Saturday, May 20, 2006

A shot gun divorce

Montenegro will vote this weekend in a referendum whether they wish to stay part of the federation with Serbia. Montenegran prime minister Mr Djukanovic had been a key supporter of Slobodan Milosevic, but increasing international pressure has led to him now supporting independence. Thus the West consecrates their rape of Yugoslavia by a shot gun divorce.

During the 1999 war I was in Budapest for several weeks, a city suddenly awash with Serbian refugees fleeing the NATO bombing. I remember speaking to one Serb woman, herself an activist opponent of Milosevic, who described why her father remained a solid supporter of the Serb government. He had grown up in the mountains during the second world war, when ethnic cleansing and racist murders by Serb and Croatian fascists were an everyday occurrence, He was the seventh son of a peasant, and he was expecting a future of poverty, frustration and ignorance. But Tito ended the ethnic violence, by building unity around the demands ratified by the 1943 Jacje conference in Bosnia where the partisan forces gathered to discuss what a post-war Yugoslavia would look like. The proclamation of an end to ethnic discrimination and redistribution of the land strengthened the military struggle by giving it a firm foundation of support in the countryside. In Tito’s Yugoslavia her father was not a goat herd, but because a university professor.

What a lot of lies we were told. During the build up to the 1999 war, U.S. and British officials at various moments claimed 100,000, 250,000 and 500,000 Serb killings of Kosovo Albanians, along with the lavish use of the word "genocide. But only 4,000 bodies have been found in one of the most intense forensic searches in history, and that includes the bodies of Serbs killed by Albanians, and the victims of 78 days of intense NATO bombing. And much of the killing of Albanians in Kosovo started after the NATO bombing commenced. However tragic and apalling the killings were, the NATO involvement did nothing to halt them, and instead exacerbated the racial tension.

We heard so much of the Serb atrocities, but the media in Britain were almost silent when in March 2004, up to 50000 ethnic Albanian rioters launched a pogrom against their Serb and Roma (Gypsy) neighbours. The pogrom followed delibertely inflammatory and untruthful broadcasts that the tragic drowning of three Albanian boys at the village of Cabra was due to them being driven into a river by a mob of Serbs. An account that the well respected agency Human Rights Watch concluded was completely untrue.
The account of the following pogrom in 2004 by Human Rights Watch is truly shocking. As they report “Once the violence began, it swept throughout Kosovo with almost clinical precision: after two days of rioting, every single Serb, Roma, or Askaeli home had been burned in most of the communities affected by the violence, but neighboring ethnic Albanian homes were left untouched.” NATO troops took 6 hours to respond to calls for help by Serbs in Pristina, despite elderly defenceless and disabled people being attacked in their homes by the mob of Albanian extremists.
It is important to note that according to HRW the ethnic cleansing of minorities by the NATO backed KLA/UCK started immediately after the Serbs withdrew: “Before the 1999 war, some 350 Ashkali families lived in Vucitrn, many of them engaged in the butcher trade. After the war, many of the Ashkali were attacked by ethnic Albanians. At least five Ashkalis from the town were abducted and “disappeared” and more than a hundred Ashkali homes burned. Almost the entire Ashkali community of Vucitrn fled, with only ten to fifteen families deciding to stay.”
In 2004 the Albanian supremacists came to finish the job, watched and not hindered by NATO troops: “the Ashkali recalled the terror they felt when their homes were set on fire with their families inside and no-one came to help them. Nejib Cizmolli, a thirty-seven-year-old Ashkali [man], recalled being trapped on the second floor of his burning home with eleven people, including children aged three, eight, fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen”

If NATO was prepared to go to war with Serbia because of the alleged (and largely untrue) massacres of Albanians in Kosovo by the Serb army, then how could they collude in ethnic cleansing under their very noses, while they are administering the province themselves? In truth the war was always about dismantling Yugoslavia, and never about preventing ethnic cleansing. If the Milosevic government was truely promoting Serb racial supremacism, why did the large Hungarian minority in Vojvodnia stay loyal to Belgrade? Why were the Roma people in Kosovo protected by the Serbs but massacred by the KLA?

Edward Herman’s article in Z-Mag describes how the massacre claims about Srebrenica, were very convenient for the Clinton government, and the press were insufficiently sceptical about either the scale or the context of the massacre. Undoubtedly there were Moslems killed at Srebrenica, undoubtedly this was an appalling atrocity. Undoubtedly also, there were Serbian fascists involved in deliberate racists murders during the war, like Arkan's Tigers, and some Bosnian Serb commanders had a deliberate policy of atrocities.

But why do we never hear about the large scale and more indiscriminate massacre of Croatian Serbs in Krajina, including the killing of women, children and the infirm? Is this because the atrocities by Serbs could be pinned on those opposing the break up of Yugoslavia, and the Croatian fascists who murdered thousands and drove perhaps 200000 Serbs from their homes in Krajina, were in favour of a policy that suited western business interests?.


AN said...

It is worth adding that according Amnesty International, under NATO rule Kosovo has been a hub of the international sex-slavery trade.,,1211214,00.html
And in case anyone thinks that NATO couldn’t have prevented the ethnic cleansing by Albanians of their Serb and Roma neighbours, there are 46000 NATO troops there, enough to give one NATO soldier per non-Albanian household.

Jim Jay said...

Ian Traynor on Comment is free

AN said...

