Explain the Kosovo Conflict and state NATO's aim towards it.

  • Isa Ansari answered Jan. 20, 2018, 12:21 p.m. at

    Novice 34 likes | 17 answers

Kosovo was the last of the former Yugoslavian groups to declare its independence. This lesson details the journey of the Kosovars to independence, including the threat of ground troops by NATO.

Kosovo in Serbia

Located in the southern part of Yugoslavia, Kosovo was one part of that country that could never really be considered completely on board with the central idea of Yugoslavia, in that it was a homeland for all southern Slavs. This was simple because the Kosovars, as the predominant ethnic group of people living in Kosovo are called, weren't Slavic. In reality, they were Albanians, but the differences ran deeper.

Technically part of the Federal Republic of Serbia, a division of Yugoslavia, the region was majority Muslim, whereas Serbia is overwhelmingly Orthodox. While seeming paradoxical, the reason was one of convenience. Serbia considered Kosovo to be part of its historical homeland, and viewed the region's Albanian-Muslim population as a mere remnant of the Ottoman Empire's occupation centuries earlier.

However, as nearly 95% of the population of Kosovo was Albanian-Muslim, those people had by now also become culturally tied to the land. As such, Kosovo soon received special treatment within the Yugoslav government, being treated instead as an autonomous province, but still a part of Serbia. For the short term, that kept both sides relatively quiet. While under the rule of Josip Tito, the ruler of Yugoslavia for much of the Cold War, this was not a major issue. After all, Tito worked to give the Kosovars special privileges, such as the fact that they essentially governed themselves.

However, with the rise of Slobodan Miloševi, a Serbian nationalist, as the leader of Yugoslavia, other Federal Republics began to declare their independence, such as Croatia and Bosnia. Kosovo largely kept quiet during this, as it was viewed that a peaceful solution could still emerge. As part of his efforts to present a strong Serbia, Miloševi began to limit the rights of Kosovars, especially with regards to self-government.

Moves Towards Independence

With his defeat in those conflicts, however, Miloševi had no inclination towards peace. A group known as the Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA, began actions for Kosovar independence, with some of these actions involving armed conflict with Serbian forces. Within time, Kosovar civilians were among those in the body count, leading to a Western condemnation of Serbian actions. All the while, the Serbs pushed 250,000 ethnic Albanian Kosovars off their land, with some 30,000 out freezing with no shelter in the forests of the country as winter approached. This was one of the first instances of ethnic cleansing, or the removal of all but a given ethnic group, in the Kosovo War, but was by no means the last.

..............................................Let's move forward............

For a number of years the Serbian government had removed the rights of Kosovo Albanians and carried out organised harassment of the Albanian population. This was met for years with passive resistance. In 1996 violence began to be used occasionally against the Serb police and armed forces. From the spring of 1998 the Serbian government had been struggling to quell an ever more widespread armed uprising by the KLA which  took the form of continued attacks on military and police and armed attempts to expel Serbs from Kosovo. They were clearing the Drenica valley of Serb families, many of which had lived there for generations.

The KLA carried out abductions, beatings, and murders of Serbs. The Serbs responses to attacks were not focused on finding the guilty individuals. This would have been difficult when much of the Kosovo Albanian population was in sympathy with the aims of the KLA, and those who were not were frightened of reprisals from the KLA if they took sides with the Serbs. 

The Serbs therefore operated on the basis of counter-terror. Their forces would come into an area suspected of harbouring the KLA. They shelled villages, fought with the KLA, and took away or shot the men. 

KLA attacks became bolder and began to move to the towns.

An exceptional incident occurred on 24 June 1998 when the KLA captured the Belacevac coal mine which was an important source of fuel for the Serbian national grid. It was recaptured by Serbs five days later.

By the middle of 1998 the KLA controlled one third of Kosovo. The Serbs fought back with a violence which was greater than that of the KLA and were condemned by the United Nations for their actions. 

The KLA had been supported in their action by the United States. Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy to Yugoslavia had even allowed himself to be photographed sitting next to a masked KLA gun man holding a Kalashnikov. This photograph, published in newspapers around the world, sent a clear signal about whose side the US was on.  This year (2000) there have been admissions that the CIA trained members of the KLA. Details were published in The Sunday Times on 12 March 2000.

Better than violence  -  the war could have been avoided

If the Americans had condemned KLA violence, and taken action to stop the supply of weapons over the Albanian border, there would have been greater likelihood of a settlement. And this might have encompassed a multi-ethnic community with autonomy for Kosovo within Yugoslavia. (NATO forces were in northern Albania in 1998 already in place to hinder or assist the KLA programme of violence.)

Mediation could have taken place. Talking is the only alternative to violence. The abuse of Kosovo Albanians by Serbs in Kosovo had to end. And there had to be genuine freedoms and democracy for Kosovo Albanians. At the same time there should have been safeguards for the freedoms and democratic involvement of the quarter of a million Serbs in Kosovo and other minority ethnic groups. 

If proper steps had been taken to deal with the issues rather than the encouragement of violence then  the present disaster would have been avoided. 

The ending of KLA attacks would have ended Serb reprisals.  Bombing would not have taken place. Ethnic tensions would not have escalated to new heights. Peaceful negotiation  was the only proper course of action that should have been taken.

Sourced from     Study.com     Britanica Learning. 

Collected and Arranged By: Isa

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asked on Jan 20, 2018 at 11:59

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