Balkans, Kosovo näkökulmani

Järjestäytyneen rikollisuuden kaappaamassa Kosovossa mahdolliset muutosvaalit

Kosovossa pidetään ennenaikaiset parlamenttivaalit 6.10.2019 ja ne muodostavat tilaisuuden äänestäjille tilaisuuden vapautua rikollisjärjestöjen luomasta hallinnostaan. Olen aiemmissa kirjoituksissani kuvannut tätä aiempaa Serbian provinssia ja vuonna 2008 itsenäistynyttä maata näennäisitsenäiseksi pseudovaltioksi jolla on hyvät mahdollisuudet tulla seuraava epäonnistunut tai kaapattu valtio. Tämä toki puolueellinen näkemykseni näyttää toteutuneen sillä slovenialaisen IFIMES instituutin tuoreen vaalianalyysin mukaan uuden hallituksen keskeisin tehtävä on pysäyttää kaikkiin kosovolaisen yhteiskunnan segmentteihin ulottuvat negatiiviset trendit. Analyysin mukaan hallitukset 19 vuoden ajan edistäneet korruptiota, rikosta ja nepotismia miljardien eurojen tukien samalla hävitessä jäljettömiin. IFIMESin mukaan Kosovo kiireellisesti tarvitsee politiikan dekriminalisaatiota.

Mielipidetiedustelujen mukaan Kosovon vanhat hallituspuolueet ovat menettämässä kannatuspohjaansa erityisesti nuorten vaatiessa järjestäytynyttä rikollisuutta edustavien heimokuntien/puoleiden tilalle vielä ryvettyvättömiä vaihtoehtoja. Itselläni on epäilyksiä muutosvoiman riittävyydestä pitkään juurtuneiden rakenteiden muuttamiseksi mutta toivotan kuitenkin yritykselle onnea.

Kosovon vaaleja ja järjestäytyneen rikollisuuden politiikkaa hallitsevasta roolista olen pääblogissani julkaissut allaolevan laajemman artikkelin

Kosovars Desperately Try to Escape from their Captured OC State

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Uncategorized

Pari huomiota Eurostatin turvapaikkatilastosta

Virallisilta Eurostatin sivuilta löysin kiinnostavan allaolevan tilaston – First time asylum applicants in the EU-28 by citizenship, Q2 2014 – Q2 2015 – joka saattaisi yllättää niitä jotka luulevat nykyisessä pakolaiskriisissä kyseen olevan vain Syyriasta.

First_time_asylum_applicants_in_the_EU-28_by_citizenship,_Q2_2014_–_Q2_2015

Kiinnostava yksityiskohta on myös se, että viimeisen vuoden aikana EU:iin tuli Kosovosta neljä kertaa enemmän turvapaikan hakijoita kuin Ukrainasta, jossa samaan aikaan on ollut kuitenkin jonkinasteinen sisällisota päällä. Tosin Eurostatin tilastot eivät sisällä niitä ukrainalaisia jotka ovat paenneet Venäjälle – joidenkin arvioiden mukaan yli miljoona henkilöä sisältäen mm 90500 ukrainalaisorpoa.

infografik-fluechtlinge-aus (3)Toinenkin seikka saattaa kiinnostaa.  Monet EU-maat syyttävät Unkaria tämän kovasta linjasta pakolaiskriisissä.  Kuitenkin Unkari aloitti aitahankkeensa ja rajamiehityksen vahvistamisen jo kuluvan vuoden alussa kun Kosovon albaanien exodus EU:iin oli voimissaan. (Tästä enemmän kirjoituksessani  The Mass Exodus of Kosovo Albanians ) . 

Mitä puolestaan Syyriaan tulee niin tällä hetkellä sieltä on pakolaisia Venäjällä 12000 joista 2000 on saanut jo oleskeluluvan. Venäjä on myös valmistautunut siihen että noin 100 000 kirkissialaista, joiden esi-isät karkoitettiin Venäjältä 150 vuotta sitten,  saattaisi olla palaamassa  Syyriasta takaisin.

Kun nykyisin EU:n taholta on suosittua syyttää Venäjää eri ongelmista niin mielestäni kannattaisi ottaa huomioon tämänkin pakolaiskriisin aiheuttajana olleen länsimaiden hyökkäykset Afganistaniin ja Irakiin sekä Syyrian osalta länsimaiden tuki al-Assadin nykyhallintoa vastustaville ryhmille, joista Daesh (ISIS) on ehkä kaikkein brutaalein ja akuutein ihmisiä pakosalle ajava voima.

