Friday, July 29, 2005

In the News: Kosovo Confronts Its Future

Another cross-post, and a bit long, but worth the read.


Jackson Allers - 7/29/2005
KOSOVO. It is a regular sight in the Ferizai/Urosevac municipality of Kosovo - some 50 kilometers north of the Macedonian capital of Skopje - to see U.S. servicemen parking their Humvees in front of small cafes during their regular “security” details. M-16’s strapped across their torsos, the troops snack on kebabs, washing them down with Coca-Cola, and ogle the local Albanian girls.

These GIs are part of an occupying NATO force, known as KFOR, Kosovo Protection Forces, and they are expected to be present in Kosovo for a long time to come.

The so-called Contact Group countries – United States, United Kingdom France, Italy, Russia and Germany * most involved in deciding the future of this southern province of Serbia, tout 2005 as the “year of decision” for the status of Kosovo. Six years after the United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 designated Kosovo a U.N. protectorate the beleaguered U.N. Mission administering the province is looking to exit as quickly as possible despite the fact that the U.N.-appointed envoy to the region, Norwegian Ambassador Kai Eide, says the security and freedom of non-Albanian communities is at risk.

At the forefront of this push to resolve Kosovo’s status are representatives of two U.S. presidential administrations.

During a July trip to Kosovo as the head of the Washington D.C.-based (and CIA funded) National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright commented, “I know Kosovans have a dream and people are entitled to have their dreams fulfilled.”

This sentiment is backed by Venhar Nushi, a spokesperson for the Pristina-based political think-tank, Kosovo Action for Civic Initiatives, KACI, who said, “We all know what the United States actually did for Kosovo. From my point of view, I think the U.S. came here for a task, and that’s to make Kosovo independent. Definitely.”


But, any claim by the U.S. to "resolve" the situation in Kosovo is hobbled by the legacy of former President Bill Clinton’s decision to lead NATO in a 78-day bombing campaign of Serbia in violation of the U.N. charter. Diplomats and analysts point out that the bombing was illegal by international standards and its repercussions have been felt widely, including its invocation by the Bush administration to justify its own illegal invasion and occupation against Iraq.

What is clear, however, is that the United States has no plans of abandoning Camp Bondsteel, the 955-acre military installation described on the Camp's official homepage as being “located on rolling hills and farmland” in south-eastern Kosovo. The Pentagon has paid Halliburton subsidiary KBR more than $2 billion to construct the camp – an amount, according to the U.S. General Accounting Office, that was one-sixth of the money spent by the Pentagon on Balkan operations from 1995 to 2000.

During a visit to Kosovo in June, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Nicholas Burns said, “The U.S. is going to remain centrally involved in Kosovo, leading the diplomatic process [to resolve status],” adding, “we will certainly maintain a military presence here, with KFOR, as a symbol of our commitment for a secure and peaceful Kosovo.”

Few ethnic Albanians question the presence of the U.S. military. The U.S. support of the Kosovo Liberation Army, the same group branded by the U.S. State Department in 1998 as a "terrorist organization," showed clearly to all ethnic groups in the disputed region that the U.S. favors the Albanians.

Political commentator, Dukagjin Gorani, Senior Editor of the Kosovo daily paper, the Express, admits, “Kosovars are not very prompt to understand the geopolitics of conspiracies. To Kosovars the existence of Bondsteel, which is now the biggest U.S. military base in Europe, is and will probably remain a sign of political stability for Albanians. In fact to most of us it is a sign that Kosovo will never again go back under the umbrella of Serbia and Montenegro.”

Gorani also suggests that the average Kosovo Albanian sees "allowing" the U.S. military presence on Kosovo soil as their contribution to the U.S. “war on terror.’

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