Balkans: Desert Fever

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April 21, 2007: The sparring between Russia and the rest of the UN Security Council, over taking Kosovo away from Serbia, continues. While the US and the EU support Kosovo independence, while Russia opposes it-and Russia has a veto on the UN Security Council. Austria is taking the role of "buffer" by suggesting that the UN "go slow" on independence. The US supports Kosovo's independence from Serbia because the alternative - some form of autonomy within Serbia-was more of a long term political risk. Russian believes that a unilateral declaration of independence (Kosovo from Serbia) would be a violation of international law. China is looking for a compromise on Kosovo. China has had good relations with Serbia. Austria has floated the idea that Kosovo could have special rights in Serbia and points to the South Tyrol (Alto Adige in Italy) as an example. The South Tyrol is a predominantly German speaking area in Italy. It was, in fact, once part of Austria. The Kosovo situation is not unique in Europe. However, what worries a lot of people is that Russia is assuming its traditional role as "defender of the Slavs." World War I (and 73 years of hot and cold war) was triggered when Russia and Austria disagreed over how the Balkan Slavs should be treated.

Bosnia is experiencing increasing tension between Bosnian Muslims and what the Bosnians call "Wahhabis." Wahhabi Islam is the sect preferred by Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have funded many mosques throughout the world. Bosnia has increasingly been the scene of conflicts between Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) communities and radicals influenced by Wahhab clerics. Bosnia is fighting back, and recently stripped some 367 "foreign born" Bosnians of their citizenship. Most of these guys had fought with Bosnian Muslims in the 1992-95 war. It appears that the individuals involved are suspected of being involved in Islamic terror organizations.

April 19, 2007: The senior military officers from Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey met in Greece as a confidence building measures.

April 17, 2007: Kosovo's independence is a touchy topic in Serbia. Politicians in Serbia have accused the Serbian government of shifting its position regarding Kosovo independence. The Serbian government denies it has changed its position and is only willing to grant Kosovo special autonomy within Serbia. However, Radio Free Europe reported that the Serbian Pharmaceutical Agency recently "applied" to sell drugs in Kosovo and. referred to Kosovo as a "state." This was one of the set off the arguments within Serbia.

April 15, 2007: Serbia is investigating three Kosovar Albanians suspected of committing war crimes. The three men are accused of kidnapping and killing a Serb policeman in 1998. The three Kosovar Albanians were all members of the Kosovo Liberaiton Army (KLA)

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April 14, 2007: NATO/KFOR peacekeepers in Kosovo discovered two weapons caches, and arrested seven people suspected of involvement in an assassination attempt.

April 11, 2007: Serbia is interested in investing in Montenegro's largest cargo port, Bar. About two-thirds of the goods shipped through the port come from Serbia. During the early stages of the Yugoslav War of Devolution, Serbia focused on retaining access to the sea. Serbia concentrated on the Croat port of Dubrovnik. The end of the Serbia-Montenegro ("rump" Yugoslavia") left Serbia completely landlocked.

Three men fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the head of Kosovo's telecommunications regulatory board. There may be an organized crime angle in the attack. The board is tasked with awarding mobile phone licenses and there is a debate in Kosovo over the recent assignment of a contract to a Slovenian company.

 

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