Tag Archives: NATO

VIDEO: Libya’s Destabilization Serves Western Political Agenda

Originally aired on Russia Today, September 12, 2012

 

Washington continues to support militant Islamist groups as long as it’s politically expedient to do so, says global affairs researcher Benjamin Schett.

US military adventurism, and the war crimes committed by the country’s forces, impoverish the entire region and ultimately lead to a rise in the number of Islamic militant groups, he told RT. Such groups, he says, can end up posing a threat to US citizens.

Schett spoke to RT about the killing of American Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other embassy staff in Libya.

RT: Ambassador Stevens was responsible for building Washington’s relations with the Libyan post-revolution interim leadership. Does that indicate that the people behind the attack are of a very different mindset to Libya’s current rulers?

Benjamin Schett: Not necessarily. The United States supported militant extremist Islamic groups in order to topple the government of Muammar Gaddafi last year. And one example is the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. It is, according to the Washington Post, a terrorist organization with links to al-Qaeda. Nevertheless, in 1996, they received support from British Secret Service MI6 to kill Gaddafi, which did not work out, as we know. After 9/11, in 2001, they still got support from Western powers during the so-called uprising in Libya last year and the NATO bombing campaign. They got support from the US and Saudi allies, so obviously the US never stopped supporting militant Islamist groups as long as it’s in their geopolitical interests.

RT: What does this attack say about the authorities’ grip on security in post-Gaddafi Libya?

BS: It shows that Libya is part of a broader balkanization of the Middle East and South and Central Asia, which is a direct result of US policies. We saw what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq after the US invasion – the clashes between Sunnis and Shias. We see what’s happening now in Syria, where the sectarian violence is being supported from the outside – from the Gulf states, from the US, and from France. And it’s what’s happening in Libya – all these different militias that received support in order to fight against Gaddafi are now turning against each other and are pushing for a tribalization of Libya.

RT: It’s believed the attacks were a response to this US film deemed offensive to Islam. But could it also be a side effect of US foreign policy in the region?

BS: Definitely. The whole story of the clash of civilizations and Christianity versus Islam – all these stories, they don’t show the real picture. The real picture is that the majority of Muslims are as peaceful as the majority of Christians or Jews or whoever. The policy of supporting militant extremist Islamist groups as long as it serves geopolitical interests and fighting secular independent governments in the Middle East, or direct military intervention and war crimes, impoverishing of the whole region – certainly this leads to an increase of Islamic militant movements, which can turn out to be a threat to US citizens, as we’ve just seen.

RT: It’s the first death of a high-profile US diplomat on duty abroad since 1979. Could this killing affect future policymaking in the State Department?

BS: The US official propaganda has a very cynical term regarding civilian deaths during a bombing campaign, called “collateral damage.” Of course, they wouldn’t use this term when it comes to the death of a US citizen. But I think in the mindset of the US establishment, in a certain way this also was collateral damage because it won’t make them stop their policies in the Middle East, even if it threatens the lives of American citizens.

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VIDEO: Syrian Opposition Studies Terror Tactics in Kosovo

Originally aired on Russia Today, May 4, 2012

The same horrors that were witnessed during the war in Kosovo are now apparently being prepared for the multi-confessional Syrian population by Islamist Syrian Liberation Army trained in Muslim Kosovo in the middle of Europe.

The Syrian Liberation Army group that actually formed the delegation to Kosovo has been fighting with the Syrian government for over a year now. This stand-off has claimed well over 9,000 lives, about half of them Syrian servicemen, law enforcers and officials.

Lately, the militants have been squeezed out of the Syrian cities and their positions along the Syrian-Turkish border. Being unable to turn the tide independently, the Syrian Liberation Army has been addressing to its foreign sponsors to start a military intervention into Syria to topple President Bashar Assad.

However, researcher and GlobalResearch.ca contributor Benjamin Schett told RT the Syrian rebels would not learn much in terms of military tactics from the KLA.

“The so-called Kosovo Liberation Army — this terrorist group — had in fact already been defeated by the Serbian army in 1998.”

Schett says that once Serbia agreed on a ceasefire, pulled back troops, and let in OSCE observers, the KLA used this situation to intensify their attacks so as to provoke a military reaction.

He continued that by presenting themselves as freedom fighters and victims to the Western media, the KLA secured a Western intervention in March 1999 after they staged a fake massacre in Račak.

Schett believes the Syrian rebels would go to Kosovo for knowledge in public relations techniques. He says despite their lack of military prowess, they were adept at making the Western public believe they were fighting for a justified cause amid reports they had committed a slew of war crimes and human rights abuses.

