Conflict Escalates Between NATO/UN Forces and Kosovars

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By GERRY FOLEY

Conflict between the UN occupiers of Kosovo-composed mainly of Western imperialist forces-and the forces that fought for independence has been growing and sharpening for some months now. In its March 31 dispatch, Kosovapress in Albanian, the press service set up by the Kosovo Liberation Army, denounced the UN administrator, Bernard Kouchner, in the following terms:

“Not long ago Kouchner issued a statement saying that he was for ‘substantial autonomy for Kosovo.’ But his choice of judges and prosecutors is almost completely negative. Moreover, his selecting these officials is unacceptable. This procedure has increased the distrust of his administration by the Kosovars.

“The culmination of this autocratic behavior-which is harmful to the peace, tranquillity, and stability of Kosovo-is his signing an order for ‘deporting’ former KLA fighter Xhavit Hasani to Macedonia. With this ‘order’ Kouchner has violated every legal, moral, and international norm.”

The statement went on to ask: “With what moral or judicial right did Kouchner order this? Is he a judge, prosecutor, prince, or king in Kosovo?”

In early March, Adem Demaçi, who served 28 years in Yugoslav prisons and was the political spokesman of the KLA until the signing of the Rambouillet Treaty, which he opposed, told Max Brym, a German left activist, that he did not exclude the possibility that the forces that were involved in the KLA might have to renew their struggle-this time against the so-called NATO and UN “liberators.”

Brym asked him: “A short while ago, the German magazine Der Spiegel wrote that there was a danger of a new war between KLA activists and NATO troops if NATO did not accept independence [for Kosovo].”

Demaçi responded: “What Der Spiegel wrote is not far from the truth. The Albanians have seen what freedom means, and it is unthinkable that they will accept a new occupier. When the Albanians are denied the right of self-determination, a lot of things can happen.”

Demaçi had opposed signing the Rambouillet Treaty in March 1999, first of all, because it recognized Yugoslav sovereignty over Kosovo, which the UN administration is determined to maintain. But Brym did an interview with a member of the Progressive Democratic Party (PPDK), the political formation set up by the wing of the KLA that supported signing the Rambouillet Treaty, who expressed views similar to those of Demaçi. The interviewee, Ilir Bujupi, worked until recently in the PPDK office in Pristina.

Bujupi said: “One occupier is gone, but another one is here. We Albanians fought an armed struggle for two years to be masters in our own house.” Brym then asked: “So you think that Kosovo is again occupied? What is this occupation like? What upsets you about UNMIK and NATO troops being here?”

Bujupi answered: “It upsets us when we see that the NATO soldiers are doing nothing and that nothing is moving forward. The UNMIK administration thinks that it knows everything, but it knows nothing. They want to govern this country without taking account of the opinion of the people. That upsets us.”

Bujupi considered the Kosovo Transitional Administration, a body presided over by Kouchner but including representatives of the main Kosovo parties, “comical.” He said that the UN forces “think they are liberators and that the population should do what they say. We have a government that decides everything from on high. We have not accepted that and we will never accept it. Unemployment is increasing and after eight months the workers have still not gone back to their jobs.”

Most of the Albanian workers were fired from their jobs after going on strike to defend their democratic rights against Milosevic in 1991. With the Serbs driven from the country they expected their jobs back. But the Rambouillet Treaty-like the Dayton Treaty, which ended the Bosnian war-includes a stipulation that Kosovo must become a market economy. The UN administration wants to privatize the various concerns before the Albanian workers are rehired, and in private enterprise a large percentage of them would no longer have jobs.

In his interview with Brym, Demaçi said that it was fortunate that the Serbian regime refused to sign the Rambouillet Treaty, because it provided for maintaining significant numbers of Yugoslav troops in Kosovo. But even in the absence of Yugoslav troops, the UN administrators are doing the work of the Yugoslav state.

The administration continues to use the same judges and enforce Yugoslav laws. It seeks to disarm the Albanian population. UN troops have forcibly removed Albanian flags from public buildings, as well as pictures of the KLA martyr, Adem Jashari, whom they continue to characterize as a “terrorist.”

