Monday, March 31, 2008

Letter from an American in Russia: "Americans Are Not Stoopid"

Various Russian commentators expressed irritation or dismay earlier this month when a Pew Research Center survey indicated that a majority of U.S. citizens could not name the province that had just proclaimed independence from Serbia. You can see why this rankled. The Kosovo issue is important to many Russians -- historically, politically, even emotionally -- and the United States has played a key role in its divisive endgame. But for Russians, the Pew story actually got worse. Fully 9 percent of the U.S. respondents believed that this newly self-proclaimed ex-Serbian republic was called, um, Chechnya.

To Russians tempted to denounce Americans as stupid, let me offer some conciliatory advice: Bite your tongue, take a number and get in line. Denouncing American ignorance is a venerable tradition among many peoples of the world, especially Americans. And this Kosovo-Chechnya gaffe is, trust me, small potatoes.

Consider some other recent survey data: 20 percent of U.S. adults think that the sun revolves around the Earth. And 25 percent of U.S. teenagers, fresh from studying their nation's history, believe that Columbus arrived in the New World after 1750. Even allowing for the absurdities often produced by multiple-choice polling formats, the obtuseness of America's vox populi, smugly belittled for centuries by elite Europeans, may now be reaching truly awesome proportions.

Media accounts of a new wave of "serious intellectual trouble" and "stunning ignorance" among the rising generation point out that President George W. Bush's ill-conceived education program, called No Child Left Behind, has predictably left most children behind. It does not require schools to test pupils in "noncritical" subjects such as geography and history.

What has this produced? A lot of dumbness, as an internationally popular YouTube video -- with nearly 13 million viewings and a rising ranking among the most-discussed videos in history -- deftly illustrates. Ironically titled "Americans Are NOT Stupid," the clip features deadpan Australian "reporter" Julian Morrow intoning, "A lot of people give Americans a bum rap for being stupid and knowing nothing about ... the very world their country runs." Morrow then "refutes" this canard by posing questions to random Americans on the street.

Asked to name a country that begins with the letter U, these citizens of the United States answer Yugoslavia, Utah and Utopia. One young fellow can't name the location of the Berlin Wall; another can't identify the religion of Buddhist monks (after first guessing Islam); a third maintains that Fidel Castro is a singer; a fourth locates Italy in the Middle East. A nice middle-aged woman recalls that the United States won the Vietnam War. Asked how many sides a triangle has, a thoughtful gent answers four, which is later disputed by an even more thoughtful teenager who initially claims none and then settles on one.

Now, would anyone else like to share dismay over Americans' confusion about Serbia, Kosovo and Chechnya?

Lest you fear that these responses signal a U.S. breakaway in some imagined "Cold War II" stupidity race, let me remind and reassure you of Russia's many demonstrations of ignorance as strength. This country celebrated its national reincorporation in 1922 by expelling 160 of its finest philosophers, scientists, scholars and writers, thus becoming the first modern state to voluntarily lower its national IQ.

That this end had been well met was impressed on me in 1978 and 1979, when I spent seven months on a U.S. cultural exhibition here talking daily with thousands of average Soviet citizens -- the late-'70s Russian equivalent of Morrow's interviewees. Having weathered comments from them about the Americans faking moon landings, wearing transparent blue jeans and dressing cows in pajamas during cold weather, I know from stupid Russians.

As to the new millennium variety of Russians, whose vast majority either blandly acquiesces or positively revels in a "sovereign democracy" -- now famous for its phony parliament, phony judiciary and phony elections, all glowingly hyped in phony newscasts -- would you call this a nation of rocket scientists?

That said, I remain confident of America's near-term superiority in dumbness. While it would be, well, stupid to blame our tsunami of young dullards solely on one old one, consider the wise Russian saying, "The fish rots from the head." For another eight months, America will be guided by one of the stupidest fish heads ever washed up by the Potomac.

Of course, I could be wrong about Bush. I'm an American and may well be stupid.

Mark H. Teeter teaches English and Russian-American relations in Moscow.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Too Stupid for Words: "Bush hopes Serbia will help Kosovo secede"

8 March 2008 | 09:06 | Source: Beta
WASHINGTON -- U.S. President George Bush says that supervised independence was the best solution for Kosovo.

George Bush (Tanjug)
George Bush (Tanjug)

It has the best prospects of leading to peace in the region, said Bush, and expressed hope that the Serbian government "will realize this".

In a brief interview with Croatian national television in Washington, ahead of his visit to Zagreb, Bush said Kosovo "represented the last chapter in the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and an end to a very difficult period".

"Kosovo has a chance with supervised independence. I support this decision because I believe this is best for the region and there are greater prospects of peace," the U.S. president said.

"I hope the Serbian government will realize that the Serbs in Kosovo are treated with respect as a minority, and that it will in time help Kosovo separate, instead of trying to prevent its secession," Bush was quoted.

Terror plot thwarted in Bosnia

The dots begin to connect in a radical network that reaches from Bosnia across Western Europe as police in Bosnia arrest five suspected of plotting to attack Catholic and EUFOR objects, Anes Alic and Damir Kaletovic report for ISN Security Watch.

By Anes Alic and Damir Kaletovic in Sarajevo for ISN Security Watch (28/03/08)

In the second major anti-terrorism operation in Bosnia in three years, Bosnian police have arrested five men and seized anti-tank mines, laser sights, electronic equipment, topographic maps and bomb-making manuals.

The ongoing investigation shows so far that the group involved in the alleged plot is connected with earlier terrorism-related arrests in the country, and that the network extends to Western European capitals.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's Federation Anti-Terror Unit on 20 March arrested five men: Rijad Rustempasic, Muhamed Meco, Abdulah Handzic and Edis Velic, all in their early thirties and from Sarajevo, along with Muhamed Ficer, from the central Bosnian city of Bugojno, who was released from custody after questioning.

The four arrested in Sarajevo were members of the local Wahhabi movement - the Saudi-based and financed order following a strict interpretation of Islam. Some of the suspects were already well known to the police for their radical activities. The group had been under surveillance for several months by the Federation Anti-Terror Unit and the State Prosecutor's Office.

Federation Anti-Terror Unit and the State Prosecutor's Office have strong evidence that Rustempasic's group was planning attacks on Catholic Churches and international forces within the country during the Easter holidays.

According to the authors' source from the Federation police, who are running the investigation, the alleged leader of the group is Rustempasic, who was born and raised in Bugojno but moved to Sarajevo four years ago.

On condition of anonymity, the police source said that Rustempasic was one of the most notorious and most violent Bosnian radical Muslim they had so far investigated, and that the suspect has managed to evade prison thanks to the tolerance of the local authorities in Bugojno.

The key suspect

Since the end of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in December 1995, Rustempasic's name has appeared in connection with several investigations related to the terrorism and radical Islam.

During the Bosnian 1992-1995 war, Rustempasic was a member of the El-Mujahid unit, headquartered in central Bosnia. The unit was under the official jurisdiction of the Bosnian Army during the war, though it operated autonomously and was comprised of foreign fighters from Islamic countries. The author's police source said it was during that period that Rustempasic developed his bomb-making skills.

Federal police suspect that Rustempasic was responsible for mining the tower of the Catholic Church in the village of Humci, near Bugojno, in July 1996. No suspects were ever arrested in connection with the attack. Police also suspect that Rustempasic was behind numerous threats against Bosnian Croat returnees to Bugojno and other central Bosnian cities where there is a Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) majority.

In 2004, Rustempasic was arrested by NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) troops in Bosnia for illegal possession of weapons and suspicion of terrorist-related activities. The international forces had found nearly five kilograms of explosives in his possession. For that crime, the court in Bugojno sentenced him to five months parole, during which time he relocated to Sarajevo.

Easy supplies

"In Rustempasic's apartment we seized a hand-made explosive device hidden in a book … and when someone would open the book, the device would be activated," the source said.

The police source said Rustempasic had a couple of supply chains for bomb-making equipment. He would go to the war-time frontlines and dig up anti-tank mines to remove the explosives from inside. Each anti-tank mine contains around 3 kilograms of explosives - enough to cause massive damage.

"We also have evidence that from the money he would get from [sources] in Western Europe, was buying explosives and other equipment on the illegal market here. Also, we have reason to believe that some of the seized materials arrived from other countries in travel bags," the police source said.

The group came under closer scrutiny by the Anti-Terror Unit and the Bosnian State Intelligence Agency (OSA) after an intercepted telephone conversation between Rustempasic and another arrested member of the group.

"Christmas passed and we didn't do anything," one of the group's members told Rustempasic late on 25 December 2007, alerting the authorities.

Federal police had reason to believe that the next opportunity to attack would be the next Catholic holiday, Easter. Analyzing intercepted communiqués, police concluded that would be targets of the group are Sarajevo central Cathedral and Franciscan Monastery in Central Bosnian city of Fojnica.

Aside from Catholic institutions, police also have reason to believe that the group was planning to sabotage electricity supply stations and launch attacks against European Forces (EUFOR) Liaison and Observation Team (LOT) here.

EUFOR has 45 LOTs stationed across the country. One of the intercepted telephone conversations between Rustempasic and another group member mentioned international community targets and talked about locations where international soldiers were based, particularly those coming from countries involved in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

European connections

Most of the weapons seized during the raid on six locations were found in Rustempasic's apartment in Sarajevo's old town, where he lives with his family.

