Below is a guest-article by Dr. Richard Jansen of Colorado State University. It is a condensed account of the immense and tragic policy failure that comprises United States policy towards the Balkans. A fuller version is available at Dr. Jansen’s website.
Our Misguided Policy in the Balkans
by Richard Jansen
July 26, 2008
Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia on February 17 this year with the backing of the United States.
Kosovo’s new Constitution took effect on June16, nine years almost to the day that the Kosovo war ended with UN resolution 1244. President Bush will welcome President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci of the Republic of Kosovo to the White House on July 21, 2008. According to an announcement from the White House: “The President looks forward to meeting with President Sejdiu and Prime Minister Thaci during their first visit to the United States as leaders of an independent Kosovo. The visit will provide an opportunity for the President to discuss with President Sejdiu and Prime Minister Thaci his strong support for the efforts of the Kosovo Government to build a democratic, prosperous, multiethnic state with institutions that serve all of Kosovo’s citizens”
As reported by Yahoo News on July 17 His Grace ARTEMIJE, Bishop of Ras and Prizren, and pastor of Orthodox Christians in the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija issued the following statement: “On July 21, President George W. Bush is scheduled to meet with Hashim Thaci, styled by some ‘Prime Minister’ of the separatist Albanian Muslim administration in the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija. As pastor of the Orthodox Christian people of Kosovo, I protest to the fullest possible degree the fact that President Bush would bring dishonor on his office and sully the good name of the American nation by receiving such an infamous terrorist, war criminal, and organized crime chieftain.” This is not good news. The Serbian Parliament is set to reject Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence and Russia has signaled that it will support Belgrade on this issue.
Yugoslavia — put together after the carnage of WWI — started to break up in 1990 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Slovenia left Yugoslavia easily but for Croatia and Bosnia it was a different story.
Croatia had been a Fascist state allied to Germany during World War II. Many Serbs had been killed by Croatians at that time and these matters had by no means been forgotten. Franjo Tudjman had become President on a tide of Croatian nationalism and Milosevic had been elected on a tide of Serbian nationalism. The two dictators wanted, respectively, a greater Croatia or a greater Serbia. Milosevic and Tudjman met in March 1991 and Tudjman proposed a division of Bosnia between them to avoid conflict. This and other negotiations failed and Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia as it was currently constituted. A brutal war resulted with much killing and burning of houses on both sides with ethnic cleansing part of the war from the beginning. A UN brokered cease-fire occurred on January 2, 1992 with United States recognition coming in April of that year.
The independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina was recognized by the European community on April 6, 1992, in spite of the fact that the referendum in Bosnia on independence had been opposed and boycotted by the Bosnian Serbs who comprised one-third of the population. In addition, the arbitration commission authorized by the European Community had recommended against independence since its requirement that all ethnic groups support independence had not been met. The Bosnian government, led by Alije Izetbegovića, was essentially Muslim in nature. For the next three years it fought wars with both Croatia and Serbia. A variety of peace plans were developed, the most prominent of which was the Vance-Owen proposal. This plan essentially provided for a three-way division of Bosnia that reflected the warring ethnic groups: Croatian, Serbian and Muslim. The plan was not acceptable to the warring sides and was rejected.
Hostilities ended between Croatia and the Bosnian government in March 1994 with the establishment of a loose Bosnian-Croatian Federation, which has not yet to this day coalesced into a workable Federation.
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One outcome of the peace agreement was the influx of arms into Bosnia though Croatia for the use of the Bosnian government in fighting the Serbs. This was done with the tacit approval of the United States. The war with Serbia continued until United States intervention using air power brought Milosevic, Tudjman and Izetbegovića to the negotiating table in Dayton Ohio.
Here, under prodding from the United States the Dayton Peace Accord was signed which divided Bosnia in two halves, not completely severed, but not a unified government with real authority either. The two halves are the Bosnian-Croatian Federation with 51% of the territory and Republika Srpska with 49%. Since that time little if any progress has been made to unify Bosnia under one government and it is generally believed that if the UN peacekeepers were to leave war would break out again.