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Balkan

Albaanien exodus Kosovosta käynnistynyt (taas)

“Kosovo, alles Scheiße. Serbien, auch Scheiße. Deutschland, das ist gut. Da kann man arbeiten, fünf Euro die Stunde, egal ob schwarz oder nicht, es ist besser.” (Rexhep Kurteshi)

Sitten vuosien 1998-99 sodan  ovat Kosovon albaanit aloittaneet exoduksensa Serbian kautta Unkariin ja sieltä edelleen pääosin Saksaan.  Vuoden 2014 elokuusta vuodenvaihteeseen arvioitiin noin 100 000 albaanin jättäneen Kosovon ja nyt alkuvuonna lisäksi 50 000. Tämä on kuusi prosenttia koko väestöstä.  Kosovon viranomaiset pitävät kehitystä hälyttävänä koska mm 5 200 lasta on lopettanut koulunkäyntinsä viime kuukausina paetakseen vanhempiensa kanssa ulkomaille.  Lisäksi 60 000 Kosovon albaania on anonut Serbian passia päästäkseen Schengen alueelle ilman viisumia.

Saksassa Kosovon albaanien turvapaikkahakemukset ovat kasvaneet räjähdysmäisesti. Viime torstaina Saksa ilmoitti lähettävänsä 20 poliisia unkarilaisten avuksi rajan tiivistämiseen. Saksa myös pyrkii priorisoimaan albaanien turvapaikkahakemukset siten että ne käsiteltäisiin kahdessa viikossa nykyisen 6-7 viikon sijaan.  Käsittely tarkoittaa liki poikkeuksetta takaisinlähetystä sillä viime vuonna kielteisiä päätöksiä oli 99 % ja nyt tammikuussa albaaneista vain 0,3 prosenttia sai myönteisen päätöksen. Yksi syy vauhditukseen on että Kosovon albaanit vievät mm kotouttamiskeskusten resursseja niiltä turvapaikan hakijoilta joilla hakuun on todellinen tarve kuten irakilaisilla ja syyrialaisilla.

Syitä exoduksen alkamiseen nyt on muutamia. EU:n painostuksesta Serbia on myöntänyt liikkumisvapauksia Kosovon albaaneille siten että nämä pelkällä henkilökortilla pääsevät mm Unkarin rajalle. Edelleen tilanteen myötä ihmissalakuljettajat ovat löytäneet uusia reittejä rajan yli. Pääsyynä joukkopakoon lienee  kansalaisten tulevaisuudentoivon häviäminen viimeistään viime vuoden vaalien jälkeen. Jopa henkilöt joilla  alueella monien kaipaama työpaikka 300-600 euron kuukausipalkalla (Balkanilla tämä ei ole lainkaan väheksyttävää) ovat häipyneet.   

infografik-fluechtlinge-aus

Työmarkkinat ovat kuitenkin vääristyneet ja laillistenkin paikkojen saanti riippuu edelleen klaanipomojen anteliaisuudesta. Huolimatta kansainvälisen yhteisön puolitoista vuosikymmentä jatkuneista yrityksistä rakentaa modernia yhteiskuntaa ja tähän kehitystyöhön kaadetuista miljardeista ovat tämä yhteiskunta ja julkiset palvelut ovat lähinnä vitsi jolle nauravat vain talous- ja poliittinen eliitti pestessään järjestyneestä rikollisuudesta ja kansainvälisiltä lahjoittajilta kerättyä rahaa lailliseksi liiketoiminnaksi omassa kaapatussa valtiossaan. 

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Tilanteesta ulospääsy edellyttäisi mielestäni lähinnä EU:lta aiempien virheiden –  puolenvalinta -90-luvulla, hätiköity Kosovon itsenäisyys – tunnustamista ja uutta alkua puhtaammalta pohjalta. Nyt ei vain epäonnistunut valtiokokeilu vaan järjestyneen rikollisuuden kaappaama valtio tulisi palauttaa alkutilanteeseen ja paikkallisia toimijoita tulisi tukea uusien järjestelyjen kehittämisessä.  Lopputulemana saattaisi olla todellinen itsenäisyys tai myös vahva autonomia osana Serbiaa tahi sitten kantonisointi tai muu toimiva malli. Mallista riippumatta se todennäköisesti olisi nykytilaa parempi. 

Edellä lyhyesti kuvattua problematiikkaa käsittelen tarkemmin pääblogini artikkelissa

The Mass Exodus of Kosovo Albanians

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Balkans

Passport Rank 2014: Balkans

Free movement is one fundamental human rights not only in one’s own country but also abroad. Visa restrictions play an important role in controlling the movement of foreign nationals across borders. They reflect also the relationships between individual nations as well the status of a country within the international community of nations. The main travel document is passport. Citizenship documented in passport regulates the level of free movement over borders; holder of one passport can travel relatively free around the globe while the choices of the holder of other passport are very limited. So passports can be ranked according to the visa-free access their holders.

Visa restrictions change according to the political situation at any given time. For example some 20 years ago citizens of Yugoslavia could travel relatively free, but the breakup wars changed situation completely. The “European perspective” is key concept for integrating western Balkans into EU. For ordinary people freedom of movement might be the main carrot after nearly 20 years of isolation.