According to Muhamed Ficer - Rustempasic's brother-in-law who was arrested and released in connection with the plot - the weapons found in the apartment did not belong to Rustempasic but to his brother, currently living in Austria.

Following his release, Ficer told local media that the electronic equipment seized by the police and suspected of being used for bomb-making had actually been found at a garbage dumb and they had planned only to repair and resell it.

According to Ficer, Rustempasic is unemployed (along with the others arrested), and depended on financial assistance from his "brothers" (Wahhabi's) from Austria.

According to Rustempasic's neighbors from Sarajevo suburb of Sedrenik, the house in which he has lived for free for the last four years is owned by Bosniak Deso Karisik, who lives in Germany.

Rustempasic also sparked the authorities' interest during clashes last year between radical and moderate Muslims in Sarajevo and two cities in the country's north. Rustempasic was a close associate of the late, self-proclaimed sheik, Jusuf Barcic, the leader of the local Wahhabi movement. In March last year, Barcic, an aggressive preacher calling for a return to traditional Islam, and his followers tried to forcibly enter several mosques to preach wahhabism, but were prevented by locals. Barcic died in the car accident a month after those incidents.

Another member of the arrested group, Edis Velic, also has a criminal past. According to the police source, Velic spent some time fighting in Chechnya several years ago. Last year, he was fired from a Sarajevo-based private security company after a shooting incident in which Velic shot the owner of a second hand stall in the open market in the legs.

Velic and another detainee, Abdulah Handzic, were present at the recent protests against the deportation of foreign mujahideens and against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Notably, police spotted Velic and Handzic burning US and EU member country flags at the protests.

Ongoing investigation

The arrests on 20 March was the second major crackdown on Bosnian Wahhabis suspected of terrorism in the last three years.

In October 2005, Federation police arrested five men, three of whom were indicted and later convicted on a string of terror charges.

Mirsad Bektasevic, a Swedish national from Serbia; Danish-born Turkish citizen Abdulkadir Cesur; and Bosnian national Bajro Ikanovic were arrested in late 2005 in two Sarajevo suburbs. The three were found guilty of "intending to carry out a terrorist act" in Bosnia or another European country with the aim of forcing the withdrawal of troops from Iraq or Afghanistan.

During the raid on the home of Bektasevic and Abdulkadir police found a suicide bomb belt, nearly 20 kilograms of explosives, guns and a bomb-making video.

Prior to his arrival to Sarajevo, Bektasevic was active in trying to recruit Jihadists through internet sites, using the codename "Maximus." Correspondence between Bektasevic and some Islamists in Denmark led to further arrests and prosecutions. Bektasevic was in contact with Abdul Basit, also known as Abu-Lifa, sentenced by a Danish court in February last year to seven years in prison. He was believed to be a financier of Bektasevic's group.

Having previously been marked as potential militant by Federation and international authorities, Rustempasic appeared even in this case. According to the police source, Bektasevic was also in contact with Rustempasic in the two-month period between his arrival in Bosnia and his arrest.

According to the source, at the time Rustempasic was questioned by police and prosecution investigators and gave very valuable information regarding Bektasevic's case. Investigators had no evidence to charge Rustempasic in that case.

After Rustempasic's group was arrested on 20 March, local authorities discovered several locations, in almost unapproachable mountainous parts of Bosnia, with cottages where military equipment was held and the surrounding area used for military-style exercises. Those locations were discovered after analyzing a map found in Rustempasic's apartment.

They also found another map containing coded signs. Police believe, once decoded, the map will lead to more hidden sights or even potential targets.

"But now we are troubled with the fact that four days prior to Easter, and one day ahead of the group's arrest, a duffle bag containing military equipment arrived in Sarajevo from a Western Europe country, and could be linked to the group," the police source said.

The whereabouts of the bag is still unknown, and police are focusing their investigation on this, hoping for cooperation from those arrested.

A source from the prosecutor's office told ISN Security Watch that in the coming days the investigation into Rustempasic's group will be expanded beyond the borders of Bosnian. It is clear, the source said, that the group is receiving financial and logistical support from wahhabi figures in Western Europe.

Anes Alic, based in Sarajevo, is ISN Security Watch's senior correspondent in Southeastern Europe and the Executive Director of ISA Consulting.

Damir Kaletovic is Sarajevo-based investigative reporter for Federal Television's (FTV) "60 Minutes" news program.

Friday, March 28, 2008

GOP USA: "McCain Supports Radical Muslims In Kosovo"

By Cliff Kincaid
March 27, 2008

If the media are on the lookout for gaffes by the presidential campaigns, they missed a big one on Wednesday, when Cindy McCain met with Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci in Kosovo's capital Pristina, while her husband was giving a major foreign policy speech calling for "new foundations for a stable and enduring peace." Kosovo's declaration of independence, which McCain accepts and was implicitly recognized by Cindy McCain's visit to Pristina, is a major threat to global peace and security. It could spark a U.S. war with Russia.

It may be asking too much, however, for the media to cover a gaffe like this. The Kosovo policy is a bipartisan blunder. For the liberal media, Iraq, where McCain differs with Hillary and Obama about the length of stay of the U.S. military, seems to be the only foreign policy issue worth talking about. But the U.S. faces other major problems.

We need to recall that the war against the former Yugoslavia was depicted by the liberal media as a worthwhile humanitarian intervention. But it was waged on the basis of Clinton Administration lies of a "genocide" being waged against Albanian Muslims in Kosovo, a province of Serbia. In fact, the Clinton Administration's NATO war against Yugoslavia probably cost more lives than were lost in the civil war in Kosovo. Serbian troops were forced to withdraw in exchange for an international guarantee that Serbia would retain sovereignty over Kosovo but the province would get substantial autonomy. The U.S. agreed to that, but that agreement was violated when the Bush Administration, with backing from McCain and Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, recently recognized Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia.

Sending his wife to Kosovo confirms that McCain accepts Clinton's fraudulent version of what happened there and that he agrees with Bush's "solution," which can only make the situation worse.

Conservatives should contemplate what is happening here. McCain, who says he wants to wage a vigorous war against Islamic radicals worldwide, is prepared to let Muslim extremists come to power in Kosovo and even have their own sovereign state. This is itself a major gaffe. But McCain compounded it when he gave a speech urging the building of "international structures for a durable peace," including strengthening NATO. This sounds good, except that McCain has to know that recognizing Kosovo's independence has split Western nations and even NATO itself. It is a major foreign policy blunder that the next administration, Democrat or Republican, may never recover from. It represents a direct threat to the international order of nation-states. That is why many nations have not recognized this new state of Kosovo. They realize that Kosovo's independence could spark other groups to wage wars against established regimes around the world.

This is not to say that some territories under the control of internationally recognized regimes do not deserve their independence. Tibet, under Chinese Communist occupation, deserves its freedom and sovereignty. And Taiwan should become an independent state as well. China's communist rulers, who opposed Kosovo's independence because they fear it could serve as a precedent for Tibet and Taiwan, are the illegitimate ones. The regime in Beijing should be undermined. But China, which supplies so many of our products and invests so much in our economy, is too big an adversary to pick a fight with. This shows the fallacy of claims of the U.S. being a "superpower." We are at the mercy of China, and the presidential candidates of both major political parties know it. Only a commentator like Lou Dobbs of CNN dares to address the controversy on a regular basis.

Atrocities occurred on all sides as the former Yugoslavia went through disintegration. But Serbia was involved in trying to hold the former Yugoslavia together when outside powers, including various Arab and Muslim states, were trying to carve the nation up. Kosovo's Muslims, who are a majority, may not be as radical as those in other Arab states. But wait until the radical Mosques that are being established around the territory, with the financial assistance of Saudi Arabia, begin to exert their influence on the next generation. They won't be waving American flags out of gratitude for NATO waging war on Serbia. Meanwhile, many Christian churches In Kosovo have been destroyed, and many Serbs, who are Christians, have fled the province. No wonder Serbian demonstrators recently burned the U.S. embassy there. And yet McCain says he wants to repair America's bad image in the rest of the world. Start with reversing the disastrous Kosovo policy, Senator McCain.

Conservatives should be concerned about the Kosovo policy for another reason. In his Wednesday speech to the World Affairs Council, McCain talked about the security of the state of Israel. He doesn't seem to realize that recognition of Kosovo is a precedent for the creation of another Muslim state, Palestine, in the heart of the Middle East, which could end up being just as much of a threat to the Jewish state as a nuclear Iran. Israeli analysts have recognized this threat. They know that Kosovo is to Serbia what Jerusalem is to Israel. Bush, of course, is the first U.S. president to campaign for the creation of an Arab/Muslim Palestinian state. He encouraged the elections that brought the terrorist group Hamas to power in the Palestinian territories. Does McCain favor this suicidal approach for the state of Israel? Or does Israel's security lie in asserting its own sovereignty and building a border fence? McCain, of course, seems to have an aversion to border fences, at least when they are on the U.S. southern border.

