended to create ethnic and factional divisions which eventually were conducive to the fracturing of the Yugoslav Federation.

In retrospect, the Obama Administration’s covert support of the ISIS in Syria and Iraq bears a canny resemblance to the Clinton administration’s support of the Militant Islamic Base in Bosnia and Kosovo. What this suggests is that US intelligence rather than the White House and the State Department determine the main thrust of US foreign policy, which consists in supporting and financing “Jihadist” terrorist organizations with a view to destabilizing sovereign countries.

Michel Chossudovsky, September 13, 2015

Note: the original Congressional document published by the office of Senator Larry Craig (ret) is no longer available

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Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base

Republican Party Committee, US Congress, September 1997

“‘There is no question that the policy of getting arms into Bosnia was of great assistance in allowing the Iranians to dig in and create good relations with the Bosnian government,’ a senior CIA officer told Congress in a classified deposition. ‘And it is a thing we will live to regret because when they blow up some Americans, as they no doubt will before this … thing is over, it will be in part because the Iranians were able to have the time and contacts to establish themselves well in Bosnia.”‘

“Iran Gave Bosnia Leader $ [“Iran Gave Bosnia Leader $ 500,000, CIA Alleges: Classified Report Says Izetbegovic Has Been ‘Co-Opted,’ Contradicting U.S. Public Assertion of Rift,” Los Angeles Times, 12/31/96. Ellipses in original. Alija Izetbegovic is the Muslim president of Bosnia.] “‘If you read President Izetbegovk’s writings, as I have, there is no doubt that he is an Islamic fundamentalist,’ said a senior Western diplomat with long experience in the region. ‘He is a very nice fundamentalist, but he is still a fundamentalist. This has not changed. His goal is to establish a Muslim state in Bosnia, and the Serbs and Croats understand this better than the rest of us.”‘ [“Bosnian Leader Hails Islam at Election Rallies,” New York Times, 9/2/96].

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Introduction and Summary

In late 1995, President Bill Clinton dispatched some 20,000 U.S. troops to Bosnia-Hercegovina as part of a NATO-led “implementation force” (IFOR) to ensure that the warning Muslim, Serbian, and Croatian factions complied with provisions of the Dayton peace plan. [NOTE: This paper assumes the reader is acquainted with the basic facts of the Bosnian war leading to the IFOR deployment. For background, see RPC’s “Clinton Administration Ready to Send U.S. Troops to Bosnia, “9/28/95,” and Legislative Notice No. 60, “Senate to Consider Several Resolutions on Bosnia,” 12/12/95] Through statements by Administration spokesmen, notably Defense Secretary Perry and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Shalikashvili, the president firmly assured Congress and the American people that U S. personnel would be out of Bosnia at the end of one year. Predictably, as soon as the November 1996 election was safely behind him, President Clinton announced that approximately 8,5 00 U.S. troops would be remaining for another 18 months as part of a restructured and scaled down contingent, the “stabilization force” (SFOR), officially established on December 20, 1996.

SFOR begins its mission in Bosnia under a serious cloud both as to the nature of its mission and the dangers it will face. While IFOR had successfully accomplished its basic military task – separating the factions’ armed forces – there has been very little progress toward other stated goals of the Dayton agreement, including political and economic reintegration of Bosnia, return of refugees to their homes, and apprehension and prosecution of accused war criminals. It is far from certain that the cease-fire that has held through the past year will continue for much longer, in light of such unresolved issues as the status of the cities of Brcko (claimed by Muslims but held by the Serbs) and Mostar (divided between nominal Muslim and Croat allies, both of which are currently being armed by the Clinton Administration). Moreover, at a strength approximately one-third that of its predecessor, SFOR may not be in as strong a position to deter attacks by one or another of the Bosnian factions or to avoid attempts to involve it in renewed fighting: “IFOR forces, despite having suffered few casualties, have been vulnerable to attacks from all of the contending sides over the year of the Dayton mandate. As a second mandate [Dayton mandate. As a second mandate [i.e., SFOR] evolves, presumably maintaining a smaller force on the ground, the deterrent effect which has existed may well become less compelling and vulnerabilities of the troops will increase.” [“Military Security in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Present and Future,” Bulletin of the Atlantic Council of the United States, 12/18/96].

The Iranian Connection

Perhaps most threatening to the SFOR mission – and more importantly, to the safety of the American personnel serving in Bosnia – is the unwillingness of the Clinton Administration to come clean with the Congress and with the American people about its complicity in the delivery of weapons from Iran to the Muslim government in Sarajevo.

That policy, personally approved by Bill Clinton in April 1994 at the urging of CIA Director-designate (and then-NSC chief) Anthony Lake and the U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith, has, according to the Los Angeles Times (citing classified intelligence community sources), “played a central role in the dramatic increase in Iranian influence in Bosnia.”

Further, according to the Times, in September 1995 National Security Agency analysts contradicted Clinton Administration claims of declining Iranian influence, insisting instead that “Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel remain active throughout Bosnia.” Likewise, “CIA analysts noted that the Iranian presence was expanding last fall,” with some ostensible cultural and humanitarian activities “known to be fronts” for the Revolutionary Guard and Iran’s intelligence service, known as VEVAK, the Islamic revolutionary successor to the Shah’s SAVAK. [[LAT, 12/31/96] At a time when there is evidence of increased willingness by pro-Iranian Islamic militants to target American assets abroad – as illustrated by the June 1996 car-bombing at the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, that killed 19 American airmen, in which the Iranian government or pro-Iranian terrorist organizations are suspected [“U.S. Focuses Bomb Probe on Iran, Saudi Dissident,” Chicago Tribune, 11/4/96] – it is irresponsible in the extreme for the Clinton Administration to gloss over the extent to which its policies have put American personnel in an increasingly vulnerable position while performing an increasingly questionable mission.

