'It's A Great Mistake To Intervene In A Civil War'
Former British Foreign Secretary And Head Of NATO Lord Carrington
On Why It Was Wrong To Intervene In Serbia's Civil War
'What We Did Made Things Very Much Worse'
"Nato strikes on Serbia caused, rather than prevented,
ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, says Nato's former Secretary-General and former UK
Foreign Secretary, Lord
said [in an article in The Daily Telegraph in March] that often, the wisest thing was to
do nothing... in the Saga interview, published on
Friday, Lord Carrington openly accuses Nato governments of
creating the mass exodus of Kosovo Albanians....
'I think the bombing did cause the ethnic cleansing.
What we did made things very much worse. I think it is a great mistake to intervene in a
civil war,'... Lord Carrington also criticised Britain for being 'a little bit selective'
about its condemnation of ethnic cleansing ... "
Ex-Nato chief criticises Kosovo Campaign
BBC Online, 26 August 1999
Former British Foreign Secretary and Secretary-General of NATO
".... it was impossible for Milosevic to accept the Rambouillet
[peace] agreement because what it asked him to do was allow Nato to use Serbia as a part of the Nato organisation. Sovereignty would have
been lost over it. He couldnt accept that.
I think what Nato did by bombing Serbia actually precipitated the exodus of the Kosovo
Albanians into Macedonia and Montenegro. I think the bombing did cause the ethnic
cleansing. Im not sticking up for the Serbs because I think they behaved badly
and extremely stupidly by removing the autonomy of Kosovo, given them by Tito, in the
first place. But I think what
we did made things very much worse and what we are
now faced with is a sort of ethnic cleansing in reverse. The
Serbs are now being cleared out [of Kosovo by the Albanians]. I think its a great mistake to
intervene in a civil war. I dont think [Milosevic] is
any more a war criminal than President Tudjman of Croatia who ethnically cleansed 200,000 Serbs out of Kyrenia [with
the secret help of the CIA]. Nobody kicked up a fuss
about that. I
think we are a little bit selective about our condemnation of ethnic cleansing, in
Africa as well as in Europe."
Lord Peter Carrington - British Defence Secretary (1970/74), British Foreign Secretary (1979/1982), Secretary General Of NATO (1984/1988)
Saga Magazine, September 1999
Blair's Chicago Delusion
"In 1999, the western powers used
military might to drive out Serb forces from Kosovo after Serbia had attempted to maintain
its domination in the disputed region, committing in the process what were widely
condemned as atrocities. The Serbs eviction
from Kosovo was hailed as a victory for justice and humanity. But there has been news in
the past week which casts a very different light on the passions of more than 10 years ago. We have been reminded of old truths, about unintended consequences, the vanity of human wishes,
the way that best-laid plans go wrong, and the danger
of taking sides in conflicts about which we may know little, or not enough. If one leader made
the case for armed intervention in Kosovo it was the British prime minister, Tony Blair. He gave famous expression to this
doctrine in his Chicago speech
of April 1999. 'This is a just war, based not on any
territorial ambitions but on values,' he said of the Nato action in Kosovo. 'We cannot let the evil of ethnic cleansing stand.'
Only last July Mr Blair visited Kosovo, to be greeted by several children who had been
named after him, as well as by Hashim Thaci, former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army
and now prime minister. He has lamented that 'Blairs own extraordinary energy and
considerable achievements are now being undervalued at home'. But his 'role in
Kosovos history will be recognised as an important example in a great legacy,' said
Mr Thaci. Another enthusiastic partisan at that time was US senator Joseph Lieberman, who
would be Al Gores running mate the following year. He went even further than Mr
Blair. The US 'and the Kosovo Liberation Army stand
for the same human values and principles', Mr Lieberman said. 'Fighting for the KLA is
fighting for human rights and American values.' Well,
not quite those rights and values, if the findings of a Council of Europe investigation
into organised crime in Kosovo are correct. The
investigators charge that Mr Thaci runs a 'mafia-like' criminal network. He stands accused
not only of 'violent control over the heroin and narcotics trade' but of trafficking in
human organs. In a particularly gruesome claim, it is said that
his forces killed Serbs and then sold their body parts. Back in the 1990s, the Balkans
seemed so easy, at least to Mr Blair, if not to everyone. The late Roy Jenkins, a sometime
Labour cabinet minister who then served as a European commissioner, had admired Mr Blair,
but came to regret what he called his Manichean tendency to view everything in black and
white. Anyone who has read A Journey, Mr Blairs memoir, will see what Lord Jenkins
meant. The former premier does interpret events in bald terms of right and wrong, with no
shades between. So did others who took sides in those Balkan conflicts,
among them correspondents who
covered the fighting, with what one of them later described ruefully as his
colleagues 'angry partisanship'. Of course it
was true that Milosevic was a tyrant, and that Serb forces at times acted with horrible
cruelty. But they were not alone, and ardent spirits such as Mr Blair and Mr Lieberman, in
their desire for moral clarity, forgot what an Oscar Wilde character says when asked for
'the truth plain and simple': the truth is rarely plain, and never simple. If anyone
should have known that it was Richard Holbrooke, the architect of the 1995 peace deal in
Bosnia, who died on
Monday after a lifetime as an American diplomatic trouble-shooter. In his memory, the
New York Times reprinted an article Mr Holbrooke had written in 1999 about the Balkans.
That piece reminds us of an infamous episode in the former Yugoslavia in 1993, when
Mostars ancient, world-famous bridge 'was brutally destroyed simply for sport'. So
it was and who destroyed the bridge? The Croats. Although Mr Holbrooke acknowledged
that, what he did not mention was that the Croats were later backed by his own country. Washington even turned a blind eye in 1995 when more than 200,000
ordinary Serbs were driven out of Krajina by Croat forces [secretly assisted by the CIA], in the largest single
act of ethnic cleansing that the whole dismal series of internecine wars would witness."