Hillary Clinton was accused of lying about her visit to Bosnia when she was First Lady. The more important controversy is why the U.S. was militarily involved in Bosnia in the first place. The record shows that her husband approved the shipment of Iranian arms to the Bosnia Muslims so they could fight the Christian Serbs. Clinton then expanded that policy to helping the Muslims in Kosovo. So the Iranian influence that McCain warned about in his World Affairs Council speech has already been brought into the Balkans by the Clintons, in a policy that he supported all along.

If you have noticed the evidence that the Arab/Muslim bloc of nations benefited from the Clinton policy in the former Yugoslavia, then you have grasped an essential truth about what has led to the current precarious state of affairs. It should be noted that Osama bin Laden, who was accused of supporting the Muslim extremists in Bosnia and Kosovo, would go on to order an attack on the U.S. on 9/11, killing nearly 3,000 of our fellow citizens. So he is clearly not grateful for the U.S. helping his Muslim brothers.

The lesson, which McCain says he recognizes in Iraq, is that the terrorists cannot be appeased. But he wants to appease the Muslim extremists, backed by bin Laden, in Kosovo.

The mystery is why President Bush, who authorized our soldiers to fight Muslim extremists in Iraq, embarked on this policy to accommodate them in Kosovo, and why McCain backs this wrong-headed approach. Some may see a conspiracy in this, but I prefer the stupidity theory of history. I don't think our foreign policy elites, and the politicians they control, are that smart about what constitutes the national security interest of the U.S. Bush may be under the manipulation of career bureaucrats in the State Department. They seem to have an inordinate influence on McCain as well.

Since the Democrats won't quarrel with McCain or Bush on this unfolding catastrophe, it is up to what used to be called an "adversary press" to raise this uncomfortable foreign policy problem. It is an emergency because another war could be on the horizon. This "adversary press" now includes, more than ever, conservative commentators and bloggers. But some of those blogs seem to be running more and more "McCain for President" advertisements. This is a bad sign.

McCain, in his Wednesday speech, seemed to go out of his way to offend the Russian government, making it clear that he doesn't regard the regime there as a democracy. He even wants to exclude Russia from the G-8 group. Russia, McCain said, does not qualify as a member of what he proposes as a global "League of Democracies." But how can democracies survive if their countries face dismemberment by groups of nations and alliances acting outside of established and acceptable modes of conduct? How does it benefit the U.S. to increase the membership of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) by adding states such as Bosnia and Kosovo?

Russia, which is promising to go to the aid of the Serbs remaining in Kosovo, has recognized the danger to its own territorial integrity. It doesn't want to see Chechnya, another potential member of the OIC, inspired to more violence in order to attract recognition as an independent Muslim state like Kosovo. A war with NATO forces in Kosovo cannot be ruled out.

Then the situation may get some serious media attention.

If foreign policy is McCain's strong suit, we are in serious trouble. His policy is the same as that of Democrats Hillary and Obama. And yet McCain says that Russia has a deficit of democracy.



More on the McCain's support for the KLA and how his "generosity" was repaid with campaign cash, out of the mouths of Albanians:

"John McCain’s 24-hour detour from Florida netted $1 million at this Manhattan (Albanian) fund raiser.

Joesph Di Guardi: "Since 1998 when we had the problems with Milosevic, McCain has supported everything that we have asked him to do for the Albanian people, including to arm the KLA."

Here are a few of the KLA's little "antics":

  1. Decapitation
  2. Church Bombing
  3. and Burning, then taking photos to show their friends while they urinate on the destroyed churches
  4. Ethnic Cleansing of over 200,000 non-Albanians
  5. Kidnapping & killing Serbs to sell the organs for transplants
  6. Human Trafficking, including sex slaves
  7. Drug Trafficking
Filing under, "Oh, the irony!": Right after the the UN declares that Kosovo is the heart of the Balkan drug route, McCain's wife and admitted ex-drug addict, Cindy McCain decides that she just has to take a trip to Kosovo, to be photographed with war criminal and mafia don -- excuse me -- "Prime Minister" Hashim "The Snake" Thaci.

Want drugs for free so that you don't have to steal them from your own "humanitarian" aid agency, Cindy? I am sure that Thaci is just the guy to help you out! After all your husband did for Thaci, I am sure that he will give you a very good price -- and if, (God Forbid) you make First Lady, I am sure that Thaci will keep you supplied for free!

My God, what country am I living in that the McCains have even the vaguest hope at the White House?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

UN: Kosovo heart of Balkan drug route

NEW YORK -- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has released a new report.

It warned that the axis between South American drug cartels and the Albanian mafia have reached "alarming proportions", while reports by several intelligence agencies show that Kosovo is a distribution center on the crossroads of global routes and pathways of drug trafficking.

This presents reason for concern, primarily because of the new pathways of drug trafficking, and "inclusion of cocaine in the range of products offered by the groups that are active along the Balkan drug route", the UNODC annual report for 2007 said.

The Albanian mafia has recently begun taking over the control of ports in Romania, in addition to the already solid network existing in Albania and Montenegro, the report said.

This warning by UNODC is the latest in a series of alarming reports by a number of agencies in charge of fighting organized crime, including the FBI, Interpol and Europol, which state that the Albanian mafia is the most serious criminal organization in Europe because it controls a huge part of the heroin trade in a number of European state - Switzerland, Greece, Belgium, Austria, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Norway, and, recently, in Great Britain.

The western European heroin market, of which 40 to 75 percent is controlled by Albanians, brings annual earnings of around USD 7bn, which makes the trafficking in this type of narcotic by far the most profitable activity in the Balkans, western intelligence services have reported.

The territory that includes Albania, Kosovo and western Macedonia is a huge drug warehouse. Its contents are drugs measured not in kilograms, but in tons, a western diplomat posted in the Balkans said in a statement for Tanjug new agency, explaining how intelligence sources estimate that there are at least seven tons of heroin in this region at all times, ready to be moved to the West.

Former official of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Michael Levine has said that one of the wings of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was "linked with every known narco-cartel in the Middle East and the Far East", and that almost every European intelligence service and police has files on "connections between ethnic Albanian rebels and drug trafficking".

"Albania and Kosovo are the heart of the Balkan drug trade route which links Pakistan and Afghanistan with Europe. That route is worth around USD 7bn annually and around 80 percent of the heroin intended for the western European market is smuggled along this route," said a report presented to the U.S. Congress.

International representatives in Kosovo complained in the recent years that it is "difficult to estimate, in the complicated relations on the political scene of the Kosovo Albanians and ethnic Albanians in Macedonia or southern Serbia, whether politics controls organized crime or the mafia controls politicians".

The agency says it its report that it is "also possible, however, that organized criminal groups in Kosovo in fact have no influence on the authorities because they are actually those who are in power, as Italian General Fabio Mini said on his departure from the post of commander of KFOR, the international peacekeeping force in Kosovo".

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

IW: "Sorb-eee-Yhuh!"

It took me a while to discover where the guttural cries were coming from. The sounds in the air during the women’s final between Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova were incomprehensible, but consistently so: something like “sorb-ee-yhuh!!!” was being hollered over and over, at different pitches and volumes. Then I glanced up to the very top of Indian Wells’ Stadium 1 and understood. There a small pack of wild youths had taken over a section of the cheap seats and unfurled the red, blue, and white flag of Serbia (“sorb-ee-yhuh!!!”). A few glances later I noticed a second, smaller, black flag beneath them that read, “Kosovo is Serbia.”

The soccer-match intensity and nationalist fervor was jarring in an arena filled with the docile, golf-hatted tennis fans of California. Needless to say they weren’t going to be any match for the Serbs, even if some of them harbored a deep, previously unrevealed passion for Kuznetsova. It was also hard to connect the Serbian fans with the object of their affections at the bottom of the stadium. Ana Ivanovic’s personality can be described in many ways, but “guttural” is not one that comes immediately to mind.

That doesn’t mean she isn’t tough. You know how some athletes are described as “sneaky fast”? Ivanovic is “sneaky tough.” Her walk is delicate, her speech guileless, her fist-pump less-than-terrifying, and she’s wilted under pressure in the past. Today Ivanovic played a cagey match, a scrappy match, a veteran match. When she missed, she went right back with a big shot in the same direction; if that didn’t work, she bailed herself out with clutch serving. She took her time between points and never looked anything other than composed, even at her worst moments.

After another scratchy, momentum-less, hit-and-miss start—is this an Ivanovic specialty?—the Serb decided to take a step forward and create a little momentum at just the right moment. With Kuznetsova serving at 4-4, Ivanovic let fly with a backhand winner for 15-30, drilled a forehand winner for 30-40, and then moved into the court and put together a pretty one-two forehand combo, first crosscourt and then down the line for the break. It was the first moment of strategic focus in the match that had been sustained for longer than a single point.

Contrast it with the play of Kuznetsova, who, as you may have heard, has now lost eight of her last nine finals. This was the first time I’d watched her at length this week, and I’d forgotten how messy her game can be. Nobody makes as many athletic moves as Kuznetsova; the problem is, she makes so many of them in the wrong direction. How many times have you seen her go for the corners while falling backward or sideways onto her back foot. She always seems to be in her own version of no man’s land; she has the shots to dictate every point, but she never settles down and takes over the center of the court, which is what Ivanovic did at 4-4 in the first.