Three Key Issues for Examination

This paper will examine the Clinton policy of giving the green light to Iranian arms shipments to the Bosnian Muslims, with serious implications for the safety of U.S. troops deployed there. (In addition, RPC will release a general analysis of the SFOR mission and the Clinton Administration’s request for supplemental appropriations to fund it in the near future.) Specifically, the balance of this paper will examine in detail the three issues summarized below:

The Clinton Green Light to Iranian Arms Shipments (page 3): In April 1995, President Clinton gave the government of Croatia what has been described by Congressional committees as a “green light” for shipments of weapons from Iran and other Muslim countries to the Muslim-led government of Bosnia. The policy was approved at the urging of NSC chief Anthony Lake and the U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith. The CIA and the Departments of State and Defense were kept in the dark until after the decision was made.

The Militant Islamic Network (page 5): Along with the weapons, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and VEVAK intelligence operatives entered Bosnia in large numbers, along with thousands of mujahedin (“holy warriors”) from across the Muslim world. Also engaged in the effort were several other Muslim countries (including Brunei, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Turkey) and a number of radical Muslim organizations. For example, the role of one Sudan-based “humanitarian organization,” called the Third World Relief Agency, has been well documented. The Clinton Administration’s “hands-on” involvement with the Islamic network’s arms pipeline included inspections of missiles from Iran by U.S. government officials.

The Radical Islamic Character of the Sarajevo Regime (page 8): Underlying the Clinton Administration’s misguided green light policy is a complete misreading of its main beneficiary, the Bosnian Muslim government of Alija Izetbegovic. Rather than being the tolerant, multiethnic democratic government it pretends to be, there is clear evidence that the ruling circle of Izetbegovic’s party, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), has long been guided by the principles of radical Islam. This Islamist orientation is illustrated by profiles of three important officials, including President Izetbegovic himself; the progressive Islamization of the Bosnian army, including creation of native Bosnian mujahedin units; credible claims that major atrocities against civilians in Sarajevo were staged for propaganda purposes by operatives of the Izetbegovic government; and suppression of enemies, both non-Muslim and Muslim.

The Clinton Green Light to Iranian Arms Shipments

Both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Select Subcommittee to Investigate the United States Role in Iranian Arms Transfers to Croatia and Bosnia issued reports late last year. (The Senate report, dated November 1996, is unclassified. The House report is classified, with the exception of the final section of conclusions, which was released on October 8, 1996; a declassified version of the full report is expected to be released soon.) The reports, consistent with numerous press accounts, confirm that on April 27, 1994, President Clinton directed Ambassador Galbraith to inform the government of Croatia that he had “no instructions” regarding Croatia’s decision whether or not to permit weapons, primarily from Iran, to be transshipped to Bosnia through Croatia. (The purpose was to facilitate the acquisition of arms by the Muslim-led government in Sarajevo despite the arms embargo imposed on Yugoslavia by the U.N. Security Council.) Clinton Administration officials took that course despite their awareness of the source of the weapons and despite the fact that the Croats (who were themselves divided on whether to permit arms deliveries to the Muslims) would take anything short of a U.S. statement that they should not facilitate the flow of Iranian arms to Bosnia as a “green light.”

The green light policy was decided upon and implemented with unusual secrecy, with the CIA and the Departments of State and Defense only informed after the fact. [“U.S. Had Options to Let Bosnia Get Arms, Avoid Iran,” Los Angeles Times, 7/14/96] Among the key conclusions of the House Subcommittee were the following (taken from the unclassified section released on October 8):

“The President and the American people were poorly served by the Administration officials who rushed the green light decision without due deliberation. full information and an adequate consideration of the consequences.” (page 202).

“The Administration’s efforts to keep even senior US officials from seeing its ‘fingerprints’ on the green light policy led to confusion and disarray within the government.” (page 203)

“The Administration repeatedly deceived the American people about its Iranian green light policy.” (page 204).

Clinton, Lake, and Galbraith Responsible

Who is ultimately accountable for the results of his decision – two Clinton Administration officials bear particular responsibility: Ambassador Galbraith and then-NSC Director Anthony Lake, against both of whom the House of Representatives has referred criminal charges to the Justice Department. Mr. Lake, who personally presented the proposal to Bill Clinton for approval, played a central role in preventing the responsible congressional committees from knowing about the Administration’s fateful decision to acquiesce in radical Islamic Iran’s effort to penetrate the European continent through arms shipments and military cooperation with the Bosnian government.” [“‘In Lake We Trust’? Confirmation Make-Over Exacerbates Senate Concerns About D.C.I.-Desipate’s Candor, Reliability,” Center for Security Policy, Washington, D.C., 1/8/97].

His responsibility for the operation is certain to be a major hurdle in his effort to be confirmed as CIA Director: “The fact that Lake was one of the authors of the duplicitous policy in Bosnia, which is very controversial and which has probably helped strengthen the hand of the Iranians, doesn’t play well,” stated Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Shelby. [“Lake to be asked about donation,” Washington Times, 1/2/97].

For his part, Ambassador Galbraith was the key person both in conceiving the policy and in serving as the link between the Clinton Administration and the Croatian government; he also met with Imam Sevko Omerbasic, the top Muslim cleric in Croatia, “who the CIA says was an intermediary for Iran.” [“Fingerprints: Arms to Bosnia, the real story,” The New Republic, 10/28/96; see also LAT 12/23/96] As the House Subcommittee concluded (page 206): “There is evidence that Ambassador Galbraith may have engaged in activities that could be characterized as unauthorized covert action.” The Senate Committee (pages 19 and 20 of the report) was unable to agree on the specific legal issue of whether Galbraith’s actions constituted a “covert action” within the definition of section 503(e) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. Sec. 413(e)), as amended, defined as “an activity or activities … to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly.”

