The Road to War – Kosovo

Road to War

Rebellion movements is Kosovo really emerged in 1995 following the Dayton Peace Accords. By 1996, the KLA had taken responsibility for targeted attacks on Serb villages and Serbian governmental buildings, eventually leading to the Kosovo war in March 1998.

In 1974, Tito, former President of Yugoslavia, rewrote the Yugoslav constitution in an attempt to appease Albanian complaints and to grant the province of Kosovo as an autonomy. Kosovo functioned as a de facto republic because Kosovar Albanians had the ability to pursue near-independent foreign relations, as well as trade links with Albania, an independent Albanian language University, and the ability to fly the Albanian flag.

The conflict between the Serbs and Albanians gained momentum in 1981. The Albanians sought after their own republic and to be independent, yet the Serbs wanted more power and control in government. Because of the rising tensions, Milosevic was elected thanks to his pro-Serbia mission. This came at a time when Serbia was increasingly worried about the situation in Kosovo and Milosevic’s nationalistic tendencies offered some welcome solace.

Serbs were leaving Kosovo in substantial numbers. As a result, Serbia granted itself the permission to oppress Albanians and refuse their right to self-rule. This means that the majority Albanians left in Kosovo were left to feel like the minority. The persecution of Albanians got steadily worse in the years leading up to the war. Many were fired from their jobs or made redundant due only to their ethnicity. It is reported that the most discriminated against were those in jobs such as police officers and lawyers, those in the Criminal Justice sector.

By 1988 the tensions had reached boiling point with troubles between the KLA and the Serb forces reaching the status of armed conflict and attracting international attention. Amnesty International released an official statement reporting violation of human rights. Both the Serb and Albanian sides suffered human rights abuses such as abductions and executions. Albanians endured the brunt of it, but Serbs also faced the KLA.

Albanian nationalist Adem Jashari together with ethnic Albanians underwent military training in Albania in 1991 to 1992. They were hoping for the chance to fight for the independence of Kosovo. They committed acts of sabotage in an attempt to overthrow the Serbian administration apparatus in Kosovo. The Serb police force responded by attempting to capture the Jashari bothers in their home in Prekaz. Kosovo Albanians assembled in Prekaz forcing the Serbs to retreat.

By the 1990’s attacks on police forces who had abused Albanian civilians were common. The KLA sought to destabilise the region, hoping for international intervention from the USA or NATO. Throughout 1996, the KLA targeted a series of attacks against police stations and Yugoslav government employees. The KLA demanded that the attacks were in response to Yugoslav authorities killing Albanian civilians as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign. As a result, Serb authorities increased security in the region and declared the KLA as a terrorist organisation.

In 1997, Serbian security forces assassinated Zahir Pajaziti, KLA commander and two other leaders and arrested more than one hundred Albanian militants. Around the same time, Jashari was convicted of terrorism in absentia by a Yugoslav court.

The civil war of 1997 allowed the KLA to arm themselves with large quantities of weapons looted from Albanian armouries. It is reported that the KLA received proceeds from drug trafficking to allow them to purchase arms. At this time, NATO recognized that Serbs and other non-Albanian communities fled Kosovo for fear of attacks whilst others were pressured by the KLA to leave.

On 22nd January 1998, Serb forces tried again to pursue Jashari in his home in Prekaz for the murder of a Serbian policeman. Thousands of Kosovo Albanians descended on Prekaz and drove Serb forces out. One month later, members of the KLA were ambushed by Serbian policemen resulting in four Serbs being killed. On 5th March 1998 the KLA provoked an attack the police patrol in Prekaz which launched a police operation on the Jashari property, killing 58 Albanians including Adem Jashari.

A NATO meeting was held just four days later resulting in the threat for Serbia with a military response. The Kosovo war resulted in NATO intervention.

In 1998 it was reported that 1126 terrorist attacks were carried out in Kosovo and linked to the KLA. And that an estimated around 55,000 refugees, mostly Serbs, fled from Kosovo .

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