We’ve learned three things about Ivanovic this week: She can win a big tournament as a No. 1 seed and favorite; she’s entrenched herself at No. 2 in the world; and, most important, she’s learning, rapidly, how to win. That doesn’t just mean hammering winners at 4-4. It means saving a break point with a service winner, getting a return in the court at 30-30, and following up a break by winning the first point of the next service game, which Ivanovic did at 5-4 in the first set. She went on to hold at love and never lost focus after that.

By the time the Serb fans' second hero, Novak Djokovic, took the court, they were a bit more subdued (they would take down the “Kosovo is Serbia” sign at the tournament’s request; it gave us too much to consider on a hot afternoon in the desert, I suppose). Djokovic, of course, didn’t need any fans. He came out in his usual flawless way, his clothes and hat brilliant white, his wristbands fastidiously mismatched, and his pinpoint game perfectly organized.

I’ve always liked a fast starter, a guy who comes out having already found his range by the end of the first point. Nadal is like that, and Djokovic even more so. Today he won eight of the first nine points, quieting a pro-Fish crowd and heading off any thought in his opponent’s head that he could ride the momentum he had going yesterday.

But Djokovic is different from champions like Federer, who, once they get you down, step on the gas and offer no hope whatsoever. The Serb often mysteriously stalls just when you think he has the match in his grasp. It happened today when he was up a set and serving at 4-2 in the second. He chose that point to miss three backhands and double-fault to give the break back (in the presser afterward he said he was “really nervous”). Suddenly Fish found the momentum he had lost from the previous day. The forehand winners were back with a vengeance and Djokovic found himself in a third set.

It got worse in the first game, when he went down 0-40 on his serve. While Djokovic is not a supreme front-runner yet, he chose this moment to remind us of what type of champion he is and will continue to be: The kind who hits three aces in a row to stop his opponent’s momentum in it tracks. Some romantics of sport might say this is the time when the great ones “raise their games,” as if these things are done by choice. I would say that Djokovic is simply the type of player who can hit three aces in a row at a moment when all signs say he shouldn’t. Djokovic is not a momentum-rider, he’s a momentum-stopper. Better, he’s able to ignore momentum altogether, which requires a deep confidence that can’t be shaken from one game to the next.

The missiles had been fired, the message had been sent, and the match was over in three swings. Fish never seriously threatened again. Even when he was smoking service returns deep into the court, Djokovic parried them with his fast-handed open-stance defensive forehand (another form of momentum-stopper). The gates were closed for good.

Djokovic came into his presser looking, as always, bigger than you think he is. Big head, big sneakers, lots of hair, long arms—a jock through and through. How did he feel about representing his country and his wild pack of fans in the stands? He said “athletes are the biggest ambassadors for their countries,” but declined to do more politically other than his “job," which is playing tennis. Ivanovic had said much the same thing in her own press conference. She claimed she didn’t know much about politics, but it was important to “represent your country well.”

These might sound like safe answers coming from an American athlete. But they have a different ring coming from Serbians. The faces and names that have come to my mind in recent years when I think of Serbia have been the ones I’ve seen on TV: Milosevic and Karadzic. Now there are new faces—confident, intelligent, youthful, successful faces—from Serbia to put in their place. That's "political" contribution enough in my mind. Djokovic and Ivanovic would be winners wherever they came from and whatever they did. Tennis, with its international, meritocratic nature, should be proud that it has provided the stage for them

‘See you when I return with gold from Beijing’

Serbia’s top swimmer Milorad Cavic’s suspension imposed be the European Swimming Federation (LEN) on the swimmer at the European Championships in Eindhoven, Holland has been lifted. The federation disqualified the Serbian swimmer for wearing a T-shirt at the medals ceremony that read “Kosovo is Serbia”. The rationale behind the ruling is yet to be made officially announced, while the 50-metre European record holder in the butterfly event is anxious to be informed of the LEN’s verdict.

- “The suspension has expired and I can continue competing. Gross injustice was done to me in Eindhoven, but what matters now is that it’s all behind me and that I can resume my preparations for the Beijing Games. It’s really important to me that the truth become known and I hope it happens soon. I would be most pleased if the suspension was overturned,” said Milorad Cavic during his reception at the office of acting Belgrade mayor Zoran Alimpic.
Cavic leaves for the USA, where he is to continue with his preparations for the Olympic Games. His primary goal remains a medal at the Beijing Games, followed by the swimmer’s celebrations of the silverware with the fans in Belgrade.

- “I have seen on TV many times before how our national teams were welcomed outside the Belgrade City Hall after winning tournaments, and I truly hope I’ll be in their shoes one day. I think I have realistic chances of winning a medal in Beijing,” adds Cavic.

Zoran Alimpic, acting Belgrade City mayor, granted the European swimming champion a book on Serbian history and promised him a reception outside the Hall on his victorious return from the Olympic Games.

- “European Swimming Federation have made a dreadful mistake when they suspended Milorad. The writing on his shirt that read “Kosovo is Serbia” is more of a geographic than political message, as Kosovo is part of Serbia. I trust Milorad will soon forget all about this incident and focus on his preparations for the Olympics. If he wins a medal we will most definitely organize a marvellous reception for him,” says Alimpic, who announced that the City of Belgrade will financially support all Serbian Olympic athletes with 40,000 Dinars of monthly reward.

What will Belgrade do to provide training conditions worthy of a 100-metre butterfly world record holder?

- “We can’t talk about conditions for a single athlete but of improvement of sports facilities for all our athletes. We are aware the conditions aren’t the best there are, but we hope they will improve in time,” concludes acting Belgrade mayor Zoran Alimpic.

Ninth Anniversary of NATO attack on Serbia

BELGRADE -- Today marks the ninth anniversary of the start of the 1999 NATO attacks on Serbia.

May 7, 1999, Niš (Tanjug, archive)
May 7, 1999, Niš (Tanjug, archive)
The bombing campaign, officially against then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SRJ), was conducted by 19 armies of the Alliance's member states.

The sustained attacks lasted for 11 weeks, or 78 days, killing between 1,200 and 2,500 people, according to different estimates.

Official data shows that 1,002 members of then Yugoslav Army and Serbian MUP were killed, along with around 2,500 civilians, including 89 children. 10,000 people were wounded.

Serbia's infrastructure, commercial buildings, schools, healthcare institutions, media outlets and monuments of culture sustained heavy damage during the war.

The targets included the state television, RTS, when on April 23, 1999, 16 employees were killed in an airstrike.

The attacks began on March 24, 1999, a little after 20:00 CET, after then NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana gave the order to start the bombing.

The government in Belgrade declared the state of war the same night.

The bombing campaign, that the SRJ authorities but also numerous legal experts said was aggression on a sovereign country, started after failed talks in Paris between ethnic Kosovo Albanians and Belgrade authorities.

April 4, 1999, Novi Sad (Tanjug, archive)
April 4, 1999, Novi Sad (Tanjug, archive)

Estimates differ as to the material damage done to Serbia. The government of that time asked for compensation of damages that it said ran into about USD 100bn. But G17 Plus economists believe the number is at USD 30bn.

NATO's war against Serbia ended on June 10, when the United Nations adopted the still valid Resolution 1244.

NATO used aircraft carriers, four air force bases in Italy, and also bases in Western Europe and the United States to carry out the attacks.

Germany, France, the U.S. and Italy participated with most soldiers.

UNHCR data shows that after the arrival of the NATO ground forces in the province, some 230,000 Serbs and Romas fled to central Serbia, escaping ethnic violence against them perpetrated by Kosovo's Albanians.

Another wave of violence and ethnic cleansing took place on March 17-19, 2004, when 4,000 Serbs were also exiled from their homes.

At the end of the war in 1999, as the Serbs were driven out, some 800,000 Albanians, who left the province after the start of the bombing to escape the war, returned to their homes.

Numerous incidents that followed against Serbs and other non-Albanians resulted in the kidnapping and murder of some 1,500 people. Albanian sources put this number at 500.

UNHCR data presented by the government in Priština also said that 16,500 of those driven out have since returned, 45 percent of them Serbs.

Victims' families, associations, politicians mark the day

Samardžić, Koštunica arrive at St. Marko's church (FoNet)
Samardžić, Koštunica arrive at St. Marko's church (FoNet)

Leading Belgrade City Hall officials, representatives of political parties and veteran associations Monday commemorated nine years since the beginning of the NATO campaign of air strikes on the country, by laying wreaths at monuments and paying tribute to the victims.

President Boris Tadić and Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac also honored the victims at different memorials in the capital.

Acting Deputy Mayor of Belgrade Radmila Hristanovi, laid a wreath at the grave of Milica Rakić, a three-year-old killed in her home by a piece of shrapnel from a bomb dropped on Belgrade's northern suburb of Batajnica.

Belgrade Assembly Deputy President Milorad Perović was at a monument dedicated to seven Guard Brigade members and three patients killed by a bomb that hit the Dr. Dragiša Mišović Clinical and Hospital Center of Belgrade.

Representatives of the Association of 1990s War Veterans, the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), and the Belgrade Municipality of Rakovica, laid wreaths at a monument on Straževica Hill, southern Belgrade.

Hrustanović, and Šutanovac, were also honoring the Air Defense soldiers killed in the defense of Belgrade.

Acting Mayor of Belgrade Zoran Alimpić laid a wreath at the monument to the Serbian Radio Television, RTS, employees killed at their place of work during the NATO campaign.

