Thursday, February 21, 2008

Serbia’s Reaction Continues...

Map of Kosovo

Serbian reaction to the West’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence sparked a huge demonstration:

Approximately 200,000 Serbs attended a rally today protesting Western recognition of Kosovo’s independence. Afterwards mobs surged through the streets attacking various embassies, including the American. The crowd briefly broke into the embassy and burned part of it.

There are numerous reports in the MSM and in the blogosphere. They disagree about the numbers - some say 150,000:

A protest of at least 150,000 Serbs in Belgrade turned violent on Thursday when protesters stormed the US embassy and set the building alight.

Several hundred protesters attacked and broke into the city’s US embassy and set the building on fire. The building is closed.

The protest was against Kosovo’s declaration of independence on Sunday and US support for the move.

The most complete report I’ve found is from a Swiss site, which links to Reuters. Among other things, it said that “Washington reacted with cluelessness anger.”

The embassy had already been stoned on Sunday, and some of the windows were boarded up. Does Washington think this kind of outrage will simply go away?

Needless to say, the UN mouthed the usual bromides. Sing along with me:

“I’m outraged by the mob attack,” said its ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, who added he would ask the U.N. Security Council to condemn it unanimously in the latest diplomatic shockwave from Kosovo’s secession on Sunday.

Is he really that cynical or merely a moronic bureaucrat earning his daily bread? I vote for #1.

US embassy in BelgradeThe violence -- which spilled over to other embassies and included widespread vandalising of shops and banks -- marred a mass state-backed rally by up to 200,000 Serbs refusing to accept the loss of their religious heartland Kosovo.

“As long as we live, Kosovo is Serbia,” Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica told the crowd from a stage in front of the old Yugoslav parliament building in Belgrade.

“We’re not alone in our fight. President Putin is with us,” he said, paying tribute to the Russian leader who has opposed U.S. and European states’ recognition of Kosovo.

I’m curious as to which other nations’ embassies were attacked. No doubt, they’re all part of the EU. Serbia is feeling a mite betrayed:
- - - - - - - - -
The “people’s rally” was Serbia’s biggest since protesters filled the streets in 1999 to protest at NATO bombing and then in October 2000, when they stormed the same parliament building to oust nationalist autocrat Slobodan Milosevic.

The atmosphere had been subdued as Serbs of all ages listened to speeches, melancholic patriotic songs and poems about Kosovo, seen as the birthplace of a glorious medieval kingdom but now home to an Albanian majority.

When the rioters - mostly the young - stormed the boarded-up American embassy, the police were nowhere to be seen. They didn’t move in for another half hour, which gave the rioters plenty of time to wreak havoc:

Police in armoured vans secured the streets and tried to cordon off the whole embassy district, just a few hundred metres (yards) from the official rally. People tried to flee clouds of painful teargas.

[…]

Rioters -- many wearing balaclavas and scarves to hide their faces -- had attacked the building with sticks and metal bars after destroying two guard boxes outside.

They ripped metal grilles from windows and tore a handrail off the entrance to use as a battering ram and gain entry.

One man climbed up to the first floor, ripped the Stars and Stripes off its pole and briefly put up a Serbian flag.

Other people jumped up and down on the balcony, holding up a Serbian flag as the crowd below of about 1,000 people cheered them on, shouting “Serbia, Serbia”.

Black smoke billowed out of the embassy. Papers and chairs were thrown out of the windows, with doors wedged in the window frames and burning.

Some 200 riot police arrived later, driving the crowd away. Some protesters sat on the ground, bleeding. Fire engines arrived to put out the flames, local media reported.

This was a minority of the crowd that turned out for the rally. The main contingent set off for prayers at the Cathedral:

Meanwhile, the main rally proceeded as planned with a march to the city’s biggest Orthodox cathedral for a prayer service.

State television switched between scenes of the rioting and the serenity of choral singing at the church service.