In 1998-1999 Kosovo separatists started an armed conflict with Belgrade to split the Kosovo region from Serbia. The war in the region was marked with mass atrocities and executions of the civilian population. Most of the Serbs that used to live in Kosovo became refugees.

In 2008, 10 years after the beginning of armed conflict with Serbia, Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence from Belgrade. Kosovo’s independence has been recognized by leading Western countries, most members of NATO and countries associated with the bloc.

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VIDEO: US/NATO Proxy War in Syria Follows Precedent Set in Bosnia

Interview on Russia Today, March 19, 2012

In the wake of recent violent clashes in the Syrian capital Damascus, the country’s government has accused Western powers of assisting Qatar and Saudi Arabia with supporting and financing terrorism and further militarizing the region. While accusations abound on purported weapons shipments and the training of insurgents, it is clear that Western involvement in Syria appears to follow a precedent set years ago during NATO intervention in the war in Bosnia, when weapons were being covertly shipped into the region despite an official arms embargo.

According to Benjamin Schett, an independent political researcher based in Vienna, “It might be a repetition of this game in Syria.”

This proxy war with Western powers is being waged amid speculation that Syria is being turned into a terrorist hub and as Schett confirms, “There is an interest in turning Syria into big chaos.”

But claims that Syria’s government is bombing its own people and security buildlings don’t add up. As Schett explains, “I think that doesn’t sound very plausible because the ongoing destablization and increase of sectarian violence in Syria is not so much in the interest of Assad but more in the interest of the insurgents in order to provoke harsh reactions from the Syrian government troops, which finally could provoke foreign intervention.”

 

 

 

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Russia’s Elections: Who is Calling the Shots at the Duma?

The Russian elections this month held some unwelcome surprises for the nation’s ruling party, “United Russia”. Administered in tandem by current president Dmitri Medvedev and prime minister Vladimir Putin (soon to be president once again), United Russia found itself receiving significantly lower-than-normal parliamentary results. This, combined with the protests that ensued quickly thereafter, seems to have sparked the corporate media’s hopes for a “colour revolution”.

The situation echoes the Serbian, Georgian and Ukrainian models; in these and several other countries, the governments had to step down after mass protests were organised with the support of US think tanks including the National Endowment for Democracy. These actions, led by the US and several EU countries, were geared toward the installation of leaderships that were more in line with Western agendas than their predecessors, and not necessarily in the interest of the Russian population.

Certainly no effort is being spared to work towards a change of government in Russia.

However, these suggestions of a “colour revolution” do not correspond to Russian realities at all. American and West European media love to project their perceptions of a pro-Western civil society onto the protesters in Russia. Without a doubt, the archetype of the young academic activist who blames the government for being “undemocratic” and who advertises his West-friendly ideas on his internet blog certainly does exist in Russia. And the way the various neoliberal-oriented groups are being financed by the usual suspects is well documented[1]. But even in Western media one can read between the lines and notice that the majority of those expressing their dissatisfaction do not fit this scheme.

First of all it should be mentioned that the composition of the Russian Duma following the election results does in fact represent the will of Russia’s majority as much as it is possible in a system of representative democracy, which mirrors the framework of most Eastern and Western European countries. In the end, the ruling party received 238 of altogether 450 seats, which means a loss of 77 seats and its (up to now) two-thirds majority rule. The strongest opposition party, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), gained 35 seats and raised its total number to 92.[2] Furthermore, the Liberal Democrats, led by the nationalist Vladimir, and a party called “A Just Russia”, which is supposed to be government-friendly and focuses on social issues, are also represented in the new parliament. [3]

The Communist Party leader, Gennady Zyuganov, does not demand a return to Soviet conditions, although this symbolism is being used to feed into nostalgic sentiments amongst the elder generations. His main positions were explained as follows on news channel Russia Today: “Zyuganov focuses on social protection, calling for increased pensions, higher wages for the state sector and re-nationalization of the economy.”[4]

It is doubtful that these ideas by the undisputedly strongest Russian opposition party would please the missionaries of “democracy” of the so-called international community.

Consider the following: 1996 saw the second presidential election since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Western favourite at the time was Boris Yeltsin, who was then the sitting president. His skewed interpretation of “democracy”, however, resulted inter alia in the storming of the Russian parliament in 1993, followed by the creation of a constitution legitimising presidential absolute rule.

In addition, Yeltsin was a puppet of the so-called Oligarchs, people who managed to become incredibly rich using lawless methods during the chaotic period of transition. In treating the country as their personal property, they caused the disintegration of the state and extreme impoverishment of the majority of the population.