Following Dayton a strong Albanian Muslim insurgency developed in Kosovo seeking independence from Serbia and resulting in a civil war. Because of Serbian atrocities and for humanitarian reasons, the United States again intervened on behalf of the Muslim insurgency, and after 73 days of bombing the infrastructure of Serbia was seriously damaged. The war ended with an agreement between NATO and Yugoslavia on June 10, 1999, formalized by UN resolution 1244.
It is unfortunate that the situation in the Balkans has apparently not been considered by the Bush Administration to be part of the war on terror, i.e. the global Islamic jihad. Rather it is held apart as a separate diplomatic issue to be resolved by diplomacy.
Historically, the Balkans has always been understood to be a “tinder box” of religious and political tensions since at least the 1878 Congress of Berlin. The Balkans is an area of southeastern Europe where Islam had made its greatest advances against Christendom and where both Catholic and Orthodox Christianity came in direct contact and conflict with Islam. It is where Christian boys were taken away from their parents and made into the Janissaries, i.e. Islamic warriors for the Ottoman Empire.
The late Alije Izetbegovića, the President of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992, called for independence for Bosnia-Herzegovina leading to the Bosnia war. In 1970 in his Islamic Declaration he had written this: “The exhaustive definition of the Islamic Order is: the unity of religion and law, education and force, ideals and interests, spiritual society and State. The Muslim does not exist at all as an independent individual… There can be no peace or coexistence between Islamic faith and non-Islamic faith and institutions. The Islamic movement must and can take power as soon as it is morally and numerically strong enough not only to destroy the non-Islamic power but to build up the Islamic one.”
It is clear that Europe and the United States blithely ignored clear evidence of what was likely to happen in Bosnia. In his recent book entitled Islamic Terror and the Balkans, the historian Shaul Shay provides some much needed attention to the Balkans as a conduit for the spread of the Islamic jihad into Europe. After the collapse of Yugoslavia, Izetbegovića visited Tehran to expand and solidify relationships with Iran and to pursue his goal of an Islamic Bosnia. In response Iran promised a large amount of economic aid and military aid as well.
The Clinton administration approved the shipment of arms from Iran into Bosnia. Bin Laden and Zawahiri and their organizations in 1992 started to build an infrastructure to penetrate the Balkans and to establish jihadist training camps there. Shortly after, Bin Laden personally visited Bosnia and Albania to examine these terror networks. The Dayton Accords of December, 1995 stipulated that the Islamic Mujahadin must leave Bosnia but this did not happen.
In 1995 twenty-five radical Islamic organizations met to plan expanded jihadist activities in the Balkans. Also on the agenda was planning enhanced ways to penetrate Europe and turn Europe the dar al harb, i.e. the world of war, into Europe the dar al Islam or the world of Islam. Two of the 9/11 hijackers had links to Al Qaeda in the Balkans. After 9/11 there resulted an escalation of Islamic attacks against Serbs in Kosovo, southern Serbia and Macedonia, increased activity of the Albanian National Army (ANA) in Kosovo and Macedonia, and an escalation of violence in Bosnia-Herzegovina., As reported by Shay, Islamic charities in the Balkans, from Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Arab states, have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars as well as military equipment and supplies to jihadist organizations in the Balkans.
We are starting to pay the price for the military interventions of NATO in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990’s. UN resolution 1244 passed by the Security Council June 10, 1999 called for “substantial autonomy and meaningful self administration” for Kosovo, not independence. No one believes that Kosovo can survive as a separate country. Resolution 1244 also guaranteed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia including Kosovo. It also called for the return of all refugees to Kosovo. This has not happened and indeed more than half if not two thirds of the Christian Serbs living in Kosovo prior to 1999 have been ethnically purged.
Shaul Shay, referenced above, has this to say about Kosovo’s independence: “In the eyes of the radical Islamic circles, the establishment of an independent Islamic territory including Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania along the Adriatic Coast, is one of the most prominent achievements of Islam since the siege of Vienna in 1683. Islamic penetration into Europe through the Balkans is one of the main achievements of Islam in the twentieth century.”
Hopefully the United States will soon start to realize that the Islamic jihad in the Balkans in general and in Kosovo in particular is very much an integral part of the worldwide Islamic movement.
More information may be found here.