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The Militant Islamic Network

The House Subcommittee report also concluded (page 2):

“The Administration’s Iranian green light policy gave Iran an unprecedented foothold in Europe and has recklessly endangered American lives and US strategic interests.” Further – ” … The Iranian presence and influence [” … The Iranian presence and influence [in Bosnia] jumped radically in the months following the green light. Iranian elements infiltrated the Bosnian government and established close ties with the current leadership in Bosnia and the next generation of leaders. Iranian Revolutionary Guards accompanied Iranian weapons into Bosnia and soon were integrated in the Bosnian military structure from top to bottom as well as operating in independent units throughout Bosnia. The Iranian intelligence service [intelligence service [VEVAK] ran wild through the area developing intelligence networks, setting up terrorist support systems, recruiting terrorist ‘sleeper’ agents and agents of influence, and insinuating itself with the Bosnian political leadership to a remarkable degree. The Iranians effectively annexed large portions of the Bosnian security apparatus [known as the Agency for Information and Documentation (AID)] to act as their intelligence and terrorist surrogates. This extended to the point of jointly planning terrorist activities. The Iranian embassy became the largest in Bosnia and its officers were given unparalleled privileges and access at every level of the Bosnian government.” (page 201).

Not Just the Iranians

To understand how the Clinton green light would lead to this degree of Iranian influence, it is necessary to remember that the policy was adopted in the context of extensive and growing radical Islamic activity in Bosnia. That is, the Iranians and other Muslim militants had long been active in Bosnia; the American green light was an important political signal to both Sarajevo and the militants that the United States was unable or unwilling to present an obstacle to those activities – and, to a certain extent, was willing to cooperate with them. In short, the Clinton Administration’s policy of facilitating the delivery of arms to the Bosnian Muslims made it the de facto partner of an ongoing international network of governments and organizations pursuing their own agenda in Bosnia: the promotion of Islamic revolution in Europe. That network involves not only Iran but Brunei, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan (a key ally of Iran), and Turkey, together with front groups supposedly pursuing humanitarian and cultural activities.

For example, one such group about which details have come to light is the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA), a Sudan-based, phoney humanitarian organization which has been a major link in the arms pipeline to Bosnia. [“How Bosnia’s Muslims Dodged Arms Embargo: Relief Agency Brokered Aid From Nations, Radical Groups,” Washington Post, 9/22/96; see also “Saudis Funded Weapons For Bosnia, Official Says: $ 300 Million Program Had U.S. ‘Stealth Cooperation’,” Washington Post, 2/2/96] TWA is believed to be connected with such fixtures of the Islamic terror network as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (the convicted mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and Osama Binladen, a wealthy Saudi emigre believed to bankroll numerous militant groups. [WP, 9/22/96] (Sheik Rahman, a native of Egypt, is currently in prison in the United States; letter bombs addressed to targets in Washington and London, apparently from Alexandria, Egypt, are believed connected with his case. Binladen was a resident in Khartoum, Sudan, until last year; he is now believed to be in Afghanistan, “where he has issued statements calling for attacks on U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf.” [on U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf.” [WP, 9/22/96]).

The Clinton Administration ‘s “Hands-On ” Help

The extent to which Clinton Administration officials, notably Ambassador Galbraith, knowingly or negligently, cooperated with the efforts of such front organizations is unclear. For example, according to one intelligence account seen by an unnamed U.S. official in the Balkans, “Galbraith ‘talked with representatives of Muslim countries on payment for arms that would be sent to Bosnia,’ … [would be sent to Bosnia,’ … [T]he dollar amount mentioned in the report was $ 500 million-$ 800 million. The U.S. official said he also saw subsequent ‘operational reports’ in 1995 on almost weekly arms shipments of automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, anti-armor rockets and TOW missiles.” [TNR, 10/28/96] The United States played a disturbingly “hands-on” role, with, according to the Senate report (page 19), U.S. government personnel twice conducting inspections in Croatia of missiles en route to Bosnia.

Further:

“The U.S. decision to send personnel to Croatia to inspect rockets bound for Bosnia is … subject to varying interpretations. It may have been simply a straightforward effort to determine whether chemical weapons were being shipped into Bosnia. It was certainly, at least in part, an opportunity to examine a rocket in which the United States had some interest. But it may also have been designed to ensure that Croatia would not shut down the pipeline.” (page 21).

The account in The New Republic points sharply to the latter explanation: “Enraged at Iran’s apparent attempt to slip super weapons past Croat monitors, the Croatian defense minister nonetheless sent the missiles on to Bosnia ‘just as Peter [i.e., Ambassador Galbraith] told us to do,’ sources familiar with the episode said.” [episode said.” [TNR, 10/28/96] In short, the Clinton Administration’s connection with the various players that made up the arms network seems to have been direct and intimate.

The Mujahedin Threat

In addition to (and working closely with) the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and VEVAK intelligence are members of numerous radical groups known for their anti-Western orientation, along with thousands of volunteer mujahedin (“holy warriors”) from across the Islamic world. From the beginning of the NATO- led deployment, the Clinton Administration has given insufficient weight to military concerns regarding the mujahedin presence in Bosnia as well as the danger they pose to American personnel. Many of the fighters are concentrated in the so-called “green triangle” (the color green symbolizes Islam) centered on the town of Zenica in the American IFOR/SFOR zone but are also found throughout the country.