In the 1996 election Yeltsin’s challenger was the same Gennady Zyuganov now leading the Communist Party, who was the projected favourite on account of to the president’s countless corruption scandals and unprecedented redistribution of wealth from the bottom sectors of society to the top.

Werner Pirker, Berlin-based junge Welt’s expert on Russia, describes the process that saw Yeltsin win in the end, despite the odds:

“The massive election fraud charged by the Russian communists during the presidential elections 1996, when Yeltsin managed to beat his communist challenger yet again using every administrative recourse and financial support from the oligarchs to the tune of several million, was no problem at all for the West.”[5]

Interestingly, NATO did not reward Yeltsin’s servility and instead expanded along Russia’s borders by pulling former Soviet republics into the NATO alliance.

Yeltsin stepped down at the end of 1999 and named Vladimir Putin as his successor. Choosing not to be a puppet of the oligarchy, Putin turned against his former supporter, Boris Berezovsky, a billionaire who made his fortune thanks to privatisations of state property, and who used to be deeply involved in politics during the Yeltsin era. Berezovsky was later convicted of financial crimes after having already received “political asylum” in Britain.[6]

A noticeable stabilisation of the Russian state was achieved during the years of Putin’s presidency, and these improvements caused the communists to lose many voters to the government party. Part of this process also included an informal agreement with the oligarchs in order to let them keep their largely illegitimately gained fortunes on the strict condition that they stop intervening in politics. This explains the harsh way the Russian state is handling the case against former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who did not respect this deal and tried to organise resistance against Putin’s government. Khodorkovsky will likely spend many years in prison on account of this; in the West, however, he is practically being presented as a glorified dissident by the mainstream media.[7]

Next to many successes, several problems remain. Russia’s prosperity is heavily dependent upon the prices of raw materials, which the country exports. A considerable stagnation cannot be denied, and many people complain about high living expenses.[8] This may well be a large reason for the relative loss of confidence in the government from various sectors of the population.

Next to politicians who are striving for better social conditions and those who are engaged in Western-funded organisations, Russia’s far right movements are also participating in the protests. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the reputed clown of the political spectrum, is one case in point. With his nationalist Liberal Democrats, he enjoys drawing attention to himself by creating sensationalist scandals. On the other hand he regularly votes on the government’s side in the Duma and therefore can be seen as relatively harmless and controllable. In essence Zhirinovsky has no real influence on the ultra-chauvinist movements, who stir up hatred against populations from Central Asia and North Caucasus, and other minorities.

The Guardian stated recently: “Russian nationalism may be the biggest threat to Putin’s power.”[9]

Taking all this into account, the prospect of a unified protest movement – consisting of people going into the streets for improved social conditions, adherents of neoliberalism, and extreme chauvinists – does not appear to be a realistic option.

It is to be hoped that Vladimir Putin, soon returning for another round as president, will be responsive to the people’s wishes for better quality of life. And in the West, those who truly want the Russian people to live in peace and prosperity need turn away from the propaganda spread by self-proclaimed “democracy” exporters and understand what is happening on the ground.

Notes 

[1] http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28182.

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_legislative_election,_2011.

[3] http://www.ftd.de/politik/international/:russland-russische-opposition-ist-nur-ein-scheingegner/60142044.html.

[4] http://russiapedia.rt.com/prominent-russians/politics-and-society/gennady-zyuganov.

[5] http://www.jungewelt.de/2011/12-09/037.php.

[6] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/nov/30/russia.tomparfitt.

[7] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/04/opinion/04nocera.html.

[8] http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a4b5c8d0-0945-11df-ba88-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1gXmdvfog.

[9] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/09/russian-nationalism-challenge-putin-power.

Published on:

Global Research, December 22, 2011

Progressive Radio Network

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Prisoners in their own Land: The Struggle and Resistance of Serbs in Kosovo

NATO’s war against Serbia is far from over. Even before Serbia’s government, a pro-Western puppet regime, could come to a conclusion about whether or not to join NATO, NATO troops were already present on Serbian soil, more precisely in its southern province of Kosovo.

After the NATO bombing of the then-existing Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999 and the agreement of Kumanovo, the installation of a UN Mission to Kosovo and the retreat of the Yugoslav army and Serbian police forces were agreed upon. In reality this has meant the expulsion of 250,000 Kosovo Serbs, Roma and other minorities by members of the NATO-hatched “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA) and other Albanian extremists, under the command of its so-called “protection force”. As a result, hundreds of civilians (many of them Albanians who opposed the KLA regime) were murdered, and in the remaining Serbian enclaves locals now lead a ghetto existence. Up to this point, only in the North of Kosovo has the Serbian population managed to lead a more or less self-determined lifestyle, thanks in no small part to the administrative border to the rest of Serbia. Nonetheless, they are increasingly isolated, impoverished and vulnerable, receiving little to no support from Serbia’s government.

After Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008 under the leadership of alleged organ trader and recognized terrorist Hashim Thaci, the situation deteriorated further: in the manner of a Catch-22, NATO troops, known locally as “Kosovo Force” (KFOR), and the so-called “European Union Rule of Law Mission” (EULEX) were mandated to enforce the “sovereignty” of a territory which chose to separate against international laws, a process which also included the installation of Albanian customs officers along its Northern border in order to eradicate Serbian “parallel structures”.

In response, Serbian inhabitants constructed approximately 20 street barricades last July in the predominantly Serbian region of Northern Kosovo (consisting of the communities of Leposavić, Zvečan and Zubin Potok and the Northern section of Kosovska Mitrovica) in order to keep out EULEX and the “Kosovo government” frontiersmen. Clashes have already been provoked several times by KFOR soldiers who attempted to remove some of the barricades, employing the use of tear gas and truncheons against unarmed protesters.

Activists from Belgrade recently started to organise free bus trips into the Northern region of Kosovo in order to supply moral and material support to the Serbian population. The author was permitted to join one of these trips on the 26th of November, as one of approximately 200 participants. The group could be described as heterogeneous, ranging from members of Serbian youth organisations and humanitarian activists, to writers and private persons of all ages. Some of the people had roots in the different regions of the Province of Kosovo (now completely under Albanian/NATO control), such as a doctor whose father was killed by the KLA in 1999, and a young man living in Belgrade, who had to flee with his family from the provincial capital of Priština when he was still a child.

The administrative border of Kosovo can be passed without customs control and the Belgrade convoy arrived in Northern Mitrovica towards evening. Once there, inhabitants showed the visitors the first barricade, built with gravel and concrete, over the Ibar River that separates the Serbian North and the Albanian South of the town. Many graffiti with the label “1244” can be seen, which refers to the 1999 UN Resolution that explicitly excludes the possibility of an independent Kosovo. On the other side of the river silhouettes of pedestrians can be seen, locals who would probably never cross the few meters to the other side of town — a case which applies even more strictly in the reverse. It is not for nothing that in a nearby store, postcards with the engraving “bridge of disunion” can be purchased.

Barricade on the bridge dividing Northern and Southern Mitrovica

Northern Mitrovica is a place where civilians have become victims of assault again and again, the worst incident since 1999 being in March of 2004, when an Albanian mob killed 19 people and caused much destruction, both in the town as well as within the enclaves.

Barricade within the town of Mitrovica

While at the barricade, members of a Serbian writers’ association started to decorate the structure with hundreds of books that would later be donated to the local library. In a nearby tent tea was being served to the people to warm up during the night, while a gusle player performed for the crowd. (The gusle is a traditional South Slavic string instrument.)

Later several activists held speeches and a number of writers read their poetry. Volunteers were invited to donate blood for the local population. Several nearby coffee houses, as well as conversations with the bridge guards, made the night pass unexpectedly fast. The bridge guards are there to protect the people from assaults, and some have been doing their jobs already since the retreat of the Yugoslav Army in 1999. Protection has not been available from any other sources, the only exception being a group of French soldiers, who in the beginning at least tried to prevent attacks against civilians on some occasions. The German soldiers have a reputation locally that is considerably worse.

Early the next morning further excursions were organised, including visits to the localities of Rudar, Jagnjenica and Dudin Krs, where the most recent violent incidents took place a short time before the trip. Locals and soldiers are separated by barbed wire, and although the atmosphere seemed to be quiet, the previous happenings have shown that this can change rapidly.

Meters of barbed wire separate the people from NATO soldiers

With winter setting in, the question arises of what the future holds for the locals. After the 9th of December, when Serbia was denied status as an EU candidate, it can be expected that President Boris Tadić will try to strengthen pressure on the Kosovo Serbs to abandon their barricades. Tadić has his sights set on bringing Serbia closer to the European Union in order to gain the support of people who still think that Serbian membership might improve their living conditions, as the corporate media are saying.

In fact many people across all of Serbia, facing unemployment and privatisation, say that the current government is the worst and most unsocial one they have ever had. Certainly the Kosovo Serbs cannot count on the support of President Tadić’s pro-Western government, but they do have most of Serbia’s public support on their side, as demonstrated by the convoys being sent to the barricades.

