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      Op-Ed: Phony Kosovo 'Independence'

      Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 6:09 PM
      Debunking the myths about Kosovo.


      We are inundated with misinformation about Kosovo "independence." Case in point: “Kosovo Declares Its Independence From Serbia,” in the February 18 New York Times. It needs a warning label: "This article is harmful to the truth."

      The Times says Kosovo Albanians had “a long and bloody struggle for national self-determination,” suggesting a people distinct from Albanians in Albania, acting independently. But the Times also describes celebrating
      The Times also describes celebrating Kosovo Albanians waving not "Kosovar," but US and Albanian flags.
      Kosovo Albanians waving not "Kosovar," but US and Albanian flags: “The distinctive two-headed eagle of the red and black Albanian flag, reviled by Serbs, was everywhere Sunday, held by revelers, draped on horses, flapping out of car windows and hanging outside homes and storefronts across the territory.”

      This supports the charge that "independence" is part of a US (and German and Vatican) strategy of absorbing Serbia's province of Kosovo into a Greater Albania, previously existing only under World War II Axis patronage.

      The Times says "independence" is a response to Serbian repression of autonomy (e.g., of the Albanian language) motivated by “Serbs’ enormous sense of grievance that their ancestral heartland was now dominated by Muslim Albanians.” So, nationalism compounded by religious hatred.

      This is wrong on two counts. First, Yugoslavia’s constitution was modified in 1989 to limit political separatism, not Kosovo’s cultural autonomy.  There was no repression of the Albanian language.  Second, regarding Islam, I posted 13 New York Times articles published from 1981 to 1987 describing events leading up to the constitutional change. None mentions "Muslims" or "Islam." But searching the articles you will find the relevant use of words such as "rape" five times; "murder," thrice; "vandalize," once; "mutilate," once; "kill," twice; "attack" on people or property, five times; "burn," twice; "damage," five times - concerning Serbs who “have been harassed by Albanians and have packed up and left the region.” In every case: secessionist-organized Albanians attacking Serbs.

      "Drive" appears twice, concerning not cars, but Serbian fear that fascists are trying to drive them out. Now why would theSerbs think that?
       
      "Ethnic cleansing" appears first in 1982, describing the secessionist movement’s program "to establish what they call an ethnically clean Albanian republic and then the merger with Albania to form a greater Albania.”
       
      The Serbs were not repressing Islam; they were resisting racist violence. As for the secessionist organizers, if they were inciting hatred of Christianity – rather than anti-Serb racism – then why did they leave Catholic churches alone? And why did they attack not only Serbs but anti-racist Albanians, including Muslims, as they attack Serbs?
       
      The Pope - is he a Muslim? - gave Kosovo Albanian secessionist leader Ibrahim Rugova a medal in 1993. This had a big effect on Catholic Europe, just like the pope's endorsement of Yasser Arafat. (The PLO got its own Vatican office in 1994.)

      A related myth is that motivated by anti-Muslim hate, Serbs drove Albanians from Kosovo in 1999, provoking NATO bombing. But a) Albanian flight began a week after the onset of bombing, so how could it have caused the bombing? And b) Albanian flight was instigated by the NATO-controlled Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) for Western audiences by terrorizing Albanians into leaving. Yugoslavia tried to organize Albanians to stay and oppose the KLA, but KLA terror prevailed, and so the pro-NATO media could broadcast what seemed to be Albanians fleeing the Serbs.

      In 1999 and 2000 my website interviewed Cedomir Prlincevic, president of the Jewish community and chief archivist in Pristina, Kosovo. In the first interview, Cedomir described how the KLA marched into Pristina alongside NATO troops, who refused to intervene as the KLA attacked Yugoslav loyalists (Serb, Albanian, Roma, Jewish, Slavic Muslim). Obviously, the KLA was a NATO proxy force.

      In the second interview, Cedomir explained that before NATO bombed Serbia in 1999, it reorganized the KLA - whose leaders run today’s Kosovo "government" - under NATO command. I asked whether ethnic Albanians in Pristina, an intellectual center, were pro-KLA when NATO bombed. Here’s his reply, shortened:

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      Cedomir Prlincevic: Not at first, but later even in Pristina the Albanians were sucked into the secessionist camp. This could happen because of certain cultural traits, deeply rooted in their history. An example: my Albanian neighbor was a professor, very much integrated into Yugoslav life. Without warning he packed up and started to leave Kosovo. I said, "Why are you leaving, neighbor?" He said, “I have to." I said, "Why? We're safe here. Nobody's bothering you.” And he said, "I was ordered to leave."

      Jared Israel: Who ordered him to leave?

      Obviously, the KLA was a NATO proxy force.

      Prlincevic: The leader of his clan.

      Israel: Why?

      Prlincevic: To prove obedience to the KLA. This was the KLA's national plan. All loyal Albanians were to leave during the bombing and go to Albania or Macedonia to show the world how terrible the Serbs were; this exodus was staged; it was a performance, Hollywood in Kosovo. What is Hollywood without actors? A large number of Albanians had to perform, had to actually leave Kosovo. This was not so different from what they had been doing for ten years, you see, pretending they had been locked out of the schools when actually it was an organized boycott, and so on.

      Moreover, once they were in the refugee camps, the Albanians would be under the direct leadership of the KLA, which could intensively indoctrinate them.

      Israel: But why would his clan leader agree to this crazy plan?

      Prlincevic: You think it was crazy? This gets us to the heart of the matter. Between the attacks from the KLA on Albanians who cooperated with the Yugoslav government and the continuous bombing by NATO, especially of Albanians who disobeyed the KLA, the KLA had gotten their message across to the clan leaders. So now the clan leaders ordered their people to pack up and leave.

      Israel: During the bombing, NATO said the Albanians were fleeing atrocities. Western opponents of NATO said they were fleeing the bombing. But you’re saying we were wrong.

      Prlincevic: The bombing isn't a sufficient explanation. If they were just fleeing bombs, why did they have to go to Albania and Macedonia? Why not inner Serbia?

      But the bombing did play an important role. The KLA served as [plane] spotters; they could direct NATO [bombing raid] attacks against hostile Albanians [that is, who were resisting the KLA orders to leave or who were going to inner Serbia or returning home - JI] and this confirmed for the clan leaders that the KLA had serious power. It was psychological warfare, intended to reinforce the psychological crisis among Albanians, a crisis rooted in fear.

      The KLA and NATO were telling Albanians: NATO supports the KLA. After NATO takes over, the KLA will be in charge and if you don't leave now you will be in big trouble later. There will be no safe refuge.

      That's what I meant when I said you need to know something about Albanian culture in order to understand why Albanians left. You have to know about blood feud. One book has a great hold over Albanians. It's called the Canon of Leke Dukagjiniis. It's a 15th-century text. It goes into great detail on how to carry out blood feuds, when and whom it is proper to kill. Rules and regulations.

      This is an intensely tradition-oriented culture. Blood feud is a constant threat for Albanians. Thousands in Albania and Kosovo cannot leave their houses because they are being hunted. It is for this reason that Kosovo Albanian
      "You need to know something about Albanian culture in order to understand..."
      houses are often built surrounded by high walls and with gun slits instead of windows.

      By methodically killing those who refused to support them, the KLA was striking a deep fear among Albanians: the refusal of one clan member to obey could lead to revenge against his entire clan. And now the KLA had NATO bombers to enforce blood feud.

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      My conclusion? The first target of Western-fostered Kosovo "independence" has been independent-minded Kosovo Albanians.