By James George Jatras
Abraham Lincoln was fond of asking the rhetorical question: “If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? Five? No, calling a tail a leg don’t make it a leg.”
That pretty much sums up the recent unilateral declaration of independence by Albanian Muslims in the Serbian province of Kosovo. Several countries, disgracefully led by the United States, have recognized Kosovo. Major media have hailed creation of the “world’s newest country.” But calling Kosovo a country doesn’t make it one.
Serbia has denounced the move as the illegal creation of a “separatist entity” on its sovereign territory and has handed down criminal indictments against several of the top Albanian Muslim leaders. Now under way is a sharp global competition to see which governments will recognize Kosovo and which will not. Under heavy pressure from the U.S. State Department, most European countries will meekly comply. Some, like Cyprus with its Turkish-occupied north and Spain with its Basque separatist movement, will not.
In short, an action State Department bureaucrats touted as “settling Kosovo’s status” has resulted in anything but. Outside of Europe, the picture is even fuzzier. Russia will reject Kosovo’s independence, and expected to take the same line are China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil and many others. Russia will veto any effort to extend Kosovo membership in the United Nations.
Any sovereign state with restive ethnic or religious minorities would recognize Kosovo at its own peril. What Washington seeks to inflict on Serbia today could be the fate of the American southwest tomorrow. Israel, in particular, is closely pondering its next move. While loath to anger Washington, Jerusalem must consider that a Kosovo precedent could, absent any negotiated agreement, prompt proclamation of a Palestinian state, to be recognized by Arab and Muslim regimes. The same precedent could apply to heavily Muslim areas such as Galilee and the Negev within Israel’s formal borders.
At a special press briefing, outgoing Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns – who is often mentioned as a possible secretary of state under a Democratic administration – hailed support for Kosovo from the Organization of the Islamic Conference and Muslim governments. Happily claiming that a “vastly majority Muslim state” has been carved out of Serbia, a European Christian country, Burns said: “We think it is a very positive step that this Muslim state, Muslim majority state, has been created today.”
Burns’ remarks reflect a desperate hope by the Bush administration that displays of American pro-Islamic favoritism in the Balkans and support for a Palestinian state (its domination by Hamas notwithstanding) will buy the good will of hostile devotees of the “religion of peace and tolerance.” Their gratitude is manifest in the jihad terror plot to attack Fort Dix, N.J., where four of the six defendants are Albanian Muslims from the Kosovo region. The offenders’ presence in the United States – three of them illegal aliens and one brought to the U.S. by the Clinton administration as a refugee, another example of “gratitude” – stems from the fact that a broadly based support network for the terrorist “Kosovo Liberation Army,” KLA, has been allowed to operate with impunity in the New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania area, raising funds and collecting weapons, not to mention peddling influence with American politicians.
Meanwhile, Christian Serbs in Kosovo are bracing for the worst. “We are all expecting something difficult and horrible,” said Bishop Artemije, pastor of Kosovo’s Orthodox Christians. “Our message to you, all Serbs in Kosovo, is to remain in your homes and around your monasteries, regardless of what God allows or our enemies do.”
The bishop’s flock has good reason to fear. Far from the usual claims that NATO stopped a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo in 1999, the past nine years have seen a slow-motion genocide in progress against the province’s Christian Serbian population under the nose of the U.N. and NATO, and at times with their facilitation. Two-thirds of the Serbian population already has been expelled and have not been able to return safely to their homes, along with similar proportions of other groups (Roma, Gorani, Croats and all the Jews). Over 150 churches and monasteries have been destroyed, with crosses and icons of Christ attracting particular vandalistic rage, a testament to Kosovo Albanians’ supposed secularism and pro-Western orientation.
Hundreds of new Saudi-funded mosques fomenting the extreme Wahhabi doctrine have sprung up. Kosovo is visibly morphing from part of Europe into part of the Middle East. In contrast to Under Secretary Burns’ cheerleading, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton has warned: “Kosovo will be a weak state susceptible to radical Islamist influence from outside the region, with the support from some Albanians, in other words, a potential gate for radicalism to enter Europe.” If allowed to consolidate, an independent Kosovo would become a way station toward an anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Christian “Eurabia.”
Around the world, jihad terror usually goes hand-in-hand with organized crime. Kosovo is the perfect case in point. The supposed authorities of the would-be state are themselves kingpins in the Albanians Mafia, whose network extends throughout Europe and has a significant presence in New York City. Besides all the international aid dumped down the Kosovo rat hole, or carted off by corrupt officials, the only real “industry” is crime: drugs (heroin from Afghan opium), slaves (kidnapped women and children from Moldova, Ukraine and other countries brought in for local “service” – there are lot of lonely international bureaucrats in Kosovo – or shipped off into Europe), and weapons (the missile that hit the U.S. Embassy in Athens in 2006 and the explosives used in the London and Madrid train bombings came through Kosovo).
What will happen now in Kosovo? It would be up to the KLA and their supporters to decide whether to kick off a new cycle of violence by attacking Serbs who refuse to submit to their “authority.” Serbia in fact has been beefing up its legitimate state institutions in areas where Serbs are concentrated, which the Albanians have threatened to shut down as – believe it or not – illegal separatist structures. We will see if the political violence unleashed by the act of recognition will be matched by physical violence on the ground. Meanwhile, Serbia will undertake undisclosed countermeasures to undermine the illegally declared KLA- and Mafia-ruled entity and force resumption of negotiations to achieve a valid settlement. Let us hope they succeed.
With a stoke of his pen, President Bush, by heeding the State Department’s bad advice to recognize a supposedly independent Kosovo, has triggered the perfect international storm: shattering the principle of the territorial integrity of sovereign nations, encouraging violent separatists worldwide, provoking a needless confrontation with Russia and other countries, boosting the jihad terrorist and organized crime threat to Europe and America, and creating conditions for a human rights and religious freedom nightmare. In terms of far-reaching consequences, it may the worst blunder of his presidency. Which is saying a lot.
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James George Jatras is director of the American Council for Kosovo, publisher of “Hiding Genocide in Kosovo: A Crime against God and Humanity” by Iseult Henry, a current member of the international mission in Kosovo. Jatras previously served as a policy analyst for the U.S. Senate Republican leadership and as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer.