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NATO SHOULD DISARM KLA BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE - A Soldier's View
- Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 14:54:22 -0400 (EDT)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 14:08:19 -0700
From: Sid Shniad <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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"
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
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
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