Balkans: The Next War

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August19, 2006: Although Kosovo is corrupt, bankrupt and not willing to halt the ethnic cleansing of its remaining Serbs, the UN is determined to grant independence. That would most likely trigger invasion by neighboring Serbia, to protect the Serb minority, and intervention by Albania, to protect the integrity of Kosovo, a part of what many Albanians call "Greater Albania." NATO countries supplying peacekeepers for Kosovo want to get out. A similar situation is found in nearby Bosnia, where Moslems, Croats and, especially, Serbs, are not getting along.

August 16, 2006: A Bulgarian defense ministry official visited Bulgarian troops in Iraq. The Bulgarian delegation also met with Iraqi officials to discuss ways Bulgaria and Iraq can continue cooperating on defense issues. In July Bulgaria agreed to train Iraqi soldiers for peacekeeping duties in a combined training program in Bulgaria.

Greece said it was considering a request to provide soldiers for the new UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon. Turkey is also considering joining the force. Turkish sources said that Turkey could send as many as 5000 troops to southern Lebanon. The big question for Turkey is the ROE (rules of engagement) of the UN force. Turkey is not interested in provoking a wider war in the Middle East. However, the Turkish military does not look favorably on conditions which expose its troops to hostile fire and restricts their ability to respond. The Turks' interpretation of the UN's ROE in south Lebanon may be a useful indicator of just how robust that ROE truly is. Turkey is also regarded as an ally of Israel. The US would like to see Turkey participate in the UN-led peacekeeping force.

August 15, 2006: Montenegro said its police broke a huge currency counterfeiting ring. Montenegro said the ring was the largest in southeastern Europe and was an "organized counterfeit money trafficking" operation. Montenegro cooperated with Croatia in the investigation. The ring specialized in counterfeit Euro and US bills. Criminal gangs plague the Balkans. The sad fact is the gangs quickly morph into "nationalist rebels." Waging an effective anti-crime campaign ultimately adds to long term political security in the Balkans.

A new UN chief of mission took over duties in Kosovo. Joachim Ruecker (a German) becomes the sixth UN chief administrator in Kosovo. Ruecker said that the UN opposed any attempt to "partition Kosovo." In the event of Kosovar independence, the Kosovo partition concept would split off hte small Serb-dominated enclaves in Kosovo and let them remain part of Serbia. On August 13 a Serb delegate to the Kosovo "future status" talks suggested partition as a solution to the Kosovo question. The UN has moved police and KFOR units (NATO troops) to provide protection for Kosovar Serbs.

The Bosnian Serb statelet within Bosnia (Republika Srpska) wants to keep its own separate police force. The European Union wants Bosnia to combine its Muslim-Croat and Bosnian Serb security forces. The separate security forces could provide leadership and troop cadres for new separatist armed forces.

August 14, 2006: It's a signal the Serbians won't like. Kosovo's Kosovo Police Service (KPS) took over security operations at the Pristina (Kosovo) airport. The KPS assigned a border patrol unit to the airport. Why is this a problem for Serbia? Because Kosovo appears to be acting as an independent nation.

August 13, 2006: Moldova's separatist Transdniestria province suffered what the Transdniestiran authorities described as a terrorist attack. The bomb attack on a bus killed two people and injured at least ten more. Initial reports called the bomb blast a criminal act. The attack took place in the Moldovan city of Tiraspol. A bomb explosion on July 6 killed eight people.

August 10, 2006: Turkey said that plans to reorganize and modernize the Turkish military would include troop reductions. The troop cuts could reduce Turkey's 800,000 man military by 20 to 30 percent. Turkey said the reductions would be completed by 2014.

August 9, 2006: The Albanian government said that it believes it will receive an invitation in 2008 to join NATO. For Albania, the invitation would be a huge diplomatic and political plus and a statement that Albania has finally shed the legacy of super-Stalinist Enver Hoxja (Albania's Cold War dictator). Albania has hosted British and US military training delegations and initiated several military reform and modernization programs.

 

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