The perils of moral fervour in the Balkans
Financial Times, 16 December 2010
On This Page
Kosovo Conflict Was Ended
Did NATO Hand Kosovo To After Milosevic?
Full Text Of
The Saga Interview With Carrington
|Saga Magazine, September 1999|
Written By Douglas Keay
Former Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington tells Douglas Keay why it was wrong to interfere in a civil war
|Lord Carrington came in from the garden his brown
shoes caked with dried mud and settled into a comfy old armchair. A man- servant
appeared with coffee and biscuits. A grandfather clock in the large flag-stoned hall next
door chimed the hour. Now, what do you want to know? enquired the sixth Baron
Carrington of Bulcot Lodge with that twinkle in the eye that in its time has helped to
disarm more than one belligerent foreign negotiator.
It is difficult to know where to start when interviewing someone who served under six prime ministers, shared a house at school (Eton) with Humphrey Lyttelton, commanded a squadron of tanks in the war, was Defence Secretary in Ted Heaths government, achieved a schoolboy ambition to become Foreign Secretary only to resign dramatically three years later over the Falklands conflict was Secretary General of Nato in the 1980s, and who chaired a constitutional conference at the time when Yugoslavia was beginning to break up into separate warring factions. I spent about 18 months trying to sort that one out, and in the end the European Union made catastrophically stupid decisions like recognising Croatia and Slovenia, and then asking Bosnia whether it wanted independence when I told them it would lead to civil war.
Finally I decided there was nothing more I could do and Cy Vance and David Owen took over, and much the same thing happened to them. The United Nations came in with a force that was not allowed to use its weapons except in self-defence, which alienated everyone. The whole business in the Balkans has been mismanaged from the start. It was obvious it was going to blow up.
Lord Carrington is one of those increasingly rare people who, while being deadly serious, can also sense the ridiculous. He has a chuckly sense of humour. (This is the man who, when he and Margaret Thatcher were entertaining a VIP from overseas, had been known to scribble a note and slip it in front of the Prime Minister: The poor chaps come 600 miles, do let him say something, it read.)
Today he recalled three golden rules that a friend, now a field marshal, had been given many years ago by an instructor at the Military Staff College in Camberley: Never march on Moscow, never get involved in the Balkans, and never trust your luggage to the Royal Air Force.
But, to be totally serious for a moment, did Lord Carrington believe that Natos action in Kosovo in the past few months had been mistaken?
Well, to start with, it was impossible for Milosevic to accept the Rambouillet agreement because what it asked him to do was allow Nato to use Serbia as a part of the Nato organisation. Sovereignty would have been lost over it. He couldnt accept that.
I think what Nato did by bombing Serbia actually precipitated the exodus of the Kosovo Albanians into Macedonia and Montenegro. I think the bombing did cause the ethnic cleansing.
Im not sticking up for the Serbs because I think they behaved badly and extremely stupidly by removing the autonomy of Kosovo, given them by Tito, in the first place. But I think what we did made things very much worse and what we are now faced with is a sort of ethnic cleansing in reverse. The Serbs are now being cleared out. I think its a great mistake to intervene in a civil war.
Lord Carrington has no liking for President Milosevic but, again, he thinks it was wrong to brand him officially as a war criminal. I dont think he is any more a war criminal than President Tudjman of Croatia who ethnically cleansed 200,000 Serbs out of Kyrenia. Nobody kicked up a fuss about that. I think we are a little bit selective about our condemnation of ethnic cleansing, in Africa as well as in Europe.
It was clear that Lord Carringtons views on Kosovo differed somewhat from those of Tony Blairs Government and of William Hagues Opposition Conservative Party, which has broadly supported the Governments Balkans policy. But Lord Carrington has never been afraid of speaking his mind. (Among the many jobs he does nowadays for increasingly less pay is sit on the board of the Daily Telegraph. And I dont always go along with what it says!)
The obvious next question was what would he, former Defence Secretary, former Foreign Secretary, former Secretary General of Nato, have advocated in place of the policy adopted by the American and Western European governments?
I would have increased the number of UN observers in Kosovo and gone on negotiating with Milosevic. Removing the UN observers, as happened, gave a signal to the Serbs that they were going to be bombed. And, being a ruthless people, they took advantage of that and got rid of Albanians. If negotiations continued to fail and the Serbs continued to behave badly, you would then have had to declare war on them with ground troops as well as with bombardment.
But some have already argued that that could have led us to the brink of a third world war. Of course it wouldnt! Mark you, I think we ought to have tried harder to take the Russians with us, however difficult. If you were a Russian and had seen yourself as a superpower 10 years ago, astride the world with America, and then overnight you lose the superpower status and you get ignored by everybody and you are in a terrible mess economically, you become extremely resentful. I think we ought to have tried to clasp the Russians to our bosom much more than we did.
strikes on Serbia caused, rather than prevented, ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, says Nato's former Secretary-General and former UK Foreign Secretary,
Lord Carrington. 'I think what Nato did by bombing Serbia actually precipitated the exodus
of the Kosovo Albanians into Macedonia and Montenegro,' he told the magazine, published by
the over-50s holiday club Saga. Lord Carrington, who
was foreign secretary from 1979 to 1982 and Nato secretary-general from 1984 to 1988, was
critical of the alliance during Nato's bombing campaign. In an article in The Daily
Telegraph in March, he argued that air strikes would serve mainly to harden Serbian
resolve and undermine the integrity of Nato. He said that often, the wisest course is to
do nothing. But in the Saga interview, published on
Friday, Lord Carrington openly accuses Nato governments of creating the mass exodus of
Kosovo Albanians. 'I think the bombing did cause the ethnic cleansing. What we did made things very much worse. I
think it is a great mistake to intervene in a civil war,' he said. He also says he is not
standing up for the Serbs, who 'behaved badly and extremely stupidly' by removing Kosovo's
autonomy. The whole business in the Balkans had been mismanaged from the start,' he said.
