War in Yugoslavia

While Europe Hesitates, KLA Ready to Act

Stratfor - 19991007

The UN and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are at odds over how to proceed in Kosovo. Nearly four months after the end of NATO bombing in Kosovo, the international community has no decisive plans for Kosovoís future. On the other hand, former KLA leader Hashim Thaci is clear about his goals. In the face of international hesitation, his objectives are bound to become the de facto Kosovo policy.

Speaking in Pristina Oct. 4, OSCE Co-Chairman Knut Vollebaek avoided setting a date for Kosovo elections. Agence France-Presse reported, however, that the United Nationís chief administrator in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, is pushing for general elections next May and local elections even earlier. It is expected that a provisional government will be established in the meantime. Kouchner has been coordinating efforts toward this goal with the KLAís Thaci, the Democratic League of Kosovo president, Ibrahim Rugova, and other local leaders.

Despite Kouchnerís ambitious hopes for a vote in the near future, Kosovo will not be ready for elections any time soon. Ethnic violence and revenge attacks take place daily in the region, often with deadly consequences. The Serbs have indicated they want to send Yugoslav troops back to Kosovo to regain control. And, even if the fighting is quelled, authorities must then establish electoral rules, voting districts and registration methods.

Previously, even with apparently clear mandates and directives, the NATO-led international community has been unable to enforce its policy with the Kosovo Liberation Army. Now, NATO members appear to be at odds over a coherent schedule for rebuilding Kosovo and establishing a local government.

While NATO lacks a plan, the KLA has clear objectives. Since before it drew NATO into the fighting, the KLAís mission has been the creation of an independent Albanian Kosovo. The KLA has little intention of waiting for European bureaucrats to determine the election process, and will undoubtedly take advantage of this period of NATO and U.N. indecision to transform their plan into official policy.