NATO’s number nonsense

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 125 – August 29, 2001

Originally published here.

 

Macedonia in NATO – NATO in Macedonia

Successive Macedonian governments officially argue that the country must become a member of NATO. Macedonia is heading for NATO membership. However, since Macedonia is not yet “mature” enough to be in NATO, NATO will be in Macedonia.

Macedonia has not had, or been allowed to have, an independent national security commission that could investigate various future options for the country. NATO membership is the only idea in Skopje. If there are sceptical security experts and defence intellectuals, they do not seem to speak out. The local NGOs vary in their enthusiasm; however, peace groups, women’s groups, etc who are not only sceptical but downright opposed to it have little influence. What NATO membership will cost, in money terms, in the next, say, twenty years is not analysed and there is no talk of a referendum &endash; but, of course, a lot of talk about democracy.

As they say nowadays in the emerging “democracies” in Eastern Europe: What is there to discuss? It is already in the air, we have no choice! We are told that if we don’t come along, other doors will be closed too!

So NATO membership for Macedonia is a Godfather’s offer you can’t refuse. The same goes, of course, for the deployment these days of NATO’s arms collectors. It’s a great spectacle but NATO will not disarm KLA/UCK/ONA/ANA or whatever acronym we use for the militarist, nationalist Albanians fighting allegedly and mistakenly with weapons to get some more rights.

 

NATO/KFOR’s utter failure as a disarmer in Kosovo

When I was in Macedonia a few weeks ago, I obtained a copy of something called the President’s Plan – officially “Plan and Program for Overcoming the Crisis in the Republic of Macedonia.” The first goal mentioned on page 1 is “to fully disarm and disband the terrorists”(the word used about the Albanians in KLA/NLA).

So this was “disarmament” and not, as it is now stated, “collection” of weapons. There is a world of difference.

We just have to wait a little while for the NATO/KFOR “disarmament” show to be repeated in Macedonia. The 30 days are already serialised by international media, press conferences held, “NATO is pleased and optimistic” with the Albanian deliveries. It’s pure public propaganda! Because:

In autumn 1999 Michael Jackson, not the pop star, but the NATO general who rolled into Kosovo, declared that the mighty KFOR/NATO had not only driven all Yugoslav forces out of Kosovo, it had also disarmed KLA which was comprised of at least 20,000 man under arms. This was only natural since UN Security Council Resolution 1244 states: “15. Demands that the KLA and other armed Kosovo Albanian groups end immediately all offensive actions and comply with the requirements for demilitarization as laid down by the head of the international security presence in consultation with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General;”

International leaders in Kosovo including the highest authority and then head of the UN mission Dr. Kouchner declared that KLA was disarmed and its insignia and uniforms prohibited; the organisation was considered illegal. He had also managed to persuade KLA leaders to benignly change uniforms and be transformed into the purely civilian KPC, the Kosovo Protection Corps.

KPC would operate under the leadership of Agim Ceku, presumably on UN payroll. He told me in an interview last year that he was a leading officer in the Croatian Army but left in 1995 after it had driven out 250,000 Croatian citizens of Serb nationality. He had “helped”, as he expressed it, UCK/KLA since it was formed in 1992 or 1993.

So, there are three possibilities. A) KLA was never disarmed and the statements to that effect were crystal clear deception of the international public who thought its tax money went to peace, disarmament and co-existence on Kosovo. B) NATO/KFOR’s 46,000 heavily armed soldiers did their best to control and disarm KLA/UCK of which 5,000 changed uniform and joined KPC, but failed miserably. C) KLA/UCK was actually disarmed at the time but then re-armed with or without the consent of NATO/KFOR and the UN.

If it was a deception, a free press should investigate why we were all deceived. If NATO was simply unable, its failure in Kosovo is larger than the failure of any UN mission in the Balkans. If so, there should be a public outcry and we ought to hear the same about NATO as we were told about the UN: that it is expensive, incompetent, corrupt and not able to fulfil its mandate. But while the media and commentators gladly denounce the United Nations, few dare voice criticism of NATO. It is as if NATO can make no mistake.

We know now that UCK/KLA went into Southern Serbia and began warfare from bases in the demilitarised zone between Serbia and Kosovo. That is, they passed through the United States sector. We know that it is UCK/KLA that has unilaterally started the war in Macedonia under the name of UCK or NLA, the National Liberation Army. No one who has been disarmed and disbanded can conduct two aggressions; no one who does not have the support of Western governments and acts in their national and geo-strategic interest would get away with that!

(In the streets of Pristina you can buy UCK symbols and badges and buy publications with UCK on the front and lists with the Serbs it killed.)

So it strongly as if UCK/KLA has been allowed, if not assisted, to open two new theatres of war. It is inconceivable that NATO, the world’s strongest alliance, and the UN which is the top authority in Kosovo should not have been able to control a force like UCK if they had wanted to.

