Kosovo’s Radical Islam

April 6, 2017

Muslims in Kosovo and Albania have historically been liberal; most Kosovans have been decades relatively secular and follow moderate Islam that allows bars on the same street as mosques. 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. However poverty has made Kosovo fertile ground for Islamic charities from the likes of Saudi Arabia, which offer education and welfare programs but also peddle a hardline vision. Also Turkey’s Islamist government has funded networks of mosques across its Ottoman-era provinces of Kosovo, Bosnia and Albania.

Since the late 1990s, incidents involving Wahhabi groups have extended beyond the borders of Bosnia-Herzegovina, increasing in frequency in neighbouring states such as Serbia (including Kosovo and Serbian Sandžak), Montenegro (Montenegrin Sandžak), and Macedonia.

 

kosovo bombing

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

From Croatia via Bosnia to Kosovo

Osama bin Laden had offices in Croatia and training camps for the muslims in Bosnia. Osama bin Laden was a CIA ally and the U.S. was fine with him until 1998 when the bombing of the African Embassy happened. During the Bosnian War, Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) received financial aid from Iran and Saudi Arabia, and foreign fighters numbering up to 4,000 waged jihad in the war. The Bosnian mujahideen (El Mujahid) was made up of foreign fighters and radical Bosniaks.

After Al-Qaeda and Bosnian mujahideen the focus moved to Kosovo, the training process dates back to 1999, when al-Qaeda terrorists were involved in training the KLA militants in Kosovo. After Nato bombings, Saudi money and influence transformed this once-tolerant Muslim society at the hem of Europe into a front of Islamic extremism and a pipeline for jihadists. Wahhabism began to spread.

Islamist volunteers in the Kosovo Liberation Army from Western Europe of ethnic Albanian, Turkish, and North African origin, were organized by Islamist leaders in Western Europe allied to Bin Laden and Zawahiri. Some 175 Yemeni mujahideen arrived in early May 1998. There were also a dozen of Saudi and Egyptian mujahideen. Since the Kosovo War, there has been an increasing radicalization of Islam in Kosovo. Wahhabism, which is dominant in Saudi Arabia, has gained a foothold in Kosovo through Saudi diplomacy. Saudi money has paid for new mosques, while Saudi-educated imams have arrived since the end of the war in 1999. During UN administration, Saudi Arabian organizations sought to establish a cultural foothold in Kosovo. 98 Wahhabist schools were set up by Saudi organizations during UN administration. Hundreds of Kosovo Albanians have joined jihad in the Middle East. The Kosovo Police arrested some 40 suspected Islamist militants on 11th August 2014. ( Source and more: WikipediA )

mujahedeen army, Bosnia

 

Radical Islamism in the Balkans

There is an increase in incidents involving radical Islamism in the Balkans since the 1990s.

Saber Lahman, was arrested under suspicion that he planned to carry out an attack on the USA Embassy in Sarajevo. He was convicted, but was pardoned later after he served two thirds of punishment in prison. He was arrested again in 2002 for participation in al Qaeda’s plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina and was sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. On Christmas Eve 2002, Muamer Topalović, a Wahhabist, killed three Bosnian Croat returnees in their home.

On April 24, 2012, Mevlid Jašarević, a Wahhabi Islamist, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on charges of attempted murder and other violations in connection with his alleged machine gun attack on the United States Embassy, Sarajevo, on 28th October 2011.

Other incidents in Bosnia were e.g. Zvornik police station shooting , Operation Ruben and 2015 Sarajevo shooting, more about these one can find from WikipediA.

Between 4th and 16th November 2016 Kosovo Police arrested 19 men suspected of links to Islamic State and of planning to carry out attacks in Kosovo and in Albania against Israeli footballers playing a World Cup qualifying match with Albania in Elbasan, central Albania. Unconfirmed media reports have mentioned Kosovo institutions and Serbian Orthodox Church sites as possible Islamist targets. During the arrests, substantial explosives, including 281 grams of TATP, 2.5 kg of other explosive substance, as well as personal weapons and radio-communication devices were found. The people who were arrested were divided into several groups and were being coordinated by two Kosovar ISIS members, Lavdim Muhaxheri and Ridvan Haqifi, the police said. (Source: BalkanInsight )

The Kosovo Albanian terrorism spills over borders, especially to Macedonia. Nearly two years ago was a massive terrorist attack in the quest to create a Greater Albania as over 40 armed individuals fought with police for control of the city of Kumanovo close to the country’s capital. The attackers were from the so-called “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA), a former terrorist group that was thought to have been disbanded after NATO occupied the Serbian province, and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said that some of them had received their militant training in the Mideast. The combined carnage wounded 37 police officers and killed 8 of them, while ultimately eliminating 14 terrorists and leading to the capture of 30 others. (Source:   Sputniknews )

 

 Kosovo, Camp bondsteel

Kosovar jihadists abroad: Some examples

According DEBKAfile four Kosovar jihadists who planned to blow up iconic Venice bridge arrested. Italian counterterror police forces raided several locations 28.-29.3.2017 and arrested four Islamic radicals who planned to blow up Venice’s Rialto Bridge, one of the city’s most visited sites, and kill hundreds of tourists. Venice’s chief prosecutor also disclosed on 30th Mar. 2017 that the authorities had been secretly monitoring the communications of the terror cell members, all citizens of Kosovo linked to ISIS. The radicals were heard expressing joy regarding the March 22 terrorist attack in London, the prosecutor said.

The assassin who shot two American soldiers at Frankfurt Airport in 2011 was an Albanian immigrant. Serbian terrorism expert, Darko Trifunovc, says that the Kosovo Albanian who killed 2 US soldiers in Germany is part of the “white” al-Qaeda being recruited in the Balkans with its center being in Kosovo. The Albanian terrorist, Arif Uka, hails from the town of Kosovska Mitrovica which also happens to be the recruitment center for “white” al-Qaeda that is managed by former Kosovo Albanian KLA gunmen and financed by the Saudis. says another expert, Zoran Dragisic. (Source: Pakistan Christian Post )

Deutsche Welle reports that since 2012, 316 people – including women and children – have left the country to join the so-called “Islamic State” terrorist militia. Of those 316 people, 58 have been killed and 117 have returned to Kosovo, said Baki Kelani, spokesman for Kosovo’s ministry of the interior. According to Kelani, 237 people are being investigated for planning and taking part in terrorist attacks outside Kosovo and also for recruiting, supporting and funding terrorists. Since 2013, 127 of the suspects have been arrested, including an alleged ringleader. According to figures from security experts, 50,000 Kosovars are now members of conservative Islamic groups.

On 20th Jan. 2017 an Albanian man suspected of planning a bomb attack in Vienna was arrested by special forces, Austrian media has reported. The Austrian authorities had been warned about a possible attack by foreign intelligence services. A report from the Kronen-Zeitung newspaper that the suspect had built explosives in Germany. The newspaper also claimed the man belonged to an Islamist group which originated in Albania, and which held sympathies with Islamic State (ISIS). (Source: Foxnews )

On 27 Apr 2008 Foxnews reported that the six foreign-born Muslims accused of planning a shooting attack at the U.S. military base included four Kosovo Albanian Muslims affiliated with the KLA, or the Kosovo Liberation Army, a Terrorist Jihad Wahhabi group. The U.S. officials say their arrests highlight how Islamist groups are using the Balkans region to help in recruiting and financing terrorism.

 

The Telegraph reported that in southern Kosovo the town of Kacanik during 2012-2015 some 24 local menfolk have gone to fight for jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, giving the town of just 30,000 people an unwanted reputation as the jihadist capital of the Balkans. For a nation of just 1.8 million people, it now punches well above its weight in terms of the number of citizens joining Isil. Altogether some 300 Kosovans have joined ISIS, making Kosovo Europe’s biggest contributor per capita. Along with neighbouring Albania, which has fielded around 200, and nearby Bosnia, which around 160, it is now seen as a potential launch pad for ISIS in its bid to establish a new front against Europe in the Balkans.

