September 2011: Counter-Blockade Returns After NATO Breaks Word, NATO Sheds Blood
Don't buy the Vučić hype. In any Kosovo crisis you must first understand that Belgrade is actually on the side of NATO
After they first objected to the Serbia-KFOR agreement that sanctifies a NATO-enforced economic quarantine of the north of Kosovo, the representatives of the affected communities met Tuesday to decide on whether to dismantle their roadblocks as called for by Belgrade anyway. They left without reaching a unified position. Since then, however, most of the roadblocks have gone down. Only one of them remains.
Defending the agreement Serbian government negotiators admitted the deal was “not ideal”, which is putting it mildly, but insisted it was “the best [deal] possible under the circumstances”. That is very much true, the circumstances being the negotiations for the Serbian side were conducted by a government that has long been looking to surrender Kosovo, albeit careful to do it in a way that would not cause its immediate and dramatic downfall from power.
The aspect of the deal that the Serbian government has been flaunting as its biggest positive is that NATO promises not to use force to unilaterally change the circumstances on the ground. No one in their right mind can take NATO seriously on this point, however, when the situation in force now is precisely the outcome of one-sided NATO action, and when Belgrade just signed under it.
The communities in the north of Kosovo elect their municipal officials under Serbian law and election schedule. It would be very difficult for these municipalities to ignore positions of the government of Serbia, when what they are struggling for is to remain a part of the constitutional order of Republic of Serbia. The government in Belgrade is not loathe to take advantage of this predicament of theirs.
The Serbs in the north of Kosovo were told that should they not abide by the Serbia-KFOR agreement official Belgrade would hang them out to dry. That would indeed put them in a tough spot, but it is hard to see that the present arrangement where the marionette government in Belgrade will sign under capitulations in their name is any better.
Recall how the government of Serbia in August justified its agreement with the NATO ocupiers that was really a surrender, by pointing out it at least barred KFOR from using force to try change the circumstances on the ground again? As predicted it turns out this reassurance was groundless. The way the occupiers figured the deal only obliged them not to act unilaterally until September, for when a new round of talks was envisioned.
Seeing the pro-Imperial government in Belgrade has always capitulated before an onslaught of forces behind the NATO occupation, these have come to think of “talks” as using threats, deception or force to “create facts on the ground”, then having Belgrade sign under them.
It may have worked once again except that another predictable thing happened. September 16th, when KFOR moved to install the personnel of the US-sponsored Albanian government in Priština on the two crossings between occupied and unoccupied Serbia in the north of Kosovo, the imperiled Serb communities lost the last of their faith in Belgrade negotiators. Albeit the regime in place in Serbia would like nothing more but for Kosovo Serbs to stand down and accept the fate Washington has in mind for them, Belgrade’s one betrayal of them too many has deprived it of the means to influence their actions.
Without the Serbian government in position to sign under a capitulation on behalf of the Kosovo Serbs and bail out KFOR, the occupiers have found themselves in a difficult position. Everywhere in the north they are blocked in. Wherever they set up a control point to curtail the movement of the imperiled communities, and cut them off from unoccupied Serbia, they are in turn blockaded themselves. The locals have become expert at speedily constructing makeshift roadblocks, which they then man around the clock to prevent them from being dismantled and to monitor the occupiers from. As a consequence, the only new meaningful “fact on the ground” is that KFOR can move about freely only in the air.
Today KFOR lashed out. Early in the morning German soldiers moved against a barricade near the Jarinje crossing and took it over with the help of tear gas. They tied up several people on the scene and destroyed the barrier. As word spread hundreds of people gathered on site to protest. After noon the occupiers demanded of protesters to disperse. When they did not, KFOR struck again using stun grenades and live rifle ammunition. Six people were wounded by live fire. NATO troops on the scene, a mix of Americans and Germans, fired at medical workers and ambulance vehicles extricating the wounded. Attempts to film the aftermath of the carnage were met with warning shots.
Two weeks ago, when NATO redoubled its efforts to bring the Serbs of northern Kosovo under the control of its client government in Priština, it further imperiled their communities, but by creating distance between the pliant government in Belgrade and the resolute Serb communities it actually weakened its enterprise. Today NATO inflicted further grief on these people, but it did not do itself any favors.