The Clinton Administration has been willing to accept Sarajevo’s transparently false assurances of the departure of the foreign fighters based on the contention that they have married Bosnian women and have acquired Bosnian citizenship — and thus are no longer “foreign”! or, having left overt military units to join “humanitarian,” “cultural,” or “charitable” organizations, are no longer “fighters.” [See “Foreign Muslims Fighting in Bosnia Considered ‘Threat’ to U.S. Troops,” Washington Post, 11/30/95; “Outsiders Bring Islamic Fervor To the Balkans,” New York Times, 9/23/96; “Islamic Alien Fighters Settle in Bosnia,” Pittsburgh PostGazette, 9/23/96; “Mujahideen rule Bosnian villages: Threaten NATO forces, non-Muslims,” Washington Times, 9/23/96; and Yossef Bodansky, Offensive in the Balkans (November 1995) and Some Call It Peace (August 1996), International Media Corporation, Ltd., London. Bodansky, an analyst with the House Republican Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, is an internationally recognized authority on Islamic terrorism.] The methods employed to qualify for Bosnian citizenship are themselves problematic: “Islamic militants from Iran and other foreign countries are employing techniques such as forced marriages, kidnappings and the occupation of apartments and houses to remain in Bosnia in violation of the Dayton peace accord and may be a threat to U.S. forces.” [“Mujaheddin Remaining in Bosnia: Islamic Militants Strongarm Civilians, Defy Dayton Plan,” Washington Post, 7/8/96].

The threat presented by the mujahedin to IFOR (and now, to SFOR) – contingent only upon the precise time their commanders in Tehran or Sarajevo should choose to activate them has been evident from the beginning of the NATO-led deployment. For example, in February 1996 NATO forces raided a terrorist training camp near the town of Fojnica, taking into custody 11 men (8 Bosnian citizens – two of whom may have been naturalized foreign mujahedin and three Iranian instructors); also seized were explosives “built into small children’s plastic toys, including a car, a helicopter and an ice cream cone,” plus other weapons such as handguns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, etc. The Sarajevo government denounced the raid, claiming the facility was an “intelligence service school”; the detainees were released promptly after NATO turned them over to local authorities. [“NATO Captures Terrorist Training Camp, Claims Iranian Involvement,” Associated Press, 2/16/96; “Bosnian government denies camp was for terrorists,” Reuters, 2/16/96; Bodansky Some Call It Peace, page 56] In May 1996, a previously unknown group called “Bosnian Islamic Jihad” (Jihad means “holy war”,) threatened attacks on NATO troops by suicide bombers, similar to those that had recently been launched in Israel. [“Jihad Threat in Bosnia Alarms NATO,” The European, 5/9/96].

Stepping-Stone to Europe

The intended targets of the mujahedin network in Bosnia are not limited to that country but extend to Western Europe. For example, in August 1995, the conservative Paris daily Le Figaro reported that French security services believe that ,Islamic fundamentalists from Algeria have set up a security network across Europe with fighters trained in Afghan gerrilla camps and [[in] southern France while some have been tested in Bosnia.” [[(London) Daily Telegraph, 8/17/95].

Also, in April 1996, Belgian security arrested a number of Islamic militants, including two native Bosnians, smuggling weapons to Algerian guerrillas active in France. [in France. [Intelligence Newsletter, Paris, 5/9/96 (No. 287)] Finally, also in April 1996, a meeting of radicals aligned with HizbAllah (“Party of God”), a pro-Iran group based in Lebanon, set plans for stepping up attacks on U.S. assets on all continents; among those participating was an Egyptian, Ayman al- Zawahiri, who “runs the Islamist terrorist operations in Bosnia- Herzegovina from a special headquarters in Sofa, Bulgaria. His forces are already deployed throughout Bosnia, ready to attack US and other I-FOR (NATO Implementation Force) targets.” [“States- Sponsored Terrorism and The Rise of the HizbAllah International,” Defense and Foreign Affairs and Strategic Policy, London, 8/31/96 Finally, in December 1996, French and Belgain security arrested several would-be terrorists trained at Iranian-run camps in Bosnia.[“Terrorism: The Bosnian Connection,” (Paris) L’Express, 12/26/96].

The Radical Islamic Character of the Sarajevo Regime

Underlying the Clinton Administration’s misguided policy toward Iranian influence in Bosnia is a fundamental misreading of the true nature of the Muslim regime that benefited from the Iran/Bosnia arms policy.

“The most dubious of all Bosniac [i.e., Bosnian Muslim] claims pertains to the self-serving commercial that the government hopes to eventually establish a multiethnic liberal democratic society. Such ideals may appeal to a few members of Bosnia’s ruling circles as well as to a generally secular populace, but President Izethbegovic and his cabal appear to harbor much different private intentions and goals.” [“Selling the Bosnia Myth to America: Buyer Beware,” Lieutenant Colonel John E. Sray, USA, U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, KS, October 1995].

The evidence that the leadership of the ruling Party of Democratic Action (SDA), and consequently, the Sarajevo-based government, has long been motivated by the principles of radical Islam is inescapable. The following three profiles are instructive:

Alija Izetbegovic: Alija Izetbegovic, current Bosnian president and head of the SDA, in 1970 authored the radical “Islamic Declaration,” which calls for “the Islamic movement” to start to take power as soon as it can Overturn “the existing non- Muslim government…[Muslim government…[and] build up a new Islamic one,” to destroy non-Islamic institutions (“There can be neither peace nor coexistence between the Islamic religion and non-Islamic social institutions’), and to create an international federation of Islamic states. [The Islamic Declaration: A Programme for the Islamization of Muslims and the Muslim Peoples, Sarajevo, in English, 19901 Izetbegovic’s radical pro-Iran associations go back decades:

“At the center of the Iranian system in Europe is Bosnia-Hercegovina.” President, Alija Izetbegovic, . . . who is committed to the establishment Of an Islamic Republic in Bosnia- Hercegovina.” [“Iran’s European Springboard?”, House Republican Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, 9/1/92].