Small groups of looters, many drunk, broke into street kiosks and shops, taking cigarettes, chocolate and shoes.

News agencies said foreign banks and McDonalds fast-food stores were also attacked and eight city buses damaged.

In the crowds at the main rally were many hardline nationalist Radicals, from Serbia’s biggest party, who shouted anti-Albanian slogans.

“Today Kosovo is in all our hearts,” their leader Tomislav Nikolic told the rally.

In contrast to the violence by up to 5,000 mainly young rioters, the lack of passion in the main rally crowd appeared to support comments by Western analysts and some ordinary people here that most Serbs were bitter at but resigned to the loss of Kosovo and tired of years of conflict with neighbouring states.

There is also deep humiliation at the lack of world support, and fear for their countrymen, now blocked off from them:

“The politicians are trying to take advantage of the situation. This is not what people wanted. Not these empty words,” said one protester, Dejan Pavlovic.

“The loss of Kosovo is a huge humiliation. It’s awful what they are doing to us,” said Danica, a government employee who did not want to give her surname.

“I don’t think this protest might change anything, but I don’t see any other way to express my dissatisfaction.”

Obviously, we have not seen the last of Serbian dissatisfaction at what they consider a huge and criminal injustice. Meanwhile, the fate of their fellow Serbs in Kosovo will shortly become even more of a humanitarian crisis than it already is.

21 comments:

Chalons said...

We wrongly bombed the sh*t out of those people when we had no business getting involved. And now Bush supports creation of a little jihad launch pad in Europe.

No wonder this is the very first US Embassy attack that doesn't get me angry.

DP111 said...

At U.S. request, the U.N. Security Council condemned "mob attacks" on the embassy in Belgrade.

“I’m outraged by the mob attack,” said its ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad

And "no comment" on the illegal bombing of a nation and its dismemberment.

Croat555 said...

Dymphna,

Croatian embassy was demolished and set on fire as well. Croatia is not member of EU and did not recognize Kosovo yet, probably will in a week or so. They probably had mistaken checkerboard for stripes. It can happen.

Little Green said...

One expected outrage and anger from the conservatives, the kind of outrage that fills your blogs when some mob in the middle east burns an American flag (let alone setting its embassy on fire). Surprisingly, I have read comments on your blogs (the likes of LGF) that justify the Serbian actions or consider them negligible.

If there is another war between Muslim nations and the West (and we could argue that there is on already taking place), we won't find all Christians on the same side. If you can forget the murderous Nazi regime and befriend the Germans who killed 6 million of your dear Jews, I can't see why you can't forget what happened nearly 500 years ago between a Muslim empire and a European one. Your hypocrisy and ignorance is merely astonishing.

ScottSA said...

As an aside, and speaking of cluelessness, I tripped over to LGF and read down through the comments. About half the morons were in a state of uproar about the desecration of the US flag, with clearly no understanding of the conflict itself, but aside from the general cluelessness, one egregiously idiotic idiot claimed he hadn't been following it, and asked whether "Serbian independence" was good or bad. Good Grief.

ScottSA said...

Little green: If you can forget the murderous Nazi regime and befriend the Germans who killed 6 million of your dear Jews, I can't see why you can't forget what happened nearly 500 years ago between a Muslim empire and a European one. Your hypocrisy and ignorance is merely astonishing.

And your logic is non-existant. You may not have noticed, but Nazis don't rule Germany anymore, but unfortunately Muslims still rule Islam. The Nazi gas chambers are gone, but the Islamic beheadings, stonings, and glaring 6th century ignorance still benight us.

whiskey_199 said...

Ignoring Little Green, who's main complaint is that the US and the West is not morally pure and flawless, and therefore concludes both are nothing but garbage, this situation is serious.

First, the government and nation of Serbia are divided. There is space to appeal to a nationalist sentiment by military and other ambitious men. A coup would not surprise me. Serbia's democracy is young, institutions unstable, and the stress of being alone, outnumbered (by traditional enemies) is strong.

