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Jewish World Review Aug. 2, 1999 /20 Av 5759

Don Feder

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Serbs suffer under western eyes -- THE FAMILIES OF 14 SERB FARMERS murdered in Kosovo must take comfort in National Security Adviser Sandy Berger's response to the massacre: "It is profoundly wrong and unacceptable" -- harsh words, indeed.

The bodies were found grouped around farm equipment in the village of Gracko. Victims' faces had been mutilated beyond recognition.

Gracko is surrounded by Albanian villages. Serbs there live in a state of siege, never venturing outside except in a convoy.

Are Berger and his boss Bill Clinton shocked by this turn of events? Opponents of NATO's crusade predicted that if the West won the war, returning Albanians would purge the province of Serbs and Gypsies.

Each day brings new reports of atrocities against Serbs -- the murder of a professor at the University of Pristina, the killing of a married couple near the town of Gnijlane, Orthodox monasteries destroyed, 15 houses a day torched in Prizren, kidnappings, torture, beatings and evictions.

NATO commanders shrug. Kosovo Force Lt. Cmdr. Louis Garneau discloses, "We don't keep statistics on civilian deaths" under NATO's watch. How convenient.

Maj. Jan Joosten brushes aside suggestions that NATO's 35,000 troops do more (how about something?) to protect the Serb population. "Prevention means you have to protect every person here. That is an impossibility," the major maintains.

Recall that during the bombing, Clinton assured us that when NATO's peacekeepers ran the show, the rights of all ethnic groups would be protected. To put it mildly, that was a crock.

Meanwhile, the cadres of the Kosovo Liberation Army are having a high old time, celebrating in cafes confiscated from Serbs, parading with weapons they're not supposed to have.

An article in Friday's New York Times reports that the KLA "has taken sweeping political control of the province ... seizing businesses and apartments, and collecting taxes." KLA leader Hashim Thaci has appointed himself "prime minister" (for life?).

The rebels are governing the way Al Capone ran Chicago. Not just Serbs, but Albanian shopkeepers are looted. The owner of a furniture store said KLA goons arrived to requisition his Audi. "They told me that if I did not comply immediately they knew a cellar I might like to visit."

Baton Haxhui, the editor of an Albanian newspaper, charges, "Each day it is becoming more dangerous to think and speak independently."

To no one's surprise, the guerrillas missed their first disarmament deadline (for turning in heavy weapons). On July 23, German soldiers stumbled on a cache of 10 tons of ammunition -- probably a fraction of what the terrorists possess.

KFOR Commander, Lt. Gen. Sir Michael Jackson, says he doesn't consider missing the deadline a "noncompliance" but an "indication of the seriousness with which the KLA takes its commitments. How a breach of faith can be taken as a sign of diligence, Sir General did not explain.

Terrorists with ties to Osama bin Laden running around with AK-47s and anti-tank weapons is bad enough. Worse, Thaci's boys aren't just killers and kleptos, but mafioso who are neck-deep in the drug trade. (During the war, The Washington Times quoted an unnamed U.S. drug-enforcement official commenting on the KLA, "They were drug-dealers in 1998 and now, because of politics, they're freedom fighters.")

More than 40 percent of the heroin reaching Western Europe moves through the province, which sits astride the major distribution route from Turkey to the West.

Effectively, there are no borders between Kosovo and Albania or Macedonia.

Belgrade had contained the problem. But under KLA management, Kosovo has become a drug lord's paradise.

Warns Marko Nicovic, a former Belgrade police chief who for years worked with anti-drug agencies in the West, "As each day passes, the Albanian mafia (KLA) becomes richer and more powerful."

Is it for this that we rained death and devastation on Yugoslavia for 11 weeks -- not for democracy or human rights or to end ethnic cleansing, but so Kosovo could be cleansed of non-Albanians and turned into a narcotics superstore under the benevolent direction of Hashim (aka, "Snake") Thaci?

You'll say that before and during the war atrocities were committed against Albanians. But the United States and NATO weren't accomplices to those crimes. We weren't the guarantors of life, liberty and property in Kosovo. Unlike the persecution of Serbs, what happened to the Albanians wasn't done under Western eyes.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder can be reached by clicking here.

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©1999, Creators Syndicate