The Lessons and Non-Lessons of the Air and Missile Campaign in Kosovo

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With Kosovo thus important to both the Serb and Albanian national identity, it was almost certain to be a contested piece of territory. In nationalist conflicts of this kind, demography plays an important role in formulating claim and counter-claim. The ethnographic composition of Kosovo and its evolution since the nineteenth century, form an important backdrop to the contemporary conflicts between Albanian and Serb for control of it.


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By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the population of Kosovo had an Albanian majority, with the Serbs as a sizeable minority. After Kosovo became part of Serbia in the twentieth century, colonisation programmes did little to arrest the trend of a growing Albanian majority. During the period of Communist Yugoslavia, the Albanian majority continued to grow as illustrated in Table Intro. On the eve of the conflict, the Serb minority was estimated as forming about 10 per cent of the population.

In the wake of the Serb exodus following the June withdrawal of FRY military and police forces, the number of Serbs living in Kosovo may have been cut by as much as three-quarters of its pre-conflict total. Table Intro.

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Source : M. The proximate background to the Kosovo conflict of March—June was the mounting Albanian—Serb tension and violence of the previous decade. The Albanians, who had enjoyed a measure of autonomy in Communist Yugoslavia; controlling such things as local administration and education, saw this swept away from the late s.

This happened in the face of resurgent Serb nationalism and, more particularly, the policies of President Milosevic who exploited it to strengthen his political position in Serbia.


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The Albanian response was initially non-violent. A semi-clandestine parallel society and political life developed in Kosovo despite intermittent pressure from the Serb authorities. By the late s, however, non-violent protest began to give way to armed Albanian resistance to what was seen as Serb oppression. This manifested itself in the emergence of the Kosovo Liberation Army KLA which, by the late s, was gaining support within Kosovo and international attention, even if its military achievements against the FRY security forces were modest.

Although some outside observers had become concerned about the growing tensions in Kosovo, the initially relatively low level of violence, as compared with that seen in Bosnia in the first half of the s, meant that these did not register high up on the agendas of European security organisations such as NATO.

In , however, as fighting intensified between FRY security forces and the KLA, Kosovo did move up the political agenda of a NATO determined to stop the crisis escalating to a level of violence seen earlier in Croatia and, especially, Bosnia. By autumn , the violence in Kosovo had resulted in a situation where an estimated , Kosovar Albanians had been ousted from their homes; roughly one fifth of their number lacking proper shelter.

A combination of diplomacy and this military pressure persuaded the FRY President to agree to comply in October. He was the man widely credited with successfully bringing about the negotiation of the Dayton agreement, which had ended the Bosnian civil war three years previously. This was the only outside monitoring agency that Milosevic was prepared to accept in Kosovo. By the beginning of , the Holbrooke-Milosevic agreement was beginning to unravel. The FRY authorities began to move forces back into Kosovo claiming, not entirely unreasonably, that their efforts to comply with the UN Resolution had done little but give the KLA a breathing space in which to regroup and occupy positions formerly held by FRY forces.

On the Albanian side, allegations were made of fresh killings and atrocities being committed by the FRY forces. In the face of this deterioration, a final diplomatic effort began in January when the parties in conflict were summoned to Rambouillet outside Paris. These high-level negotiations sought a general settlement in the manner of the Dayton process for Bosnia. The proposals at Rambouillet offered substantial autonomy for the Kosovar Albanians and held out the eventual prospect of a referendum that might lead to independence.

The lessons and non-lessons of the air and missile campaign in Kosovo

The Kosovar Albanians, with some reservations, eventually accepted the formula, but the FRY delegation walked away from the draft proposals. When NATO launched Operation Allied Force on 24 March , its members and planners expected air operations to be successfully concluded within a few days. In this exercise in military coercion, the United States publicly ruled out, at the start, the idea of committing forces to a land invasion of Kosovo.

As in most modern armed conflicts, the media was an important factor, with the protagonists fighting a second battle across the airwaves. By June , it was increasingly clear that NATO would use whatever level of force was necessary for it to prevail. The use of ground forces was, at last, being seriously considered.

KOSOVO: NATO AIRSTRIKES ON CAPITAL PRISTINA LATEST

There was also mounting evidence that the air attacks were causing serious damage and that unrest was beginning to surface inside Serbia. In early June, President Milosevic indicated his acceptance of the international demands, compliance with which was necessary to end the bombing. These points were incorporated into Security Council Resolution , which was passed shortly thereafter. On the question of the future status of Kosovo, the Resolution was deliberately ambiguous. Unlike in the Rambouillet drafts, there was no clear signal that a referendum on eventual independence would be organised.

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Download PDF. Redeem Token. Rights and Permissions. The structure and purpose of this book This volume does not seek to offer a detailed account of the background to and course of the Kosovo crisis, which reached its peak of intensity in — Kosovo and the crisis Kosovo was, for a long time, at the margins of European affairs. Daalder and M. Park and G. Buckley and S. Sugar and I.

Ethnic composition of Kosovo

Heinemann-Gruder and W-C. Website reference www. Hammond and E. The Kosovo crisis and the evolution of post-Cold War European security. Book Reviews. Author: Richard M.

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Colonel Meinhart. Date: June 22, From: Parameters Vol. Publisher: U. Army War College. Document Type: Book review. Length: words. Sign In to view the full article.

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