My Passport Rank table below ranks passports according to how many countries it gives visa-free access. To table I have collected the Balkan countries and for comparison the best and the worst positions. I have also indicated the change during last two years describing to how many countries more the passport gives visa-free access compared to situation on 2012. As source I have used the data published in “The Henley Visa Restrictions Index”. (Source and more about H&P please visit in their homepage )

And here is my ”Passport Rank 2014: Balkans”:

 

Passport Rank 2014 – Balkans by Ari Rusila

Rank Passport of country Visa free access to

countries

2014/

2012

+o-

1 Finland, Sweden, UK 173 +3-4
4 Denmark, Germany, USA, Luxemburg 172 +3-6
8 Belgium, Italy, Netherlands 171 +3-4
21 Greece 167 +3
31 Slovenia 155 +4
46 Bulgaria, Romania 141 +3-4
59 Croatia 129 +10
71 Serbia 104 +5
72 Macedonia (FYR) 103 +6
74 Montenegro 98 +4
80 Bosnia-Herzegovina 91 +4
81 Albania 88 +4
189 Kosovo 38 +1
197 Pakistan, Somalia 32 +1-4
199 Iraq 31 +1
200 Afghanistan 28 +2

To travel from one country to other is a fundamental freedom restricted however more or less depending about which passport the traveler holds. Generally speaking the freedom of movement has increased a lot globally as well in Balkans. Apart that I would like to point out some trivia. The new Kosovo passport, first issued by the Kosovo Government in July 2008, is still one of the least useful travel documents ever designed. Passports for example from North Korea, Myanmar, Yemen and Syria are more valid than Kosovo passport as well one from the newest countries – South Sudan.

Some half of UN member states was fooled or pressured on for recognize Kosovo’s second declaration of independence, but Kosovo passport gives visa-free access only to less than 40 countries. On the other hand Taiwan ( also UN outsider) has diplomatic relations with 23 countries but its passport holders can travel visa free to 130 countries. In Europe only Pridnestrovie – aka Transdniestria aka Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica (PMR) – may be a country which passport has less use abroad than Kosovo passport as no country has recognised its independence. From the bright side now the majority of former Kosovo Serbs can have visa-free travel abroad as they are residing in Serbia because they could not return to their homes in Kosovo after ethnic cleansing made by Kosovo Albanians on 1999 and 2004. (My view about Kosovo in my articleCaptured Pseudo-State Kosovo)

Passport is not only travel document – it has also its wider political and business aspects. For example Romania distributes its passports to its Moldovan neighbours (rank 138) so that they can travel easier e.g in EU. Russia (rank 75) gives easily passports to Ukrainians (rank 96) to make stronger ties with Russian-speaking population abroad. During Balkan wars it was also quite popular to give Bosnian passports to foreign Muslim-fighters or Jihadists (and later leading al Qaeda figures) for their support in civil war.

It is estimated that that every year, several thousand people spend a collective $2 bn ( €1.5bn) to add a second, or even third, passport to their collection. Those with money can select from half a dozen countries offering a direct citizenship-by-investment route with no residency requirements. The cheapest deal for citizenship is on the tiny Caribbean island of Dominica (rank 83) where for an investment of $100,000 plus various fees, as well as an in-person interview on the island, citizenship can be bought. In better ranking Cyprus (rank 38) the costs are between €2-5 million depending program. Last year the government of Malta announced proposals to start selling citizenship of its nation to foreigners for €650,000, however after EU pressure applicants will now be required to spend at least a year in Malta in order to qualify. Several European Union countries – e.g UK, Spain, Belgium – or USA do not offer citizenship for purchase outright, but do offer residence permits to wealthy individuals; that include free movement within the Schengen area, in exchange for high fees and the requirement to invest in the country.


The passport rank shows also one peculiarity related to international aid and development. In Balkans besides Kosovo also Bosnia-Herzegovina together with Albania have the worst scores despite the fact that EU and international community have guided and supervised these regions towards “European standards” nearly twenty years with huge state- and capasity building measures and billions of bucks. So has EU failed with this task as those countries without outside supervision are getting visa-freedom earlier?

One could also conclude or claim that the EU is isolating three mainly Muslim European states/regions – Albania, BiH and Kosovo – and Turkey (rank 76, visa-free access to 94 countries) as some in the EU fear the presence of such a large, Muslim community inside traditionally Christian Europe. Of course EU denies political aspects and highlights only the technical ones but from Balkan perspective the impression can differ.

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Balkans, crisis management

Kosovo 15 years later, a personal memory and a word about free research by Jan Oberg

I’m happy to reprint an article Kosovo 15 years later, a personal memory and a word about free research by Jan Oberg, director of TFF (Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research). Dr Oberg served since 1991 four years as mediator between parties in Kosovo and also was in Serbia during Nato-bombing. His analysis in my opinion gives a good view not only Kosovo but also some events today. Jan is also the founding member in TFF which was established on January 1, 1986. Its mission is following:

TFF is an independent think tank, a global network that aims to bring about peace by peaceful means. It inspires a passion for peace from the grassroots to the corridors of power.
TFF is an all-volunteer global network. It promotes conflict-mitigation and reconciliation in general, as well as in a more targeted way in a selected number of conflict regions – through meticulous on-the-ground research, active listening, education and advocacy.
The Foundation is committed to doing diagnosis and prognosis as well as proposing solutions. It does so in a clear, pro-peace manner.”

tff logoMore in TFF home page


Kosovo 15 years later, a personal memory and a word about free research    by Jan Oberg TFF director

Lund, Sweden March 24, 2014

Media with a pro-Western bias usually remind us of 9/11 based on a victim narrative. We just passed 3/20 – the 11th Anniversay of the war on Iraq. Every year they forget 10/7 (Afghanistan) and 3/24, the destruction of Serbia-Kosovo in 1999.

