Sat Feb 17th, 2007 at 09:17:33 PM EST
So a few days ago Kosovo's former prime-minister Ramush Haradinaj, was called back to the Hague, after surrendering himself to the ICTY in 2005 (where he was indicted for crimes against Serbs, Roma and Albanians in Kosovo), and then being released and allowed to resume political activities in Kosovo.
As chance would have it, a key witness for the prosecution was killed yesterday in Podgorica, in what could be murder or a stroke of exceptionally good luck for the indicted Kosovar Albanian politician...
A fascinating recent article about Kosovo in Der Spiegel, notes about Haradinaj:
A report by the UN police force in Kosovo has linked Haradinaj to the cocaine trade. And according to a 2005 analysis by Germany's foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Haradinaj and his associates play a key role in "a broad spectrum of criminal, political and military activities that significantly affect the security situation throughout Kosovo. The group, which counts about 100 members, is involved in drug and weapons smuggling, as well as illegal trading in dutiable items."
If the BND analysis is correct, Haradinaj has apparently made himself a major player in one of Kosovo's key industries. According to experts, the 700 million budget of this province, 90 percent of which is populated by ethnic Albanians, pales in comparison to the revenues earned in the drug trade in Kosovo.
The article presents a radically different picture of the forces working inside Kosovo than one would naively expect. Take for instance:
While the UN continues to wrestle over Kosovan independence, radical forces in and around Deèani are already a few steps ahead. "We are all Albanians. Enver Hoxha was our president," protestors chanted last year at a demonstration in front of the city hall to commemorate the former Stalinist Albanian dictator's 98th birthday. Then they dispatched a congratulatory telegram to Hoxha's widow in Tirana.
Do such events reflect confused dreams of a Greater Albania or are they a coolly calculated provocation? Everyone in Deèani -- including the international administrators -- knows that the Hoxha commemorative ceremony was organized by the same KLA veteran leaders who routinely stage protest marches whenever one of the Haradinajs is in trouble or someone wants to intimidate the orthodox monks in the monastery on the outskirts of Deèani.
I'm not sure if it matters any more but I think this much is clear: the Haradinaj case is a litmus test for the impartiality of the Hague tribunal - at least as far as any credibility it might still have among Serbs. The feeling is (and its not exactly a feeling that is unsupported by numbers), that the Hague indicts and convicts disproportionately fewer non-Serbs than the death tolls would indicate as "fair". That such a high profile case against a person who is (after all) the head of a clan of gangsters - his brother is in semi-hiding after his release from jail (for manslaughter) because of a Vendetta with a rival clan, might not lead to a conviction will make Serbs if anything more un-cooperative. Yet if he is convicted, the Albanian majority might well turn against the UNMIK forces, and proceed to declare full independence unilaterally... Going well beyond the Ahtisaari plan's provisions (which were anyway turned down by Serbia - but also rejected - if I understand correctly by a majority ofKosovar albanians)...