Hear Ye! Since 1998.
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6
Apr 99
Tue

Kosovo

Where I live, cable only just came to town (or village, as some would call it :). So, I don’t get CNN and there’s not a terrific amount of coverage on Kosovo. If you only started paying attention to the news when the US started bombing, chances are you won’t know what the background to the whole situation is. I didn’t know until a couple days ago. Since the news doesn’t tend to explain the Kosovo conflict’s background, and if you missed the start of it, you might want to know about it. If you already know about it (more than likely if you’re American), skip this post or correct me where I’m wrong.

From my basic understanding, Kosovo is a province of Serbia. It is comprised of a majority of Albanians (from neighbouring Albania) and a minority of Serbians. Kosovo is something of a “heartland” to Serbians. Since around ten years ago, a group called the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) has been trying to gain independence and autonomy for Kosovo, for the Albanians. All of a sudden, the KLA recently began killing Serb policemen and others who collaborated with the Serbs. They also established areas from which Serbs were driven entirely. Tensions escalate until Slobodan Milosevic, who leads Serbia and Yugoslavia, decided to start ejecting the entire Albanian population from Kosovo. Police and other Serbian military started evicting Albanians from their houses and deported them from Serbia to neighbouring countries.

Here’s where NATO came in. Apparently “concerned” by the flow of refugees and injustice of what Milosevic was doing, they urged him to stop. He didn’t. Talks begin in France (where a peace plan called the Rambouillet accord was drafted up). NATO proposed to reintroduce ejected Albanians back into Kosovo under the watch of NATO peacekeeping forces. The talks fail, Milosevic rejecting this idea. Finally, after diplomacy has failed, NATO begins airstrikes on March 24.

So what’s the controversy surrounding this situation? While it is fairly evident that what Milosevic is doing is wrong, the way NATO planned to resolve the situation is considered wrong. Air strikes on Serb military targets and government buildings (via an array of cruise missiles and aircraft) have been designed to pressure Milosevic into ceasing. However, the problem lies with the ground forces and “the men with ski masks” coming in the night and turning Albanians out of their houses. Bombing tanks and buildings is regarded as irrelevant and unnecessary (what has bombing of tanks got to do? Tanks aren’t herding Albanians towards the border). Of course, to directly attack the problem would involve sending in ground troops. Hah. If the US were to do that, and a bunch of US soldiers were killed, the public reaction would be horrendous. Even the B2 strike bombers aren’t landed on European soil – they take off, let loose their bombs, and don’t land until they reach the US again. At over $2 billion, if the US were to lose one of these planes, the American public would not be impressed. NATO is unable to attack the problem directly, for fear of public reprisal, but the way they’re going about it currently is still not acceptable. Furthermore, by the time the situation improves, there might not be anymore Albanians in Kosovo left! At the current rate of migration, Kosovo will be “Albanian-less” within a couple of weeks.

Secondly, there’s the questionable intentions of NATO. NATO bypassed the UN. Russia opposes what they’re doing and would have vetoed it had they gone through the UN. Could this be some attempt at humiliating Russia? Russia has strong ties with Serbia and can’t very well watch NATO bomb it. But that’s all it can do. So they mobilised a couple regiments and a few planes to show their disapproval. But they can’t use them. I think NATO also wants to strengthen ties with Albania or something. So it’s all very political.

That’s what I understand of the situation. A timeline of events is available at CNN. Have I stuffed up above? Have I shown my ignorance? Mail me for corrections.