Sure there has been a lot of murders and violence in Balkans, Western Europe and North America committed by (Kosovo)Albanian mafia but motivation has been mostly money so there is no direct link to Wahhabism/Jihadism/ISIS/Al Qaeda, for example in March 2017 sc Düsseldorf axe terrorist, a Kosovo-born muslim, probably was only mentally ill without terrorism connections. 

Two aspects

When the US State Department listed the KLA as a terrorist organization in 1998, the reason wasn’t radical Islam but its links to the heroin trade. By 1999, Western intelligence agencies estimated that over $250m of narcotics money had found its way into KLA coffers. After the NATO bombing of 1999, KLA-linked heroin traffickers again began using Kosovo as a major supply route; in 2000, an estimated 80% of Europe’s heroin supply was controlled by Kosovar Albanians.

In the summer of 2016, the Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development (KIPRED) published a study about the influence of religion on Kosovar identity. According to Lulzim Peci, author of the study, 57 percent of Muslim Albanians feel Albanian and 32 percent defined themselves as Muslims first and then as Albanians. “We see a great shift in identity from ethnicity, the so-called language nation, to a religious-ethnic society,” said Peci in an interview with DW.

Payback?

 

 

Quadruple Helix Model

In my earlier article Quadruple Helix – Capturing Kosovo I described how (Kosovo) Albanian organized crime organizations gained remarkable role in Europe. It is estimated that they are the chief perpetrator of drug and people smuggling, trafficking, organ sales etc. Past estimates suggested that ethnic Albanian traffickers controlled 70% or more of the heroin entering a number of key destination markets, and they have been described as a “threat to the EU” by the Council of Europe at least as recently as 2005. In fact, ethnic Albanian heroin trafficking is arguably the single most prominent organized crime problem in Europe today. Kosovo is serving as a junction for heroin trafficking from Afghanistan to West Europe through famous Balkan route. Now Columbian drug dealers are setting up cocaine supply bases in Albania and Balkans to penetrate into Europe. Already earlier ethnic Albanians organized the transportation of cocaine from the Netherlands and Belgium towards Italy.

Links between drug trafficking and the supply of arms to the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) were established mid-90s. In West KLA was described as terrorist organization but when US selected them as their ally it transformed organization officially to “freedom” fighters. After bombing Serbia 1999 KLA leaders again changed their crime clans officially to political parties. This public image however can not hide the origins of money and power, old channels and connections are still in place in conservative tribe society.

Already 2005 Europol stated that the Albanian organized crime is related to the Islamic terrorism e.g.  where the Brussells based “Bureau also cooperated in other operations, investigating the dismantling of OC (Organized Crime, note AR)  groups that are known for suspicious financial transactions, Albanian organised crime, producing synthetic drugs and related to Islamic terrorism.” (Report here and more e.g. in Balkan route-Business as usual.)

Above I shortly hinted to financial connection between Wahhabi organizations in Kosovo and international terrorism and Wahhabis as potential pool for operations. Then I pointed historical and social link between organized crime groups and Kosovo’s political leaders. All this has also its international dimensions. The last and maybe the most dangerous connection is link between organized crime and Islamic terrorism because its thread to the rest of Europe.

Today’s trend with economical development policy and projects is called a “Triple Helix Model or Approach”. A triple helix regime typically begins as university, industry and government enter into a reciprocal relationship in which each attempts to enhance the performance of the other. It seems that in Kosovo triple helix model has applied and further developed to “Quadruple or Fourfold Helix Model” where government, underworld, Wahhabbi schools and international terrorism have win-win symbiosis.

 

quadruple helix model by Ari Rusila

 

More reading:

My articles: Kosovo: Two years of Pseudo-state , Balkan route-Business as usual   and Captured Pseudo-State Kosovo .

More about link between organized crime and Kosovo political leaders one can find e.g. from Albanian Terrorism and Oraganized Crime in Kosovo and Metohija (K&M) , which also can be found from my document library. Related background information can be found also from “leaked” German Intelligence reports BND report 2005 and BND-IEP report Kosovo 2007 which can be found from my document library under Kosovo headline.

The report, “Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo”,  prepared by Swiss prosecutor-turned-politician Dick Marty. Investigations conducted by the Swiss diplomat, Dick Marty on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have revealed the true picture of Kosovo’s prime minister Hashim Thaci. In his report to the PACE’s Commission, Thaci is presented as the leader of a criminal gang engaged in the smuggling of weapons, the distribution of illegal drugs throughout Europe and the selling of human organs for unlawful transplantation. The Swiss senator conducted a two-year inquiry into organised crime in Kosovo after the Council of Europe mandated him to investigate claims of organ harvesting by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) after the war with Serbia ended in 1999.

An exellent article in New York Times – How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground for ISIS by Carlotta Gall – gives in deep background info about Kosovo’s transformation from liberal Islam to ground of Islamic extremism

Testimony on the Genesis of Evil – White Book on Albanian terrorism in Kosovo The book addresses the continuity of terrorist activities by Albanian extremists, beginning with the constituting of the parallel system of Albanian government in Kosovo and Metohija and the pretensions of the so-called Government of the Republic of Kosovo headed by Bujar Bukoshi, covering the founding of FARK and the armed forces of “the Republic of Kosovo”, which united separation-oriented former officers of the former Yugoslav People’s Army, to the founding of the “Kosovo Liberation Army” /KLA/, which at the time of the NATO bombing had more than 20,000 armed members, and the KLA’s transformation and engagement of the former terrorists in the Kosovo Protection Corps.

Kosvovo by Ari Rusila

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A Walker Statue For Memory Of Racak Massacre/Hoax

January 18, 2017

On the 18th anniversary of a massacre of Kosovo Albanians in Racak, a statue of the former chief of OSCE Verification Mission to Kosovo, William Walker, was unveiled in the village of Racak, where 45 Albanian civilians were reportedly massacred by Serbian forces on January 15, 1999. US diplomat William Walker, who at the time was the chief of the OSCE ceasefire verification mission to Kosovo, first reported the event and said it was a “crime against humanity”, and that the victims were civilians.

However there is a widespread belief, that Walker’s role in Racak was to assist the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) in fabricating a Serb massacre that could be used as an excuse for military action. The theory was that the KLA had gathered their own dead after the battle, removed their uniforms, put them in civilian clothes, and then called in the observers.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

W.Walker?

Anyway William Walker is the man who sold the world the story of the Racak so-called massacre, used to create a climate to justify the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. In my opinion Racak might be a hoax. A quote related to Walker published earlier in my article High pressure to fabricate Racak reports :

Walker was U.S. ambassador to El Salvador in November 1989 when six leading Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter were dragged from their beds and murdered by the Salvadoran Army. The killings were carried out by the Atlacatl Battalion, which was recruited, trained, and deployed by the U.S. military, supposedly in order to improve the Salvadoran Army’s human rights performance. The Atlacatl was responsible for the worst atrocities of the entire war.

Walker first emerged in the Iran-Contra Scandal as the right-hand man of Oliver North and Elliott Abrams in illegal arms shipments to the Contras out of Ilopango airbase in El Salvador. Before that, he was deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Honduras when U.S. authorities were recruiting officers from Somoza’s deposed National Guard to establish the Contras, and forming military death squads that murdered hundreds of Honduran workers, labor organizers and students.

The truth might be as Canadian Major General Lewis MacKenzie, former UN Protection Force commander in Bosnia, cited the admission in an April 2008 statement to the Lord Byron Foundation:

The current Prime Minister Hashim Thaci was the leader of the KLA. He has admitted that the KLA orchestrated the infamous Racak “massacre” dressing their KLA dead in civilian clothes, machine gunning them and dumping them in a ditch and claiming it was a Serbian slaughter of civilians. NATO bought into the ruse and on its 50th birthday looking for a role in the post cold war world the alliance became the KLA’s air force and bombed a sovereign nation from the safety of 10,000 ft.

