01 April 2006

More trouble in Kosovo: Prime minister associated with ethnic cleansing

WORLD NET DAILY (USA), 02.03.2006 13:31
Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin by G2B contributor Aleksandar Pavic
The newly appointed prime minister of Kosovo is raising alarm with the Christian Serb and non-Albanian populations.
On Thursday, retired General Agim Ceku was officially offered the position of prime minister of Serbia's UN-administered Kosovo province by Fatmir Sejdiu, the president of Kosovo. Ceku's expected approval by Kosovo's Albanian-dominated parliament is designed to send a clear message to the province's embattled Christian Serb and non-Albanian populations.
Ceku, a former Yugoslav People's Army captain who rose to prominence during the 1990s Yugoslav civil war, when he joined newly seceded Croatia's army and rose to the rank of general, is known to have participated in two ethnic-cleansing campaigns against Serb populations in Croatia -- in the so-called Medak Pocket in the fall of 1993 and in Operation "Storm" in 1995.
According to Jane's Defense Weekly of June 10, 1999, then-Brigadier General Agim Ceku "masterminded the successful HV [Croatian Army] offensive at Medak" in September 1993, in an operation entitled "Scorched Earth," which resulted in the total destruction of the Serbian villages of Divoselo, Pocitelj and Citluk, and the massacre of over 100 civilians.
A Canadian peacekeeper under UN mandate gave the following account: "As the sun rose over the horizon, it revealed a Medak Valley engulfed in smoke and flames. As the frustrated soldiers of 2PPCLI waited for the order to move forward into the pocket, shots and screams still rang out as the ethnic cleansing continued.... About 20 members of the international press had tagged along, anxious to see the Medak battleground. Calvin [a Canadian officer] called an informal press conference at the head of the column and loudly accused the Croats of trying to hide war crimes against the Serb inhabitants. The Croats started withdrawing back to their old lines, taking with them whatever loot they hadn't destroyed. All livestock had been killed and houses torched. French reconnaissance troops and the Canadian command element pushed up the valley and soon began to find bodies of Serb civilians, some already decomposing, others freshly slaughtered.... Finally, on the drizzly morning of Sept. 17, teams of UN civilian police arrived to probe the smouldering ruins for murder victims. Rotting corpses lying out in the open were catalogued, then turned over to the peacekeepers for burial".
A Canadian reporter gave the following account of the Medak operation: "It was here that the men of the Second Battalion Princess Patricia┬┤s Canadian Light Infantry came face to face with the vulgar savagery of which Ceku was capable. Over 200 Serbian inhabitants of the Medak Pocket were slaughtered in a grotesque manner (female rape victims were found after being burned alive). Our traumatized troops that buried the grisly remains were encouraged to collect evidence. "
Jane's also lists Ceku as "one of the key planners of the successful 'Operation Storm'" led by the Croatian Armed Forces against Krajina Serbs in 1995, for which he has been investigated by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia.
A section of the ICTY report entitled "The Indictment. Operation Storm, A Prima Facie Case" says: "During the course of the military offensive, the Croatian armed forces and special police committed numerous violations of international humanitarian law, including but not limited to, shelling of Knin and other cities... During, and in the 100 days following the military offensive, at least 150 Serb civilians were summarily executed, and many hundreds disappeared....In a widespread and systematic manner, Croatian troops committed murder and other inhumane acts upon and against Croatian Serbs" Ceku retired from the Croatian army in 1997 and soon returned to Kosovo.
When the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia began in March 1999, the Albanian terrorist guerilla organization, the KLA, initially did very badly against Serbian-Yugoslav forces under its senior commander Suleiman "Sultan" Selimi. In May 1999, with the blessing of the NATO leadership, Ceku was appointed the KLA's chief of staff, replacing Selimi, and immediately went about reorganizing it. In the closing days of the Kosovo War, the KLA began providing systematic intelligence to NATO as well as mounting attacks to lure Serbian forces into the open, enabling NATO warplanes to bomb them. According to reports at the time, Ceku was the principal liaison between NATO and the KLA.
Throughout the air campaign against Yugoslavia, Ceku was portrayed as a loyal ally and he was frequently present at the NATO briefings with top generals such as Wesley Clark and Michael Jackson.
Under terms of the Kosovo peace deal, the KLA was to be disarmed and re-constituted into a U.N. sponsored "disaster relief organization" known as the Kosovo Protection Corps. But the KLA never disarmed. Instead, it has been charged with numerous attacks against the remaining Serb and non-Albanian population in Kosovo, of which 250,000 have left the province since 1999.
Serbia has issued an Interpol warrant against Ceku, and he has been detained twice at European airports during the previous two years, but was released each time at the urging of the U.N. bureaucracy that currently runs Kosovo.
According to senior diplomats speaking off-record, Ceku's appointment can be understood as a brazen message to the Christian and non-Albanian population in Kosovo - "that it's best to leave now before a repeat of Croatia happens." And, worse, this is not causing an uproar within U.N. and Western circles eager to appease the radical Muslim element in Kosovo. Indeed, when the prospect of a Hague indictment against Ceku appeared three years ago, it sent shutters through the U.N. bureaucracy:
"If we lose him it will be a disaster," said a diplomat close to Bernard Kouchner, the U.N.'s special representative. "When you get to the second level of the KPC, you're down to a bunch of local thugs."
And Ceku continues to receive Western support. Last May, he was a guest speaker at a discussion entitled: "KPC: Has the experiment worked?", hosted and sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace in Washington D.C.
In its statute, the USIP is described as a "federal institution created by Congress to promote the prevention, management, and peaceful resolution of international conflicts", and, as defined in the objective of its Balkans Initiative project, an organization whose aim is "to promote peace and reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia."
Sources in the Serbian Government have called Ceku's possible appointment as a "provocation" and a "deliberate undermining of the peace process." Some sources in the Government, however, think that this may be another provocation designed to push the Serbian side to leave the negotiating table, after which it would be deemed "uncooperative," making it easier to impose a solution on it in the shape of an independent Kosovo, which is the course currently championed by Britain in the first place but also, unfortunately, the U.S.