U.S./NATO want to carve out Kosovo from Serbia
Published Dec 20, 2007 4:58 PM
The ultra-right-wing forces now running Serbia’s Kosovo province plan to
announce its secession from Serbia in 2008. The U.S. and most NATO powers
support this reactionary move, continuing their strategy of “divide and
conquer” in the Balkans. This strategy has pulled Yugoslavia into pieces,
leaving the region unstable, divided and now facing new internecine wars.
Employed throughout the 1990s, this strategy succeeded in separating once
socialist and united Yugoslavia into a half-dozen capitalist mini-states. It is
an error to call these states “independent.” They are weak
neo-colonies dominated by the West, pillaged mainly by U.S., Italian, and
German-based corporations and banks, and dependent on imperialism.
Now Serbia, once the strongest and most multinational republic in the Yugoslav
Federation, is itself threatened by the same reactionary forces that tore apart
Who rules Kosovo now? The same people who led the armed gang called UCK by its
Albanian initials against Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Former General Hashim Thaci,
a UCK head, has been Kosovo’s president since an election in November.
This grouping has ultra-right-wing politics appealing to the most reactionary
and chauvinist aspects of Kosovar-Albanian nationalism.
Though armed by the U.S. and Germany, the UCK was unable to win serious
firefights in Kosovo until the Pentagon stepped in. The U.S. military used its
overwhelming air power to carry out a murderous 78-day bombing attack on
Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999. U.S. and NATO bombs and rockets destroyed
much of the industrial infrastructure in Serbia, also bombing bridges, schools
and 147 hospitals.
Under the pressure of this bombing and the threat of an even bloodier invasion,
the Yugoslav government agreed in June 1999 to let NATO forces occupy Kosovo.
With NATO backing, the UCK set up a corrupt, rightist regime that proceeded in
the following eight years to persecute and drive out of the province many of
the remaining people of Serb, Jewish, Roma, Egyptian and other nationalities,
including the pro-Yugoslav-oriented Albanians. Most of these refugees found a
new home inside non-occupied Serbia or Montenegro.
According to the agreement that ended the bombing, the U.N. Security Council
adopted Resolution 1244, which reaffirmed “the commitment of all Member
States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Yugoslavia, of
which Serbia is the successor state. That means that Washington, Berlin, etc.,
will break international treaties and international law when they recognize
No liberation, no independence
UCK means “Kosovo Liberation Army,” yet no one was liberated when
it came to power. Even Albanian Kosovars who opposed the UCK had to flee the
province. Under UCK rule, Kosovo became a center for trafficking in illegal
drugs and enslaving women and children through prostitution rings—and a
corrupt regime that made the UCK-run enterprises look like minor-league
versions of Halliburton and Blackwater.
The Thaci regime is expected to declare “independence” for Kosovo
early in 2008. The new entity, however, would be even more dependent on NATO
and on Western imperialism than the other new Balkan republics. Its main role
will be as a NATO cats-paw in the Balkans and as a transit space for oil and
gas pipelines that avoid Russian territory on their way west.
The imperialists already control most of Serbia’s—including
Kosovo’s—profitable industries and commerce. This includes
Kosovo’s valuable Trepca mines. But a weak and separate Kosovo with a
completely dependent regime is a reliable military base where NATO troops can
Soon after NATO troops occupied Kosovo in 1999, the U.S. built a major military
base there called Camp Bondsteel. There are still 7,000 U.S. troops stationed
there among the 16,000 NATO troops still in Kosovo. And now the European Union
has decided to send 1,600 more to be there when the Kosovo regime announces it
As war opponent Michel Collon pointed out before 1999 in his book
“Liar’s Poker,” by controlling Kosovo the U.S. gains control
over a route for oil and gas pipelines from Central Asia and the Caucasus to
Europe that avoids Russian territory.