Conclusion

Walker’s OSCE mission was crawling with CIA operatives and employees of two US paramilitary companies (Dyncorp and MPRI) that had close ties to US military intelligence and to the CIA at least since Bosnian war a half decade earlier . This personnel was there to establish close links with the KLA, to train them, and to prepare the ground in advance of the NATO bombing. Also the CIA had been training the KLA already, since early in 1998, in Albania, where the KLA had its bases. So the decision to bomb had been taken long before. What was needed was an excuse to start, and furnishing that excuse was Walker’s job.

SL6

More about Racak in articles published as the work started to build a statue of William Walker.  He participated in an inauguration ceremony on Friday [15.Jan.2016] to lay the foundations for a statue which is being erected in his honour:

Also a following documentary movie  might be interesting:

Appendix

The Milosevic Trial: William Walker’s role as provocateur By Keith Lee in World Socialist Web Site :

Milosevic asked for a series of photos of the bodies to be shown in the correct order and asked, “Where is this blood by the bodies or by individual bodies? Where did you see traces of blood there?”

This began the following exchange:

Walker: “On that picture?”…

Milosevic: “Are there any traces of blood here anywhere?”

Walker: “I assume that’s blood.”

Milosevic: “You’re talking about pools of blood on the soil, and on the soil there is no blood at all.”

Walker: “Not in this picture.”

Milosevic: “Not on the previous picture either. Is there any blood, any traces of blood, any pools of blood here on the soil either?”

Walker: “Not on that picture.”

Milosevic: “Not even here, there is no trace of blood anywhere on the ground, and we see that there are rocks all around.”

Keith Lee concludes: Whether there was a massacre at Racak will need further study, although sufficient evidence has been shown for any objective observer to err on the side of caution. What is certain is that Walker played a pivotal role in providing NATO with justification for the bombing of Yugoslavia.


This article first appeared in Conflicts By Ari Rusila  site.


The Mass Exodus of Kosovo Albanians

February 14, 2015

“Kosovo, alles Scheiße. Serbien, auch Scheiße. Deutschland, das ist gut. Da kann man arbeiten, fünf Euro die Stunde, egal ob schwarz oder nicht, es ist besser.” (Rexhep Kurteshi)

The greatest exodus from Kosovo since the 1998-99 war has started. More than 15 years after NATO bombing Kosovo is witnessing a dramatic surge in the number of its citizens smuggling themselves across Serbia’s border into Hungary and push westwards to the likes of Germany and Switzerland through the EU’s borderless Schengen zone. Since August 2014, when exodus from Kosovo began, until last December, it is estimated that about 100,000 people has left Kosovo, and from the beginning of this year 50,000 more, although no one officially wants to say it, writes Pristina daily “Bota Sot”. That is six per cent of population. Hungary and Austria have both reported a sudden rise in migration from Kosovo. In only two months between 50,000 and 120,000 ethnic Albanians have left Kosovo in a wave migration to western European countries.

The Kosovar media has reported that as many as 20,000 people are leaving the tiny country of around two million people each month in a bid to escape corruption, poverty and soaring unemployment. The Hungarian Embassy in Kosovo estimates the number of Kosovo Albanians in Hungary could be as high as 60,000, according to Balkan Insight. The education ministry of Kosovo released on mid-February “alarming statistics” showing that 5,200 children dropped out of school in recent months to follow their parents abroad. In addition 60,000 Kosovo Albanians applying now for Serbs passport as they need visa for Schengen area but Serbs not. On 12th Feb 2014 Serbian security forces stepped up patrols and deployed an elite unit on its border with Hungary, trying to halt a torrent of migrants that has triggered alarm in many European Union countries.

German figures released on Monday, February 9 show a significant increase in asylum applications from Kosovars – from 1,956 applications in December to 3,630 in January. Germany’s interior ministry announced on 12th Feb. 2015 it was sending 20 police officers to the border between Hungary and Serbia to help control a surge in the number of asylum seekers heading into the European Union and ultimately to Germany with its generous welfare benefits. It said authorities would prioritize asylum applications of Kosovo citizens, deciding on them within two weeks and stepping up efforts to show Germany is not an easy place to get applications through. Germany rejected about 99 percent of asylum applications from Kosovars last year and in January the approval rate was even lower, at 0.3 percent. (More in DW )

To gain asylum, applicants must show they would faced persecution if they returned to their home country. The interior ministry has also signaled it is open to changing the law – possibly making it easier to deport asylum seekers from Kosovo by making it a country of safe origin – but it has said that this is not the priority for now. The aim of ministry is to make decisions about asylum in three months while the process now takes from six to seven months. ( Source and more in Frankfurter Allgemeine )

One consequence about this exodus especially in Germany and Austria is that Kosovo Albanians are blocking space and services from those asylum seekers who have real need to flee from their homeland, e.g. Syria and Iraq.

Why now? The reason for leaving now, according to many of the migrants, is an easing of the travel restrictions, which used to prevent them leaving Kosovo, and travelling across Serbia. One should note that especially Germany has demanded improvement of cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo. One part of cooperation is that Kosovo Albanians can travel with their ID to borders and then to try illegally enter to EU. Also migrants spoken to by Reuters reporters suggest smugglers have found safer routes across the border, and word of mouth has triggered an exodus.

infografik-fluechtlinge-aus

The reason: Hopes are gone

According to the UN, 35 percent of people in Kosovo are unemployed and nearly 30 percent of the country lives in poverty. After elections Kosovo got last December new government and since then more and more Kosovo Albanians are trying to escape from their country. It seems that Kosovo Albanians have lost all hope for better living in Kosovo – poverty and a lack of prospects might be two reasons why they’re searching better future from Germany.

The analyst Fatmir Seholi believes that the governments of Kosovo were never serious about the international reports on the progress of Kosovo which are continuously talking about the poor economic conditions in Kosovo. Referring to the data of the Association “Mother Teresa”, which operates in Kosovo, Seholi says that 18 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty with 0.90 eurocents per day, while 27 percent of them live in poverty with only 1.40 euros a day, and that unemployment in Kosovo is over 60 percent. The greatest enemy of Kosovo, says Seholi, is corruption, organized crime and “client-based” access to employment in Kosovo institutions. “People expected changes after the elections in June last year and seeing that nothing will change, hopes are gone and they now have their own and the fate of their families risked by going to the EU countries,” he said. (Source InNews )

flucht-aus-der-armut

But the unemployment may not be the main cause for emigration. In a matter of few weeks the Pristina-based construction company “Pozhegu Brothers” has witnessed a sudden decline of its workforce in a wave of illegal emigration that has hit Kosovo in recent months. The company says that it has lost 40 members of its workforce for the purpose of emigrating for a better life and prosperity into a European Union (EU) country. They stress that each of them was a qualified and experienced worker, and in terms of financial sustainability each of them earned between 350 and 600 euros a month. Other companies and businesses are reporting the same problem of workforce resigning from jobs for emigrating purposes. (Source: ShanghaiDaily ) For me this sounds very strange as in Balkans and especially in Kosovo 350-600 € per month is really good salary. On the other hand a couple of years ago I was informed that that poor people from Bulgaria came to pick grapes to Kosovo as the local ones did not accept so low compensation as paid for that that job.

Poverty seems to be relative issue. Here one excerpt from BBC-story: “It started last summer as several dozen a day. Now it is several thousand a day,” says Laszlo Torockai, mayor of Asotthalom, a village of 4,000 people [in Hungary]. “We sympathise with those fleeing war zones – the Syrians and Iraqis – but less so with those fleeing poverty. Many have smart phones and follow their progress by GPS. Few of my constituents, whose doors they knock on in the middle of the night, can afford phones like those.

Strategic mistakes as background

The only thing the Albanians were able to demonstrate was their insignificance, inability, cowardice and dependency on others (NATO) to save them from the horrible mess they created. Albanian success was in demonstrating terror, crime and inventing history! Albanian solidarity was in their incompetence and collective failure to achieve anything throughout their entire (short) history on their own! The ONLY time albanians are in the news is because of their crimes and acts of terror. (Mike in netforum)

 I agree with those who claim that it is clear that Kosovo’s secession from Serbia, as well as its hasty recognition as an independent state, was a mistake. The current wave of refugees confirms that Kosovo cannot endure as a state.