Second, the overt play to Putin and Russia increases the danger. It's one thing for Serbia and Kosovo to clash, quite another for Serbia + Russia to clash with Kosovo and Albania and possibly some elements of NATO and/or the US. This is a conflict the US does not need.

Third, Kosovo is already a Saudi-funded Wahabbist outpost in Europe for Jihad and AQ. Things will only get worse, as it allows a European safe haven for AQ and terrorist operations. With relatively good communications and facilities compared to Waziristan or Somalia or Sudan, and safety from prying eyes of Israel (Syria has been proven to be not as airtight as Jihadists thought, witness Mugniyeh's death).

Finally, this seems to be typical of Balkan events circa 1900-1914. I.E. strong nationalist sentiment by an objectively threatened Serbia, support by Russia, and events on the ground determining things. What will happen if US Embassy people are taken hostage and/or killed? If there is a Serbian coup and the Army moves to "safeguard" neighboring Serbian areas? Engages in ethnic cleansing of it's own?

I don't see NATO strong enough to do more than weakly protest, and the US does not spend enough money (only 4% of GDP compared to Reagan's 7%) to maintain enough men and material to respond to any such provocation given commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan and potential trouble in Iran and Pakistan and North Korea.

All in all, US and EU policy makers went looking for trouble and found it.

livfreerdie said...

A Serb posted on PL trying to understand why the US is behind Kosovo. He grants Serbs are no angels but neither were the Albanians and Muslims. He and a few others point back to the break up of Yugoslavia. Not being well read on European history/politics this is just FYI.

Tom

Dymphna said...

Croat 555 --

Thanks for the added information.

Little Green--

ok you've had your say. Now go away. Your words are not worth the time you took to type them. Go back to the swamp.

Dymphna said...

Oh, btw, Scott SA -- that is why the audience at lgf has no idea what Europe is...they make Americans look bad to the rest of the world...

...if any of the rest of the world reads them, that is.

Cobra said...

As an American of East European flavour, I can tell you that what USA did was unconscionable.
I understand the Serbs really well, as they are defending their country stolen from under them by the muslim Albanians, who were colonized in Kosovo, as they were in Bosnia by the Turks, who conquered and controlled the Balkans for four hundred years.
I usually do not dis the US government, but this is very evil...

nikolai said...

This is one of the stupidest things the US (and Britain argh!) have done in a long, long time.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Stevastopol! Stevastopol!

Sorry, I've been reading up on other stupid things my country did. The crimean war. Good grief, I never realised how disorganised it was...

whisky_199, I was remarking something similar to my wife last night, in general terms. Last time we got involve in the balkans the russians were still in disarray, internally, and dithering. This time Russia is organised and increasingly confident in itself, and they're siding with Serbia.

I'm not even going to try and guess how things will turn out, but I bet it'll end up being initially Russia supporting a serb intervention to take back those two northern provinces.

spackle said...

I cant believe this but for the first time an attack on our embassy didnt bother me that much. I actually understood it. A little OT. If this really starts to spin out of control I wonder how it will effect the campaign, especially for the democratic nomination. This could well show Obama as the empty suit he is and put a plus in the clinton column.

spackle said...

Without having to delve into the history of Kosovo I wonder if someone could answer this question? Has Kosovo always had an Albanian majority or was it bad immigration policy or pograms or what? Just curious.

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

Spackle :

Kosovo had a Serb majority until the late 1800's, then 70% Albanian in 1980, and 90% Albanian now. The total Serb population was pretty constant for most of this time, but the relative proportion fell. Process is partially terrifying reproduction rates among the Albanians (its was still AVERAGE 6-8 children per family in the 1990's), supplemented by repeated ethnic cleansing of Serbs (late 1800's under Ottoman control, WWII under German occupation, 1980's despite Yugoslavia, 1999-present under the UN and NATO).

The Poster Formerly Known as Gordon said...