'It was obvious it was going to blow up.' Lord
Carrington also criticised Britain for being 'a little bit selective' about its
condemnation of ethnic cleansing, in Africa as well as in Europe. 'I don't thing he
[President Milosevic] is any more a war criminal than President Tudjman of Croatia, who
ethnically cleansed 200,000 Serbs out of Krajina [secretly assisted by the CIA] . Nobody
kicked up a fuss about that,' he said."
Ex-Nato chief criticises Kosovo campaign
BBC Online, 26 August 1999
"For five hours in mid-August 2004, I
met with Slobodan Milosevic in
a cramped, improvised office, cluttered with papers and books, in a UN detention area
within the huge Dutch prison at Scheveningen, a seaside suburb of the Hague.... to chase
after Milosevic for pre-Dayton activities seems to me illogical and would, in some
substantive way, make all the negotiating partners complicit in the alleged crimes.
Moreover, if the ICTY wanted to go after Milosevic in
such a manner then fairness dictates that leaders from the top echalons on all sides
should be indicted for similar 'command responsibility' for identical crimes. They were
not. Milosevic asked me, 'Why did the US and Nato do this to us?' He was
genuinely puzzled. I have thought a lot about the
'whys' and ventured that in post-Cold War Europe no place remained for a large,
independent-minded, socialist state that resisted
globalization. He'd had
such ideas too, and fell silent, slowly nodding his head with a wry smile. 'We were too
good,' he said, and after a pause, 'and too independent.' I offered one further insight:
How could it be that western elites coalesced so early, so easily, upon a narrative for
Yugoslavia's civil war so at variance with known facts, and so
impermeable to correction? ... Ex post facto justice never makes sense. Milosevic may have been
guilty of somethingindeed, he probably wasbut
it wasn't genocide,
crimes against humanity or war crimes."
George Kenney, former US State Department desk officer for Yugoslavia who resigned over US policy in the Balkans in 1992
A Premature Death
Epolitics, 11 March 2006
! There Was No Genocide In Kosovo !
The Kosovo Conflict Was Ended
Through Deplomacy Not Bombing
"NATOs obsession with its strategy of hope was tried once before in 1999,
with the bombing of Serbia and the breakaway province of Kosovo. A myth that the 78-day
bombing campaign persuaded Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw his forces from
Kosovo continues to grow despite overwhelming facts to the contrary. Before that war
and contributing to its start the international community gathered in
Rambouillet, France, and, on March 18, 1999, produced an accord that spelled out a peace
plan to deal with the armed insurrection by the Kosovo Liberation Army (designated at the
time by the CIA as a terrorist organization). Unfortunately but intentionally the accord contained two
poison pills that Mr. Milosevic could never accept, making war or at least the allied
bombing of a sovereign state inevitable. The first pill demanded that NATO have freedom of movement throughout the
entire land, sea and airspace of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In other
words, NATO would have the right
to park its tanks around Mr. Milosevics downtown office in Belgrade. The other pill
required that a referendum be held within three years to determine the will of those
citizens living in Kosovo regarding independence. The fact that Kosovos population
was overwhelmingly Albanian Muslim guaranteed that the outcome of any such referendum
would be a vote for independence and the loss of the Serbian nations historic heart.
Mr. Milosevic refused to sign the accord, and NATO began
bombing Serbia on March 24, 1999, without a Security Council resolution, citing a
'humanitarian emergency' a decision still widely challenged by many international
legal scholars. NATO said it would take only a few
days of bombing to persuade Mr. Milosevic to withdraw his forces from Kosovo. As the weeks
dragged on, NATOs strategy of hope appeared to be in serious trouble. Its aircraft,
incapable of destroying to any significant degree the Serbian militarys personnel
and equipment, had turned to bombing fixed
infrastructure: bridges, roads, factories, refineries, TV stations. As in all wars conducted from thousands of feet above the target,
mistakes were made and civilians were killed. In one town I visited during the campaign, a
medical clinic and a 10-storey apartment building had been demolished, with no
'legitimate' targets anywhere to be seen. With no
indication that Mr. Milosevic was going to give in, diplomacy was given a long overdue
chance. Led by
Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin, Mr. Milosevic was told that, if he withdrew from Kosovo, the
two poison pills would be removed from the Rambouillet accord. Within days, Mr. Milosevic
agreed. Myth buster: Diplomacy, not bombing, played the key
role in bringing a punitive bombing campaign based on hope to an end."
Major-general Lewis MacKenzie, the first commander of UN peacekeeping forces in Sarajevo
NATOs Libya 'hope' strategy is bombing
Globe and Mail (Canada), 10 June 2011
So Who Did NATO Hand Kosovo To After
'Kosovo's Bitter Harvest'
"The Parliamentary Assembly was
extremely concerned to learn of the revelations of the former Prosecutor at the
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), who alleged that serious
crimes had been committed during the conflict in Kosovo, including
trafficking in human organs, crimes which had gone
unpunished hitherto and had not been the subject of any serious investigation. In
addition, according to the former Prosecutor, these
acts had been committed by members of the 'Kosovo Liberation Army' (KLA) militia against
Serbian nationals who had remained in Kosovo at the end of the armed conflict and been
taken prisoner. According to the information gathered by the Assembly and to the criminal
investigations now under way, numerous concrete and convergent indications confirm that
some Serbians and some Albanian Kosovars were held prisoner in secret places of detention
under KLA control in northern Albania and were subjected to inhuman and degrading
treatment, before ultimately disappearing. Numerous indications seem to confirm that,
during the period immediately after the end of the armed conflict, before international
forces had really been able to take control of the region and re-establish a semblance of
law and order, organs were removed from some prisoners at a clinic in Albanian territory,
near FushŰ-KrujŰ, to be taken abroad for transplantation. This criminal activity, which developed with the benefit of the
chaos prevailing in the region, at the initiative of certain
KLA militia leaders linked to organised crime, has continued, albeit in other forms, until today, as demonstrated by an investigation being carried out by
the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) relating to the Medicus clinic in
Pristina....During the decisive phase of the armed
conflict, NATO took action in the form of air strikes, while land operations were conducted by the KLA,
de facto allies of the international forces. Following the departure of the Serbian authorities, the international
bodies responsible for security in Kosovo very much relied on the political forces in
power in Kosovo, most of them former KLA leaders. ....