The insignificant economic base was easy to see when creation of the state of Kosovo was ongoing. Official statistics from year 2008 shows that export from Kosovo amounted about 200 million Euro while import increased to 2 billion Euro, which makes trade balance almost 1,800 million Euro minus. If export is covering some 10 percent of import so from where is money coming to this consumption. The estimate is that when export brings mentioned 71 million Euro the organised crime (mainly drug trafficking) brings 1 billion Euro, diaspora gives 500 million Euro and international community 200 million Euro.

After bombing Serbia 1999 KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) leaders changed their organized crime clans officially to political parties. This public image however can not hide the origins of money and power, old channels and connections are still in place in conservative tribe society. Last ten years now political leaders have whitewashed their drugs- and other OC-money by establishing façade-firms as well real enterprises, by success in donor funded investment projects and through privatisation process.

The real power in Kosovo lays with 15 to 20 family clans who control “almost all substantial key social positions” and are closely linked to prominent political decision makers. German intelligence services (BND) have concluded for example that Prime Minister Thaçi is a key figure in a Kosovar-Albanian mafia network. Two German intelligence reports – BND report 2005 and BND-IEP report Kosovo 2007 – are giving clear picture about connection between politics and organized crime; both reports can be found from my document library under headline Kosovo. (For background see also my article Kosovo: Two years of Pseudo-state ).

quadruple helix model

Bottom line

In the late 1990s Serbia was bombed by NATO for the purpose of Kosovo independence. Now the Kosovo people, the ethnic Albanians, under the EU/NATO/US umbrella, are fleeing Kosovo in droves. Ironically one would think, that after being bombed over Kosovo the Serbs would just let the peasants cross into Hungary and be the EUs problem. Besides since the EU wanted Kosovo to be independent, and Kosovo and Albania are candidates for EU membership, one would think the EU would be welcoming these Kosovo Albanians with red carpet.

In my previous articles – e.g in Captured Pseudo-State Kosovo – I have portrayed Kosovo with quite dark colours. I have summarized Kosovo

“as Serbian province, occupied and now international protectorate administrated by UN Kosovo mission; as quasi-independent pseudo-state has good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state; today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers, international money laundry and radical Wahhabists – unfortunately all are also allies of western powers”.

So what can be done? From my perspective everything went wrong when mid-90’s Germany and U.S. selected strategy to support Croatian Nazis, Bosnian jihadists and Kosovo Albanian mafia with their separatist intentions while same time demonizing Serbs. As result Croatia got independency, Bosnia-Herzegovina came artificial creature in Dayton and Kosovo as international protectorate. From year 1999 international community has squandered billions of euros for its state-building efforts and after 15 years Bosnia-Herzegovina is even more dysfunctional than before western interventions and Kosovo is transforming itself from failed to captured state.

The way out in Kosovo in my opinion starts from first recognizing made mistakes while selecting sides and then cleaning old allies and present day ruling elite – organized crime clans – out from their administrative positions; EULEX rule and law mission could be good tool for this job. Only from this clean base the capacity building activities of state and local administration can be successful.

The new start could lead into more democratic independent Kosovo, the outcome could also be renewed autonomy as part of Serbia, or integrating Northern Serb populated area to Serbia, or cantonization depending of interests of local stakeholders. Anyway each of these follow-ups from my perspective are better for Kosovo as well Serbia than situation today.


Passport Rank 2014: Balkans

July 11, 2014

 

Free movement is one fundamental human rights not only in one’s own country but also abroad. Visa restrictions play an important role in controlling the movement of foreign nationals across borders. They reflect also the relationships between individual nations as well the status of a country within the international community of nations. The main travel document is passport. Citizenship documented in passport regulates the level of free movement over borders; holder of one passport can travel relatively free around the globe while the choices of the holder of other passport are very limited. So passports can be ranked according to the visa-free access their holders.

Visa restrictions change according to the political situation at any given time. For example some 20 years ago citizens of Yugoslavia could travel relatively free, but the breakup wars changed situation completely. The “European perspective” is key concept for integrating western Balkans into EU. For ordinary people freedom of movement might be the main carrot after nearly 20 years of isolation.

My Passport Rank table below ranks passports according to how many countries it gives visa-free access. To table I have collected the Balkan countries and for comparison the best and the worst positions. I have also indicated the change during last two years describing to how many countries more the passport gives visa-free access compared to situation on 2012. As source I have used the data published in “The Henley Visa Restrictions Index”. (Source and more about H&P please visit in their homepage )

And here is my ”Passport Rank 2014: Balkans”:

Passport Rank 2014 – Balkans by Ari Rusila
Rank Passport of country Visa free access tocountries 2014/2012

+o-

1 Finland, Sweden, UK 173 +3-4
4 Denmark, Germany, USA, Luxemburg 172 +3-6
8 Belgium, Italy, Netherlands 171 +3-4
21 Greece 167 +3
31 Slovenia 155 +4
46 Bulgaria, Romania 141 +3-4
59 Croatia 129 +10
71 Serbia 104 +5
72 Macedonia (FYR) 103 +6
74 Montenegro 98 +4
80 Bosnia-Herzegovina 91 +4
81 Albania 88 +4
189 Kosovo 38 +1
197 Pakistan, Somalia 32 +1-4
199 Iraq 31 +1
200 Afghanistan 28 +2

To travel from one country to other is a fundamental freedom restricted however more or less depending about which passport the traveler holds. Generally speaking the freedom of movement has increased a lot globally as well in Balkans. Apart that I would like to point out some trivia. The new Kosovo passport, first issued by the Kosovo Government in July 2008, is still one of the least useful travel documents ever designed. Passports for example from North Korea, Myanmar, Yemen and Syria are more valid than Kosovo passport as well one from the newest countries – South Sudan.

Some half of UN member states was fooled or pressured on for recognize Kosovo’s second declaration of independence, but Kosovo passport gives visa-free access only to less than 40 countries. On the other hand Taiwan ( also UN outsider) has diplomatic relations with 23 countries but its passport holders can travel visa free to 130 countries. In Europe only Pridnestrovie – aka Transdniestria aka Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica (PMR) – may be a country which passport has less use abroad than Kosovo passport as no country has recognised its independence. From the bright side now the majority of former Kosovo Serbs can have visa-free travel abroad as they are residing in Serbia because they could not return to their homes in Kosovo after ethnic cleansing made by Kosovo Albanians on 1999 and 2004. (My view about Kosovo in my articleCaptured Pseudo-State Kosovo)

Passport is not only travel document – it has also its wider political and business aspects. For example Romania distributes its passports to its Moldovan neighbours (rank 138) so that they can travel easier e.g in EU. Russia (rank 75) gives easily passports to Ukrainians (rank 96) to make stronger ties with Russian-speaking population abroad. During Balkan wars it was also quite popular to give Bosnian passports to foreign Muslim-fighters or Jihadists (and later leading al Qaeda figures) for their support in civil war.

It is estimated that that every year, several thousand people spend a collective $2 bn ( €1.5bn) to add a second, or even third, passport to their collection. Those with money can select from half a dozen countries offering a direct citizenship-by-investment route with no residency requirements. The cheapest deal for citizenship is on the tiny Caribbean island of Dominica (rank 83) where for an investment of $100,000 plus various fees, as well as an in-person interview on the island, citizenship can be bought. In better ranking Cyprus (rank 38) the costs are between €2-5 million depending program. Last year the government of Malta announced proposals to start selling citizenship of its nation to foreigners for €650,000, however after EU pressure applicants will now be required to spend at least a year in Malta in order to qualify. Several European Union countries – e.g UK, Spain, Belgium – or USA do not offer citizenship for purchase outright, but do offer residence permits to wealthy individuals; that include free movement within the Schengen area, in exchange for high fees and the requirement to invest in the country.


The passport rank shows also one peculiarity related to international aid and development. In Balkans besides Kosovo also Bosnia-Herzegovina together with Albania have the worst scores despite the fact that EU and international community have guided and supervised these regions towards “European standards” nearly twenty years with huge state- and capasity building measures and billions of bucks. So has EU failed with this task as those countries without outside supervision are getting visa-freedom earlier?