For several months, Kosovapress has been full of bitter complaints about the activity of the NATO-UN forces. For example, it noted in a Jan. 10 dispatch: “Inspections with and without a reason, ill-treatment and beating of citizens, invasion of schools and beating up children, arrests and torture of those arrested, insulting and provocation and beating of people … and the attempt to shut down the Drenica cafe because it was the site of the first protest in the new year against those who were greeted with joy seven months ago, the soldiers of KFOR.”

The authors of the dispatch cautiously relativized the importance of the NATO intervention: “NATO’s intervention against Serbia and the arrival of international forces in Kosovo is an important event for our people and for peace and stability in the Balkans. But behind this intervention lie many and varied interests. The result of the negotiations conducted in Kosovo in July is Security Council Resolution 1244. … After seven months, this resolution has left open the status of Kosovo.

“The [NATO] administrator, Kouchner, is trying to run Kosovo with Serbian law and collaborationist judges and prosecutors. The Provisional Government of Kosovo [formed by the KLA] is trying to do away with these laws and build local and central institutions, but this work is being boycotted and obstructed openly and covertly by KFOR, UNMIK, and the OSBE.”

In another dispatch in January, Kosovapress in Albanian reported a confrontation between the new occupiers and ex-KLA leaders: “The protests [of the Kosovars] lasted three hours. During this time, the police and representatives of UNMIK and the OSBE looked on. The arrogance of these soldiers was shown when the leader of the PPDK [and the head of the municipal council] asked for a meeting with Captain Kevin….

“In his discussion with a PPDK member of the municipal council, Skenderbe Hebibi, and the head of the council, Daut Xhemajlin, Captain Kevin behaved in an arrogant way. Among other things, he said, ‘I risked my soldiers for Kosovo. … We will leave if you go on this way and we will bring back the Serbian army.’

“Hebibi and Khemajli answered, very calmly: ‘Sir, it was not your soldiers who risked their lives, but we, the soldiers of the KLA, who risked our lives and shed our blood, along with our people, for this land. We are eternally grateful to the UN and the allies, but we are not going to be your slaves.'”

While this statement indicates continuing false illusions in imperialist objectives in Kosovo, it is also clear that life itself is rapidly convincing the population that any confidence they originally had in the merits of NATO intervention was seriously mistaken. Had the Kosovars continued their fight for independence and at the same time fought against the imperialist arms embargo against them-an embargo that greatly weakened them in the face of Milosevic’s troops-they might not have had to endure their current predicament.

The intense tug of war going on between the imperialist occupiers, hiding under the flag of the UN, is also dividing the local Kosovar political forces. In the Jan. 10 Kosovapress dispatch, the authors denounced Ibrahim Rugova, the main “moderate” Kosovar leader, who maintained a pacifist line toward the Milosevic government, for his “servility” to NATO, the UN, and other “international institutions.”

In recent weeks, ex-KLA forces have complained about an international campaign designed to discredit them, including a report by the UN administration that blamed the TMK, the defense force made up mainly of KLA soldiers, for criminal activity and violations of human rights.

The TMK leadership expressed its astonishment at this report, in a statement carried by Kosovapress on March 21, because the force had only 500 recognized members at the time it was drawn up. Moreover, the local press hostile to the ex-KLA has been running articles from U.S. newspapers, The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, in order to discredit the ex-KLA and even Hashemi Thaçi, who signed the Rambouillet Treaty for the KLA and participates in the Transitional Administration.

The response of Kosovapress to this campaign has been cautious, claiming that the ex-KLA shares the same values as the West and that the problems are a result of misunderstandings. But as this tug of war sharpens, it seems likely that these forces are going to have to question more and more what the real motives of the imperialist powers were in intervening in Kosovo and what sort of fate they intend to impose on the Kosovar people.

It is going to be difficult for them to resist the conclusion that the intervening powers are no friends of theirs and that they are going to have to find means of fighting against them to achieve the objectives for which the Kosovar people and the KLA sacrificed so much. There can be no independence for Kosovo while imperialism occupies the country.

Socialist Action News

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