More makeshift barricades block the roads within Kosovo

During the trip back to Mitrovica, a cemetary catches the visitor’s eye: the names on the tombstones are all Albanian, and in stark contrast to the centuries-old Serbian Orthodox monasteries and graves that have been decimated in recent years, this place is in good shape and there are no signs of vandalism. It is also not unusual to hear people speaking in Albanian in the Serbian-majority region of Northern Mitrovica, and in fact the whole city used to be ethnically mixed before the war.

Arguably, the lives of Albanians in what is now the Serbian-populated North seem to be more bearable than is the case for Serbs in the Albanian-dominated South: according to Serbian media there is one sole Serbian person left in Southern Mitrovica, an elderly retired woman who generally does not leave her house and receives her supply of daily goods through an Albanian colleague.

Another local ethnic group that has suffered significantly are the Roma. In June 1999, a short time after the NATO bombings, Albanian extremists burned down the “Romska Mahala” in Southern Mitrovica, which was one of the oldest Roma settlements in the Balkans. The UN administration settled them in a camp in the North, close to the famous Trepča mines. Tragically, because of lead poisoning, dozens of children became seriously ill.

The trip back to Belgrade was a time to reflect upon the experience as a whole. It is impossible to picture the population in the North of Kosovo ever accepting the reign of a force that is responsible for some of the most terrible crimes that could be imagined, from alleged organ trade and child prostitution to countless ethnically-motivated murders. Not to mention the NATO presence that dominates all of Kosovo.

The justified resistance of the Kosovo Serbs against a regime of globalised war, terror and poverty has to be treated as such and deserves support from across the globe. The name of Kosovska Mitrovica should stay in the memory of all engaged citizens, alongside names like Gaza, Caracas, Fallujah and the many other places where people stand up for a life of dignity.

People who are interested in getting more information on the issue or want to help or participate in a trip to the barricades are asked to contact Mr. John Bosnitch:  jbosnitch@gmail.com

Published on:

Global Research, December 12, 2011

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Was wird aus Kosovo? Der Sicherheitsrat will entscheiden

Knapp acht Jahre nach dem Einmarsch der NATO-Truppen in die serbische Provinz Kosovo steht deren “Unabhängigkeit” unmittelbar bevor. Nun will der UN-Sicherheitsrat darüber entscheiden. Ein russisches Veto ist höchst wahrscheinlich.

Die USA ließen verlauten, sie würden Kosovo auch bei einer einseitigen Abspaltung als unabhängigen Staat anerkennen. Dass nach einem russischen Veto diese einseitige Erklärung folgen wird, ist so sicher wie das Amen in der Kirche.

“Wen kümmert´s”, könnte man denken, stünde man nicht vor einem gefährlichen Präzedenzfall: Es gibt weltweit mehr Minderheiten als Staaten. Und wieso sollte das Recht auf Abspaltung dann nur den Kosovo-Albanern zustehen? Außerdem stellt die von außen aufgezwungene Zerstückelung eines Staates, der Mitglied der Vereinten Nationen ist, einen klaren Bruch des Völkerrechts dar. Geschweige denn die Tatsache, dass die demokratisch legitimierte Verfassung Serbiens den Kosovo eindeutig als serbisches Territorium definiert.

Wem das alles zu abgehoben ist, der kann sich die aktuelle Situation im Kosovo selbst anschauen: 250 000 Menschen sind in den letzten Jahren durch albanische Extremisten vertrieben, wenn nicht umgebracht, worden. Vor allem Serben, aber auch zahlreiche Roma, Goraner (muslimische Slawen) und Türken. Die verbliebenen Minderheiten fristen ein erbärmliches Dasein in abgeschotteten Ghettos. Dies ist alles unter der Aufsicht der Nato-Truppen geschehen. Man. braucht nicht viel Phantasie, um sich vorzustellen, was geschehen wird, wenn der geringe Schutz, welchen die Besatzer gelegentlich noch garantieren konnten, auch noch wegfällt.

Die westliche Balkanpolitik ist ein von vielen Linken sträflich vernachlässigtes Thema. Was zu Beginn der Zerschlagung Jugoslawiens noch die Sache reaktionärer Kroatien-Freunde, wie dem ehemaligen deutschen Außenminister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, der “Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung” oder der bayrischen CSU war, weitete sich spätestens mit dem Beginn des Bürgerkriegs in Bosnien zu einer breit angelegten antiserbischen Hetzkampagne aus, an welcher sogenannte NGOs genauso beteiligt waren wie die US-amerikanische Regierung oder islamistische Mujaheddin.

Veröffentlicht bei:

Unsere Zeit, 29. Juni 2007

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