One could also conclude or claim that the EU is isolating three mainly Muslim European states/regions – Albania, BiH and Kosovo – and Turkey (rank 76, visa-free access to 94 countries) as some in the EU fear the presence of such a large, Muslim community inside traditionally Christian Europe. Of course EU denies political aspects and highlights only the technical ones but from Balkan perspective the impression can differ.


Kosovo 15 years later, a personal memory and a word about free research by Jan Oberg

March 24, 2014

I’m happy to reprint an article Kosovo 15 years later, a personal memory and a word about free research by Jan Oberg, director of TFF (Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research). Dr Oberg served since 1991 four years as mediator between parties in Kosovo and also was in Serbia during Nato-bombing. His analysis in my opinion gives a good view not only Kosovo but also some events today. Jan is also the founding member in TFF which was established on January 1, 1986. Its mission is following:

TFF is an independent think tank, a global network that aims to bring about peace by peaceful means. It inspires a passion for peace from the grassroots to the corridors of power.
TFF is an all-volunteer global network. It promotes conflict-mitigation and reconciliation in general, as well as in a more targeted way in a selected number of conflict regions – through meticulous on-the-ground research, active listening, education and advocacy.
The Foundation is committed to doing diagnosis and prognosis as well as proposing solutions. It does so in a clear, pro-peace manner.”

tff logoMore in TFF home page


Kosovo 15 years later, a personal memory and a word about free research    by Jan Oberg TFF director

Lund, Sweden March 24, 2014

Media with a pro-Western bias usually remind us of 9/11 based on a victim narrative. We just passed 3/20 – the 11th Anniversay of the war on Iraq. Every year they forget 10/7 (Afghanistan) and 3/24, the destruction of Serbia-Kosovo in 1999.

What to do when NATO’s raison d’etre – the Warsaw Pact – had dissolved? Answer: Turn NATO into a humanitarian bombing organisation which in – fake – Gandhian style could say: We are bombing for a higher ethical humanitarian purpose to save lives and on this exceptionalist moral high ground we ignore international law.

Kosovo 15 years later

Kosovo remains a unique result of propaganda and mass killings to produce and independent state without a UN Security Council mandate – which doesn’t prevent Western politicians from teaching Russia international law these very days.

If Kosovo, why not Tibet, Taiwan, the Basque country, Korsica, Kurdistan, Palestine, or Crimea? The answer is: Kosovo was exceptional. But why? Oil and gas, perhaps, see later…

Kosovo of 2014 is a failed state with quite a few of the – unconvicted – war criminals of the 1990s still in power. (They were leaders of UCK/KLA army that was set up by CIA and its German brother BND behind the back of Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, the Kosovo-Albanian leader and advocate of pragmatic non-violence).

The international so-called community (read: a handful of NATO countries) have ever since violated UN SC Resolution 1244 that stated that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, FRY, was a sovereign state with territorial integrity.

The US got what was the real pupose of it all, the gigantic Bondsteel base in Kosovo, the largest built outside th U.S. since the Vietnam war – to secure the numerous gas and oil pipelines from Central Asia to the Vlore harbour in Albania. Did you ever hear about Bondsteel?

Till today, only 56% of the UN member states have recognised Kosovo as independent (declared in 2008). Reverse ethnic cleansing of the Serb minority in Kosovo took place right after NATO’s bombing – “we must understand the anger there” as some expressed it.

Serbs were some 20% of Kosovo’s people in the 1960s, today a few percent. This and the Kraina ethnic cleansing against the Croatian Serbs were the proportionately largest ethnic cleansing campaigns in the 1990s.

Insecurity, hatred and a miserable economy still characterise Kosovo after 15 years of all kinds of international missions in the place. Something very deep must be wrong. 

Whether it was a good idea to make Kosovo an independent (failed) state or not can be discussed. Belgrade’s repression was unacceptable, for sure, but there was no genocide. However, what can not be discussed is that NATO’s bombing wasn’t the right means with which to help create a solution.

If the West/US/NATO doesn’t learn from Yugoslavia, such immoral, illegal and ill-conceived projects will continue in various forms.

A personal memory

The people I met during the bombings in Belgrade and Novi Sad during the merciless destruction of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia did not see NATO’s war during 78 days as a humanitarian operation. Neither could I.

I remember standing on the 5th floor of the Moskva Hotel in the heart of Belgrade, see NATO’s fireworks during the night – its relentless pounding of the Batanica Airbase 10 kilometres outside Belgrade. I shall never be able to forget how I felt the blast up through my body. I would like to believe that if the decision-makers behind this war had been in that room and seen the destruction by daytime, they would have stopped the campaign.

Geographical distance and psychic numbing are two of the most nasty war-promoters.

One morning Belgrade woke up to the destruction of various ministry buildings in the centre. A maternity clinic had taken a hit too. That was the first time the Swedish government uttered anything but full support; then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anna Lindh, said on radio that perhaps such big bombs should not be used in city centres.

My wife called me that morning and told me that Lindh had finally said that much. I said, I know why – because I was to have a meeting with the Swedish Ambassador that morning but he had just called me to tell that we had to postpone it because the blast had blown in some windows and the main door of his villa (10 kilometres away).

That was Madame Lindh’s moment of truth. Logically, the foundation in her name last year awarded Madeleine Albright the Anna Lindh Prize

TFF’s mediation in Kosovo had a price

TFF has been engaged in Yugoslavia since 1991 and still follow developments closely. It was the only organisation that did mediation for years with three governments in Belgrade and the non-violent political ladership in the Kosovo province under Dr. Ibrahim Rugova. I personally served for 4 years as unpaid goodwill mediator between the two.

TFF produced a proposal for a 3-year negotiation process under the leadership of the UN – the only document published widely in the media in both Belgrade and Kosovo.

Naturally, TFF’s conflict-mitigation experts went out in the media against the idea of bombing because we knew that the parties were interested in a negotiated solution. And we managed quite well to influence opinion.

But neither countries like Sweden or NATO were the slightest interested in real negotiations – Ramboulliet  which, among other things, sought to force Serbia to accept NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia was a stage-set pretext for bombing by, among others, Madeleine Albright, no negotiations taking place there. 

The Swedish government at no point showed any interest in TFF’s work all over Yugslavia. But they must have known about it – because in December 1999 we received a letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressing due regret that the annual organisational support we had received over 9 years (about US$ 60.000) would not be paid in the future.

Having worked for all these years with conflict analysis and peace-making in all parts of Yugslavia was too much for a Sweden that, after Olof Palme, had turned itself into an obedient follower of US/NATO, stopped being neutral and having an independent foreign policy, let alone a peace and disarmament policy.

Thus, TFF is the only organisation of its kind that has been thrown out of the Swedish government’s budget. We are proud of having survived as people-financed ever since.

Researchers who are dependent on governments for their salary and projects usually believe that they conduct free research. But there is no government money in the field of security and peace without strings attached.

That explains the political correctness, predictability and boredom embedded in most government-financed research works in the field and why genuine peace is seldom promoted in them. 

•••

Post Script by Ari Rusila:

I have also dealt issues mentioned article above. My on the ground experience comes from my capacity building work in Kosovo just after bombing and following situation then afterwards. Here is some of my own articles about topic:

kosovo heroin flag


U.S. Recycles Its Old Balkan Practice With Syria

April 5, 2013

The Syrian rebellion began in earnest on March 11, 2011, when protests erupted. Since then, the Syrian civil conflict has become increasingly violent. About 70,000 people have died in the country’s civil war over the past two years. Millions of people have been displaced, both internally and abroad. For months regional and Western capitals have officially held back on arming the rebels, in part out of fear that the weapons would fall into the hands of terrorists.

Now however U.S. has begun to support arms delivery to Syrian opposition with recycling its old practice in Balkans. Multiple planeloads (some estimates are up to 160 cargo-planes, 3,500 tn) of weapons have left Croatia since December 2012, when many Yugoslav weapons, previously unseen in the Syrian civil war, began to appear in videos posted by rebels on YouTube. Saudi Arabia has financed a large purchase of infantry weapons from Croatia and quietly funneled them to anti-government fighters in Syria. American intelligence officers have helped the shipment with their earlier practice during Balkan wars. Earlier compared with the heavy weaponry employed by the Syrian regime, most of the equipment of Free Syrian Army (FSA) has been light so now the game is changing.