The Task Force report further describes Izetbegovic’s contacts with Iran and Libya in 1991, before the Bosnian war began; he is also noted as a “fundamentalist Muslim” and a member of the “Fedayeen of Islam” organization, an Iran-based radical group dating to the 1930s and which by the late 1960s had recognized the leadership of the Ayatollah Khomeini (then in exile from the Shah). Following Khomeini’s accession to power in 1979, Izetbegovic stepped-up his efforts to establish Islamic power in Bosnia and was jailed by the communists in 1983. Today, he is open and unapologetic about his links to Iran:

“Perhaps the most telling detail of the [detail of the [SDA’s September 1, 1996] campaign rally … was the presence of the Iranian Ambassador and his Bosnian and Iranian bodyguards, who sat in the shadow of the huge birchwood platform…. As the only foreign diplomat [platform…. As the only foreign diplomat [present], indeed the only foreigner traveling in the President’s [only foreigner traveling in the President’s [i.e., Izetbegovic’s] heavily guarded motorcade of bulky four-wheel drive jeeps, he lent a silent Islamic imprimatur to the event, one that many American and European supporters of the Bosnian Government are trying hard to ignore or dismiss.” [trying hard to ignore or dismiss.” [NYT, 9/2/96].

During the summer 1996 election campaign, the Iranians delivered to him, in two suitcases, $ 500,000 in cash; Izetbegovic “is now ‘literally on their [on their [i.e., the Iranians’] payroll,’ according to a classified report based on the CIA’s analysis of the issue.” LAT, 12/31/96. See also “Iran Contributed $ [LAT, 12/31/96. See also “Iran Contributed $ 500,000 to Bosnian President’s Election Effort, U.S. Says,” New York Times, 1/l/97, and Washington Times, 1/2/97] Adil Zulfikarpasic, a Muslim co- founder of the SDA, broke with Izetbegovic in late 1990 due to the increasingly overt fundamentalist and pro-Iranian direction of the party. [See Milovan Djilas, Bosnjak: Adil Zulfikarpasic, Zurich, 1994].

Hassan (or Hasan) Cengic: Until recently, deputy defense minister (and now cosmetically reassigned to a potentially even more dangerous job in refugee resettlement at the behest of the Clinton Administration), Cengic, a member of a powerful clan headed by his father, Halid Cengic, is an Islamic cleric who has traveled frequently to Tehran and is deeply involved in the arms pipeline. [“Bosnian Officials Involved in Arms Trade Tied to Radical States,” Washington Post, 9/22/96] Cengic was identified by Austrian police as a member of TWRA’s supervisory board:

“a fact confirmed by its Sudanese director, Elfatih Hassanein, in a 1994 interview with (lazi Husrev Beg, an Islamic affairs magazine. Cengic later became the key Bosnian official involved in setting up a weapons pipeline from Iran…. Cengic … is a longtime associate of Izetbegovic’s. He was one of the co- defendants in Izetbegovic’s 1983 trial for fomenting Muslim nationalism in what was then Yugoslavia. Cengic was given a 10- year prison term, most of which he did not serve. In trial testimony Cengic was said to have been traveling to Iran since 1983. Cengic lived in Tehran and Istanbul during much of the war, arranging for weapons to be smuggled into Bosnia.” [WP, 9/22/961].

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According to a Bosnian Croat radio profile:

“Hasan’s father, Halid Cengic … is the main logistic expert in the Muslim army. All petrodollar donations from the Islamic world and the procurement of arms and military technology for Muslim units went through him. He made so much money out of this business that he is one of the richest Muslims today. Halid Cengic and his two sons, of whom Hasan has been more in the public spotlight, also control the Islamic wing of the intelligence agency AID [Agency for Information and Documentation]. Well informed sources in Sarajevo claim that only Hasan addresses Izetbegovic with ‘ti’ [second person singular, used as an informal form of address] while all the others address him as ‘Mr. President,’ – a sign of his extraordinary degree of intimacy with the president. [BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 10/28/96, “Radio elaborates on Iranian connection of Bosnian deputy defense minister,” from Croat Radio Herceg-Bosna, Mostar, in Serbo-Croatian, 10/25/96, bracketed text in original].

In late 1996, at the insistence of the Clinton Administration, Hassan Cengic was reassigned to refugee affairs. However, in his new capacity he may present an even greater hazard to NATO forces in Bosnia, in light of past incidents such as the one that took place near the village of Celic in November 1996. At that time, in what NATO officers called part of a pattern of “military operations in disguise,” American and Russian IFOR troops were caught between Muslims and Serbs as the Muslims, some of them armed, attempted to encroach on the cease-fire line established by Dayton; commented a NATO spokesman: “We believe this to be a deliberate, orchestrated and provocative move to circumvent established procedures for the return of refugees.” [“Gunfire Erupts as Muslims Return Home,” Washington Post, 11/13/96].