to establish the facts of the Kosovo conflict and punish the attendant war crimes had
primarily been concentrated in one direction [i.e. against Serbia], based on an implicit
presumption that one side were the victims and the other side the perpetrators. As we
shall see, the reality seems to have been more complex..... The NATO intervention had
essentially taken the form of an aerial campaign, with bombing in Kosovo and in Serbia
operations thought by some to have infringed international law, as they were not
authorised by the UN Security Council while on the ground NATOs de facto ally
was the KLA. Thus, during the critical period that is the
focus of our inquiry, the KLA had effective control over an expansive territorial area,
encompassing Kosovo as well as some of the border regions in the north of Albania. KLA
control should not be understood as a structured exercise of power, and it was certainly
far from assuming the contours of a state. It was in the course of this critical period
that numerous crimes were committed both against Serbs who had stayed in the region and
against Kosovar Albanians suspected of having been 'traitors' or 'collaborators', or who
fell victim to internal rivalries within the KLA. These crimes have largely gone
unpunished and it is only years later that a rather diffident start has been made in
dealing with them..... During the period of the NATO aerial
bombardment, which lasted several weeks, perhaps the principal shift in the balance of
power in Kosovo occurred as a result of the influx of foreigners into the region, in both
overt and implicit support of the KLA cause. Unable to gain access directly to the
territory of Kosovo, most of this foreign support was channelled through Albania. ....In confidential reports spanning
more than a decade, agencies dedicated to combating drug smuggling in at least five
countries have named Hashim Thaši and other members of his Drenica Group as having exerted violent control
over the trade in heroin and other narcotics
Thaqi was commonly identified, and cited in secret intelligence reports, as the
most dangerous of the KLAs 'criminal bosses'. Several further known members of Thaqis 'Drenica Group' have been
indicated to us in the course of our research to have played vital roles as
co-conspirators in various categories of criminal activity.... Everything leads us to believe
that all of these men would have been convicted of serious crimes and would by now be
serving lengthy prison sentences, but for two shocking
dynamics that have consolidated their impunity: first, they appear to have succeeded in
eliminating, or intimidating into silence, the majority of the potential and actual
witnesses against them (both enemies and erstwhile allies), using violence, threats,
blackmail, and protection rackets; and second, faltering political will on the part of the
international community to effectively prosecute the former leaders of the KLA. This also seems to have allowed Thaqi and by extension the other
members of the 'Drenica Group' to exploit their position in order to accrue personal
wealth totally out of proportion with their declared activities. Thaqi and these other
'Drenica Group' members are consistently named as 'key players' in intelligence reports on
Kosovos mafia-like structures of organised crime. I have examined these diverse, voluminous reports with consternation and a
sense of moral outrage. What is particularly confounding is
that all of the international community in Kosovo from the Governments of the
United States and other allied Western powers, to the EU-backed justice authorities
undoubtedly possess the same, overwhelming documentation of the full extent of the Drenica
Groups crimes, but none seems prepared to react in the face of such a situation and
to hold the perpetrators to account..... the
withdrawal of the Serb security forces from Kosovo had ceded into the hands of various KLA
splinter groups, including Thaqis 'Drenica Group', effectively unfettered control of
an expanded territorial area in which to carry out various forms of smuggling and
trafficking. KFOR and UNMIK were incapable of
administering Kosovos law enforcement, movement of peoples, or border control, in the aftermath of the NATO bombardment in 1999. KLA factions and splinter groups that had control of distinct areas of
Kosovo (villages, stretches of road, sometimes even individual buildings) were able to run
organised criminal enterprises almost at will, including in disposing of the trophies of
their perceived victory over the Serbs. ....The
practical dimension of the trafficking enterprise was relatively simple. Captives brought
as far as the FushŰ-KrujŰ area (which entailed an arduous drive of several hours onwards
from Rripe or Burrel) were first held in the 'safe house' facility. The proprietor of this
property was an ethnic Albanian who allegedly shared both clan ties and organised criminal
connections with members of the 'Drenica Group'. As and when the transplant surgeons were
confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the
'safe house' individually, summarily executed by a
KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to
the operating clinic."
Rapporteur: Mr Dick Marty, Switzerland, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo - Draft Report
Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Council of Europe, 12 December 2010
|From The Web Site Of Investigative Journalist Ed Caesar|
Times Magazine, 12 June 2011, P43 - 51
"Did the Kosovo Liberation Army murder Serb prisoners for their organs at this remote farmhouse in 1999? As the accusations fly, Ed Caesar follows the bloody trail of a new organ-trafficking scandal that leads right to the door of the Kosovan prime minister..... This farmhouse, the so-called 'Yellow House' in northern Albania, was allegedly used by the KLA as a detention centre for Serb prisoners who were killed for their organs."
|The Full Text Of This Landmark Article
Is Available On The Personal
Web Site Of Ed Caesar
The Journalist Who Wrote It For The Sunday Times.
In 2010, he won both the Amnesty International Media Award and the One World Media Award for Congo: The Horror - an investigation for GQ into Britain's arms-length complicity in war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Such is the nature of Caesar's reporting that has been asked by Kevin Costner whether he is 'anxious to die'.
Kosovo's Bitter Harvest
"...the so-called 'Medicus case' in which dozens of poor, young people from Moldova, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Russia and Turkey were allegedly lured to Pristina in 2008 with fraudulent promises of riches, only to have their kidneys harvested and transplanted into affluent donors has become so much more than an isolated tale of murky dealings in a European backwater. It has acted as a scalpel incision into the body politic of Kosovo.