Thank you for the map, Dymphna. It shows a pretty obvious solution, and requires a second solution that will be immensely more difficult.

The obvious solution is to detach the northern three majority Serb districts from Kosovo and give them to Serbia. The "borders can't be changed" counter-argument is, obviously, already gone here.

The more difficult solution is a requirement that both Serbia and Kosovo not discriminate against the respective Albanian and Serbian minorities in the two nations.

And this will be much easier for Serbia - they already have some ethnic and religious minorities in Serbia proper, such as the Sanjaks, that they have treated fairly since the Milosevic era.

The EU and US should extract a similar pledge, with appropriate implementation measures, from the Kosovars as the price for recognition of their independence.

For those who absolutely refuse to live as a minority, the final suggestion is an orderly population exchange such as was implemented between Turkey and Greece in the 1920's (after their war ended in 1923).

Alexis said...

The Serb torching of the American Embassy has unfortunately played into the hands of America's anti-Serb faction (Richard Holbrooke, Wesley Clark, Michael Sells, Madeleine Albright, etc.).

Granted, America’s recognition of Kosovo is a major blunder that profits nobody other than al-Qaeda. Yet, it is also the kind of blunder that the United States could conceivably reverse. This is a presidential year, and if enough pressure were put on McCain and Obama to oppose Kosovo independence, it could make a difference. The recent attack on the United States Embassy in Belgrade complicates matters.

America’s House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Affairs Committee are successfully steering the United States into a new war over Kosovo. I don’t want that! Wouldn’t it be better to let Serbia and Russia take over security responsibilities for Kosovo, freeing up American and European troops to fight in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda? Through clever diplomacy, Serbia could recover Kosovo without firing a shot. Instead, members of the Serbian Radical Party seem to prefer arson.

The Poster Formerly Known as Gordon said...

For those of you who want to risk apoplexy, follow this link: http://www.slate.com/id/2184997, to an article by Christopher Hitchens, who despite his left-wingism is second to no one in his hatred of modern Islam. Among the more interesting statements (for those of you too lazy to follow the link):

But it needs to be understood that "Serbia" itself has lost nothing and has nothing to complain about. With the independence of Kosovo, the Yugoslav idea is finally and completely dead, but it was Serbian irredentism that killed the last vestige of that idea, and it is to that account that the whole cost ought to be charged.

Forget all the nonsense that you may have heard about Kosovo being "the Jerusalem" of Serbia. It may contain some beautiful and ancient Serbian and Serbian Orthodox cultural sites, but it is much more like Serbia's West Bank or Gaza, with a sweltering, penned-up, subject population who were for generations treated as if they were human refuse in the land of their own birth. Nobody who has spent any time in the territory, as I did during and after the eviction of the Serb militias, can believe for a single second that any Kosovar would ever again submit to rule from Belgrade. It's over.

But how did it begin? In fact, Kosovo has never been recognized internationally as part of Serbia. It was only ever recognized as part of Yugoslavia, and with the liquidation of that state Serbian claims upon its territory became null and void.

Thus, and if we exempt some decisions made by Stalinist bureaucrats after the re-creation of Yugoslavia in 1945, Kosovo has never been treated or recognized as Serb territory within Yugoslavia and never at all by international treaties outside that former state. Even those hasty Stalinist decisions were later undone by Tito, who granted Kosovo a large measure of autonomy in 1974. It is very important to remember that Slobodan Milosevic launched his own petty and violent career, as the head of a Serb-Montenegrin crime family, precisely by canceling Kosovo's pre-existing autonomy in 1990, remaking himself as a nationalist demagogue instead of a Communist one, and bringing in the roof of the Yugoslav federation.