"This is yet another anniversary of the bombardment of Serbia, and in Belgrade we are marking that day by placing wreaths at places where our fellow Belgraders were killed," Alimpić said on that occasion, adding that everyone should "do everything so that such things are not repeated ever again."

A service for all the victims of the NATO air campaign was held at St. Marko's Church in central Belgrade, attended by Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica.

Belgrade was attacked on the very first day of the NATO bombing, on March 24, 1999. Bombs were dropped on the suburb of Jakovo and on the airfield in Batajnica.

During the 78 days of this NATO campaign of air strikes, the capital suffered with almost all RTS transmitters destroyed, as was the TV tower on Mt. Avala, the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, the building of the Yugoslav Army General Staff, and, two hours after midnight on April 23, bombs hit the RTS building in central Belgrade, killing 16 employees and inflicting grave injuries on four others.

Commemorations are ongoing in other cities and towns throughout the country.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Former Kosovo Peacekeeper Becomes a Voice for Persecuted Christians

PEACE SEEKER Massillon, OH resident D. Hunter Haynes, a former police officer and a United Nations peacekeeper in Kosovo, is founder of the Orthodox Christian Advocacy Institute, which seeks to investigate incidents of religious persecution around the world. Haynes said thousands Christians are killed every year in persecutions. REPOSITORY PHOTO MICHAEL S. BALASH

MASSILLON, OH - D. Hunter Haynes said when he traveled to Kosovo in 2000, he was seeking adventure. What he found was a personal mission to raise awareness of religious persecution around the world.

Haynes, 41, who went to Kosovo as a U.N. peacekeeper, said at least 150 Orthodox churches have been systematically destroyed or profaned there; the result of fighting between Serbs, and Albanians, Kosovo's majority population.

In response, he started the Orthodox Christian Advocacy Institute, a company that investigates incidents of religious persecution — particularly involving Orthodox Christians — around the world.

"I've thought about doing this for a couple of years," said Haynes, who has a tiny office in downtown Massillon decorated with Orthodox icons, maps, and books from his great-grandfather's library. Haynes moved his family to Massillon after graduating from Ohio State University in January. His wife, Valerie, is from Waynesburg.

A lifelong Presbyterian, Haynes said that what he witnessed in Kosovo, led to his conversion to Orthodoxy.

"With my experience, I thought, 'How can I benefit the church?'" he said. "I felt responsible to do some kind of human-rights work."


A former Marine, and a police officer and sheriff's deputy for 12 years, Haynes was recruited for the U.N. peacekeeping force by DynCorp, a private contractor, for the U.S. Department of State. From September 2000 through Sept. 19, 2001, he was a precinct captain at one of 34 police stations in Kosovo.

"After the NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia in 1999, the United Nations set up an interim government in Kosovo," he explained. "They wanted a civilian police force, but how do you do that? They decided to import veteran officers for training. It sounded like a worthy cause. I believe it was."

Haynes said there remains a disconnect about religious persecutions, even among Western Orthodox Christians

"Kosovo's just the top of the iceberg," he said. "In at least 12 hot spots around the world where Orthodox churches are present, where people are being killed daily."


Because Serbs are a minority in Kosovo, Haynes said many live in heavily fortified enclaves. "They were basically unprotected. The Albanian paramilitary attacked them. The most disturbing thing we found out is that after we were on the ground, that's when the killing of Serbs began and the churches were destroyed. It's still going on."

When Kosovo emerged in 1999 after war unraveled Yugoslavia, the U.N. and NATO placed the region under the sovereignty of Serbia. On Feb. 18, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. The U.S., Great Britain, France, Italy, Turkey, Albania and Germany recognize the new Republic of Kosovo. Serbia, Russia and Spain contest it.

Haynes said his goal is to provide information so that church authorities and human-rights advocates can voice their concerns to policy makers, who can exert economic and diplomatic pressure on governments.

"The international laws are on the books," he said. "They just need to honor them. That hasn't been done."


Haynes plans to submit his findings to Christian periodicals, government agencies and human rights groups. Every year, the federal government publishes the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

"But there isn't a lot said about Kosovo," he said, "But this isn't just about Kosovo. I won't hesitate to speak out about persecution of other religions.

"This is an issue that affects everyone on certain levels. Everybody has a right to religious freedom. ... My goal is to visit 50 churches per year and do two overseas investigations per year."

Haynes doesn't charge a fee for his services, but does accept donations, explaining that OCAI isn't nonprofit because the Internal Revenue Service restricts what representatives of nonprofits can say politically.

He says that 170,000 Christians are killed every year for their beliefs.

"The facts are not a secret," he said. "We need to wake up and be vigilant and hold governments and officials accountable to the law."

For information, visit

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bush's failed Kosovo policy

Published: March 20, 2008 at 12:23 PM

PITTSBURGH, March 20 (UPI) -- Fighting in northern Kosovo this week between Serbs and NATO-led troops shows that the independence engineered by the Bush administration for the breakaway Balkan province is not going according to plan.

When U.S. officials encouraged the unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia by Kosovo's Albanians Feb. 17, we were told that an EU mission would replace the United Nations in Kosovo, and everyone would then build a multiethnic, democratic society with respect for rights of the Serbs, a minority in the province as a whole.

That is not happening.

The Serbs of northern Kosovo, where they are a majority, believe that they have little future in an Albanian state. They have resisted its imposition on them, mainly through peaceful means, except for destroying the control posts on the border that they do not recognize despite U.S. insistence that they must.

The protests turned violent when U.N. police with NATO backing forcibly broke up the peaceful occupation of a government building Monday -- and the ensuing fighting left hundreds of Serb civilians, U.N. police and NATO-led troops injured, some critically, and one U.N. policeman dead.

The EU mission cannot enter northern Kosovo and the United Nations was forced to pull out, leaving NATO troops to guard a border that has no status under international law and that is rejected by the people living on both sides of it.

The problem is not that "Serb nationalists" are resisting "the West," as it is put by those U.S. journalists who honor the First Amendment by parroting the State Department, but rather that the Bush administration has attempted to force a military solution to a political problem, in violation of the U.N. charter and the most basic principles of international law.

This is not the first time they have done so, of course, and if the scale of violence in Kosovo is less than that in Iraq, the possibility of destabilizing another region -- this time the Balkans -- is just as grave.

Kosovo really was the birthplace of the Serbian nation 800 years ago, and was included in Serbia after the Ottoman Empire was forced out in 1912. But Albanians also always lived there. Demographic changes in the 20th century (some caused by ethnic cleansing of Serbs from the region during Italian occupation in World War II) led to a heavy ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo by the 1980s, and Serbia's continued control over the province required a police state.

But the Serbian hand in Kosovo was no heavier than Britain's rule of Ireland in the decades before Irish independence in 1923, or Israel's occupation of the West Bank until the Oslo accords, or Turkey's continuing control over the Kurdish-majority regions in eastern Turkey. And these situations usually end when the governing state realizes that maintaining control is too costly, in financial, political and even moral terms, and seeks a deal to permit withdrawal.

Such a deal could have been reached with Serbia, but neither the Clinton administration nor that of George W. Bush wanted one. Both saw Kosovo as an opportunity for isolating Russia from the Balkans for the first time in more than a century, since Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic, never one of the world's great strategic thinkers, had chosen to ally Serbia with, first, the Soviet Union and then with Russia. Further, with the apparent end of the Cold War, NATO needed a job, since the alliance had been formed to keep the Soviet Union from invading West Germany. Attacking Serbia to "liberate" Kosovo was meant to transform NATO from a purely defensive alliance into a more proactive or offensive one, contrary to NATO's own charter, but responding to a certain realpolitik.

The most basic principle of international law since World War II, however, and the most fundamental principle of the U.N. system, is that aggressive wars are banned -- that was the justification the first George Bush gave for attacking Iraq after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, and the whole world except for North Korea agreed with him. But attacking a sovereign state in order to occupy part of its territory and ultimately change its borders is another story. Unfortunately for international law and international stability, NATO's action against Serbia in 1999 was just such a war of aggression, waged without U.N. Security Council approval.

And it did not go as planned. As the State Department itself admitted in May 1999, once NATO attacked Serbia, Milosevic's forces turned what had been "selective targeting of towns and regions" suspected of armed Albanian resistance into a campaign to ethnically cleanse Kosovo of Albanians. This is worth repeating -- the 1999 NATO war against Serbia was not in response to ethnic cleansing but rather provoked it, which then made it necessary to carry the war on for three months in order to reverse the consequences of the NATO attacks themselves.

The 1999 war only ended when the Clinton administration went back to the U.N. Security Council that it had ignored in starting it. The resulting U.N. resolution recognized Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo. Since Russia does not feel obligated to assist the United States in isolating it from the Balkans, that resolution cannot be changed.

And rather than try to negotiate a solution, the Bush administration chose to try to impose one, in part to show the weakness of Russia.

But Kosovo is not recognized by most countries, or by the United Nations, or even by the European Union. Kosovo cannot achieve true independence unless and until the Kosovo Albanians reach a deal with Serbia -- exactly the course of action that the Bush administration has made more complicated than ever. Meanwhile, the whole system of international law is threatened, as is local peace in Kosovo and stability in the Balkans.