The investigation has laid bare a country whose organs of state have rotted: a place where murder, corruption, drug smuggling and, yes, trafficking in human tissue, have been sanctioned and even ordered by the western-backed government. As new testimony will show, these crimes appear to go to the very top of Kosovos political system to Hashim Thaši, the prime minister.
The allegations against Pristinas ruling elite are dispiriting for any number of reasons. The modern state of Kosovo has only existed since 2008, and is, perhaps, the only country founded in recent history in order to protect human rights. Most significantly for Britain, its leaders have been promoted by the Western powers that supported the Kosovan Albanians as they faced the threat of ethnic cleansing by the Serbian nationalist Slobadan Milosevic. In short, we gave Thacis cabal the keys to the kingdom, and we must share some of the blame for their venal grip on power......
Did we attack the Serbs from the moral high ground? Certainly, that was the official line. At the start of Natos bombing campaign in 1999, Tony Blair made his famous speech in Chicago, in which he laid out his motives. 'This is a just war,' he said, 'based not on any territorial ambitions but on values. We cannot let the evil of ethnic cleansing stand. We must not rest until it is reversed. We have learned twice before in this century that appeasement does not work. If we let an evil dictator range unchallenged, we will have to spill infinitely more blood and treasure to stop him later.'
After 74 days of Nato battery, Milosevic capitulated. In 2008, after another 9 years of international protection, Kosovo became a fully-fledged state, albeit with a European 'Rule-of-Law mission' (Eulex) to oversee the administration of justice. In 2011, Kosovo is a halting democracy, riven with organised crime. Its citizens are, on average, the poorest in Europe, with an average income of $2800, and its unemployment levels are between 40 and 50 per cent. But, thanks to the intervention of Nato, Kosovo is an independent nation. To this day, meeting a child with a first name of Tonyblair, or Billclinton, or even, Wesleyclark the general who directed the allied campaign against the Serbs is not uncommon.
Only recently, however, has a clearer picture emerged of exactly who Nato supported during and after the war against Yugoslavia. In 1999, America and its allies may have viewed the KLA as 'freedom fighters' but as late as 1998, the US had considered them a proscribed terrorist organisation with links to Islamist militias in the Middle East.
The leadership and raison detre of the KLA, it is safe to say, did not change markedly between these dates, but making peace sometimes means making dangerous friends. And, when Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State at the time of the 1999 conflict, embraced Thaci a tall, dark-haired commander in the KLA known as The Snake, who was selected from a crop of possible leaders, and whose political party, the PDK, continues to rule Kosovo she must have known it was a pact with the devil.
Dick Marty, for one, is in no doubt about the deal Albright struck. In December, the Swiss politician published a Council of Europe report into human-rights abuses in Kosovo. At times, the report which is short on detail, and full of unnamed sources reads like a grisly airport novel. In it, Marty accuses Thaši not only of heinous war crimes against Serbs during 1999, but of subsequently orchestrating a campaign of political murder and of controlling Kosovos criminal enterprises, including its heroin trade.
Most provocatively, Marty contends that in 1999, Serb prisoners were killed for their organs in KLA detention centres in Albania. These allegations were first aired by the former Hague prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, in her 2008 memoir, which focused on the so-called 'Yellow House' detention centre near the northern Albanian town of Burrel, where transplants were said to have taken place. In her memoir, Del Ponte argued that her attempts to investigate the 1999 organ-trafficking allegations had been 'blocked' at some level.
Marty took Del Ponte's story up a notch. His report repeated the allegation that Serb prisoners-of-war had had been killed for their organs in KLA detention centres in Northern Albania. His implication was that their kidneys were then transported overseas during a chaotic conflict via notoriously bad roads, and flown to international recipients and that Thaci and his cronies somehow benefitted from this racket. He also claimed there was a link between the 1999 organ-trafficking scheme and the current investigation into the Medicus clinic. But so far, no witnesses or incontrovertible evidence has been produced to reinforce these claims. Marty has also delivered none of his material on this matter to Eulex, because he is concerned about 'witness protection.'....
The Medicus case, however, is sensational enough on its own. Since the UN codified Kosovos health law in 2004, it has been illegal to perform any kind of transplant there. There is no serious medical infrastructure in Kosovo to support such operations. The international law-makers at the UN also predicted the countrys attractiveness to the huge global 'grey market' in illegal organ transfers, and therefore felt an outright ban would make the most sense.
And yet it now seems clear that in 2008 dozens of transplants took place, with the blessing of senior politicians, as part of a criminal racket to defraud poor foreigners of their money and kidneys. Jonathan Ratel, a British-Canadian EU prosecutor, read an indictment before a Pristina court late last year, charging a motley international crew of conspiring in organ-trafficking. The trial will take place later this summer, under the auspices of Eulex. The Kosovans involved include Ilir Rrecaj, a former permanent secretary of health, who is accused of abusing office to issue a false transplant licence, and Lutfi Dervishi, a well-connected urologist who owned the clinic. An Israeli named Moshe Harel is accused of running the ring and providing payments to a cabal of surgeons, mostly Turkish, led by Yusuf Ercin Sonmez.
Earlier this year, I met Sonmez in a plush Istanbul restaurant overlooking the gunmetal Sea of Marmara. A sinewy man with a bald head, a thin goatee and long, dexterous fingers, he has, by his own admission, been arrested 'more than 10 times' over his surgical practices. In Turkey, Sonmez is known as 'Doctor Vulture' after a series of collisions with the law. But, gorging on kebabs and red wine, he seems unruffled by his reputation or his hunted status. 'Martys big mistake,' he tells me, 'was to mix up something that happened 10 or 12 years ago with something that happened in our time.'
Sonmez is bluffing.....