Of course, one ought to acknowledge that this is a calamity for the Serbs and indeed an injustice in the sense of an insult to their pride and history. But the injustice was self-inflicted. I remember seeing, in Kosovo, the "settlements" for Serbs that the Milosevic regime was building in a vain effort to alter the demography. And who were the bedraggled "settlers"? The luckless Serbian civilians who had been living in the Krajina area of Croatia until their fearless leader's war of conquest for "Greater Serbia" had brought general disaster and seen them finally evicted from farms and homesteads they had garrisoned for centuries.


The truth hurts, 1389.

wildiris said...

spackle and fellow peacekeeper, better than 65% of the current Albanian population of Kosovo is under the age of 25. That means a significant part of that often quoted figure of 90% is children born only in the last 10-12 years since the Kosovo War ended.

serbovka said...

More than four IIIyrian Entities compose Albania.
LABEATS, TAULANTS, ALBANS, ENKELEIS, DARASETS and KAONS.
All of them speaks Illyrian language but with different dialects. Three first has a very distinct Illyrian dialect named GEGE and the rest has another Illyrian dialect named TOSKE.
On 1912 they united in one single state and agreed to be named Eagle’s Land. SHQIPERIA.
The foreign “SKOLARS” named Albania based on the name of only one of the Entities.
This was not only Ignorance but also a big mistake of these “very educated Scholars“.
The situation then was so critical for SHQIPETARET, so they accepted any injustice and compromise. This was the big price they pay to gain the independence. Of course many other Illyrian entities was ignored. This has been done in purpose to use Illyrian territories as a trade merchandise to please slavics, which in return were used in two wars. The Slavics paid their price. They lost 56 million people 1908 – 1946. Illyrian paid bigger price. They were spread over 5 different states.
It's about time to recognize the historical right of Kosova (Dardania) to have its destiny fulfilled-That is full independence. Kosova never was a Serbian province. It was there, since the times of birth of European civilization, a very distinct Dardanian/llyrian identity. Always populated by Dardanias who, although under constant pressure of forcefully migration by Serbian shovinism, Tito's Yugoslavia & Milloshevic's Serbia, still make up 92% of the population. They speak ilirian language with the dialect GEGE. Serbs always have been a minority there. We know that Serbs appeared in Balkans (then llyria) only by the 6th Century AD, and they speak a language more similar to Ukrainians then Russians. They have always been a minority and 'the story' of Kosova being the Heartland of Serbia is just a pure Serbian nationalist fantasy. Facts Speak Louder Than Words and Serbian’s Lies Will Collapse by Themselves. Serbs always have been considered as oppressors there, not just by Albanian majority, but also by other ethnic groups too. Serbs just occupied Kosova during the rise of the Serbian nationalism early 20th century from Ottomans, who by then were loosing the Balkans after 500 years of occupation. Now Kosova should be Free!
To find the answer for the question “do you think Kosovo’s independence will strengthen separatist movements elsewhere”, please refer to:
http://www.acesofww2.com/germany/aces/Hartmann.htm
Erich Hartman – top ace of all the time. German Luftwaffe Bf 109 Pilot.
Near the end of WWII, in early May 1945, Hartmann, then Gruppenkommandeur of famous Jagdgeschwader 52, and his Commodore, Hermann Graf, ground crew, family members, and other civilians, who had joined the squadron, seeking protection approaching Russian army, moved west in direction of territory already occupied by US troops. On May 8th, 1945, the soldiers and civilians surrendered to US troops in the region between Bavaria (German province) and Czech border. But on May 17th, the US Army delivered all of these German troops and civilians to the Red Army. How did the Russian troops treat the civilians? They tortured, raped German woman, children at least 12 years old. Some woman were shot after the rapes. Others were not so lucky. A twelve year old girl whose mother had been raped and shoot being raped by several solders. She died from these acts soon afterward. Then more Russian came, and it began all over again. During the night, entire German families committed suicide with men killing their wives and daughters, then themselves. This is the way the slavics treat the human been, the innocent civilians. This is the way the Serbs treated innocent Croatian, Bosnian and Dardanian civilians. If any entity of human been will be treated like that, then they are in title to ask and gain the independence.