I am a bit bemused by the blog account from Ian Traynor, which seems to portray European policy towards Yugoslavia as paternal and neutral.
In truth the break up of Yugoslavia was instigated as long ago as 1979 by the Germans sending secret agents to Zagreb to boost Franjo Tudjman, a racist who actively promoted ethnic hatred and did all he could toward the break-up of Yugoslavia. Germany backed Tudjman and sent him arms before the war started.
Then in 1991 German Chancellor Kohl forced the game by recognising the 'independence' of Slovenia and Croatia, in defiance of both International Law and the Yugoslav Constitution. Both Croatia and Bosnia were integrated multi-ethnic states, and recognising ethnic Croatian or Bosnian Moslem states on their territories would inevitably cause panic among the large Serb minorities who had lived there for centuries. Every Serb family had lost at least one member to the atrocities committed by the fascist Croats and Muslims, agents of Nazi Germany in 1941-45.
The Civil war was then prolonged because Washington prevented Bosnia coming to peace terms as the US sought to limit German influence. In August 1994, the Muslim nationalist leader in Sarajevo, Izetbegovic, attacked the Muslim region of Bihac, controlled by Fikret Abdic, who had distanced himself from Izetbegovic and wanted to live in harmony with his Serb and Croat neighbours. In this offensive, Izetbegovic was aided by six US generals.

Most importantly the rise of nationalism was provoked deliberately by the IMF who in 1989, imposed draconian conditions on Yugoslavia which forced them to beg for aid from George Bush Sr. The World Bank then dismantled the banking system, laid off 525,000 workers in one year, and ordered the immediate elimination of two out of every three jobs. The quality of life fell dramatically. The aim of the IMF was to dismantle the state owned parts of the economy, which were a block to neo-liberal exploitation of Yugoslavia.
The consequences of Germany and the US handing Bosnia to a Moslem extremist government, with historical links to Adolf Hitler and current day links to Al Qaeda, was inevitably civil war in a country that was only 34% Muslims (43%), with a largely rural Serb population (31%).
And atrocities against Serbs were simply not reported to us in the West. The guy in charge of UN forces in Bosnia in 1994, Belgian general Briquemont said: "The disinformation is total (...) Television needs a scapegoat. For the moment, there is complete unanimity in condemning the Serbs, and that in no way facilitates the search for a solution. I don't think one can view the problem of ex-Yugoslavia and of Bosnia-Herzegovina only from the anti-Serb angle. It is much more complicated than that. One day in the middle of the Croat-Muslim war, we gave some information on the massacres committed by the Croatian army. An American journalist said to me: 'If you give out that sort of information, the American public won't understand anything.'"
And we are now left with a paradox. Western opinion is conditioned to believe that the Serbian government was hell bent on ethnic purity. But today Serbia is one of only two multi-ethnic states (the other being Macedonia) where Muslims, Gypsies, Albanians, Macedonians, Turks, Hungarians, Gorans coexist peacefully. Whereas the western backed states – particularly Croatia, Bosnia and the NATO administered province of Kosovo, have endured ethnic cleansing. It is worth remembering that not only did Milosevic publically condemn Bosnian Serb atrocities, but Milosevic is widely credited with having the Serb fascist Arkan assassinated, and Serbia placed an embargo against Karadzic.

AN said...

There is a confusing typo above. Bosnia was 43% MOslem - the 34% figure is a transposed numbers due to think fingers on the keyboard.

Jim Jay said...

Another one on Comment is free Neil Clarke; Never Mind the Balkans

Note: I should have mentioned last time I was just highlighting the article for info not actually advocating what it said.

AN said...

I liked this from neil Clarke; "The website "Titoville" has received over 1m visitors and in Rakovice, a suburb of Sarajevo, an anti-nationalist Serb named Jezdimir Milosevic (no relation) has proclaimed "The Republic of Titoslavia", a state "without territory, without international recognition, destined to live in the hearts of its citizens". Passports are available for €10.

I SooooH want one of those passports

Anonymous said...

Im a brit, twenty years old, lived in kosova for nearly a year soon after the pogrom. You speak with contempt for the albanian people, seemingly oblivious to the fact that most of them were unaware that the blaming of the serbs for the drownings of the boys was "deliberately inflammatory and untruthful" - they reacted as anyone would there. It is impossible to overemphasize the instability and tension in kosova, which i witnessed first hand. I do not defend what they did, but i can see how it happened.

AN said...

Yes I can understand what you are saying "Anonymous". But although people didn't know that the story about the 3 boys being killed was by a Serbian mob was untrue, the Albanian supremacist extremists who started the rumour did know it was untrue.
What is more, even had it been true it would not have justified assualting elderly and vulnerable Kosovo Serbs in their homes, and even less can it readily explian the attacks on Roma and other minorities. Nor can it explain the crimianl negligence of the NATO troops who stood by.
I say this not becasue I am "contemptuous" of Albanians, but I am contemptuous of the neo-fascist Albanian politicians who stirred up this mess.
You say that it is impossible to overemphasise the instability and tension in kosovo, but in which case the NATO intervention is even less justifiable, becasue that is what caused the instability.
Yugoslavia was a stable multi-racial country. When I was in Hungary during the 1999 war one of the Serbian refugees I worked campaigned alongside explained that she had a Serb father and an Albanian mother, and had never even though of herself as anything but a Yugoslav. But the Croatian and Bosnian muslim facsists, and the inevitable and equally deplorable response by Serb nationalists like Arkan made people like her choose.
I can also see how Srebrenica happened following ethnic cleansing of Serbs in Croatia, and the murder of Yugoslav army prisoners of war by the Slovenians. As you say it doesn't make it right.