In summary, NATO and some of its member states have no credibility as a disarmer. Their record in that field is pretty bad!

The strongest “peace”-keeping mission ever, with 46,000 much more heavily armed soldiers than the UN, has not been able to disarm some 10,000-15,000 KLA soldiers. Only a very naive person would believe that 3.500 or 5.000 NATO troops in Macedonia could do a better job. So why are they there? Because they are not meant to do a better job!

NATO this time does not even pretend to disarm KLA/NLA; it will only collect weapons voluntarily handed in by KLA/NLA fighters who will then be granted amnesty! Just ask yourself where such a deal has been concluded before with “armed thugs” (NATO’s words for KLA/NLA) who already control sizeable chunks of territories of a sovereign, recognised UN member state.

Furthermore, politicians from countries who run “Essential Harvest” have sought to prevent the Macedonian government from importing weapons and the Macedonian Army is required to withdraw from its positions.

To put it crudely: this means good-bye to the right to self-defence, to respect for the territorial integrity of a sovereign, recognised European state and good-bye to impartial mediation between conflicting parties. I believe it also means good-by to a stable and reasonably peaceful Macedonia.

 

 

The arms number game and a possible Danish connection

The Macedonian government’s official estimate of the number of KLA/NLA weapons is 60,000-80,000. KLA/NLA says it has 2,500. After two days in the country, NATO makes a new, non-negotiable, deal with KLA/NLA and announces that the number of arms to be collected will be 3,500 and that it is a credible figure that will help put Macedonia on the road to peace.

Jane’s Defence Weekly of August 29, Nr 9 refer to 2,500 NLA soldiers in Macedonia plus at least as many non-fighting supporters for logistics etc all of whom are assumed to possess arms. It adds that there are “also weapons hidden in arms caches. Some of these were procured in the aftermath of the crisis in Albania in 1997 when an estimated 575,000 small arms were stolen…” And then there is likely to be 1-2 weapons per family in what it calls the gun culture of the Balkans “which is particularly strong among ethnic Albanians.”

Given that NATO’s generals are competent, it’s hard to believe that they themselves believe any of what they say on this issue. But the figure is yet another Western slap in the face of the government.

CNN reports on August 25, 2001: “Danish General Gunnar Lange, the NATO commander in Skopje, did not release the weapons figure but said Operation Essential Harvest hoped to have about a third of the insurgents’ arms in hand by the end of next week.”

Ah, the NATO commander is Danish! But Denmark has contributed no troops to Essential Harvest? Well, my nasty mind tells me that there could be a pretty simple explanation:

The man who succeeded Kouchner as the highest authority in Kosovo is former Danish minister of defence, Hans Haekkerup. Under his guidance Denmark did not only support NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia politically and morally, it also dropped bombs. He spearheaded a remarkably activist security policy and developed very friendly relations with the Clinton administration. Haekkerup had held no international positions before. Sitting now in Pristina he could not possibly be without knowledge of military matters or the history of his mission and its entry ticket to the Kosovo province.

The KLA/NLA problem in Macedonia stems predominantly from Kosovo, from when NATO for all practical purposes became the Airforce of KLA. It is a spill-over of the failed UN/NATO missions there, or a deliberate ploy.

So, what could be more convenient for the UN Head of Mission than a friendly Danish general who can make it look as if KLA/NLA and its spill-over are minor problems? A Danish general who can fix the job in 30 days and cover up the ongoing UN/NATO deception which aims to support Albanian extremists – which his former boss (Haekkeup) has done nothing to change because, if he did, he would most likely lose his job?

Imagine that 3,300 weapons is all KLA/NLA has in Macedonia. Why on earth should they accept to make themselves defenceless at the day NATO is supposed to depart?

It is well-known that the Ministry of Interior has handed out thousands of weapons (some say 12.000) to Macedonians, among them former policemen. There are also local paramilitaries consisting of nationalist, hard-line Macedonians who have acquired weapons and prepare for future fights in their villages.

Is it likely, in the face of that that Albanians who have already risked their lives for their cause, should lay down all their weapons and voluntarily leave the places they have occupied?

On the other hand, can the Western diplomats and media find a single leading Macedonian politician or editor who personally believes that 3,300 is all the NLA has and that they will leave the occupied territories?

If the answer to these questions were “yes”, NATO’s mission might be a force for peace. However, this would mean a peace-making effort of a completely different sort, something like the UN’s UNPREDEP coupled with a much more competent OSCE and a series of non-governmental , conflict-mitigating and educational organisations. This would be an Essential Spring operation!

It would mean not only a harvest of the weapons but a sowing of the seeds of peace. This is obviously not what the US, NATO and the EU are really up to.

All the above does not make sense in the perspective of peace, reconciliation, co-existence and democracy.

But it does make non-sense.

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