Kosovo can be settled if the Bush administration returns to the United Nations and engages in honest negotiation with the Serbs and the Russians. More fundamentally, stability in the international system can only be restored when the United States once again honors the fundamental principles of international law that it violated by attacking Iraq in 2003, and in recognizing Kosovo in 2008.-

(Robert M. Hayden is professor of anthropology, law and public & international affairs and director of the Center for Russian & East European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bosnia arrests five Wahhabis for suspected terrorist activity

Sarajevo, 21 March: Five persons suspected of trafficking weapons, military equipment and planning acts of terrorism have been arrested in Sarajevo, the BiH [Bosnia-Hercegovina] Prosecution has confirmed for SRNA.

Acting on the Prosecution's orders, anti-terror officers from the BiH Federation MUP [Interior Ministry] searched four premises in Sarajevo and two in Bugojno, and arrested five people on suspicion that they were trafficking arms and military equipment, but there is also indication that they were planning acts of terrorism.

The Federation MUP has finished dealing with the suspects and today they are expected to be handed over to the BiH Prosecution for questioning. The Prosecution has 24 hours to decide on whether to remand them in custody.

According to unconfirmed information, all the suspects are Bosnian citizens and members of the Wahhabi radical Islamic movement.

Federation MUP spokesperson Robert Cvrtak has announced that a statement will be issued later on today on this highly risky operation.

The Prosecution and the MUP have declined to reveal the identity of the arrested persons with the explanation that the police action is not over yet.

Friday, March 21, 2008

EarthTimes: "Serbia's Euro-champ suspended over Kosovo shirt"

Belgrade - Belgrade said Friday the European Swimming Federation (LEN) decision to suspend the Serbian champion Milorad Cavic over a shirt with a political message was "scandalous."

"Great injustice was inflicted on our swimmer after he revealed his opinion ... that Kosovo is a part of Serbia," Sports Minister (Ms.) Snezana Samardzic-Markovic told the Tanjug news agency.

Cavic was suspended from the rest of the European Swimming Championship in Eindhoven, Holland, because he wore a shirt saying "Kosovo is Serbia" after winning the 50-metre butterfly race, setting a new European record.

The decision has ruled out Cavic's bid for gold in 100m butterfly and freestyle races. The decision could not be appealed, reports said.

"He is particularly disappointed because he has been feeling so well," his manager Petar Popovic said, describing the LEN decision as "unsensible and unexpected.""

He is in excellent form and hardly anybody could have resisted him," Popovic said.
"it was implied that Cavic was politically active, but I think it is LEN dabbing in politics much more," the manager said. "I wonder what they would have said if he wore a shirt saying 'Free Tibet'."

He was also fined 7,000 euros for violating security and safety rules prohibiting political activity in sports, Tanjug quoted LEN as saying.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February and was recognized by leading Western nations. Serbia rejects the independence and is backed by many of its athletes, such as tennis star Novak Djokovic.

Target America: Global Jihad and the Planned Destruction of National Sovereignty

By Cliff Kincaid

(Excerpt) The recent burning of the U.S. Embassy in Serbia was a response to the Bush Administration recognizing Kosovo’s separation and independence from Serbia. Kosovo represents the religious heritage of Serbia's Christians and many Christian churches have already been destroyed by Muslim extremists there. Taking Kosovo from Serbia is comparable to taking Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people, from Israel.

President Bush said that Kosovo, in its declaration of independence on February 17, had “willingly assumed the responsibilities assigned to it under the Ahtisaari Plan.” President Bush said that the United States formally recognized Kosovo as a sovereign and independent nation. But who is Ahtisaari? Martti Ahtisaari is the United Nations envoy who arranged for the process that led to Kosovo’s independence. But he was accused of taking bribes to bring this about. The charges have not been investigated by either the U.N. or the U.S. State Department.

Analysts Greg Copley and Dr. Marios Evriviades have coined terms for two of the phenomena which we are witnessing today: cratocide, the murder of nations; and cratogenesis, the birth of nations. Copley says, “That’s what we will see increasingly over the coming few decades as the world re-defines its structures: nations disappearing and appearing.”

Hillary Clinton didn’t mention Kosovo in her February 25 foreign policy speech at George Washington University, except to say it was one of the “challenging spots” on the “global map.” However, the attendance of her “long time friend” General Wesley Clark at the event spoke volumes. Clark ran her husband’s illegal war there, on behalf of Muslim extremists, and she supported it.

Clark, who insists that the U.S. decision to go to war in Iraq was a misjudgment based on scanty evidence, ran Clinton’s NATO war against Yugoslavia on behalf of the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Thousands of innocent people in Serbia, Yugoslavia’s main province, were killed to stop an alleged "genocide" by Yugoslavia against Kosovo that was not in fact taking place. Investigations determined that a couple thousand had died in the civil war there..... (Read the Rest at PDF file)

Kosovo and Washington’s Strategic Agenda for Europe and Eurasia

By F. William Engdahl, 3 March 2008

The declaration of Kosovo independence has been rapidly greeted with official diplomatic recognition by Washington and select EU countries including Germany. That independence and its recognition, unfortunately, openly violate UN resolutions for Kosovo and make a farce of the entire UN rule of international law. The new regime is headed by man identified by Interpol as well as German BND intelligence reports as a criminal, a boss of Kosovo organized crime responsible for drug running, extortion and prostitution. The important question is why Washington has pressured Europe into accepting the travesty now called the Republic of Kosovo?

Kosovo is a tiny parcel of land in one of the most strategic locations in all Europe from a standpoint of US military objectives of controlling oil flows and political developments from the oil-rich Middle East to Russia and Western Europe. The current US-led recognition of the self-declared Republic of Kosovo is a continuation of US policy for the Balkans since the illegal 1999 US-led NATO bombing of Serbia, a NATO “out-of-area” deployment never approved by the UN Security Council, allegedly on the premise that Milosevic’s army was on the verge of carrying out a genocidal massacre of Kosovo Albanians.

Some months before the US-led bombing of Serbian targets, one of the heaviest bombings since World War II, a senior US intelligence official in private conversation told Croatian officers in Zagreb about Washington’s strategy for former Yugoslavia. According to these reports, communicated privately to this author, the Pentagon goal was to take control of Kosovo in order to secure a military base to control the entire southeast European region down to the Middle East oil lands.

Since June 1999 when the NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) occupied Kosovo, then an integral part of then-Yugoslavia, Kosovo has been under a United Nations mandate, UN Security Council Resolution 1244. Russia and China also agreed to that mandate, which specifies the role of KFOR to ensure cessation of inter-ethnic fighting and atrocities between the Serb minority population, others and the Kosovo Albanian Islamic majority. Under 1244 Kosovo would remain part of Serbia pending a peaceful resolution of its status. That UN Resolution has been ignored by the US, German and EU parties.

Germany’s and Washington’s prompt recognition of Kosovo’s independence in February 2008, significantly, came days after elections for President in Serbia confirmed pro-Washington Boris Tadic had won a second four year term. With Tadic’s post secured, Washington could count on a compliant Serbian reaction to its support for Kosovo. To date that seems the case.

Camp Bondsteel

The US strategic agenda for Kosovo is primarily military, and its prime focus is against Russia and for control of oil flows from the Caspian Sea to the Middle East into Western Europe. By declaring its independence, Washington gains a weak state which it can fully control. So long as it remained a part of Serbia, that NATO military control would be politically insecure. Today Kosovo is controlled as a military satrapy of NATO, whose KFOR has 16,000 troops there for a tiny population of 2 millions.

US-NATO military control of Kosovo serves several purposes for Washington’s greater geo-strategic agenda. First it enables greater US control over potential oil and gas pipeline routes into the EU from the Caspian and Middle East as well as control of the transport corridors linking the EU to the Black Sea. It also protects the multi-billion dollar heroin trade, which, significantly, has grown to record dimensions in Afghanistan according to UN narcotics officials, since the US occupation. Kosovo and Albania are major heroin transit routes into Europe. According to a just -released 2008 US State Department annual report on international narcotics traffic, several key drug trafficking routes pass through the Balkans. Kosovo is mentioned as a key point for the transfer of heroin from Turkey and Afghanistan to Western Europe. Those drugs reportedly flow under the watchful eye of the Thaci government.

Since its dealings with the Meo tribesmen in Laos during the Vietnam era, the CIA has protected narcotics traffic in key locations in order partly to finance its covert operations. The scale of international narcotics traffic today is such that major US banks such as Citigroup are reported to derive a significant share of their profits from laundering the proceeds.

Immediately after the bombing of Serbia in 1999 the Pentagon seized a 1000 acre large parcel of land in Kosovo at Uresevic near the border to Macedonia, and awarded a contract to Halliburton when Dick Cheney was CEO there, to build one of the largest US overseas military bases in the world, Camp Bondsteel, with more than 7000 troops today.

Recognizing a mafia state?

One of the notable features of the indecent rush by Washington and other states to immediately recognize the independence of Kosovo is the fact that they well know its present government and both major political parties are in fact run by Kosovo Albanian organized crime.