What to do when NATO’s raison d’etre – the Warsaw Pact – had dissolved? Answer: Turn NATO into a humanitarian bombing organisation which in – fake – Gandhian style could say: We are bombing for a higher ethical humanitarian purpose to save lives and on this exceptionalist moral high ground we ignore international law.

Kosovo 15 years later

Kosovo remains a unique result of propaganda and mass killings to produce and independent state without a UN Security Council mandate – which doesn’t prevent Western politicians from teaching Russia international law these very days.

If Kosovo, why not Tibet, Taiwan, the Basque country, Korsica, Kurdistan, Palestine, or Crimea? The answer is: Kosovo was exceptional. But why? Oil and gas, perhaps, see later…

Kosovo of 2014 is a failed state with quite a few of the – unconvicted – war criminals of the 1990s still in power. (They were leaders of UCK/KLA army that was set up by CIA and its German brother BND behind the back of Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, the Kosovo-Albanian leader and advocate of pragmatic non-violence).

The international so-called community (read: a handful of NATO countries) have ever since violated UN SC Resolution 1244 that stated that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, FRY, was a sovereign state with territorial integrity.

The US got what was the real pupose of it all, the gigantic Bondsteel base in Kosovo, the largest built outside th U.S. since the Vietnam war – to secure the numerous gas and oil pipelines from Central Asia to the Vlore harbour in Albania. Did you ever hear about Bondsteel?

Till today, only 56% of the UN member states have recognised Kosovo as independent (declared in 2008). Reverse ethnic cleansing of the Serb minority in Kosovo took place right after NATO’s bombing – “we must understand the anger there” as some expressed it.

Serbs were some 20% of Kosovo’s people in the 1960s, today a few percent. This and the Kraina ethnic cleansing against the Croatian Serbs were the proportionately largest ethnic cleansing campaigns in the 1990s.

Insecurity, hatred and a miserable economy still characterise Kosovo after 15 years of all kinds of international missions in the place. Something very deep must be wrong. 

Whether it was a good idea to make Kosovo an independent (failed) state or not can be discussed. Belgrade’s repression was unacceptable, for sure, but there was no genocide. However, what can not be discussed is that NATO’s bombing wasn’t the right means with which to help create a solution.

If the West/US/NATO doesn’t learn from Yugoslavia, such immoral, illegal and ill-conceived projects will continue in various forms.

A personal memory

The people I met during the bombings in Belgrade and Novi Sad during the merciless destruction of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia did not see NATO’s war during 78 days as a humanitarian operation. Neither could I.

I remember standing on the 5th floor of the Moskva Hotel in the heart of Belgrade, see NATO’s fireworks during the night – its relentless pounding of the Batanica Airbase 10 kilometres outside Belgrade. I shall never be able to forget how I felt the blast up through my body. I would like to believe that if the decision-makers behind this war had been in that room and seen the destruction by daytime, they would have stopped the campaign.

Geographical distance and psychic numbing are two of the most nasty war-promoters.

One morning Belgrade woke up to the destruction of various ministry buildings in the centre. A maternity clinic had taken a hit too. That was the first time the Swedish government uttered anything but full support; then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anna Lindh, said on radio that perhaps such big bombs should not be used in city centres.

My wife called me that morning and told me that Lindh had finally said that much. I said, I know why – because I was to have a meeting with the Swedish Ambassador that morning but he had just called me to tell that we had to postpone it because the blast had blown in some windows and the main door of his villa (10 kilometres away).

That was Madame Lindh’s moment of truth. Logically, the foundation in her name last year awarded Madeleine Albright the Anna Lindh Prize

TFF’s mediation in Kosovo had a price

TFF has been engaged in Yugoslavia since 1991 and still follow developments closely. It was the only organisation that did mediation for years with three governments in Belgrade and the non-violent political ladership in the Kosovo province under Dr. Ibrahim Rugova. I personally served for 4 years as unpaid goodwill mediator between the two.

TFF produced a proposal for a 3-year negotiation process under the leadership of the UN – the only document published widely in the media in both Belgrade and Kosovo.

Naturally, TFF’s conflict-mitigation experts went out in the media against the idea of bombing because we knew that the parties were interested in a negotiated solution. And we managed quite well to influence opinion.

But neither countries like Sweden or NATO were the slightest interested in real negotiations – Ramboulliet  which, among other things, sought to force Serbia to accept NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia was a stage-set pretext for bombing by, among others, Madeleine Albright, no negotiations taking place there. 

The Swedish government at no point showed any interest in TFF’s work all over Yugslavia. But they must have known about it – because in December 1999 we received a letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressing due regret that the annual organisational support we had received over 9 years (about US$ 60.000) would not be paid in the future.