In Syria, a recoilless gun from the former Yugoslavia. Photo credit The NYT

Some foreign arms have been making their way to the Syrian opposition; the vast majority of guns were bought right from the regime – corrupt regime officials sold them. Another portion of their weapons was bought off the black market from Turkey or Jordan, which made them very expensive.

The opposition began as a secular struggle to overthrow the Assad regime. But many of the loosely linked brigades fighting the Assad regime have incorporated Islamist aims into their mission. These groups range from moderately Islamist outfits such as Liwaa al-Tawhid to more conservative groups such as Ahrar al-Sham, whose members have called for the countrywide implementation of Shariah, or Islamic law. There are also jihadist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN), which operates as an extension of al Qaeda’s Iraqi franchise and has been declared a terrorist organization by the U.S. JAN boasts foreign connections and members with years of fighting experience, making them invaluable to the uprising.

The M79 Osa, an anti-tank weapon of Yugoslav origin, seized from Syria’s opposition.

Officially besides about $385 million in humanitarian aid has been disbursed by the U.S., there is an additional $115 million in nonlethal support for the fighters. On the other hand U.S. (unofficial) decision to send in more weapons is aimed at another fear in the West about the role of jihadist groups in the opposition. Such groups have been seen as better equipped than many nationalist fighters and potentially more influential. U.S. is covertly working to get those weapons into the right hands. Western officials agree that helping Syrian rebels defeat the brutal Assad regime is a worthwhile cause, but recent reports suggest some of that assistance has already benefited jihadist groups – e.g. JAN fighters have been using weapons originating in Croatia. (Sources: NYT , IBT , Debkafile)

Weapons from Croatia

A conservative estimate of the payload of these flights would be 3,500 tons of military equipment” (Hugh Griffiths, SIPRI, who monitors illicit arms transfers)

Persian Gulf states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been orchestrating weapons shipments into the conflict for months. Weapons from the former Yugoslavia were spotted in Syria this winter, after a series of military cargo flights from Zagreb to Amman. The arms are typically sent to Turkey and shipped into Syria via ground transport. The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports. Also from Jordan and Turkey, trucks take the weapons to the border with Syria.

The anti-Assad front is not like-minded: Riyadh – and Prince Bandar in particular – accuses the Qataris of conspiring to bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Damascus, including radical groups tied to Al Qaeda. Qatari Prime Minister and Secret Service Chief Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem has shot back with the charge that Saudi Arabia is maneuvering for control of the Syrian rebel movement.

The below video posted by the jihadist group Ahrar al-Sham, a collection of various smaller groups based in the north of Syria, mainly around Idlib, Aleppo, and Hama, and not part of the Free Syrian Army, demonstrates that the Yugoslavian weapons – supplied via Croatia – being provided to FSA have now begun to reach the hands of jihadists. These include RBG-6 40mm grenade launcher , the M79 Osa rocket launcher, M79 rocket pods, Yugoslav-made recoilless gun, as well as other assault rifles, grenade launchers, machine guns, mortars and shoulder-fired rockets for use against tanks and armored vehicles.

Youtube video

 One should add that Croatia’s Foreign Ministry and arms-export agency has denied that such shipments had occurred. Croatia, poised this year to join the European Union, now strictly adheres to international rules on arms transfers. However, export figures obtained by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) show that last December, Jordan suddenly began buying Croatian weapons.

MLRS in Syria too?

On March 2013 Syrian rebels in Aleppo have begun receiving their first heavy weapons – 220-mm MLRS rocket launchers – from a large-scale supply operation headed by Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan. According Debkafile in Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, his agents produced snapped up Russian-made MLRS (Smerch) and Hurricane 9K57 launchers capable of firing scores of 220-mm rockets to a distance of 70 kilometers.

I have some doubts how this Russian made MLRS has came from Croatia. First only one source (Debkafile) indicates so, second I don’t have any confirmation that this system was for sale in Balkans, third some youtube videos from Syria which I have seen about this MLRS are so unclear that the question could be about some similar type of MLRS.

Image shows a M60 recoilless gun (YU) being used to attack an army outpost,Hajez Barad, in Busr al-Harir, Daraa, on March 2nd.

The Saudi operation for shipping heavy rocket launchers from the Balkans to Aleppo is complicated. The rockets are fixed to vehicles weighing 43.7 tons each. The rockets themselves are 7.6 meters long and weigh 800 kilograms. To arrange the transfer of this heavy artillery to the rebels in Aleppo, Prince Bandar contacted Hakan Fidan, head of the MIT-Turkish National Intelligence Organization. They agreed to set up an overland route from the Balkans via Turkey and across the Syrian border to Aleppo, under the protection of the Turkish army.

It may be that Syrian rebels have now also the BM-30 Smerch (tornado), the most powerful multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) in the world. It was developed in the early 1980s and was accepted to service with the Soviet Army in 1987. It is also in service with Belarus and the Ukraine, and has been exported to Kuwait (27 systems) and Algeria (18 systems).India placed an order for an initial 38 systems. Deliveries began in May 2007.

The heavy MLRS rocket launcher in Syrian rebel hands

Former Yugoslavia had three types of MLRS: M 63 Plamen(32 /128),M 77 Ogan(32/128) and M 87 Orkan(12/262) which was produced in cooperation with Iraq and army of Iraq used this system. The M87 Orkan (hurricane) is a MLRS, jointly developed by Yugoslavia and Iraq. Most of development was made in Yugoslavia and some manufacturing took place in Iraq. It was first publicly revealed in 1988 during defense exhibition in Iraq, labeled as the Ababil-50. The Orkan MLRS project was finished in the early 1990s due to collapse of the Yugoslavia and it is estimated that only few system were built. The most modern – 2011 – MLRS in Balkans is LRSVM, which is a modular self-propelled multitube rocket launch system developed by Serbia-based Vazduhoplovno Tehnicki Institut (VTI). Also Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Defense Technologies (EDT) has developed, manufactured and delivered the first unit of the MLRS, which was designed and manufactured locally in UAE but in collaboration with a leading Serbian defence contractor. Perhaps some of these are now in operation theatre.

M87 Organ (YU)

Aleppo is the key to win

The Saudi operation for shipping heavy rocket launchers from the Balkans to Aleppo is complicated. The rockets are fixed to vehicles weighing 43.7 tons each. The rockets themselves are 7.6 meters long and weigh 800 kilograms. To arrange the transfer of this heavy artillery to the rebels in Aleppo, Prince Bandar contacted Hakan Fidan, head of the MIT-Turkish National Intelligence Organization. They agreed to set up an overland route from the Balkans via Turkey and across the Syrian border to Aleppo, under the protection of the Turkish army.

On the other hand Russia brings down its cargo planes loaded with weapons and replacement parts for the Syrian army at Nairab air base attached to Aleppo’s international air port, after the air facilities around Damascus were targeted by rebel fire. Recently Russian and Iranian arms lifts to Nairab were doubled, after rebels seized many Alawite villages in the Aleppo and Idlib regions of northern Syria.

The Saudis hope to expedite the rebel capture of the big Syrian Nairab air base attached to Aleppo’s international air port. The Saudi prince has personally taken the Nairab battle under his wing, convinced that it is the key to the conquest of Aleppo, once Syria’s national commercial and population center, after more than a year’s impasse in the battle for its control. The fall of this air base would also substantially reduce the big Iranian and Russian airlifts to Assad’s army. Moscow has since warned the rebels that if they attack incoming or outgoing Russian planes at Nairab, Russian special forces will come in to wipe out their strength around the base and take over its protection themselves.