Why does any of this matter to Thašis government? Because it issued the clinic's licence. In one telling statement near the bottom of the indictment, the prime ministers feet come perilously close to the flames. It reads: 'Dr Dervishi had meetings with the minister of health, the adviser to the prime minister and Rrecaj about this issue [the issuing of the licence].' The 'adviser' in question is unnamed in the indictment because nobody has been stupid enough to finger Shaip Muja, Thašis special adviser on health. Nevertheless, Muja will be called as a witness at the trial and may yet be indicted.
So why would the prime minister of the newest country in Europe allow a senior adviser to become embroiled in such a mucky business? And in what kind of a democracy could the prime ministers brush with such a scandal fail to produce any resignations or political fallout?
The explanation, says Florin Krasniqi, a former Brooklyn-based fundraiser and weapons dealer for the KLA, who is now a politician for a minority Kosovan party, is that Kosovos government has become a 'mafia' enterprise.
The Medicus case is a prime example of how the system works. In Kosovo, says Krasniqi, power is used to generate money and more power. And the system is feudal the greatest benefits accrue at the top of the pyramid.
'For example,' he says, 'every business now makes a payment for protection. There isnt a public tender that goes out without some form of payment. Its got really bad. They pay money to the PDK [Thašis party]. It used to be 10%. Now its 30%.'
Organised crime has always been rife in Kosovo. But Krasniqi claims that Thašis party now takes a cut from the myriad smuggling enterprises run by crime networks. 'Nothing moves without his say-so, or his brothers. Nothing! There is no way that you can smuggle a truck of goods from Macedonia into Kosovo without him and his gang taking a cut. He is the head of the mafia in Kosovo. Literally, the capo di tutti capi.'
This view of Thaši is not new: in a secret, leaked Nato report produced in around 2004 by KFor, the international stabilisation army that entered Kosovo after the war, Thaši was named as one of the 'biggest fish' in organised crime in the country.
Less reported, and perhaps more shocking, is the way that Thaši has asserted his power through his intelligence agency. During and after the war, the PDK employed its own ruthless secret service, K-Shik (National Intelligence Service of Kosovo) to carry out its political will.
In a farmhouse half an hour from Pristina, I meet Nazim Bllaca, a former assassin for K-Shik....
Having enterered his sitting room by a stairway covered with black canvas to deter snipers, Bllaca describes how, at the end of the war, he became a K-Shik assassin. They paid him a salary equivalent to around 200 a month. For that sum, he was ordered to 'kill traitors and political opponents'. Bllaca only admits to personally carrying out one murder that of a prominent political figure, Ibush Kllokoqi, in August 1999. But he 'prepared the ground' for many others, and witnessed a campaign to systematically liquidate his political masters opponents, particularly those from the rival Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) party of the former president, Ibrahim Rugova.
Bllaca says every murder he committed or assisted was executed on the direct orders of his superior, Azem Syla, who is still a senior figure in the PDK and close to Thaši. He explains the power structure within K-Shik, which included Syla, Kadri Veseli (its nominal leader), Fatmir Limaj (a close associate of Thaši who was acquitted of war crimes by the Hague tribunal in 2005 in a trial marred by the intimidation of witnesses, and who is currently under investigation on new war crimes and corruption charges), and Xhavit Haliti a shadowy figure with links to both the Albanian secret service and (it was rumoured) Serbian intelligence, who has great influence over Thaši. 'As far as I understood it at the time,' Bllaca says, 'Haliti and Thaši were the closest people to Syla.'
Bllaca has discussed his role in political killings before, most notably in a sensational YouTube jaccuse against his former bosses in 2009. However, much of what he tells me is brand new, and reinforced by other sources. For instance, Bllaca admits to having threatened three witnesses at the Hague war crimes trial of Limaj in 2003 and 2004.
Bllacas motives are far from simple. He has, he admits, fallen out with his former cronies 'in the way,' he says, 'that criminal organisations often fall apart'....
In any country, at any time, these would be extraordinary allegations. But in Kosovo, in 2011, they are electrifying. This is still not a country in which it is safe to speak truth to power. There is a strong clan system, and a tradition of omerta that surrounds crimes committed by powerful men particularly those committed during the fight against the Serbs. Indeed, when I visited Pristina, a town mayor, Blerim Kuqi, was arrested and jailed because he refused to give evidence to a new war crimes trial featuring Limaj.
What makes Bllacas testimony even more pertinent for the West is that K-Shik was supported at the time of the war by western intelligence agencies.
'From about 1997, America, Britain and France got involved with trying to sort out the KLAs intelligence services,' says Dr Steven Meyer, a former CIA analyst in the region, and a former deputy director of the US Interagency Balkan Task Force. 'I think we realised [after the war] that it wasnt a good idea. The partys intelligence services were so much stronger than the states. They have a domestic political role and are often a law unto themselves.'
K-Shik is the most powerful of those party services. Although it was formally disbanded in 2008, many I spoke to in Kosovo said the organisation still exists and is stronger than ever. Indeed, K-Shik appears to control public life in Kosovo, including appointments to public companies and political posts, and the smuggling of contraband. It runs a profitable enterprise, and has both the motive and the method to make whistleblowers hold their tongues.
However, in the hills above the Drenica valley, Thašis rural heartland, I find another man who is willing to tell his story. Ymer Ymeri says that, during the 1999 war, he was imprisoned for two months in a cell two metres by three metres with as many as 17 other men in the northern Albanian town of Kukes. His fellow prisoners were all Kosovan, and all supporters of the 'wrong' political party, the LDK. Ymeri was, he says, tortured repeatedly. The man who imprisoned him was Sabit Geci, a PDK stalwart currently on trial for war crimes including torture and murder at detention facilities in Kukes. In the immediate aftermath of the war, Ymeris brother was murdered for his political views......
How much did America and Britain know about Thaši and his associates before they threw their weight behind them? Almost everything, it seems. Before the Nato bombing in 1999, when Albright invited Thaši to the Rambouillet negotiations between Serb and Albanian delegations in France, it was clear what kind of a leader he could be.
