An independent Kosovo offers a European foothold for jihadists, argues Hermann Kelly
Gordon Brown's support for Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence should surprise and disappoint people in equal measure. Surprise because, as Prime Minister, he failed to discuss the matter in any depth in the Parliament before he made this announcement. And disappoint because this ill-thought-out move breaks international law, creates a dangerous precedent and gives succour and hope to every crackpot secessionist group in the world.
This latest Government move has sent out the message that if secessionists fight hard enough or are successful in their work of ethnic cleansing, they will be rewarded at the EU diplomats, table. Mr Brown is basically saying that the most violent bullyboy wins and the last military victor takes all; but what he should be telling the Albanians and the Serbs is that Kosovo's status should be resolved by negotiation and under international law.
The Government doesn't seem to realise what it is walking into in Kosovo. The Balkans area is covered by a volcanic range of simmering hostilities which have erupted and can erupt again at any time. Conflict is this area is not new, for hostilities between Christian Serbs and Albanians (the vast majority of whom are Muslims) have been ongoing in Kosovo for many centuries.
The peoples of this region have intermittently lived at peace and enmity for the best part of 500 years. No side in this affair has clean hands but that is no reason for the British Government to reward the latest and most successful perpetrator of ethnic cleansing in Europe, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
The Serbs have been in Kosovo since the seventh century. It is is the geographical cradle of their civilisation, attested to by the plethora of Christian monasteries and churches which dot its landscape. And what about the Serbs who lived here? They have fought for centuries to defend European and Christian civilisation. It was at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 that they fought (70,000 of them to the death) to keep the Islamic Ottoman Empire from rolling over the rest of Europe. The Serbian people have been a bulwark against Islamic expansion into Europe for many centuries. It was the Serbian people who opposed the aggression of Germany in the First World War and the rise of Nazism in World War II.
They made British victories possible but what thanks do they now get for their efforts? Betrayal by the Western elites who care little for their struggle, and revenge from Germany which now takes its opportunity to put the boot into the Serbs.
While some may point that 90 per cent of Kosovo are currently Albanian, after the Great War the majority of the Kosovan population were Serbian but they have been pushed out by violence or the threat of violence as well as being simply outbred by Albanian Muslims, who have the highest birthrate in Europe.
During the 1990s Albanian and Islamic militias crossed over the border from Albania into Kosovo, murdering and pushing out the Serbs while at the same time destroying their churches and monasteries. The 200,000 Serbs who have been pushed out of Kosovo in the past two decades must have their right to return vindicated in law and, in fact, before EU foreign ministers speak any more on the subject.
There needs to be a recognition that Serbia has also changed. The Communist war criminal Slobodan Milosevic is long gone and replaced by people who support democracy.
The United States is supporting Kosovan independence in the belief that the Kosovan people, who are mostly Muslim, support America, but it is very naïve to think that a majority Muslim population will love America for very long. Eaten bread is soon forgotten; the Kosovans have taken what they can get from America and NATO and will no doubt look to Saudi Arabia and other Islamic states which already have a strong economic and religious interest in the new statelet.
The US government should remember that both the Mujahideen of Afghanistan and Saddam's henchmen in Iraq were happy to take dollars and arms when their interests dictated they do so. Then, their power intact, they quickly turned on the United States. Indeed, the Afghans are currently shooting at American helicopters with US rocket launchers. Once the Albanian Muslims of Kosovo are secure in their state, just watch things swiftly change.
Kosovans are not a nation, so why should they have a nation state? Nor is it a multi-ethnic state where the rights of all are respected. It is small, economically unviable, unstable political entity which arouses great enmity from its neighbours and can act as a base for organised crime in the future. Already Albania is a hub of drug trade, processing heroin from Afghanistan, and a centre for human trafficking for the purpose of prostitution; and if you want a cheap stolen Mercedes, Albania is also the place for you because it is a lawless centre of organised crime.
Another problem is that Kosovo has the potential to become a foothold in Europe for Islamic militants. Yes, Britain and America are facilitating the emergence of a base for radical Muslim jihadists right under their noses. We know already that jihadists from Yemen and Chechnya have fought for the KLA and that Saudi Arabia has pumped huge amounts of money into building mosques and religious centres there.
Albanian militants sought to organise an attack on a US army base in New Jersey last year. Unless they are dealt with very differently there is a danger that Kosovo will become a beachhead of Islamic terrorism in Europe. Al-Qaeda has already gained a position there and is unlikely to give it up for obvious strategic reasons. The American people will quickly find that betraying the Serbian people of Kosovo as a PR exercise in Islamic countries will backfire on them.
We know of Serbian anger over the loss of Kosovo, and can be sure that this dispute will come back again until resolved. The anger of a dispossessed Serbian people awaits us unless the situation is dealt with in a different fashion.
When a NATO commander ordered the British Army to prevent Russian planes from landing in the Kosovan capital in 1999 General Sir Michael Jackson refused, saying: "Sir, I'm not starting World War III for you."
Before Britain goes any further it is important to address some of the difficulties which will arise from Kosovo's break from international law. Otherwise this regional dispute will fester until the inevitable happens. The First World War began with a single shot in Sarajevo, just up the road from Kosovo. Gordon Brown should learn from history or repeat its mistakes. He must swiftly change tack on Kosovo.