Hashim Thaci, President of Kosovo and head of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, is the former leader of the terrorist organization which the US and NATO trained and called the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, or in Albanian, UCK. In 1997, President Clinton’s Special Balkans Envoy, Robert Gelbard described the LKA as, “without any question a terrorist group.” It was far more. It was a klan-based mafia, impossible therefore to infiltrate, which controlled the underground black economy of Kosovo. Today the Democratic Party of Thaci, according to European police sources, retains its links to organized crime.

A February 22, 2005 67 page German BND report, labeled Top Secret, which has been leaked, stated,

“Über die Key-Player (wie z. B. Haliti, Thaci, Haradinaj) bestehen engste Verflechtungen zwischen Politik, Wirtschaft und international operierenden OK-Strukturen im Kosovo. Die dahinter stehenden kriminellen Netzwerke fördern dort die politische Instabilität. Sie haben kein Interesse am Aufbau einer funktionierenden staatlichen Ordnung, durch die ihre florierenden Geschäfte beeinträchtigt werden können.“

(OK=Organized Crime; Translation: “Through the key players—for example Thaci, Haliti, Haradinaj—there is the closest interlink between politics, the economy and international organized crime in Kosovo. The criminal organizations in the background there foster political instability. They have no interest at all in the building of a functioning orderly state that could be detrimental to their booming business.”)

The KLA began action in 1996 with the bombing of refugee camps housing Serbian refugees from the wars in Bosnia and Croatia. The KLA repeatedly called for the “liberation” of areas of Montenegro, Macedonia and parts of Northern Greece. Thaci is hardly a figure of regional stability to put it mildly.

The 39 year old Thaci was a personal protégé of Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during the 1990s, when he was a mere 30-year old gangster. The KLA was supported from the outset by the CIA and the German BND. During the 1999 war the KLA was directly supported by NATO. At the time he was picked up by the USA in the mid-1990s, Thaci was founder of the Drenica Group, a criminal syndicate in Kosovo with ties to Albanian, Macedonian and Italian organized mafias. A classified January 2007 report prepared for the EU Commission, labeled “VS-Nur für den Dienstgebrauch” was leaked to the media. It detailed the organized criminal activity of KLA and its successor Democratic Party under Thaci.

The question then becomes, why are Washington, NATO, the EU and inclusive and importantly, the German Government, so eager to legitimize the breakaway Kosovo? The answer is not hard to find. A Kosovo run internally by organized criminal networks is easy for NATO to control. It insures a weak state which is far easier to bring under NATO domination.

The Thaci dependence on US and NATO good graces insures Thaci’s government will do what it is asked. That, in turn, assures the US a major military gain consolidating its permanent presence in the strategically vital southeast Europe. It is a major step in consolidating NATO control of Eurasia, and gives the US a large swing its way in the European balance of power. Little wonder Moscow has not welcomed the development, nor have numerous other states. The US is literally playing with dynamite in the Balkans.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

No "Freedom of Speech" for Serbs on Kosovo

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands - A Serb swimmer could face disciplinary action for wearing a T-shirt proclaiming "Kosovo is Serbia" during the gold-medal ceremony at the European swimming championships.

Milorad Cavic, an American-born Serb, said Thursday he was just trying to send "positive energy" to the country he represents as he accepted his medal Wednesday night for winning the 50-metre butterfly in a European record time of 23.11 seconds.

European swimming's governing body LEN said in a statement that Cavic had been called to face a disciplinary hearing Thursday night.

"I'm afraid of the worst," Cavic told The Associated Press. "A suspension is the worst they can do to me. That is the death sentence."

A suspension would disrupt Cavic's preparations for the Beijing Olympics.

Photos and images of Cavic in his red T-shirt were carried by Serb television stations, but the emphasis was more on his victory and record than his T-shirt. The country's president and prime minister congratulated Cavic on his win.

"I didn't do it to provoke anger, I didn't do it to provoke violence," Cavic said. "The country is torn apart and . . . my goal was just to uplift them."

Kosovo, a former Serbian province with an ethnic Albanian majority, declared independence Feb. 17 and has been recognized by countries including Canada, the U.S., Japan and powerful European Union nations.

However, Belgrade strongly objects to losing a province many Serbs consider the historical cradle of the nation. The Serbian government says the independence declaration was illegal and recalled ambassadors from nations that have recognized Kosovo as a new nation.

Kosovo had not been under Serbian control since a NATO force moved in on the heels of massive air strikes in'99 that ended a brutal Serb crackdown on secessionist rebels in the province.

Cavic, who trains in the United States, said his red T-shirt, with the text written in the Cyrillic alphabet widely used in Serbia, was just sending a message of support to the country he swims for, not making a political statement.

"What is my wearing a shirt going to do to change the minds of the United States, United Nations or European Union," he said. "This is already a done deal. All I wanted to do was uplift my people. My only role here was to be a leader and transfer positive energy."

Note: An interview with Milorad "Mike" Cavic last month is here

Global Research: Correspondence between German Politicians Reveals the Hidden Agenda behind Kosovo's "Independence"

Or: How NATO broke international law in drive to match Rome’s “greatest territorial expansion”

by Aleksandar Pavić

To all those still trying to get at the bottom of the recent US-led unilateral declaration of Kosovo’s “independence” completely outside of the UN framework and America’s willingness to destabilize not just relations with Russia but the entire international order, no document provides a clearer or more cogent explanation of the entire process than the following piece of correspondence.

In a strikingly frank letter to then German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, of May 2, 2000, in the form of a report from a State Department/American Enterprise Institute-sponsored conference in Bratislava, Slovakia (“Is Euro-Atlantic Integration Still on Track? Opportunities and Obstacles,” held on April 28-30, 2000), Willy Wimmer, then member of the German Bundestag and Vice President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), succinctly lays out the causes of NATO’s 78-day bombing of Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999, the purposes behind NATO’s further enlargement toward the borders of Russia, and, most importantly from the aspect of global security, the US aim of undermining the international legal order as part of its vision of succeeding the Roman Empire at the height of its territorial expansion.

The conference itself was held at a very high level, with several prime ministers, foreign ministers and defense ministers from Central European countries in attendance, along with high-level State Department, OSCE and NATO officials, and representatives of high profile international NGO’s and think tanks

(see,projectID.11/default.asp for a complete list of participants and,projectID.11/default.asp for the conference agenda), including Richard Perle and Daniel Fried, current U.S. Assistant Secretary of State.

The fact that the correspondence between two of Germany’s and Europe’s highest officials pertains to a conference that took place almost 8 years ago does not make it any less relevant. Quite the contrary. Looking back at the events that have taken place since, and especially having in mind the “Kosovo parliament’s” “Declaration of Independence” of February 17, 2008, and the subsequent lightning-quick recognition of the new “state” on the part of the US and its closest, mostly Western allies, Willy Wimmer’s letter is not just a prophecy, but a roadmap, both of certain key events in Europe of the previous 8 years (expanding NATO to Rumania and Bulgaria “in order to secure a land connection with Turkey,” “permanently excluding Serbia out of European development,” establishing an unhindered US military presence in ex-Yugoslavia – Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo – etc.) and of events (soon?) to come (“undermining the international legal order,” “favoring peoples’ rights to self-determination over all other provisions or rules of international law,” etc.) on the international scene, including, most likely, a descent into disorder on a global scale.

In a subsequent interview given to a German foreign policy magazine (an excerpt of which was translated into English and posted on the site of New Serbian Political Thought, an influential Serbian political periodical -, Wimmer further elaborated on the points made in his letter, revealing, among other things, that the US is using the Balkans to cushion the fallout with Muslim states over its Mid-East policies, but also, following in Bismarck’s footsteps, to keep the rest of Europe off balance by encouraging unrest in that region, which, as an added bonus, is a good way to spoil European-Russian relations.

If there were any doubts as to the aggressive nature of the US-led policy regarding Kosovo (and Europe as a whole), the following letter will almost certainly dispel them. The same applies to all doubts as to whether the case of Kosovo’s secession and its US-led recognition as an independent state represents not just a grievous but a deliberate violation of international law and the wrecking of the post-World War II European and global order.

Mr. Gerhard Schröder

Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany

Schloßplatz 1
10178 Berlin

Berlin, May 2, 2000

Highly esteemed Mr. Chancellor,

At the end of last week I had the opportunity to attend a conference in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava, jointly organized by the American State Department and the American Enterprise Institute (the foreign policy institute of the Republican Party). The main topics of the gathering were the Balkans and NATO enlargement.