Having worked for all these years with conflict analysis and peace-making in all parts of Yugslavia was too much for a Sweden that, after Olof Palme, had turned itself into an obedient follower of US/NATO, stopped being neutral and having an independent foreign policy, let alone a peace and disarmament policy.

Thus, TFF is the only organisation of its kind that has been thrown out of the Swedish government’s budget. We are proud of having survived as people-financed ever since.

Researchers who are dependent on governments for their salary and projects usually believe that they conduct free research. But there is no government money in the field of security and peace without strings attached.

That explains the political correctness, predictability and boredom embedded in most government-financed research works in the field and why genuine peace is seldom promoted in them. 

•••

Post Script by Ari Rusila:

I have also dealt issues mentioned article above. My on the ground experience comes from my capacity building work in Kosovo just after bombing and following situation then afterwards. Here is some of my own articles about topic:

kosovo heroin flag

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Arab St., Balkans, MENA, Middle-East

U.S. Recycles Its Old Balkan Practice With Syria

The Syrian rebellion began in earnest on March 11, 2011, when protests erupted. Since then, the Syrian civil conflict has become increasingly violent. About 70,000 people have died in the country’s civil war over the past two years. Millions of people have been displaced, both internally and abroad. For months regional and Western capitals have officially held back on arming the rebels, in part out of fear that the weapons would fall into the hands of terrorists.

Now however U.S. has begun to support arms delivery to Syrian opposition with recycling its old practice in Balkans. Multiple planeloads (some estimates are up to 160 cargo-planes, 3,500 tn) of weapons have left Croatia since December 2012, when many Yugoslav weapons, previously unseen in the Syrian civil war, began to appear in videos posted by rebels on YouTube. Saudi Arabia has financed a large purchase of infantry weapons from Croatia and quietly funneled them to anti-government fighters in Syria. American intelligence officers have helped the shipment with their earlier practice during Balkan wars. Earlier compared with the heavy weaponry employed by the Syrian regime, most of the equipment of Free Syrian Army (FSA) has been light so now the game is changing.

In Syria, a recoilless gun from the former Yugoslavia. Photo credit The NYT

Some foreign arms have been making their way to the Syrian opposition; the vast majority of guns were bought right from the regime – corrupt regime officials sold them. Another portion of their weapons was bought off the black market from Turkey or Jordan, which made them very expensive.

The opposition began as a secular struggle to overthrow the Assad regime. But many of the loosely linked brigades fighting the Assad regime have incorporated Islamist aims into their mission. These groups range from moderately Islamist outfits such as Liwaa al-Tawhid to more conservative groups such as Ahrar al-Sham, whose members have called for the countrywide implementation of Shariah, or Islamic law. There are also jihadist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN), which operates as an extension of al Qaeda’s Iraqi franchise and has been declared a terrorist organization by the U.S. JAN boasts foreign connections and members with years of fighting experience, making them invaluable to the uprising.

The M79 Osa, an anti-tank weapon of Yugoslav origin, seized from Syria’s opposition.

Officially besides about $385 million in humanitarian aid has been disbursed by the U.S., there is an additional $115 million in nonlethal support for the fighters. On the other hand U.S. (unofficial) decision to send in more weapons is aimed at another fear in the West about the role of jihadist groups in the opposition. Such groups have been seen as better equipped than many nationalist fighters and potentially more influential. U.S. is covertly working to get those weapons into the right hands. Western officials agree that helping Syrian rebels defeat the brutal Assad regime is a worthwhile cause, but recent reports suggest some of that assistance has already benefited jihadist groups – e.g. JAN fighters have been using weapons originating in Croatia. (Sources: NYT , IBT , Debkafile)

Weapons from Croatia

A conservative estimate of the payload of these flights would be 3,500 tons of military equipment” (Hugh Griffiths, SIPRI, who monitors illicit arms transfers)

Persian Gulf states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been orchestrating weapons shipments into the conflict for months. Weapons from the former Yugoslavia were spotted in Syria this winter, after a series of military cargo flights from Zagreb to Amman. The arms are typically sent to Turkey and shipped into Syria via ground transport. The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports. Also from Jordan and Turkey, trucks take the weapons to the border with Syria.

The anti-Assad front is not like-minded: Riyadh – and Prince Bandar in particular – accuses the Qataris of conspiring to bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Damascus, including radical groups tied to Al Qaeda. Qatari Prime Minister and Secret Service Chief Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem has shot back with the charge that Saudi Arabia is maneuvering for control of the Syrian rebel movement.

The below video posted by the jihadist group Ahrar al-Sham, a collection of various smaller groups based in the north of Syria, mainly around Idlib, Aleppo, and Hama, and not part of the Free Syrian Army, demonstrates that the Yugoslavian weapons – supplied via Croatia – being provided to FSA have now begun to reach the hands of jihadists. These include RBG-6 40mm grenade launcher , the M79 Osa rocket launcher, M79 rocket pods, Yugoslav-made recoilless gun, as well as other assault rifles, grenade launchers, machine guns, mortars and shoulder-fired rockets for use against tanks and armored vehicles.