'Thaši was chosen because he was very big in the KLA,' says Meyer. 'And we had essentially become their military allies. He could produce on a military front. But the other reason was that he could get things done politically. Hes attractive, and hes smooth. He tells the Brits and the Americans what they want to hear about cleaning things up, about rights for the Serbian minority in Kosovo. Its amazing how our diplomats fall for what they want to hear.' It would not have been prudent, says Meyer, to ask too many questions.
'A major stream of funding for these guys was always criminal activity, but the US and Britain turned a blind eye to that,' he says. Meyer says he believes that both Tony Blair and Bill Clinton knew about the criminal connection.
The level of continued US support for Thaši, however, remains surprising. In Kosovos parliamentary elections in December, the PDK and Thaši were narrowly returned. The poll was marred by what one international observer called 'industrial-scale fraud'. Indeed, in some regions, the PDK received enthusiastic support from dead people (some of whom voted a number of times). You might have thought that the US ambassador would have wanted to distance himself from this process, yet he appears to have played an advisory role to the PDK candidate in the subsequent presidential elections....
Even if the Medicus case exposes serious wrongdoing at the highest levels, it seems unlikely it will dent Thašis power. He is, it appears, bulletproof. As Ardian Arifaj, a former newspaper editor in Pristina, tells me, 'People dont believe in justice any more in Kosovo. They dont expect anyone to act on new allegations. Its a corrupt justice system, and people dont believe that politicians feel accountable. And that is the case. Everyone who was named in the Marty report will run for office again. The worst thing is that no one is surprised.'
"In an exclusive interview for AFP,
Del Ponte said she is working on two investigations of ethnic Albanians accused of war
crimes in Kosovo during the 1998-99 war but that she
had run into problems because of the reluctance of the international community.... The
prosecutor did not want to specify which countries or organisations were hesitant about
the inquiries. The office of the prosecutor is
currently investigating two cases involving ethnic Albanian members of the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army which
fought a guerrilla war against Serb security forces from Belgrade. So far only three
ethnic Albanians have been indicted by the UN war crimes court for crimes committed
against Serb civilians in Kosovo."
Del Ponte slams Belgrade and international community
AFP, 16 February 2004
of Kosovos most prominent politicians, a close ally of Prime
Minister Hashim Thaci, went on trial on Friday in a war
crimes case marred by the apparent suicide of the key witness. Fatmir Limaj was a senior
figure in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which fought to throw off rule by Slobodan Milosevics
Serbia. The war culminated in NATO air strikes in 1999 against Serbia to halt the killing and expulsion of
Kosovos ethnic Albanian majority. Limaj and nine other Kosovo Albanian ex-fighters
are charged with murder, torture and human rights violations. All pleaded not-guilty on Friday. The case is the most high profile yet to
be tried in Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008 with the backing of
the major Western powers but continues to be overseen by NATO and the European Union.
Observers say the case highlights the culture of intimidation that has long hampered the
justice system in the impoverished country of 1.7 million people, where clan loyalties are
paramount and KLA veterans are revered as heroes. Much
of the prosecution case, compiled by an EU prosecutor, rests on the testimony of former
KLA prison guard Agim Zogaj, or Witness X before he was found dead in Germany in
September, hanging from a tree in a park. German
authorities say Zogaj killed himself. His family are less certain, and say he faced
constant threat. Zogaj had only agreed to testify in
June 2009 after gunmen attacked his home in Kosovo and he was wounded. An EU mission overseeing policing and justice in Kosovo, known as EULEX,
sent him to Germany as a protected witness. Political analyst Krenar Gashi said it was a
surprise a witness had even come forward against Limaj, who, he said, 'has widespread and
powerful political support.' 'Generally, theres absolute denial that former KLA
members could have committed war crimes,' Gashi told Reuters."
Powerful ex-rebel faces Kosovo war crimes trial
Reuters, 11 November 2011
"According to Albanian and U.S.
sources, during the spring of 2008 - after a former U.N. war crimes prosecutor, Carla Del
Ponte of Switzerland, published a memoir that mentioned these killings and reported
credible assertions of organ harvesting - senior U.S. diplomats in Kosovo advised Thaci
and other Kosovo leaders to do nothing except wait out the storm. Kosovo's and Albania's
governments have since issued only blanket denials of wrongdoing. Marty's report
does not attack Kosovo's legitimacy. Many, if not most, Albanians know this but are too
terrified to say so in public. This is in part because corruption
and violence are so prevalent in Kosovo and in part
because Thaci and other leaders have condemned the report as an assault on Kosovo's sovereignty, the Albanian people and the KLA's legacy. On Christmas Day, Kosovo's press reported a threat by Thaci to
name every Albanian who assisted Marty. In a land where witnesses to crimes are killed to
silence them, Thaci's words could incite attacks on members of minority groups, political
opponents, journalists and foreigners."
Chuck Sudetic - former analyst for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
U.S. must seek the truth about wrongdoing in Kosovo
Washington Post, 8 January 2011
Dark Legacy In Kosovo
"Shortly after the 1997 general election, a senior civil servant pressed the new Prime Minister to have developments in Kosovo included in his weekly round-up of political issues. 'Fine,' replied Tony Blair. 'Youd better give me a full note on it. Starting with: where is it?' Many prime ministers begin their term of office with little knowledge of foreign affairs, and less interest. It does not take long for this to change. By 1999 Mr Blair was the leading Western voice on Kosovo.
"Five months ago, Tony Blair travelled to Kosovo at the
invitation of the countrys prime minister, his friend Hashim
Thaci, to receive the Golden Medal of Freedom. Mr Thaci has
often lavished praise on Mr Blair
for playing the leading role in liberating Kosovo from Serbian rule in 1999.
