BY GERRY FOLEY
By issuing an ultimatum to both sides in the Kosovo conflict and raising the perspective of a NATO military occupation of the rebel region, the United States and its allies have in fact stepped up their pressure against the Albanian liberation forces.
“The United States and its European allies have all agreed that the two warring parties must be forced to accept a political solution,” Craig R. Whitney reported from Brussels in the Jan. 29 New York Times.
“No nation has said exactly how many troops might be needed to enforce an eventual agreement in Kosovo, but both European and American diplomats said today that the allies are willing to contemplate sending tens of thousands of troops as peace keepers.”
The Belgrade opposition weekly Vreme commented in its Jan. 30 issue: “Although the Western allies still have to iron out some disagreements among themselves, it seems that a Dayton-type peace conference will be held … and that ground troops can be expected to be sent in soon.”
The threat of imposing a “peace” in Kosovo by military occupation represents a major escalation of the intervention in the conflict by the imperialist powers. Vreme pointed to the obvious fact that in the context of the Western threats, the talks at the proposed peace conference would only be “negotiations in a very relative sense.”
It is quite clear that the Western powers intend to impose a version of the Hill plan, which involves two main points: (1) Kosovo must remain within Serbia; (2) The Serbs have to grant the Kosovars some concessions in the form of local autonomy, including a role for ethnic Albanians in the police force.
The Serbian chauvinists are of course trumpeting that the Kosovo conflict is a purely internal matter for Serbia. But despite their ruthlessness they face a growing likelihood of defeat if the conflict continues.
In the wake of the massive Serbian offensives, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) has in fact extended its field of operations considerably.
Thus, the principal effect of NATO intervention will be to save the Serbs from defeat, as it in fact did in the Bosnian war. The KLA is certainly aware of this, as indicated by statements in the pro-KLA press that a Bosnia-type settlement is undesirable.
The Kosovar politician that the KLA has chosen for its spokesman, former political prisoner Adem Demaci, said in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, on Jan. 28:
“In the present circumstances, in which the Serbs are continuing their attacks, it is impossible for us to sit down to any negotiating table.”
According to the Jan. 29 on-line edition of the Pristina daily Kohe Ditore, Demaci said that the Albanian side was not prepared to make the same mistake that had been made in Bosnia, when the Muslim leadership discussed all sorts of plans for ending the conflict, while the fighting was still going on:
“We will support only discussions that are held in an independent Kosovo.”
But the Western powers refuse to accept an independent Kosovo, and now they even seem prepared to occupy the region militarily to prevent that. That is, after all, the only way they can intervene, without risking strengthening the position of the KLA.
In its Jan. 30 issue, Vreme pointed out: “The reports of the Contact Group meeting indicate a ‘new approach’ to the Kosovo crisis. What is new is pressure not only against Belgrade but against the Albanian armed groups….
“Of course, NATO would maintain its threat against the Serbian side and its sanctions against Belgrade, but it would also cut off the flow of arms to the illegal KLA and prevent them from collecting money and buying arms and materiel in the Western countries. The authorities in Tirana would be warned that collusion between Albania and the KLA ‘will not be tolerated.'”
Air strikes against the KLA would be useless militarily, and they would be impossible politically. But it will be hard for the KLA to oppose NATO military intervention on the ground, when it claims to be coming to save the Albanians from Serbian genocide.
Nonetheless, the KLA must know, as in fact it has indicated, that the Western imperialist powers are their enemy.
The KLA may not be able to say this, but in the imperialist countries themselves all those who support the democratic right of peoples to self-determination have to say it and oppose their governments’ plans to impose a military occupation on a people fighting for its rights.