Youtube video

 One should add that Croatia’s Foreign Ministry and arms-export agency has denied that such shipments had occurred. Croatia, poised this year to join the European Union, now strictly adheres to international rules on arms transfers. However, export figures obtained by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) show that last December, Jordan suddenly began buying Croatian weapons.

MLRS in Syria too?

On March 2013 Syrian rebels in Aleppo have begun receiving their first heavy weapons – 220-mm MLRS rocket launchers – from a large-scale supply operation headed by Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan. According Debkafile in Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, his agents produced snapped up Russian-made MLRS (Smerch) and Hurricane 9K57 launchers capable of firing scores of 220-mm rockets to a distance of 70 kilometers.

I have some doubts how this Russian made MLRS has came from Croatia. First only one source (Debkafile) indicates so, second I don’t have any confirmation that this system was for sale in Balkans, third some youtube videos from Syria which I have seen about this MLRS are so unclear that the question could be about some similar type of MLRS.

Image shows a M60 recoilless gun (YU) being used to attack an army outpost,Hajez Barad, in Busr al-Harir, Daraa, on March 2nd.

The Saudi operation for shipping heavy rocket launchers from the Balkans to Aleppo is complicated. The rockets are fixed to vehicles weighing 43.7 tons each. The rockets themselves are 7.6 meters long and weigh 800 kilograms. To arrange the transfer of this heavy artillery to the rebels in Aleppo, Prince Bandar contacted Hakan Fidan, head of the MIT-Turkish National Intelligence Organization. They agreed to set up an overland route from the Balkans via Turkey and across the Syrian border to Aleppo, under the protection of the Turkish army.

It may be that Syrian rebels have now also the BM-30 Smerch (tornado), the most powerful multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) in the world. It was developed in the early 1980s and was accepted to service with the Soviet Army in 1987. It is also in service with Belarus and the Ukraine, and has been exported to Kuwait (27 systems) and Algeria (18 systems).India placed an order for an initial 38 systems. Deliveries began in May 2007.

The heavy MLRS rocket launcher in Syrian rebel hands

Former Yugoslavia had three types of MLRS: M 63 Plamen(32 /128),M 77 Ogan(32/128) and M 87 Orkan(12/262) which was produced in cooperation with Iraq and army of Iraq used this system. The M87 Orkan (hurricane) is a MLRS, jointly developed by Yugoslavia and Iraq. Most of development was made in Yugoslavia and some manufacturing took place in Iraq. It was first publicly revealed in 1988 during defense exhibition in Iraq, labeled as the Ababil-50. The Orkan MLRS project was finished in the early 1990s due to collapse of the Yugoslavia and it is estimated that only few system were built. The most modern – 2011 – MLRS in Balkans is LRSVM, which is a modular self-propelled multitube rocket launch system developed by Serbia-based Vazduhoplovno Tehnicki Institut (VTI). Also Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Defense Technologies (EDT) has developed, manufactured and delivered the first unit of the MLRS, which was designed and manufactured locally in UAE but in collaboration with a leading Serbian defence contractor. Perhaps some of these are now in operation theatre.

M87 Organ (YU)

Aleppo is the key to win

The Saudi operation for shipping heavy rocket launchers from the Balkans to Aleppo is complicated. The rockets are fixed to vehicles weighing 43.7 tons each. The rockets themselves are 7.6 meters long and weigh 800 kilograms. To arrange the transfer of this heavy artillery to the rebels in Aleppo, Prince Bandar contacted Hakan Fidan, head of the MIT-Turkish National Intelligence Organization. They agreed to set up an overland route from the Balkans via Turkey and across the Syrian border to Aleppo, under the protection of the Turkish army.

On the other hand Russia brings down its cargo planes loaded with weapons and replacement parts for the Syrian army at Nairab air base attached to Aleppo’s international air port, after the air facilities around Damascus were targeted by rebel fire. Recently Russian and Iranian arms lifts to Nairab were doubled, after rebels seized many Alawite villages in the Aleppo and Idlib regions of northern Syria.

The Saudis hope to expedite the rebel capture of the big Syrian Nairab air base attached to Aleppo’s international air port. The Saudi prince has personally taken the Nairab battle under his wing, convinced that it is the key to the conquest of Aleppo, once Syria’s national commercial and population center, after more than a year’s impasse in the battle for its control. The fall of this air base would also substantially reduce the big Iranian and Russian airlifts to Assad’s army. Moscow has since warned the rebels that if they attack incoming or outgoing Russian planes at Nairab, Russian special forces will come in to wipe out their strength around the base and take over its protection themselves.

U.S., Croatia and common history of clandestine operations

It is not surprising that U.S. is using Croatia for its clandestine operations. Radical Islam has enforced and widened their activities in Balkans last 15 years. During Bosnian war many foreign Islamists came to fight in mujahedeen brigade also many Al Quida figures – including Osama bin Laden – were supporting Bosnian Muslims 1990’s. US took the side with these “freedom fighters” in Bosnia and later in Kosovo. US involvement in the Balkans is not about helping any of the people in the region — Muslims, Croats, Serbs, or Albanians. The only interest of the Pentagon is in creating weak, dependent puppet regimes in order to dominate the entire region economically and politically.

