| ARE NATO STRIKES ENOUGH?
"The problem is he's [Milosevic]accelerated greatly and we don't
have a way to stop it. This will not be a triumph if we've destroyed their
equipment but Kosovo is empty." - Former United States Ambassador
to Croatia, Peter Galbraith
Aftermath in Belgrade on Saturday, April 3, 1999 morning
As I said many times already, NATO knew the air strikes would not be
enough. They knew that air strikes would do nothing more than provoke the
Serbs into further agressions against the ethnic Albanians in Kosova. Many
military strategists knew this in advance and I am hearing this more and
more in the anlaysis in the news. Before the Serbs exhaust all their military
might they will make sure there is not one Albnain left in Kosova.
At this point ground troops may not be enough. It has been reported
that the Serbs are using Albanians as human shields on their military equipment
and also they have set up five concentration camps in Kosova and we can
only guess what that means for these people.
The brutal Serbian campaign against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo appears
aimed at emptying the province of a majority of its people and is on the
verge of creating a monumental refugee crisis, NATO and American officials
And NATO officials also suggested that the air assaults against Serbia
may not be enough to stop the Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic, from
achieving his goal as his army, police units, paramilitary forces and armed
civilians continued to sweep across Kosovo in a reported rampage of mass
executions, torched villages and the forced eviction of ethnic Albanians
to neighboring countries.
"We are on the brink of a major humanitarian disaster in Kosovo,
the likes of which have not been seen in Europe since the closing stages
of World War II," Jamie Shea, the spokesman for NATO in Brussels said
this morning. He said Milosevic was trying to irreversibly empty Kosovo
of its ethnic Albanian inhabitants and, in the process, send them over
the borders to subvert neighboring countries.
Shea said NATO was in a "race against time."
Other NATO officials involved in military planning said constraints
being imposed by NATO's civilian leaders were preventing the allied air
forces from hitting at the heart of Milosevic's military forces. The civilian
leaders of NATO want to use "gentleman's club rules against a man
who was practicing genocide," one NATO military planner said.
For example, the planner said, the civilian leaders had ruled out attacking
the Belgrade headquarters where Milosevic's military lieutenants were planning
operations in Kosovo.
A former United States Ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith, said
Sunday that the current air campaign might eventually cripple Milosevic's
ability to wage war but could leave Kosovo "an empty square."
"The problem is he's accelerated greatly and we don't have a way
to stop it," Galbraith said. "This will not be a triumph if we've
destroyed their equipment but Kosovo is empty."
Galbraith said he believed that the use of NATO ground troops might
be the only way to halt Milosevic.
According to NATO, Milosevic was using the Tigers, a paramilitary volunteer
force led by Zeljko Raznjatovic, also known as Arkan, in his Kosovo drive.
The Tigers were considered one of the most brutal units in the Bosnian
war, where they drove around in jeeps, executed people with pistols and
rifles and then looted their homes.
One NATO official said that allied aircraft could eventually attack
the 300 or so tanks that the Yugoslav Army was using in Kosovo, but that
it was almost impossible to attack the Tigers, armed civilians or other
As part of a public campaign to maintain popular support in the United
States for the NATO air strikes, Clinton Administration officials -- including
Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and the President's national security
adviser, Samuel R. Berger -- talked on television Sunday of Milosevic's
stepped-up efforts to clear the ethnic Albanians from Kosovo.
But none of the American officials condemned Milosevic as strongly as
the British Secretary of State for Defense, George Robertson, who spoke
of the Yugoslav leader's "murderous campaign in Kosovo."
Robertson said reports from ethnic Albanian refugees who had escaped
over the borders were enough to "convince us that we are confronting
a regime which is intent on genocide."
At NATO headquarters, Shea said Milosevic's "scorched-earth policy"
against the ethnic Albanians ranged across all of Kosovo, with "wholesale
ethnic cleansing" taking place in five towns -- Leskovac, Podujevo,
Srbica, Malisevo and Djakovica.
As an illustration that Milosevic's operations were not only confined
to the central Drenica area, the stronghold of the guerrillas of the Kosovo
Liberation Army, but encompassed the whole province, NATO officials said
that Serb forces were creating a 10-kilometer-wide buffer zone along the
Albanian border. This was being accomplished by emptying and then burning
villages along that strip of territory.
In the last few days, 50,000 people had been uprooted from their homes,
making a total of 500,000 ethnic Albanians who have become refugees since
the conflict started 14 months ago, the NATO officials said.
At the Albanian border, Shea said, Serbian border guards were stripping
refugees fleeing into Albania of their identity documents and license plates,
testifying to Milosevic's determination to get rid of ethnic Albanians.
Human rights groups said they were continuing to receive accounts of
executions of whole families and of the separation of men from women.
A NATO official said more precise information was hard to come by because
there had been unspecified "technical" difficulties in launching
the Predator, an unmanned spy plane specially developed to transmit images
of activities on the ground as they take place.
The Predator would not be airborne over Kosovo for another day or two,
the NATO official said. Other imagery from satellites and high-flying unmanned
aircraft was being used primarily for identifying targets and assessment
of bomb damage, the official said.
There were continued reports today of widespread fires and of forced
expulsions by the police in the Kosovo town of Pec. Some of the refugees
arriving in Montenegro said the Serbian police in Pec had spread the word
that the remaining ethnic Albanian population there would be forced to
board buses Monday to take them to the Montenegro border.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said tonight that
15,000 ethnic Albanians had crossed into Albania in the last 24 hours.
A spokesman for the agency, Panos Moumtzis, said there were almost no men
in the group between the ages of 16 and 60, and many young women were being
kept behind in Kosovo.
In the Kosovo capital of Pristina, several residents who reached relatives
abroad reported that families were being expelled from their apartments
and collected in the city stadium. The head of the Kosovo Crisis Group
in London, Bajram Gecaj, said that the dean of the School of Medicine in
Pristina, Alush Gashi, had been executed.
The whereabouts of Ibrahim Rugova, the pacifist leader of the ethnic
Albanians for the last decade, and of Veton Surroi, a prominent newspaper
publisher, remained unknown. They were presumed to be hiding.
Contributed by Brother Yahya