Hands off Kosovo!
Editorial: Hands off Kosovo!
Hands off Kosovo!
The events in Kosovo are a reminder that the carnage created by capitalist restoration in Yugoslavia is still far from over. Indeed, it was recent plans drawn up by the Serbian occupation regime of Slobodan Milosevic for the final privatisation of Kosovo's assets that led to this desperate attempt to crush the decade-long resistance by the local people.
An overwhelmingly Albanian region which had high level autonomy in Communist Yugoslavia, Kosovo was occupied by Serbian troops and ultra-right militia during Milosevic's counter-revolution in Yugoslavia in 1988-90. Since then, a regime of full-scale apartheid has been resisted by the Albanian masses, who time and again have refused to accept anything less than full independence.
Fears of "instability" in the region which may spread to the southern Balkans and involve NATO allies Greece and Turkey have led to total western indifference to the horrific human rights situation as long as Milosevic maintains secure control. Western leaders, however, have warned Serbia not to go too far with its ethnic cleansing, lest this create massive resistance and spread to the Albanian masses in neighbouring countries.
It is precisely this scenario that western leaders most fear as they threaten intervention.
The dramatic rise of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which has clearly gained overwhelming support among the long oppressed masses, has forced the west to act to keep the situation under control. While the rhetoric used to justify intervention is horror at the current Serbian offensive — which has driven 65,000 Albanians from their homes and killed around 300 — the real target is the KLA.
This can be seen from the first western response — to impose an arms embargo. This form of intervention for three and a half years prevented Bosnians from getting arms to defend themselves against the genocide imposed by the massively armed Serb forces.
While Serbia — still an armed fortress — carries out renewed ethnic cleansing, NATO is training forces on Albania's border with Kosovo to prevent arms going to the KLA, and its intervention threat aims precisely at closing this border and the southern border with Macedonia, which also has a large and supportive Albanian population.
A victory of a local revolutionary force would upset the shaky "stability" of the region, currently upheld by the NATO enforcement of the partition of Bosnia and US troops in Macedonia. Right through, western powers, while pushing Milosevic to a softer approach, have expressed strong opposition to Kosovan self-determination and have equally criticised the KLA's "terrorism".
When US diplomat Richard Holbrooke recently succeeded in getting Milosevic and Kosovan leader Ibrahim Rugova to the negotiating table, without any of the conditions previously set by Rugova, it was a US foreign policy victory; this led to the dropping of sanctions threats while Milosevic completed a job on the opposition inside Serbia and began the current wave of terror in Kosovo.
Since then, Rugova, seen by the west as a good "moderate", has lost support even among his close associates, and much of the Kosovan population has swung behind the KLA, hence upsetting the soup so carefully prepared by Holbrooke.
The Albanians need open borders to receive arms to defend themselves and recognition by the world of their underground institutions of an independent state. Western military intervention aims at completely blocking this off, and should be opposed.