The conference was attended by very high level political officials, as witnessed by the presence of a large number of prime ministers, as well as foreign ministers and defense ministers from the region. Among the numerous important points of discussion, certain themes deserve special mention:

  1. The conference organizers demanded the speediest possible international recognition of an independent state of Kosovo within the circle of the allied states.
  2. The organizers declared that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia lies outside of any legal framework, before all outside the Helsinki Final Act [on the inviolability of state borders – trans. note].
  3. The European legal order presents an obstacle to carrying out the plans of NATO. In this sense, the American legal system is more suitable for application in Europe.
  4. The war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was waged in order to rectify General Eisenhower’s erroneous decision during World War II. Therefore, for strategic reasons, American troops must be stationed there, in order to compensate for the missed opportunity from 1945.
  5. The European allies participated in the war against Yugoslavia in order to, de facto, overcome the obstacle and dilemma that appeared after the adoption of NATO’s “New Strategic Concept” in April 1999, that is, the Europeans’ efforts to previously secure a UN or OSCE mandate.
  6. Without denigrating the importance of the Europeans’ after-the-fact legalistic interpretation, namely that the expansion of NATO’s tasks beyond the treaty’s legal domain in the war against Yugoslavia was just an exception, it is nevertheless clear that this represented a precedent, to be invoked by anyone at any time, and that many others will follow the example in the future.
  7. It would be good, during NATO’s current enlargement, to restore the territorial situation in the area between the Baltic Sea and Anatolia such as existed during the Roman Empire, at the time of its greatest power and greatest territorial expansion.
  8. For this reason, Poland must be flanked to the north and to the south with democratic neighbor states, while Romania and Bulgaria are to secure a land connection with Turkey. Serbia (probably for the purposes of securing an unhindered US military presence) must be permanently excluded from European development.
  9. North of Poland, total control over St. Petersburg’s access to the Baltic Sea must be established.
  10. In all processes, peoples’ rights to self-determination should be favored over all other provisions or rules of international law.
  11. The claim that, during its attack on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, NATO violated all international rules, and especially all the relevant provisions of international law – was not disputed.

After this conference, at which discussion was quite candid and open, it will not be possible to avoid the importance and long-term ramifications of its conclusions, especially having in mind the competence of the participants and organizers.

It seems that the American side, for the sake of its own goals, is willing and ready to undermine, on a global scale, the international legal order, which came about as a result of the two world wars in the previous century. Force is to stand above law. Wherever international law stands in the way, it is to be removed.

When the League of Nations experienced a similar fate, World War II was not far off. The manner of thought that takes into regard solely its own interests can only be referred to as totalitarian.

With friendly regards,

Willy Wimmer

Member, German Bundestag and Vice President, Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE

(Note: a facsimile of the original letter, in German, can be found at

The above translation is from a German-to-Serbian translation by Nikola Živković, which appeared in the Belgrade weekly “NIN,” of February 8, 2007. Another translation, by Andrej Grubacic, preceded by a commentary, can be found at

Introduction and translation: Aleksandar Pavić

Aleksandar Pavić is a political commentator living in Belgrade, Serbia

Kosovo: US weapons plan and neighbours' recognition angers Belgrade

Belgrade, 20 March (AKI) - Serbia reacted angrily on Thursday to the United States' announcement it would send weapons to Kosovo and to the recognition of independence by its neighbours Croatia, Hungary and Bulgaria.

Prime minister Vojislav Kostunica said Washington’s decision to supply weapons to the province which declared independence from Serbia last month was “another deeply wrong step by the US after illegal recognition of unilateral independence”.

The US and leading European countries, which have spearheaded Kosovo's independence drive, were among the first to recognise the new state. Serbia’s neighbours Croatia and Hungary recognised Kosovo on Wednesday and Bulgaria was expected to do the same on Thursday.

“There have already been too many weapons in Kosovo and instead of illegally arming ethnic Albanians, the US should return respect for international law and the United Nations Charter,” Kostunica told Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti.

"Kosovo doesn’t need new weapons, but new negotiations on its status," he added.

Serbia and its ally Russia oppose Kosovo's independence and insist on continuing negotiations. But western powers have recognised Kosovo on a bilateral basis after Russia blocked the move in the UN Security Council.

US president George W Bush announced on Wednesday that Kosovo has qualified for the American military aid after acquiring independence.

The US was the first of around 40 countries which have now recognised Kosovo. US flags abounded during the independence celebrations there (photo).

Under the independence plan forged by former UN negotiator Martti Ahtisaari, Kosovo will have a lightly armed 2,500-person security force.

The security force will be supervised and trained by 17,000 NATO troops stationed in the province.

“The decision of the American president causes the greatest concern and only deepens the problems caused by the breach of the resolution 1244,” Kostunica said.

UN Security Council Resolution 1244 placed Kosovo under UN control in 1999, but it is still officially treated as being a part of Serbia.

Serbia has withdrawn its ambassadors to Croatia and Hungary for consultations in protest at their recognition of Kosovo, as it has done with all other countries.

Croatia had delayed recognition of independence because of its small Serb minority and for the fear that its companies and goods would be boycotted in Serbia. But the US put it and other neighbouring countries under great pressure to recognise Kosovo, according to Serb media.

Croatia, Albania and Macedonia are expected to be invited to join NATO at the Bucharest summit. But Macedonia’s entry is conditional on it resolving the country’s 15-year-long dispute with neighboring Greece over its name.

Belgrade daily Politika said Bulgaria and Macedonia were also under strong pressure from Washington, because they would be the first Orthodox Christian countries, like Serbia, to recognise Kosovo, whose majority ethnic Albanians are mostly Muslim.

Bush Provides Arms for Kosovo Albanian Muslims to Kill More Christians

"The White House said Bush's move would strengthen U.S. security relations with Kosovo, promote security and stability throughout the Balkans and improve Kosovo's capacity to take part in peacekeeping activities, deter terrorists and deal with humanitarian emergencies."

President Bush just doesn't get it -- these Kosovo Albanians ARE terrorists!

UNMIK administrator in controversial resignation -- A US Diplomat with a Conscience

19 March 2008 | 19:19 -> 23:52 | Source: B92, Beta KOSOVSKA MITROVICA -- Regional UNMIK chief Gerard Galluci has resigned, but the UN HQ has not accepted his resignation.

The U.S. diplomat in charge of the UN operations in Kosovska Mitrovica was asked to withdraw his resignation.

This is what an anonymous diplomatic source told Beta news agency tonight, adding that Galluci was "currently on vacation, and will resume his duties once he returns".

Earlier today, KIM Radio reported that Galluci, who is currently abroad, opted for this move because of the differences he has with Priština.

KIM's sources with the UN mission in the province's capital confirmed this.

"Galluci has resigned because, compared to Priština, he has a different approach to the situation in Kosovska Mitrovica, when it comes to the international community's policy and attitude toward the problems in this town," the unnamed diplomatic sources have said.

UNMIK's spokesman Alexander Ivanko would not deny or confirm the news today.

He told KIM that these are "internal UNMIK matters".

Asked where Galluci was and whether he was performing his duties, Ivanko said, "As far as I know and last I heard he is in Mitrovica. I cannot say anything else on this issue, this is an internal UNMIK matter."

Also Wednesday, one of the Kosovo Serb leaders, Milan Ivanović, gave journalist a report about Monday's violence submitted by Galluci.

The report says that the raid was a "badly planned operation to restore law and order in the north, which has led to the disappearance of law and order".

"The choice of the date – March 17 – the fourth anniversary of the last episode of the ethnic cleansing of the Kosovo Serbs, and the decision to arrest and transport the Serbs to Priština looks as if it was created in order to inflame the Serb feelings," Galluci adds.

"If, on some other day, the police simply asked the people to leave the premises before trying to arrest them, perhaps we could have announced a victory without a price tag," the report said.

"One positive aspect is that during the events Monday, Serbs did not disturb or attack Albanians in northern Mitrovica, and they cooperated with UNMIK during the evacuation of our civilians," Galluci said.

Some Albanians live in the north of the divided town, while there are no Serbs in the southern, Albanian part.

"Our credibility and relations necessary for our peacekeeping role in the north have been seriously, perhaps irreversibly jeopardized. Now we can all see that Serbs have a clear goal, that they are well organized and well armed. The Serb community in the north, regardless of whether people like Marko [Jakšić] and Milan [Ivanović], will gather around their 'radical' leadership, if it is directly provoked. The reaction to any attempt to arrest them would be fierce," the paper, entitled, "The report after defeat", says.

"All in all, it must be clear that the use of force to achieve political goals related to the status will not work. Just as we have said many, many times before… the use of force will only lead to violence that will probably accelerate the partition or will lead to new ethnic cleansing and conflict. This must be kept in mind when future decisions are made about UN courts, railways, electricity."

Galluci also suggested that UNMIK must "admit its mistakes and repent for what has been done" in order to continue communicating with the Serbs in the north.

"Albanians must be made to understand clearly: leave the north to us, live in peace and stop threatening with violence. We heard that Premier Thaci's been telling people he's been "having trouble controlling the Drenica boys". We did not annul the unilateral declaration of independence because we could not stop it. By the same token, we cannot force those who reject it to accept it. Not only have we no moral or legal basis to use force, but it yields no results," Galluci concludes his damning report.

Belgrade daily Politika says that the report, likely to put him in Kosovo Serbs' good books, raises the issue of whether his behavior in fact led to the escalation of the crisis.

"He has not had good cooperation with UNMIK in Priština for months, and before the courthouse was taken last Friday, he was in intense consultations with the leaders of the Mitrovica Serbs. Some sources even say he indirectly encouraged them to take over the premises that have no key significance," the newspaper says.

Politika then adds that "diplomacy is apparently not the only of Gallucci's occupations", and says he was in "another conflict zone of interest to the United States" – Sundan.

"As the U.S. charge d'affaires, Washington's top representative in that country, he was in charge of – monitoring the fighting in Darfour," the daily says.

Galluci, a former U.S. State Department diplomat, was working in northern Kosovo since 2004.

His resignation comes two days after violence flared up in the town between UNMIK and KFOR troops and local Serb civilians, killing one, and injuring more than 100 people.