Dzemal Merdan:

“The office of Brig. Gen. Dzemal Merdan is an ornate affair, equipped with an elaborately carved wooden gazebo ringed with red velvet couches and slippers for his guests. A sheepskin prayer mat lies in the comer, pointing toward Mecca. The most striking thing in the chamber is a large flag. It is not the flag of Bosnia, but of Iran. Pinned with a button of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s late Islamic leader, the flag occupies pride of place in Merdan’s digs — displayed in the middle of the gazebo for every visitor to see. Next to it hangs another pennant that of the Democratic Action Party, the increasingly nationalist Islamic organization of President Alija Izetbegovic that dominates Bosnia’s Muslim region…. Merdan’s position highlights the American dilemma. As head of the office of training and development of the Bosnian army, he is a key liaison figure in the U.S. [liaison figure in the U.S. [arm and train] program…. But Merdan, Western sources say, also has another job — as liaison with foreign Islamic fighters here since 1992 and promoter of the Islamic faith among Bosnia’s recruits. Sources identified Merdan as being instrumental in the creation of a brigade of Bosnian soldiers, called the 7th Muslim Brigade, that is heavily influenced by Islam and trained by fighters from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. He has also launched a program, these sources say, to build mosques on military training grounds to teach Islam to Bosnian recruits. In addition, he helped establish training camps in Bosnia where Revolutionary Guards carried out their work.” [“Arming the Bosnians: U.S. Program Would Aid Force Increasingly Linked to Iran,” Washington Post, 1/26/96, emphasis added].

General Merdan is a close associate of both Izetbegovic and Cengic; the central region around Zenica, which was “completely militarized in the first two years of the war” under the control of Merdan’s mujahedin, is “under total control of the Cengic family.” [“Who Rules Bosnia and Which Way,” (Sarajevo) Slobodna Bosna, 11/17/96, FBIS translation; Slobodna Bosna is one of the few publications in Muslim-held areas that dares to criticize the policies and personal corruption of the ruling SDA clique.] Merdan’s mujahedin were accused by their erstwhile Croat allies of massacring more than 100 Croats near Zenica in late 1993. [“Bosnian Croats vow to probe war crimes by Moslems,” Agence France Presse, 5/12/95].

The Islamization of the Bosnian Army

In cooperation with the foreign Islamic presence, the Izetbegovic regime has revamped its security and military apparatus to reflect its Islamic revolutionary outlook, including the creation of mujahedin units throughout the army; some members of these units have assumed the guise of a shaheed (a “martyr,” the Arabic term commonly used to describe suicide bombers), marked by their white garb, representing a shroud. While these units include foreign fighters naturalized in Bosnia, most of the personnel are now Bosnian Muslims trained and indoctrinated by Iranian and other foreign militants – which also makes it easier for the Clinton Administration to minimize the mujahedin threat, because few of them are “foreigners.”

Prior to 1996, there were three principal mujahedin units in the Bosnian army, the first two of which are headquartered in the American IFOR/SFOR zone: (1) the 7th Muslim Liberation Brigade of the 3rd Corps, headquartered in Zenica; (2) the 9th Muslim Liberation Brigade of the 2nd Corps, headquartered in Travnik (the 2nd Corps is based in Tuzla); and (3) the 4th Muslim Liberation Brigade of the 4th Corps, headquartered in Konjic (in the French zone). [Bodansky, Some Call It Peace, page 401 Particularly ominous, many members of these units have donned the guise of martyrs, indicating their willingness to sacrifice themselves in the cause of Islam. Commenting on an appearance of soldiers from the 7th Liberation Brigade, in Zenica in December 1995, Bodansky writes: “Many of the fighters … were dressed in white coveralls over their uniforms. Officially, these were ‘white winter camouflage,’ but the green headbands [bearing Koranic verses] these warriors were wearing left no doubt that these were actually Shaheeds’ shrouds.” [Some Call It Peace, page 12] The same demonstration was staged before the admiring Iranian ambassador and President Izethbegovic in September 1996, when white winter garb could only be symbolic, not functional. [[NYT, 9/2/96] By June 1996, ten more mujahedin brigades had been established, along with numerous smaller “special units’ dedicated to covert and terrorist operations; while foreigners are present in all of these units, most of the soldiers are now native Bosnian Muslims. [native Bosnian Muslims. [Some Call It Peace, pages 42-46].

In addition to these units, there exists another group known as the Handzar (“dagger” or 94 scimitar”) Division, described by Bodansky as a “praetorian guard” for President Izetbegovic. “Up to 6000-strong, the Handzar division glories in a fascist culture. They see themselves as the heirs of the SS Handzar division, formed by Bosnian Muslims in 1943 to fight for the Nazis. Their spiritual model was Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who sided with Hitler. According to LJN officers, surprisingly few of those in charge of the Handzars … seem to speak good Serbo-Croatian. ‘Many of them are Albanian, whether from Kosovo [the Serb province where Albanians are the majority] or from Albania itself.’ They are trained and led by veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan, say LTN sources.” [“Albanians and Afghans fight for the heirs to Bosnia’s SS past,” (London) Daily Telegraph, 12/29/93, bracketed text in original].

Self-Inflicted Atrocities

Almost since the beginning of the Bosnian war in the spring of 1992, there have been persistent reports — readily found in the European media but little reported in the United States — that civilian deaths in Muslim-held Sarajevo attributed to the Bosnian Serb Army were in some cases actually inflicted by operatives of the Izetbegovic regime in an (ultimately successful) effort to secure American intervention on Sarajevo’s behalf. These allegations include instances of sniping at civilians as well as three major explosions, attributed to Serbian mortar fire, that claimed the lives of dozens of people and, in each case, resulted in the international community’s taking measures against the Muslims’ Serb enemies. (The three explosions were: (1) the May 27, 1992, “breadline massacre.” which was reported to have killed 16 people and which resulted in economic sanctions on the Bosnian Serbs and rump Yugoslavia; (2) the February 5, 1994, Markale “market massacre,” killing 68 and resulting in selective NATO air strikes and an ultimatum to the Serbs to withdraw their heavy weapons from the area near Sarajevo; and (3) the August 28, 1995 “second market massacre,” killing 37 and resulting in large-scale NATO air strikes, eventually leading to the Dayton agreement and the deployment of IFOR.) When she was asked about such allegations (with respect to the February 1994 explosion) then-U.N. Ambassador and current Secretary of State-designate Madeleine Albright, in a stunning non sequitur, said: “It’s very hard to believe any country would do this to their own people, and therefore, although we do not exactly know what the facts are, it would seem to us that the Serbs are the ones that probably have a great deal of responsibility.” [“Senior official admits to secret U.N. report on Sarajevo massacre,” Deutsch Presse-Agentur, 6/6/96, emphasis added].