In the 1980s Washington’s secret services had assisted Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran. Then, in 1990, the US fought him in the Gulf. n both Afghanistan and the Gulf, the Pentagon had incurred debts to Islamist groups and their Middle Eastern sponsors. By 93 these groups, many supported by Iran and Saudi Arabia, were anxious to help Bosnian Muslims fighting in the former Yugoslavia and called in their debts with the Americans. Bill Clinton and the Pentagon were keen to be seen as creditworthy and repaid in the form of an Iran-Contra style operation – in flagrant violation of the UN Security Council arms embargo against all combatants in the former Yugoslavia. One could add that Ayman al-Zawahiri, later the leader of al Qaeda, came to America to raise funds in Silicon Valley for Bosnian jihadists.in 1993, Mr. bin Laden had appointed Sheik Ayman Al-Zawahiri, to direct his operations in the Balkans.

The recent history of this issue in Balkans started in June 1993, when President Clinton received the head of the Saudi Arabian intelligence service, Prince Turki al Faisal – a close adviser to his uncle, the King. The Prince urged Clinton to take the lead in the military assistance to Bosnia. The American administration did not dare to do so: the fear of a rift within NATO was too great. However, the United States did consider the Saudi Arabian signal to be important, and therefore a new strategy was elaborated. Its architect was to be Richard Holbrooke, who started to look for a way to arm the Bosnian Muslims. In the summer of 1993, the Pentagon was said to have drawn up a plan for arms assistance to the Bosnian Muslim Army (ABiH), which included supplies of AK-47s and other small arms. This operation was to demand almost three hundred C-130 Hercules transport aircraft flights.The first consignment from Iran landed in Zagreb on 4 May 1994, with sixty tons of explosives and military equipment on board. The arms were transported in Croatian army trucks along the Adriatic coast to Bosnia. Because the supplies attracted too much attention at Pleso Airport in Zagreb, the flights subsequently went mainly to the Croatian island of Krk. Shortly after Iranian cargo aircraft had landed there, a number of Croatian helicopters arrived to continue transporting the load after dusk.

Besides weapons the arrival in the Balkans of the so-called Afghan Arabs, who are from various Middle Eastern states and linked to al-Qaeda, began in 1992 – mujahedeen fighters who travelled to Afghanistan to resist the Soviet occupation in the 1980s later migrated to Bosnia hoping to assist their Islamic brethren in a struggle against Serbian Croatian forces.

In the summer and autumn of 1994 plans were elaborated for training the ABiH. An US ‘mercenary outfit’ was to arrange this training. This was carried out by Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI), a company based in Virginia that employed various retired American generals and intelligence officials. With the consent of the State Department, MPRI trained the Hrvatska Vojska (HV, the Croatian Army) and later also the ABiH. MPRI’s role arose from the signing of the agreement between the United States and Croatia on military collaboration. By engaging MPRI, Washington also reduced the danger of ‘direct’ involvement. The CIA settled on 14,000 tons between May 1994 and December 1996. According to the State Department from May 1994 to January 1996 Iran delivered a total of 5000 tons of arms and ammunition via the Croatian pipeline to Bosnia. (Source Bill Clinton’s Bastard Army by Ares Demertzis ,Feb. 2009 in New English Review)

Links between drug trafficking and the supply of arms to the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) were established also mid-90s. In West KLA was described as terrorist organization but when US selected them as their ally it transformed organization officially to “freedom” fighters. After bombing Serbia 1999 KLA leaders again changed their crime clans officially to political parties. This public image however can not hide the origins of money and power, old channels and connections are still in place in conservative tribe society.  (More e.g in Quadruple Helix – Capturing Kosovo )

The pattern of U.S. collaboration with Muslim fundamentalists against more secular enemies is not new.In both cases all sides committed atrocities, and American intervention in fact favored the side allied with al-Qaeda. Similarly the cause of intervention was fostered by blatant manipulation and falsification of the facts.

Assad is not the only war criminal

Reports of a chemical weapon attack in Syria’s Aleppo Province end of March 2013 provoked leaders and politicians, particularly in the West, to advocate more fiercely for the overthrow of the Assad regime, despite the vague details surrounding the attack. Current data seem to suggest, however, that it was not government forces behind the attack, but rebel forces.The attack, intelligence sources appear to agree, was launched by rebel fighters and not government forces. Since the victims were overwhelmingly the Syrian military, this was not a huge shock, but is important to reiterate. Likewise, the Assad forces called upon the United Nations to launch an investigation into the attack.

Last October, the rebel forces were responsible for four suicide bombings in Aleppo that killed approximately 40 civilians and wounded many more. Jebhat al-Nusra, a group linked to al-Qaeda, has taken credit for the bombings. Additionally, the rebels were also responsible for the massacre of over 90 people in Houla last year. Immediately following that event, the U.S., France, Great Britain, and Germany blamed Assad for the killings and expelled Syria’s ambassadors from their countries in protest. Later reports, however, pointed to evidence that the massacre was in fact carried out by anti-Assad rebel forces.