U.S., Croatia and common history of clandestine operations

It is not surprising that U.S. is using Croatia for its clandestine operations. Radical Islam has enforced and widened their activities in Balkans last 15 years. During Bosnian war many foreign Islamists came to fight in mujahedeen brigade also many Al Quida figures – including Osama bin Laden – were supporting Bosnian Muslims 1990’s. US took the side with these “freedom fighters” in Bosnia and later in Kosovo. US involvement in the Balkans is not about helping any of the people in the region — Muslims, Croats, Serbs, or Albanians. The only interest of the Pentagon is in creating weak, dependent puppet regimes in order to dominate the entire region economically and politically.

In the 1980s Washington’s secret services had assisted Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran. Then, in 1990, the US fought him in the Gulf. n both Afghanistan and the Gulf, the Pentagon had incurred debts to Islamist groups and their Middle Eastern sponsors. By 93 these groups, many supported by Iran and Saudi Arabia, were anxious to help Bosnian Muslims fighting in the former Yugoslavia and called in their debts with the Americans. Bill Clinton and the Pentagon were keen to be seen as creditworthy and repaid in the form of an Iran-Contra style operation – in flagrant violation of the UN Security Council arms embargo against all combatants in the former Yugoslavia. One could add that Ayman al-Zawahiri, later the leader of al Qaeda, came to America to raise funds in Silicon Valley for Bosnian jihadists.in 1993, Mr. bin Laden had appointed Sheik Ayman Al-Zawahiri, to direct his operations in the Balkans.

The recent history of this issue in Balkans started in June 1993, when President Clinton received the head of the Saudi Arabian intelligence service, Prince Turki al Faisal – a close adviser to his uncle, the King. The Prince urged Clinton to take the lead in the military assistance to Bosnia. The American administration did not dare to do so: the fear of a rift within NATO was too great. However, the United States did consider the Saudi Arabian signal to be important, and therefore a new strategy was elaborated. Its architect was to be Richard Holbrooke, who started to look for a way to arm the Bosnian Muslims. In the summer of 1993, the Pentagon was said to have drawn up a plan for arms assistance to the Bosnian Muslim Army (ABiH), which included supplies of AK-47s and other small arms. This operation was to demand almost three hundred C-130 Hercules transport aircraft flights.The first consignment from Iran landed in Zagreb on 4 May 1994, with sixty tons of explosives and military equipment on board. The arms were transported in Croatian army trucks along the Adriatic coast to Bosnia. Because the supplies attracted too much attention at Pleso Airport in Zagreb, the flights subsequently went mainly to the Croatian island of Krk. Shortly after Iranian cargo aircraft had landed there, a number of Croatian helicopters arrived to continue transporting the load after dusk.

Besides weapons the arrival in the Balkans of the so-called Afghan Arabs, who are from various Middle Eastern states and linked to al-Qaeda, began in 1992 – mujahedeen fighters who travelled to Afghanistan to resist the Soviet occupation in the 1980s later migrated to Bosnia hoping to assist their Islamic brethren in a struggle against Serbian Croatian forces.

In the summer and autumn of 1994 plans were elaborated for training the ABiH. An US ‘mercenary outfit’ was to arrange this training. This was carried out by Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI), a company based in Virginia that employed various retired American generals and intelligence officials. With the consent of the State Department, MPRI trained the Hrvatska Vojska (HV, the Croatian Army) and later also the ABiH. MPRI’s role arose from the signing of the agreement between the United States and Croatia on military collaboration. By engaging MPRI, Washington also reduced the danger of ‘direct’ involvement. The CIA settled on 14,000 tons between May 1994 and December 1996. According to the State Department from May 1994 to January 1996 Iran delivered a total of 5000 tons of arms and ammunition via the Croatian pipeline to Bosnia. (Source Bill Clinton’s Bastard Army by Ares Demertzis ,Feb. 2009 in New English Review)

Links between drug trafficking and the supply of arms to the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) were established also mid-90s. In West KLA was described as terrorist organization but when US selected them as their ally it transformed organization officially to “freedom” fighters. After bombing Serbia 1999 KLA leaders again changed their crime clans officially to political parties. This public image however can not hide the origins of money and power, old channels and connections are still in place in conservative tribe society.  (More e.g in Quadruple Helix – Capturing Kosovo )

The pattern of U.S. collaboration with Muslim fundamentalists against more secular enemies is not new.In both cases all sides committed atrocities, and American intervention in fact favored the side allied with al-Qaeda. Similarly the cause of intervention was fostered by blatant manipulation and falsification of the facts.

Assad is not the only war criminal

Reports of a chemical weapon attack in Syria’s Aleppo Province end of March 2013 provoked leaders and politicians, particularly in the West, to advocate more fiercely for the overthrow of the Assad regime, despite the vague details surrounding the attack. Current data seem to suggest, however, that it was not government forces behind the attack, but rebel forces.The attack, intelligence sources appear to agree, was launched by rebel fighters and not government forces. Since the victims were overwhelmingly the Syrian military, this was not a huge shock, but is important to reiterate. Likewise, the Assad forces called upon the United Nations to launch an investigation into the attack.

Last October, the rebel forces were responsible for four suicide bombings in Aleppo that killed approximately 40 civilians and wounded many more. Jebhat al-Nusra, a group linked to al-Qaeda, has taken credit for the bombings. Additionally, the rebels were also responsible for the massacre of over 90 people in Houla last year. Immediately following that event, the U.S., France, Great Britain, and Germany blamed Assad for the killings and expelled Syria’s ambassadors from their countries in protest. Later reports, however, pointed to evidence that the massacre was in fact carried out by anti-Assad rebel forces.

From the other side Iranian supplies are what keep Assad’s army functioning and his regime in Damascus and other Syrian towns able to survive the rebellion. Iraqi Al Qaeda is also preparing to push trucks loaded with Chlorine gas-CI trucks into Syria for the jihadists to use against Assad’s forces. U.S. has been unable to persuade Iraq cut short the Iranian airlift and land route through his country to Bashar Assad of weapons, fighters and cash.

From my point of view it remains to see if this newest U.S. clandestine recycling operation has better success that earlier in Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya … I doubt.

P.S.

Some sense of proportion should be applied with different conflicts:


Kosovo Referendum Prepares the Ground for Tripartite Approach

February 17, 2012

Ethnic Serbs living in northern Kosovo – municipalities of Zubin Potok, Zvecan, northern Mitrovica and Leposavic – have been voting in a two-day referendum on February 14.-15. The question was simple: Voters were asked simply ”Do you accept the institutions of the so-called ‘Republic of Kosovo’ established in Pristina?”. Turnout was at 75.28%. Final results will be made known on February 19th – just after the fourth anniversary of Kosovo’s independence declaration – but early estimate is that 99.74 % were against Pristina’s sovereignty. In Kosovo case the figure probably reflects good the opinion of local Serb population. The result shows that the barricades against EULEX were not just the work of “criminals” and “radicals” but instead have real popular support.

One should note that question about northern municipalities of Kosovo is only one – even if a core one – aspect in Kosovo framework. During NATO-bombing and after ethnic cleansing implemented by Kosovo Albanians, nearly 200.000 Serbs and Romas escaped to Serbia where they are living like internal refugees many of them in temporary conditions. Despite naïve multiethnic ideas in Brussels they have not any intentions to risk their lives by returning hostile environment and their destroyed homes. In my opinion international community – which allowed this problem to happen – should finance a housing program in Serbia for these refugees (or officially IDPs). Second core question is the fate of some half of remaining Kosovo Serbs namely those who are living in isolated enclaves outside northern municipalities in Kosovo. These enclaves are protected by KFOR troops and should be so long as Pristina administrated part of Kosovo is so hostile as it still is.

High Tension in Kosovo North

Tension has been high in northern Kosovo since last July. The situation escalated when Kosovo Serbs put up roadblocks and barricades to stop the deployment of Kosovo customs officers to border points between north Kosovo municipalities and Serbia. Several rounds of violence has occurred; a Kosovo policeman was killed and several NATO troops injured. The north was the scene of unrest in November, when some 50 soldiers from the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force were hurt in a dispute between the two sides over control of border crossings. This Pristina’s failed attempt to seize the northern boundary with support by EULEX and KFOR have demonstrated that using force does not solve dispute.

