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Kosova Unfolds

Well. I wonder if the Albanian is heaping praises on Nato right now.

Think on it. You are living in your home. The regime in Belgrade is already attacking many of your neighbours, forcing them to flee. For years you have struggled to stay in Kosova, against the machination of the vile tyrant who lives comfortably while your people in the southern Yugoslav province of Kosova. For years, these sort of atrocities have been going on, unnoticed by the outside world (its at times like these you really wish Kosova had a lot of oil). Numerous Albanians have gone to restore the autonomy that was originally yours before Milosevic revoked it in 1989. They hammered out an agreement, with the oh-so-noble Big Powers watching over you. But at least it gives you what you need; Kosova may remain in Yugoslavia, but the Serbian forces will have to go for the most part, and a vote on independence is scheduled in 3 years time.

Then, boom. The bombs are attacking. The massacres intensify. You are forced to leave your home, and death is all around you. It was bad before, but now its worse. You, and hundreds of thousands others are forced out while hundreds of you are killed by the Serbian forces. You are now a refugee. Disease and death surrounds you in the place that you have been herded into; the only reference you have at this moment are the stories of Jews and gypsies in the Holocaust. And strangely enough, most of the people around you are women and children. Where are the men?

How about the Serb?

Well, before the Alliance started bombing, Milosevic was recognised as a radical nationalist. The opposition was nicely co-opted into the regime, and the criminal who had been accused of some of the greatest atrocities in the Bosnian massacres was in power of a country. He called for strength against the imperialistic dogs of the US and the UK, amongst others. And Kosova for the Serbs is important to their national history. Its a pity that 90% of the population there is actually not Serbian, and most of that 90% is not even Orthodox (like the Serbs), but Muslim.

Now the bombings start. Suddenly, the talk of saving Christianity (Orthodox, not Catholic; the Albanian Christians are mostly Catholic) comes back on the streets. We are called 'brave Serbs' by Orthodox priests in Greece, and the Archbishop of the Cyprus Orthodox Church speaks of a 'Jewish-conspiracy' and the 'Muslim element' in the conflict. In fact, Cyprus raises funds for us, a fellow Orthodox people (not the Turkish Cypriots obviously, but that is a different article altogether). A football hero there calls for volunteers to fight in the Serbian forces, and the parliament is vigorously pro-Serb, as it would seem a lot of Greek Cypriots are as well, judging by all the demonstrations.(It seems odd that the Greek Cypriots, who have had their trouble with refugee crisis's before would turn a seemingly blind eye to the Albanians.) Russia is on our side, although the people doubt that it will get involved at the moment. Still, people there have also called for a recruitment drive to help our army against these dumb Yankees and Brits. (Greece, another predominantly Orthodox country, is a little more balanced than Cyprus and Russia; it is showing the massacres on TV and people are raising funds for the Albanians, as well as accepting a limited number of 5000 refugees. Notice the response of the Orthodox towards the Orthodox; while the Muslim countries are barely lifting a finger to do a thing).

Sympathy for the Albanians, if there was any, is not exactly evident anymore. They are, after all, of a different race, a different culture and a different religion. What right do they have to be in Serbia?

And these bloody Nato thugs; bombing us from the sky? Have they no courage to face us on the ground? (What the Serb may not now is that some of the bombs that the US may use now are radioactive and may create an environmental disaster, but that's not really important.)

And Nato?

Ah, brave Nato. Self-proclaimed policemen of the world; they are so concerned about the Albanians that when they started their operation, they did not even think to have humanitarian aid standing by. They have been a complete shambles; it was almost entirely predictable that Milosevic would use this as a cover to eradicate the population and solidify his popularity with the average Serb. All those involved in the Balkans have their own agenda; it might have to do with the fact that the whole region is littered with Western deployed troops. But whatever it is, their agenda has resulted in the exodus of about half of the population of Kosova.

This process of ethnic cleansing is precise. The people are made to leave their homes and shipped out. Any documentation they may possess that proves that they live there is taken from them. They may die on route, or be summarily massacred in their homes if the Serb forces think they were a part of the resistance.

So, lets see the parties again, shall we?

Party 1: Albanians. They are the innocent party. They are the legitimate owners of practically all of the land in Kosova; this is not in dispute. Due to the machinations of the world's powers in the last few years, it has remained under Serb domination. Serbia has proven that it is not capable of ruling it with justice; the Albanians have been systematically cleansed from their homes. Thus, the Albanians are entitled to two things:

1) Return to their homes and compensation for their suffering

2) If they so choose, in a free referendum, they should have independence immediately. This need not be a precedent for any situation, but when it is clear that a province such as Kosova or Kashmir is overwhelmingly full of a minority in the overall state and is being subjected to brutal measures, it should be allowed to secede.

Party 2: The Serbians. Milosevic is a crazed fanatic, who should have been brought up on charges a very long time ago.He is not the only one in the Balkans. However, these strikes have just increased his popularity amongst the common Serb. Bad strategy. The Serbian people do not deserve to suffer for the crimes of the leader. Milosevic is probably responsible for some of the most brutal massacres in Europe since 1945; he must be brought to justice.

Party 3: The Allies do have plans, and the welfare of the Kosovars is probably quite low on their list. The question of legality of their actions comes up; this is a question that can be debated. It is quite likely that the use of force is justified in this case, since there was a genocide in the making (now there is one in full force). However, the use of force should be like a surgeon's scalpel, not a sledgehammer. The Nato forces do not have the stomach for a ground intervention, which is precisely what was needed.

Incidentally, the US and the UK have used this latest 'humanitarian' intervention as cover to bomb Iraq again; but we don't see that in the news(we want the oil in this case). Nor do we see the Israelis bombing the south of Lebanon; but that might be because we do not simply care about the Lebanese (after all, what's there that we need?)

Showering Yugoslavia with deadly radioactive fireworks will not help the people of Kosova. Measures must be taken to safeguard them now, and wherever they are, they should have security until they can return to their homes.

The people of Kosova must be able to live free. If the only way to ensure that is for them to have independence, then independence they should have.

Hisham al-Zoubeir

6 April 1999.

[Currently, he is at the University of Sheffield undertaking a multi-disciplinary degree in law. He has lived in Abu Dhabi, Cairo and London. His main interests delves into peace, equality, righteousness and spirituality.]

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