The fact that such a contention is difficult to believe does not mean it is not true. Not only did the incidents lead to the result desired by Sarajevo (Western action against the Bosnian Serbs), their staging by the Muslims would be entirely in keeping with the moral outlook of Islamic radicalism, which has long accepted the deaths of innocent (including Muslim) bystanders killed in terrorist actions. According to a noted analyst: “The dictum that the end justifies the means is adopted by all fundamentalist organizations in their strategies for achieving political power and imposing on society their own view of Islam. What is important in every action is its niy ‘yah, its motive. No means need be spared in the service of Islam as long as one takes action with a pure niy’ Yah.” [Amir Taheri, Holy Terror, Bethesda, MD, 1987] With the evidence that the Sarajevo leadership does in fact have a fundamentalist outlook, it is unwarranted to dismiss cavaliery the possibility of Muslim responsibility. Among some of the reports:

Sniping:

“French peacekeeping troops in the United Nations unit trying to curtail Bosnian Serb sniping at civilians in Sarajevo have concluded that until mid-June some gunfire also came from Government soldiers deliberately shooting at their own civilians. After what it called a ‘definitive’ investigation, a French marine unit that patrols against snipers said it traced sniper fire to a building normally occupied by Bosnian [i.e., Muslim] soldiers and other security forces. A senior French officer said, ‘We find it almost impossible to believe, but we are sure that it is true.”‘ [“Investigation Concludes Bosnian Government Snipers Shot at Civilians,” New York Times, 8/l/951]

The 1992 “Breadline Massacre”:

“United Nations officials and senior Western military officers believe some of the worst killings in Sarajevo, including the massacre of at least 16 people in a bread queue, were carried out by the city’s mainly Muslim defenders — not Serb besiegers — as a propaganda ploy to win world sympathy and military intervention…. Classified reports to the UN force commander, General Satish Nambiar, concluded … that Bosnian forces loyal to President Alija Izetbegovic may have detonated a bomb. ‘We believe it was a command-detonated explosion, probably in a can,’ a UN official said then. ‘The large impact which is there now is not necessarily similar or anywhere near as large as we came to expect with a mortar round landing on a paved surface.” [“Muslims ‘slaughter their own people’,” (London) The Independent, 8/22/92].

“Our people tell us there were a number of things that didn’t fit. The street had been blocked off just before the incident. Once the crowd was let in and had lined up, the media appeared but kept their distance. The attack took place, and the media were immediately on the scene.” [Major General Lewis MacKenzie, Peacekeeper: The Road to Sarajevo, Vancouver, BC, 1993, pages 193-4; Gen. MacKenzie, a Canadian, had been commander of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Sarajevo].

The 1994 Markale “Market Massacre”:

“French television reported last night that the United Nations investigation into the market-place bombing in Sarajevo two weeks ago had established beyond doubt that the mortar shell that killed 68 people was fired from inside Bosnian [Muslim lines.” [people was fired from inside Bosnian [Muslim] lines.” [“UN tracks source of fatal shell,” (London) The Times, 2/19/94].

“For the first time, a senior U.N. official has admitted the existence of a secret U.N. report that blames the Bosnian Moslems for the February 1994 massacre of Moslems at a Sarajevo market…. After studying the crater left by the mortar shell and the distribution of shrapnel, the report concluded that the shell was fired from behind Moslem lines.”

The report, however, was kept secret; the context of the wire story implies that U.S. Ambasador Albright may have been involved in its suppression. [DPA, 6/6/961 For a fuller discussion of the conflicting claims, see “Anatomy of a massacre,” Foreign Policy, 12/22/94, by David Binder; Binder, a veteran New York Times reporter in Yugoslavia, had access to the suppressed report. Bodansky categorically states that the bomb

“was actually a special charge designed and built with help from HizbAllah [“Party of God,” a Beirut-based pro-Iranian terror group] experts and then most likely dropped from a nearby rooftop onto the crowd of shoppers. Video cameras at the ready recorded this expertly-staged spectacle of gore, while dozens of corpses of Bosnian Muslim troops killed in action (exchanged the day before in a ‘body swap’ with the Serbs) were paraded in front of cameras to raise the casualty counts.” [Offensive in the Balkans, page 62].

The 1995 “Second Market Massacre”:

“British ammunition experts serving with the United Nations in Sarajevo have challenged key ‘evidence’ of the Serbian atrocity that triggered the devastating Nato bombing campaign which turned the tide of the Bosnian war.” The Britons’ analysis was confirmed by French analysts but their findings were “dismissed” by “a senior American officer” at U.N. headquarters in Sarajevo. [“Serbs ‘not guilty’ of massacre: Experts warned US that mortar was Bosnian,” (London) The Times, 10/i/95 A “crucial U.N. report [(London) The Times, 10/i/95].

A “crucial U.N. report [stating Serb responsibility for] the market massacre is a classified secret, but four specialists – a Russian, a Canadian and two Americans – have raised serious doubts about its conclusion, suggesting instead that the mortar was fired not by the Serbs but by Bosnian government forces.” A Canadian officer “added that he and fellow Canadian officers in Bosnia were ‘convinced that the Muslim government dropped both the February 5, 1994, and the August 28, 1995, mortar shells on the Sarajevo markets.”