From the other side Iranian supplies are what keep Assad’s army functioning and his regime in Damascus and other Syrian towns able to survive the rebellion. Iraqi Al Qaeda is also preparing to push trucks loaded with Chlorine gas-CI trucks into Syria for the jihadists to use against Assad’s forces. U.S. has been unable to persuade Iraq cut short the Iranian airlift and land route through his country to Bashar Assad of weapons, fighters and cash.

From my point of view it remains to see if this newest U.S. clandestine recycling operation has better success that earlier in Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya … I doubt.

P.S.

Some sense of proportion should be applied with different conflicts:

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Balkan, Kosovo näkökulmani

Serbiaan uusi presidentti vanhojen ongelmien keskelle

Serbian juuri käytyjen vaalien uutisoinnissa tai lähinnä taustoituksessa näkyy kuinka Balkanin lähihistoria otetaan itsestäänselvyytenä pohjautuen 1990-luvun läntisen valtavirtamedian yksipuoliseen ja tarkoitushakuiseen kuvaan. Tämä mustavalkoinen kuva on vasta viime vuosina alkanut murentumaan virallisten tutkimusraporttien vuotaessa julkisuuteen, kuvamanipulaatiot alkavat paljastua ja kun propagandavyörytyksen tarkoitusperien selvittyä. Koska olen Bosniaa käsitellyt jo useaan otteeseen (mm Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre? ) niin seuraavassa hieman kertausta Kosovon suhteen varsinkin kun uusikin presidentti kohtaa tämän problematiikan EU-jäsenyysneuvottelujen edetessä.

Titon kuoltua1980 Jugoslavian yhtenäisyys alkoi rakoilla. Mm Kosovon alueen albaanienemmistön ja serbien kesken puhkesi levottomuuksia. Kosovon albaanit harjoittivat valtion sietämää terroria kukoistaneen autonomiansa aikana 1980-luvulla serbejä kohtaan jotka 1990-luvulla vastasivat tähän. 1987 Slobodan Milošević ilmoitti tavoitteekseen, että “jotakin tehdään laillisuuden palauttamiseksi Kosovoon”. 1989 Kosovon itsehallinto peruttiin. Kosovon vapautusarmeija (UÇK/KLA) kasvoi merkittävästi vuosina 1997–1999 laajentaen aluettaan hyökkäämällä serbien siviili- ja sotilaskohteita vastaan. 1999 Kosovon albaanit pakenivat sodan, pommitusten tai paramilitaarien serbijoukkojen takia ja serbit pakenivat peläten albaanien terroria 1999 ja 2004. Etnisistä puhdistuksista puheenollen huomattakoon että albaanit palasivat mutta serbit eivät ole palanneet sitten intervention.

Naton pommitusten perustelemiseksi CIAn likaisen työn tekijä W.Walker leimasi osin lavastetun Racakin joukkomurhan, länsilehdistöön levitettiin tietoja jopa puolesta miljoonasta kadonneesta ja mahdollisesti tapetusta albaanista. The Humanitarian Law Center raportti laski 10 vuotta sodan jälkeen, että vuosina 1998-1999 Kosovon sodassa oli yhteensä 13.321 kuollutta, haavoittunutta tai kadonnutta henkillöä eri kansallisuuksista. NATO:n pommituksissa kuoli arviolta 500-2000 serbisiviiliä, pommitusten seurauksena vieläkin kuolee siviilejä kansallisuuteen katsomatta köyhdytettyjen uraanipommien takia, joita estotta kylvettiin alueelle. Kosovon albaanisiviilien tuhoista suurimpia oli Natokoneiden vahingossa pommitettua albaanien bussisaattuetta.

The outcome today in Kosovo is a quasi-independent pseudo-state with good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state if international community does not firm its grip in province. Today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers, international money laundry and radical Wahhabists – unfortunately all are also allies of western powers.

Ari RUSILA: Kosovo: Two years of Pseudo-state

Sekä edellinen että nyt valittu presidentti ovat linjanneet, ettei Serbia hyväksy Kosovon albaanihallinnon yksipuolista itsenäisyysjulistusta. Tämän periaatteellisen kannan rinnalla Kosovossa muhii myös akuutteja ongelmia kuten Serbiaan integroituneen pohjois-Kosovon hallinnointi. Oman näkökulmani olen toistanut usein jo aiemminkin (viimeksi Kosovo Referendum Prepares the Ground for Tripartite Approach ) ja mielenkiinnolla odotan poikkeavatko uuden ja väistyvän presidentin näkökulmat käytännön konfliktinratkaisussa toisistaan.

Mitä puolestaan tulee Serbian EU-prosessiin niin uusi presidentti tuskin täysin kritiikittömästi ajaa intergraatiota vaan huolehtinee maan eduista myös muihin suuntiin – erityisesti Venäjään ja Kiinaan joka lähestymistapa heijastelee hyvin omaanikin. (mm Serbia’s EU association is not a Must )

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