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NATO SHOULD DISARM KLA BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE - A Soldier's View

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 14:08:19 -0700
From: Sid Shniad <shniad@sfu.ca>
Subject: NATO SHOULD DISARM KLA BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE - A Soldier's View

THE VANCOUVER SUN                       JUNE 12, 1999 

A Soldier's View

NATO SHOULD DISARM KLA BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE

        The commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army has 
        shown bloodthirstiness against civilians in the past.

        By Lewis Mackenzie

        A funny thing happened between the 4th and 5th of June. A 
subtle but extremely significant change occurred in describing the 
Kosovo Liberation Army's obligations following any ceasefire.
        The Rambouillet accord, signed by the KLA-led Kosovo 
Albanian delegation in March clearly stated the KLA would be 
disarmed once there was a ceasefire. The precise term was often 
repeated and reinforced by all the key NATO leaders and their 
representatives during the first 70 days of the bombing campaign.
        During the June 5-6 weekend, members of the U.S. executive 
branch, starting with Defence Secretary William Cohen, started to 
the use the term "demilitarize" rather than "disarm" to describe the 
KLA's postwar future.
        This change in the language of the Rambouillet accord is highly 
significant, particularly to the international peacekeepers, including 
Canadians, entering Kosovo.
        Disarming means just that  handing over all your weapons 
with the possible exception of sidearms, a concession the United 
Nations authorized when the UN forces were ordered to disarm 
the Serbs and Croats within the three UN-protected areas in 
occupied Croatia in 1992.
        Demilitarization merely requires the KLA to give up its 
military structure, take off uniforms and, in accordance with the 
UN Security Council resolution of June 10, turn in their "heavy" 
weapons.
        For the most part, the KLA does not have big guns such as 
tanks, artillery and anti-aircraft missiles. Its weapons of choice due 
to the nature of its operations, are assault and sniper rifles and 
grenade launchers. It can now keep those.
        Its few heavy weapons would have been moved by now away 
from NATO's prying eyes, across the border into Albania, where 
the KLA has its training camps.
        The KLA has been conducting a war of secession against 
Yugoslav security forces for a number of years. Belgrade's 
heavy-handed response to the KLA's activities had the effect of 
increasing its following, and its sophistication.
        During NATO's bombing campaign, the KLA was in frequent 
contact with NATO headquarters, coordinating its efforts on the 
ground with NATO air strikes. This contact became even more 
reliable in the latter stages of the war as "liaison teams" from some 
allied countries married up with the KLA and assisted with the 
coordination.
        I must say I was more than a little disappointed to hear Jim 
Wright, the credible and persuasive spokesman for our foreign 
affairs department, state just a few days ago that, "We [NATO] 
have no contact with the KLA." Let's face it, this was not the case.
        Numerous western reporters were filmed standing with KLA 
members as they spoke directly with the NATO operations centre 
and, in one quite bizarre incident, with U.S. Secretary of State 
Madeleine Albright herself.
        I assume the decision to allow the KLA to keep its weapons is 
a payback for its help on the ground.
        Not a good idea.
        The KLA has stated publicly and repeatedly that its political 
objective is nothing short of independence for Kosovo and ul-
timately a Greater Albania. The fact that it has softened its lan-
guage over the past few days should convince no one that it has 
changed its mind. The group will continue to recruit, train and 
otherwise prepare for an independent Kosovo and it will maintain 
a number of camps in Albania.
        Its chief of staff, a retired officer from the Croatian army was 
the same officer who masterminded the 1993 Medak offensive in 
Croatia that saw Canadian soldiers using deadly force to stop 
horrendous atrocities against Serb civilians.
        This officer also ordered the overrunning of lightly armed UN 
outposts, in blatant contravention of international law. His 
influence within the KLA does not augur well for its trustwor-
thiness during Kosovo's political evolution.
        A practical solution to the continuing threat posed by the KLA 
would be the sealing of the border between Kosovo and Albania. 
The best national contingent of peacekeepers to take on this task 
would be the one from Russia.
        Using the Russians to look after the small number of Serbs 
who will remain in Kosovo will only perpetuate the separation of 
the Albanian and Serb communities.
        Western peacekeepers can look after the Serbs. Let the 
Russians keep the KLA in line. 


Major-General Lewis MacKenzie, now retired, commanded UN 
troops during the siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian civil war of 
1992.



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