BALKANS WATCH March 23, 1999 lume 1.6 WEEK IN REVIEW—MARCH 16-23, 1999 NATO MOBILIZATION. NATO Secretary General Javier Solana has given NATO commander Wesley Clark the order to initiate air strikes against Serbia. U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke was sent by the Clinton administration to Belgrade to warn Serbian-Montenegrin federal President Slobodan Milosevic that NATO air strikes were imminent if the Serbian offensive did not end and if Belgrade did not sign the interim agreement, which the Kosovo Albanians signed last Thursday. After two sessions of talks ending this morning, Milosevic remained defiant. Air strikes appear imminent. President Clinton in a speech today made a strong case for the use of air power to stop the war in Kosovo. RUSSIA. Russian Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov decided en route to return to Moscow rather than be in Washington while NATO conducts airstrikes against Serbian forces. Moscow continues to oppose the use of force against Serbian forces, urging more diplomatic efforts. NATO PREPARATIONS. NATO’s assets amassed for a potential strike against Serbian forces include over 400 aircraft, both land-based from Italy, Germany and Britain and from the USS Enterprise in the Adriatic. Tomahawk cruise missiles, launched from B-52s and allied ships in the Adriatic, are expected to predominate in early efforts to neutralize the federal air defense network, which is reputed to be formidable and integrated, employing a number of missile types, antiaircraft artillery, and radar systems. Because of the ferocity of the current Serbian offensive throughout Kosovo and the dire situation for the population under fire, NATO is now considering exceeding initial plans to concentrate on air defense targets and static military assets by targeting directly the special units conducting attacks on the Kosovo civilian population. KVM PULLOUT. The Kosovo Verification Mission was withdrawn from Kosovo on Saturday, paving the way for NATO airstrikes. The verifiers drove to the Macedonian border unimpeded, and were told as they left that their visas to return to Serbia-Montenegro were no longer valid. Volume 2.12 Vo- From the Balkan Action Council Balkans Watch is published by the Balkan Action Council. PO Box 27392, Washington DC 20038-7392 Phone: (202) 737-7720, Fax: (202) 737-7721 E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.balkanaction.org A Weekly Review of Current Events Kosovo Liberation Army prior to any NATO airstrikes. The operations are destroying the housing stock of the northern and central regions in which they are presently concentrated, leading some to speculate as to whether Milosevic is attempting to partition Kosovo, with the Serbs holding the north, west and east of the province. The central Drenica area is the current focal point for the arc of assault, with Serbian Interior Ministry troops, special forces, and regular federal army forces in a combined arms operation, using armor and antiaircraft guns, to clear the area from Vucitrn west to Srbica and south to Glogovac, and continuing south. Reports indicate that two or three of the KLA regional commands may have fallen to the onslaught. The Cicavica mountain area near Vucitrn continues to be pounded by Serbian artillery. Roads are closed to the remaining international aid workers, as well as their local counterparts. Casualty figures are difficult to tabulate, due to the abbreviated information flow, caused by withdrawal of international personnel. The KLA reports that its casualties have been high since the offensive began. Four Serbian policemen were killed in an ambush in Pristina Sunday, and there was a bomb attack against an Albanian café on Monday. Reporters note that Serbian forces appear to be digging-in for possible NATO airstrikes, building bunkers and dispersing armored vehicles. Observers believe that Serbian forces intend to follow through on their threats to initiate all-out attacks on the Kosovo Albanian ―terrorists‖ should NATO bomb. REFUGEES. Tens of thousands of refugees - in excess of 15,000, according to UNHCR – are streaming out of areas subject to the current Serbian offensive, bringing the total to an estimated 50,000 in recent weeks. Those displaced are gravitating to the cities: Pristina, Pec, and Prizren, as well as to Macedonia. Many are unable to make the move due to being surrounded by Serbian forces, and remain outdoors. As the offensive advances into the central Drenica region, the areas considered safe diminish. According to local reports, at least 40,000 refugees are already packed into Pristina, which has already reached its saturation point. The refugee flow into Macedonia was growing, according to border officials. ―The number…crossing into Macedonia is growing by the day. They are desperate people.