In the tantrums thrown by the Western powers in the wake of the Russo-Chinese veto of their UN Security Council resolution on Syria, the US’s UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, expressed «disgust» at these two states’ behavior. In addition to these kinds of «hysterics» – as Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov so aptly described them – being calculated to rally the global media further against the two Eurasian giants, they also serve the purpose of directing attention away from the West’s own disastrous intervention track record. On February 8, just four days after the failed Syria resolution, the UNSC had a chance to discuss another Western interventionist «success story» – Kosovo.
Many might think that Russia’s and China’s reluctance to give a green light to foreign intervention in Syria is mostly based on the recent Libya (and Iraq and Afghanistan) experience. That is only partly true. For the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo has been under NATO/EU control for more than 12 years now – since June 10, 1999 – and offers a much better view of what Western intervention brings than the still-fresh, although already clearly disastrous, Libyan case.
The first thing that struck attention was the fact that the Assistant Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations, Edmond Mulet, referred to the situation in Kosovo at February 8 session as one of «fragile calm.» Remember – this is more than 12 years after Western powers have taken complete control of the territory, and almost four years since they have unilaterally recognized its «independence.» With tens of thousands of Western «peacekeepers» on the ground for over a decade and several billion dollars spent – we have nothing more than «fragile calm.» A «success story» – this is not.
Vuk Jeremić, the Foreign Minister of Serbia, whose province Kosovo still is according to UNSC Resolution 1244 (as well as Resolutions 1160, 1199, 1203 and 1239, all of which the Western powers have trampled in their unilateral recognition of the breakaway province), characterized the situation in Kosovo as «ghetto and barbed wire,» with the Serbian population being «the most imperiled in Europe.» Practically none of the over 200,000 people expelled from Kosovo since NATO and the EU have taken over have returned. The 100,000 or so Serbs and non-Albanians that have remained are waging a daily battle, not just for survival but for basic human rights. Pointing to this state of affairs, the Serbian FM cited reports of international organizations such as Human Rights Watch, OSCE and Transparency International, which talk of rampant corruption, discrimination against non-Albanians, politically influenced judiciary, inadequate witness protection, etc., while the European Commission has qualified the fight against corruption and organized crime as «inefficient.»
Economically as well, Kosovo is a basket case, to put it mildly. The unemployment rate is variously estimated at 40-60%, or even 70%. The territory has been identified by various international agencies as the main European center for the distribution of heroin originating in Afghanistan, as well as a center for money laundering and human trafficking. It has been referred to more than once as «Afghanistan in Europe.» In addition, the top of its ethnic Albanian leadership is currently under international investigation for human organ trafficking.
A report by Council of Europe human rights rapporteur Dick Marty published in December 2010 named Kosovo «prime minister» Hashim Tachi as the head of a «mafia-like» group, responsible for smuggling human organs, drugs and weapons. Marty accused the international community [i.e., leading NATO/EU states] of failing to act on the intelligence they possessed. According to his report, Thaci and his accomplices carried out «assassinations, detentions, beatings and interrogations» dating back more than a decade. Some members of his group are also accused of smuggling unfortunate Serb prisoners into Albania after the 1999 Kosovo war, where they were killed and their organs harvested.
At the February 8 UNSC session, Serbia, Russia and China renewed their calls to place the investigation of this morbid crime under the auspices of the UNSC. However, as has been the case for almost a year, the US and other Western Security Council members, rejected such calls, preferring to keep the investigation under EU, i.e., their own control. At a previous UNSC session in December 2011, Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin was compelled to remark that Russia «does not understand why our Western colleagues in the UN refuse to implement» such a measure, while Serbia’s foreign minister, Vuk Jeremić added that «some [read Western] UN Security Council members are strongly opposed to the adoption of a resolution [calling for a UNSC-supervised investigation] proposed by Serbia,» calling it a «moral abdication before criminals and war criminals.» China has also backed Russia’s and Serbia’s efforts.
Certainly, one of the keys to this sort of «disgusting» behavior can be found in the startling admission made at the end of January by former Chief Prosecutor for the International Tribunal for war crimes in The Hague (ICTY), Carla del Ponte. In an interview given to the Serbian weekly «Nedeljnik,» she charged that «NATO and UNMIK [the UN’s civilian Kosovo mission] prevented an investigation of the organ trafficking charges» and that, in addition, someone in the hierarchy had ordered the evidence destroyed. Obviously, an independent investigation under UNSC auspices would open up a highly embarrassing can of worms for the Western «humanitarians.»
In any case, Western «hysterics» regarding Syria are old hat to those who’ve been watching similar performances being played in the Balkans over the past two decades: first comes the Western media frenzy, followed by calls from Western capitals that «something must be done,» followed by threats, sanctions and, lastly, foreign [i.e., NATO/EU] intervention and the installation of dysfunctional, kleptocratic, incomparably worse regimes, such as Thaci’s «Kosovo» mafia-state.
Thus, when one reads of «unverified reports» of atrocities allegedly committed by the Syrian authorities, the first reflex ought to be – let’s verify the reports first – especially as the Arab League Observer Mission had detected the presence of an unidentified «armed entity» (which is certainly one of the reasons why its report has been rejected not just by the West but by the very states that sent it) that was responsible for provoking armed response from government forces. However, on the heels of the first thought should come a second – who would do the verifying? Just before the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, Western «observers/verifiers» came into the Kosovo province under the auspices of the OSCE, led by another US diplomat, William Walker, whose previous experiences included (democratically?) suppressing investigations into death squad killings of Jesuits in El Salvador during the 1980s, and accompanied by Western reporters. The result? The targets that were subsequently bombed were precisely located and marked by the «observers» (a nice name for reconnaissance agents, as it turned out) – while the Western media, with the help of several fictional «massacre stories» helped prepare the pretext for the almost 80-day bombing that ensued a few weeks later. Can anyone doubt that something similar is being planned for Syria? Can anyone blame Syrians that do not wish to become «Afghanistan of the Middle East?»
That is why it is vitally important for Russia, China and all the countries that support them, to succeed in ensuring a balanced and, above all, sustainable solution to the Syrian crisis, one that involves the active participation of the entire Syrian public, whose outcome will not be the simple installation of purportedly «pro-Western» thugs. It does not, however, appear that Western politicians and media are willing to give either Russia, China, or the Syrian people this opportunity.
As status quo states that respect international law – one of whose chief principles is non-interference in other countries’ affairs – Russia and China are once again at a clear disadvantage. They have been put on the defensive by the extremely aggressive Western global media apparatus. There is no country in the world – and there has never been – whose government does not have flaws. But there has never been a media force that is able to exploit them to such an extent as today’s Western global media – while simultaneously ignoring cases such as Kosovo, which no longer suit their immediate interventionist purposes. It seems, thus, that, if they do not draw a line in the sand on Syria – Russia and China will just be faced with a similar scenario elsewhere – closer to their own borders. So perhaps it’s time for them to be more active and aggressive not just in defending the status quo, but in pointing to the West’s own sordid interventionist track record. The «disgusting» case of Kosovo is just one of the good places to start.