An unidentified U.S. official “contends that the available evidence suggests either ‘the shell was fired at a very low trajectory, which means a range of a few hundred yards – therefore under [a range of a few hundred yards – therefore under [Sarajevo] government control,’ or ‘a mortar shell converted into a bomb was dropped from a nearby roof into the crowd.”‘ [“Bosnia’s bombers,” The Nation, 10/2/95 ]. At least some high-ranking French and perhaps other Western officials believed the Muslims responsible; after having received that account from government ministers and two generals, French magazine editor Jean Daniel put the question directly to Prime Minister Edouard Balladur: “‘They [i.e., the Muslims] have committed this carnage on their own people?’ I exclaimed in consternation. ‘Yes,’ confirmed the Prime Minister without hesitation, ‘but at least they have forced NATO to intervene. “‘ [“No more lies about Bosnia,” Le Nouvel Observateur, 8/31/95, translated in Chronicles – A Magazine of American Culture, January 1997].

Suppression of Enemies

As might be expected, one manifestation of the radical Islamic orientation of the Izetbegovic government is increasing curtailment of the freedoms of the remaining non-Muslims (Croats and Serbs) in the Muslim-held zone. While there are similar pressures on minorities in the Serb- and Croat-held parts of Bosnia, in the Muslim zone they have a distinct Islamic flavor. For example, during the 1996-1997 Christmas and New Year holiday season, Muslim militants attempted to intimidate not only Muslims but Christians from engaging in what had become common holiday practices, such as gift-giving, putting up Christmas or New Year’s trees, and playing the local Santa Claus figure, Grandfather Frost (Deda Mraz). [“The Holiday, All Wrapped Up; Bosnian Muslims Take Sides Over Santa,” Washington Post, 12/26/96] hi general:

“Even in Sarajevo itself, always portrayed as the most prominent multi-national community in Bosnia, pressure, both psychological and real, is impelling non-Bosniaks [i.e., non- Muslims] to leave. Some measures are indirect, such as attempts to ban the sale of pork and the growing predominance of [to ban the sale of pork and the growing predominance of [Bosniak] street names. Other measures are deliberate efforts to apply pressure. Examples include various means to make nonBosniaks leave the city. Similar pressures, often with more violent expression and occasionally with overt official participation, are being used throughout Bosnia.” [“Bosnia’s Security and U.S. Policy in the Next Phase A Policy Paper, International Research and Exchanges Board, November 1996].

In addition, President Izetbegovic’s party, the SDA, has launched politically-motivated attacks on moderate Muslims both within the SDA and in rival parties. For example, in the summer of 1996 former Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic. (a Muslim, and son of the former imam at the main Sarajevo mosque) was set upon and beaten by SDA militants. Silajdzic claimed Izetbegovic himself was behind the attacks. [was behind the attacks. [NYT, 9/2/96] h-fan Mustafic, a Muslim who cofounded the SDA, is a member of the Bosnian parliament and was president of the SDA’s executive council in Srebrenica when it fell to Bosnian Serb forces; he was taken prisoner but later released. Because of several policy disagreements with Izetbegovic and his close associates, Mustafic was shot and seriously wounded in Srebrenica by Izetbegovic loyalists. [[(Sarajevo) Slobodna Bosna, 7/14/96].

Finally, one incident sums up both the ruthlessness of the Sarajevo establishment in dealing with their enemies as well as their international radical links:

“A special Bosnian army unit headed by Bakir Izetbegovic, the Bosnian president’s son, murdered a Bosnian general found shot to death in Belgium last week, a Croatian newspaper reported … citing well-informed sources. The Vjesnik newspaper, controlled by the government, said the assassination of Yusuf Prazina was carried out by five members of a commando unit called ‘Delta’ and headed by Ismet Bajramovic also known as Celo. The paper said that three members of the Syrian-backed Palestinian movement Saika had Prazina under surveillance for three weeks before one of them, acting as an arms dealer, lured him into a trap in a car park along the main highway between Liege in eastern Belgium and the German border town of Aachen. Prazina, 30, nicknamed Yuka, went missing early last month. He was found Saturday with two bullet holes to the head. ‘The necessary logistical means to carry out the operation were provided by Bakir Izetbegovic, son of Alija Izetbegovic,, who left Sarajevo more than six months ago,’ Vjesnik said. It added that Bakir Izetbegovic ‘often travels between Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, Baghdad, Tehran and Ankara, by using Iraqi and Pakistani passports,’ and was in Belgium at the time of the assassination. Hasan Cengic, head of logistics for the army in Bosnia- Hercegovina, was ‘personally involved in the assassination of Yuka Prazina,’ the paper said.” [Yuka Prazina,’ the paper said.” [Agence France Presse, 1/5/94].

Conclusion

The Clinton Administration’s blunder in giving the green light to the Iranian arms pipeline was based, among other errors, on a gross misreading of the true nature and goals of the Izetbegovic regime in Sarajevo. It calls to mind the similar mistake of the Carter Administration, which in 1979 began lavish aid to the new Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the hopes that (if the United States were friendly enough) the nine comandantes would turn out to be democrats, not communists, despite abundant evidence to the contrary. By the time the Reagan Administration finally cut off the dollar spigot in 198 1, the comandantes — or the “nine little Castros,” as they were known locally — had fully entrenched themselves in power.

To state that the Clinton Administration erred in facilitating the penetration of the Iranians and other radical elements into Europe would be a breathtaking understatement. A thorough reexamination of U.S. policy and goals in the region is essential. In particular, addressing the immediate threat to U.S. troops in Bosnia, exacerbated by the extention of the IFOR/SFOR mission, should be a major priority of the of the 105th Congress.


RPC staff contact: Jim Jatras, 224-2946

Copyright Republican Party Committee of the US Congress, 1997
Copyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2015

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