Our former prime minister has some very bizarre friends. A new report from the respected Council of Europe accuses Mr Thaci of
overseeing a mafia-like organised crime ring in the late Nineties, which
engaged in assassinations, beatings, human organ trafficking and other serious crimes. The report, which took two years to compile, names Mr Thaci as having
exerted violent control over the heroin trade in Kosovo during the last
decade. Figures from his inner circle are accused of taking scores of Serbs captives
across the border after the war with Serbia ended in 1999, where a number of them were
murdered for their kidneys, which were sold on the black market. In short, the prime
minister of Kosovo is painted by the report as a major war criminal presiding over a
corrupt and dysfunctional state, which ş happens to have been propped up by Western
including British aid. ..... The
U.S.-British legal case for invading Iraq was as feeble as it had been in the case of
Kosovo. Incidentally, the extremely unpleasant
Hashim Thaci wrote an article in The Guardian newspaper praising Mr Blair to the skies as
recently as September. The delusion that the Kosovo
Liberation Army were really not such bad chaps
persists on the Left.... It is richly ironic that
liberated Kosovo should now be a failed, gangster
state, with its prime minister, Hashim Thaci, identified by
as authoritative a body as the Council of Europe as being directly or indirectly
responsible for organ trafficking, as well as corruption and
other misbehaviour on an epic scale."
Steven Glover - Mr Blair has some very bizarre friends. But a monster who traded in human body parts beats the lot
Daily Mail, 16 December 2010
"No one should be surprised that Hashim Thaši, the Prime Minister of
Kosovo, has been described as 'the Boss'of a criminal network that dealt in heroin and
human organs. In 1999 I saw how he and
other Kosovo Liberation Army leaders ran Pristina as their personal fiefdom. As the
commanding officer of 1 Para, which was charged by Nato with bringing order to Pristina, I
witnessed elements of the KLA rampaging like a victorious mob intent on retribution
against the beleaguered and evidently defenceless Serbian minority. The violence meted out
by the KLA shocked even the most hardened of paratroopers. The systematic murder of Serbs,
who were often shot in front of their families, was commonplace. After nightfall, gangs of
KLA thugs wielding AK47s, knuckledusters and knives terrified residents of Serbian
apartment blocks. Many Serbs fled and their homes were taken by the KLA. In the early days
of the operation, we were authorised to be firm; we arrested KLA men and confiscated their
weapons. But this was stopped by Nato
leaders who were ignorant of the ethnic dynamics of the region and who preferred to see
the civil war in black and white, not shades of grey. The Blair Governments spin machine wanted moral simplicity. We were, after all, a 'liberating force'; the Serbs were the 'bad guys', so that must make the Kosovo
Albanians the 'good guys'. The tough line
was dropped and the KLA commanders and their numerous bodyguards were allowed to re-arm. Prostitution and drug and people trafficking increased as
the KLAs grip on Pristina tightened....
In June 1999, just before he fled with his family to Belgrade, a Serbian professor at
Pristina University told me: 'You must understand that for us the KLA is like the IRA is
to you.' That Kosovo is an impoverished,
corrupt and ethnically polarised backwater is testament to Natos unwillingness to control KLA gangsters."
Brigadier Paul Gibson - Commander of 1 Para on Nato operations in Kosovo
Nato stopped us from controlling Kosovo's gangsters
London Times, 16 December 2010, Print Edition P28
governments knew all along that top politicians in Kosovo were involved in organ
trafficking and organized crime, the council of Europe's special human rights alleged
Saturday. 'Western countries knew all the time what
was happening in Kosovo but nobody did anything about it,' Dick Marty said in an interview
published in the Slovenian daily Delo. Last month, Marty published a 27-page report
that outlined alleged abductions, disappearances,
executions, organ trafficking and other serious crimes coordinated by Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and other
leading Kosovo politicians. In the report, Marty
alleged that a group linked to Thaci -- a former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army or
KLA -- killed Serb prisoners held in special detention camps in Albania to extract organs
and sell them on the international black market in the 1990s. Thaci's name had been
appearing for years in intelligence and diplomatic reports from Kosovo sent by the FBI,
MI6 and other western agencies, 'but the western politicians persistently remained quiet,'
Marty said. Thaci has denied the allegations and threatened to sue Marty for libel. The EU
has sent a special mission, called EULEX, to Kosovo to enforce the rule of law there and
supervise Pristina's police, customs and judiciary."
West knew about organ trafficking by Kosovo politicians, report says
Agence France Presse, 13 February 2011
"The organ-trafficking allegations
were first made in a 2008 book written by Carla Del Ponte, former chief prosecutor of the
UNs Yugoslav war-crimes tribunal, and Chuck Sudetic, who worked as an investigator
at the tribunal. He now says that, in its current form, EULEX cannot handle such a
sensitive investigation, because it has neither an adequate witness-protection programme
nor enough security for its IT systems. It also uses local translators who are susceptible
to threats or pressure on their families. As if all
this were not bad enough, the Guardian, a British newspaper, reported alleged leaked
intelligence documents from KFOR, the NATO force in Kosovo, from around 2004, claiming
that Mr Thaci was one of the three biggest fish in organised
crime in the region. According to the documents Xhavit Haliti, a bigwig in Kosovos
politics, was the power behind Mr Thaci. They also suggest
that Mr Haliti was involved in prostitution, weapons and
drugs smuggling. Mr Haliti has been linked to the 1997 murder
in Albania of Ali Uka, a journalist who criticised the Kosovo Liberation Army, in which
both Mr Thaci and Mr Haliti were leading lights. The
report says that Mr Uka was brutally disfigured with a bottle and a screwdriver. His
roommate at the time was Mr Thaci."
A bad week
Economist, 27 January 2011
"How much did America and Britain know
about Thaši and his associates before they threw their weight behind them? Almost everything, it seems."
Kosovo's Bitter Harvest
Sunday Times Magazine, 12 June 2011, P43 - 51
natural law publishing