The governing coalition in Belgrade has called on the Serbs to end the blockade, refrain from violence and abandon the referendum and same time several EU nations, especially Germany, want Serbia’s government to make deals with Pristina so that Serbia could get EU candidate status this Spring.

In Brussels, the EU said it was preparing for a new round of talks between Belgrade and Pristina aimed at easing tensions in northern Kosovo. “There is a particular situation in the north that needs a solution, but neither violence nor barricades, or a referendum contributes to it,” EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said. “Only a dialogue can achieve that.” (Source AP ) Earlier the EU pressured Serbia intensely in November and December, demanding that it force the northern Kosovo Serbs to remove their barricades in the name of “freedom of movement”. KFOR fought several actions against barricades, inflicting – and taking – casualties.

The burned down border crossing Jarinje on Kosovo's northern frontier with Serbia in the early hours on July 28, 2011. (SASA DJORDJEVIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Time to Exit-strategy?

However the western powers have on the drawing board also an other strategy of fostering change to avoid reinforcing the status quo in the north. The press in Pristina has reported about secret meetings between the Kosovo government, the US ambassador and chief of the International Civilian Office (ICO), Pieter Feith,on a new plan to push the UN out of the north. An “EU House” will be established in the north to promote the “European perspective” and to cooperate with “progressive forces” willing to work with Pristina, “parallel” municipalities in the north would remain unrecognized and “Advisory Councils led by moderate Kosovo Serbs” chosen by Pristina taking place from democratically elected bodies in Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan. To make space for these innovations the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Administration in Mitrovica (UAM), that administers north Mitrovica under UN Security Council Resolution 1244, will be closed.

Also the International Steering Group (ISG) had meeting on January 24th in Vienna to deside its 2012 program for Kosovo. Despite its name ISG represents only countries which have advocated Kosovo Albanian separatism, cover costs of Kosovo Albanian state-building efforts.cover costs of Kosovo Albanian state-building efforts and try to underestimate UN Security Council Resolution 1244 – which btw represents in Kosovo highest international law. Anyway ISG issued a communique calling upon the government of Kosovo to continue to implement the Ahtisaari Plan, aiming to complete outstanding elements so that the period of “supervised independence” could terminate by the end of this year. While the outcome both politically and on operation theatre has been modest as best and the results related to investments almost non-visible, ISG probably his hurry to implement fast exit-strategy.

Marko Prelec from International Crisis Group concludes well the situation now since last summer tensions started in his post Update on Northern Kosovo Barricades. A quote:

The situation shows with crystal clarity the folly of the “freedom of movement” campaign, which cost tens of millions of Euros (flying Kosovo officials to, and from, the border day after day runs into serious money), dozens of injuries, made travel more difficult for real people and achieved nothing. All this started because of the basic disputes between Kosovo and Serbia, over Kosovo’s independence and territorial integrity. Trying to use issues like freedom of movement – or the rule of law – as tools to change locals’ minds about sovereignty issues, rather than as ends in themselves, just damages the tool. The dispute isn’t a technicality and cannot be resolved as though it were.

or back to Dialogue?

Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina has poor history. Serbs and Albanians have been in negotiations and talks frequently over the past two decades – from the tentative efforts of the 1990s to the doomed talks in Rambouillet, France, in 1999 and the later “status” talks between 2005 (Ahtisaari’s pseudo-talks) and 2007 (“Troika” led talks). None of these has led to tangible results and left outsiders imposing an outcome, be it NATO intervention or proposing the Ahtisaari plan.

The original or better to say official aim of international community was to build “standards before status”, on 2005 the task was seen impossible so the slogan changed to “standards and status”. Even this was unrealistic so Feb. 2008 “European”standards were thrown away to garbage and “status without standards” precipitately accepted by western powers. For international community I don’t see any success story with this backward progress. Thus the multiethnic idea is far away despite EU’s billions. The remaining Serbs in Kosovo are barricaded into enclaves keeping their lives mainly with help of international KFOR troops or in de facto separated Serb majority region in North Kosovo. This has changed former multiethnic province more mono-ethnic one.

Rewrite History: The Map of Destroyed Shrines in Post-war Kosovo

(To see picture above in full size click here!)

The new situation has forced also International Crisis Group (ICG) to admit the defeat of its Kosovo policy recommendations during last decade. ICG has acted as informal extension of U.S. State Department however pretending to be neutral mediator and think tank. During earlier “status” negotiations 2005 it endorsed preconditions before talks and afterwards supported sc Ahtisaari plan. Now in their new analysis ”Kosovo and Serbia after the ICJ Opinion”  ICG sees Kosovo’s partition with land swap one of possible solutions during coming talks between Belgrad and Pristina.

The fact on the ground is that northern part of Kosovo is integrated to Serbia like it always has been, as well those parts south of Ibar river, which are not ethnically cleansed by Kosovo Albanians. Serbia still runs municipalities, courts, police, customs and public services, and the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) has been unable to deploy more than a token presence there.

During the course of events, the Ahtisaari Plan was implemented in south Kosovo, the north, however, remained outside Kosovo institutions and the ICO, and the Ahtisaari Plan was not implemented there. The Ahtisaari Plan derived a formula that would allow Kosovo Serbs to have their own local institutions and communal life with continued linkages to Serbia, but within the framework of a multi-ethnic Kosovo. If partition option – which in my opinion is pragmatic, the best and even realistical way to solve Kosovo conflict – is not yet possible so then the Ahtisaari Plan might be temporary base for compromise. The Plan however needs some modification. A new follow-up – entitled ‘The Ahtisaari Plan and North Kosovo’ – is presented by TransConflict and it might be achievable as the policy paper is authored by Gerard Gallucci, the former UN Regional Representative in Mitrovica.

My Scenario

Kosovo … a Serbian province, occupied and now international protectorate administrated by UN Kosovo mission; as quasi-independent pseudo-state has good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state; today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers, international money laundry and radical Wahhabists – unfortunately all are also allies of western powers”.

(Ari Rusila)

US based Freedom House gave in their last report (2012) rank partly free to Kosovo related to political rights and civil liberties (5,4 points respectively), while Serbia got rank free (2,2) and e.g also Croatia (1,2), Bulgaria (2,2) and Romania (2,2) got rank free, while Bosnia-Herzegovina (4,3) and Albania (3,3) fell to category partly free. (Note: Each country is assigned a numerical rating from 1 to 7 for both political rights and civil liberties, with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least free.) So even western powers must addmit that despite billions of dollars for Kosovo state-building efforts during last 12 years the outcome is that the protectorate still is among the worst in region related to political rights and civil liberties. One could ask why then Kosovo Serbs should go backwards by integrating to that society when better the alternative could be integrate also officially to more developed Serbia.

In my opinion Kosovo will remain a frozen conflict probably whole this decade. The western powers can not addmit – yet – that their intervention was a mistake, international community can not addmit its failure with capasity-/state-building efforts after squandering billions of Euros, noor that instead of multiethnic democracy the out outcome mono-ethnic tribe-society.  EULEX etc will continue to build some facades and pseudo-activities like it used to do, Pristina pretends that north is integral part of their quasi-independent pseudo-state which the North never has been, the Kosovo institutions do not exist in the north, and it is very unlikely that they will be established there soon. Hard-line Serbs keep claim about Kosovo as Serbian province, which it indeed has been but after 1999 situation on the ground changed; instead the today’s government in Belgrade might change in next elections. What is clear after referendum is that population in Kosovo’s northern municipalities does not want to integrate Pristina lead institutions, they want to continue their living as part of Serbia like they always have been, in short they want reunify northern municipalities with Serbia again.

After this quite pessimistic view one can ask if there is any other way forward. From my point of view there is the negotiation option. But this time negotiations should base facts on the ground instead of high-flown ideas in Washington and Brussels, around negotiation table in addition to Belgrade and Pristina representatives should be also local stakeholders from northern Kosovo and selected by local population. The referendum made positions clear for tripartite approach.

More eg in Kosovo: Two years of Pseudo-state

Serbia: Kosovo vs EU?


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