‖ Macedonia closed its border to refugees today. The fact that the offensive is taking place in bitter winter weather complicates the situation for those displaced, who often left home with few provisions. with those displaced from area hamlets. Reports emerged Monday that some 200 ethnic Albanians taken from Srbica are being held in a soccer stadium. Nothing more is known of their fate. INCURSIONS. Serbian-Montenegrin federal army (VJ) troops crossed into Macedonia on Sunday, sparking a vociferous protest from the Macedonian government and flat denial by Belgrade. About ten VJ men crossed the frontier near the Gosince watchtower and began to dig a trench some 400500m in Macedonian territory. They refused to leave until nightfall when confronted by Macedonian border forces. The Serbian-Montenegrin ambassador in Skopje received strong protests, which he rebuffed by stating that there was ―no incident at all.‖ He continued that the ―real risk‖ was the concentration of NATO forces in Macedonia. Macedonia is the base for NATO forces preparing to undertake a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo following Belgrade’s acceptance of the interim agreement reached in Rambouillet. On Tuesday, Albania condemned repeated violations of its border by the VJ. MEDIA CRACKDOWN. The Serbian government has initiated proceedings to close the last remaining Albanian-language daily, Koha Ditore, by fining the paper roughly $35,000. The fine follows the closure of two Albanian-language papers last week, Kosova Sot and Gazeta Shqiptare. WAR CRIMES. The New York Times on Monday reported an investigation by prosecutors at The Hague into war crimes committed by the Croatian Army during "Operation Storm" in 1995. Three Croatian generals could soon face charges related to summary executions, shelling of civilians, and the "ethnic cleansing" of Serbs during the operation. Investigators are also looking into the culpability of Croatian President Franjo Tudjman. BOSNIAN SERBS. On Friday Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik pledged compliance with the Brcko ruling after receiving assurances on territorial integrity, refugees, and military transit. On Saturday, the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party said that Dodik did not have authority to accept. Mirko Sarovic, Bosnian Serb Vice President, declared Monday that he is prepared to take over from former President Poplasen. BOSNIAN FEDERATION. Ante Jelavic, the Bosnian Croat member of Bosnia's presidency, immediately blamed Bosniak leaders for last Tuesday’s car bombing of Federation deputy interior minister Jozo Leutar. Bosnian Croats announced Thursday a weeklong boycott of cantonal, Federation and central government bodies. American officials, having already dispatched seven FBI officers to investigate, on Friday called the finger pointing "premature" and irresponsible. Prepared by: Kurt Bassuener CONGRESS. An amendment sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott to deny funding for American participation in NATO airstrikes against Serbian forces was abandoned today. The Senate is currently debating a resolution supporting American participation in impending airstrikes. SUMMARY KILLINGS. The Washington Post reported Monday that masked Serbian special units KOSOVO OFFENSIVE. Serbian forces that had had separated men from women and children in the been building up in and around Kosovo for the past central Kosovo town of Srbica after house-to-house two weeks and gradually ratcheting-up their attacks roundups. Ten men were then led away to a gully began an all-out offensive immediately following just outside town and shot. The killings were then the departure of the Kosovo Verification Mission followed by an Interior Ministry unit in surgical on Saturday. ―It looks like a replay of last sum- gear, which removed the bodies. Blood, brain matmer’s offensive,‖ said Fernando del Mundo, the ter, and bone shards, along with a surgical glove, UNHCR’s spokesman. The area under attack and were found at the scene. The town was set ablaze as forces involved far exceed the summer offensive, in the population was driven out. Srbica was itself a an apparent attempt to deal a crippling blow to the refugee magnet for the surrounding area, swollen Quotes of the Week ―It’s time for action, time to make a decision. And I hope it’s done very quickly. Otherwise [Milosevic is] going to amass more troops and you’re going to have another massacre. What we have in Kosovo and what we had in Bosnia was genocide, and that’s why I think we should intervene.‖—Former Sen. Bob Dole on NBC’s “Meet the Press” (3/21/99). ―We have been threatening him since Christmas of 1992…warning him that if he attacked Kosovo, we would respond with force. Great alliances and great countries don’t remain great if they issue threats and don’t keep them.‖—Sen. Joe Lieberman (New York Times 3/22/99). ―Make no mistake, if we and our allies do not have the will to act, there will be more massacres. In dealing with aggressors in the Balkans, hesitation is a license to kill. But action and resolve can stop armies, and save lives.‖—President Bill Clinton (3/19/99).
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