The Russian government, on the other hand, is the main power opposing
Kosovo’s secession. Moscow supports Resolution 1244 and the territorial
integrity of Serbia.
Media demonizes Serbs again
With Kosovo in the news again, the corporate media have again gone on a binge
demonizing Serbs. They do this even though the current government in Belgrade
had the full backing of U.S. secret services and nongovernmental organizations
funded by billionaire George Soros when it overthrew the Socialist Party
government led by Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000. Among such groups was the
right-wing youth group “Otpor” or “Resistance,” which
Washington later used to organize reactionary movements in Ukraine, Georgia,
and now Venezuela.
Once having deposed Milosevic and the Socialists, the imperialists started
pressuring the new Serbian regime—the one they had installed—to
keep making further concessions to Western penetration. Separating Kosovo from
Serbia would be a painful blow, especially because Serbia has historic
monuments and churches in the northern part of the province. Since the start of
the occupation in 1999, about 200 medieval Serbian churches have been destroyed
by the UCK under NATO watch. If the Kosovo regime makes a unilateral
declaration of independence before the Jan. 20 presidential election in Serbia,
it could provoke sharp political struggles in Serbia.
The media have been repeating all the same lies that they repeated in 1999 to
justify the “humanitarian” bombing of Yugoslavia. The main lie was
that Serbia was committing “genocide” of the Albanian Kosovars. In
1999, U.S. and German government spokespeople claimed that Serbs had killed
100,000 Kosovar Albanians and buried them in mass graves.
Expecting to find bodies everywhere, a United Nations team searched occupied
Kosovo all summer of 1999 and found a total of 2,108 bodies of all
nationalities. Some were killed by NATO bombing and some in the war between the
UCK and the Serbian police and military. No massacres. No genocide.
Puerto Rico, Ireland, Basque Country?
The U.S., Britain and France, along with Germany, are expected to give full
diplomatic recognition to the Kosovo entity if Thaci declares
“independence.” Some European Union members—Malta, Cyprus,
Greece, Romania and Spain (in this case, because of its own oppression of the
Basque Country)—have said they would not recognize it.
One might justifiably ask if Washington will also recognize the independence of
Puerto Rico, if London will recognize the northern Irish counties’ right
to join the rest of Ireland and if France (and Spain) will recognize
self-determination for the Basque Country. There is little doubt the rulers in
these capitals would answer, “No.”
There is a difference between the situations just described and that in Kosovo.
In Kosovo there are, along with some smaller minority peoples, two major
nationalities: Serb and Kosovar-Albanian. Each of these two nationalities is
oppressed by imperialism, as are the other nationalities in the former
Yugoslavia. The imperialists have been able to use the rightist UCK gang first
against Yugoslavia and now Serbia, but neither nationality oppresses or
exploits the other the way the imperialists in the U.S., Britain and France
oppress and exploit the nationalities in their colonies.
When Tito’s partisan movement drove out the German occupiers in 1945 and
set up the Yugoslav Socialist Federation in the Balkans, the new socialist
regime passed laws that both protected the interests of all the nationalities
in Yugoslavia and tried to hold them together in one state. It succeeded for
about 45 years despite historic differences among the nationalities. Then came
the counterrevolution in the Eastern Bloc countries and a concerted attack by
the imperialists on Yugoslavia.
To break up Yugoslavia, the imperialists have envenomed every difference among
the nationalities by supporting the most reactionary parties and groupings in
each of the six Yugoslav republics. This included financing those forces that
collaborated with the Nazis during the German occupation in World War II.
Imperialism has now imposed neo-liberal economic policies on the republics that
promote competition and make cooperation impossible.
The only road to real independence from imperialism in the Balkans is to again
take up the struggle for a united federation and join it to a struggle for
The writer helped organize the June 2000 Peoples Tribunal on Yugoslavia in
New York and co-edited the book “Hidden Agenda: the U.S. NATO takeover of
Yugoslavia” with International Action Center co-director Sara
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