Gregory R. Copley

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Gregory Copley.

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Meeting the Burden of Statehood: Is Kosovo Ready?

By Gregory R. Copley

A speech to Reconsidering Kosovo, held in Washington, DC, September 28, 2006, under the auspices of the American Council for Kosovo.

The international community is being asked whether it should consider recognizing the sovereignty of the Serbian province of Kosovo. But first it is necessary to ask whether Kosovo meets the criteria for sovereignty. Unless it does, the new so-called state would be an artificial entity subsisting on aid from the world community. And � as with all dependent societies � it will merely continue to nurture frustrations and resentment of its benefactors, causing a growing source of criminal and terrorist behavior damaging to its region and to the world.

Some of the major points I make in this regard are that:

1.     Kosovo does not meet any historical standards for sovereignty. The territory of Kosovo was seized for the present majority of the area only by external powers, and cannot even be defended in the normal sense by the proposed new state itself. Moreover, it is not economically viable except through criminal activities, and has been created solely as a dependent of the international community.

2.     For Kosovo to be recognized as a legitimate sovereign state, the international community must violate the sovereignty of another recognized state, the Republic of Serbia, bypassing a variety of treaties and understandings, such as the UN Charter and the Helsinki Accords.

3.     Kosovo is already a territory run as a criminal enterprise, with links into jihadist movements. As a result of this and other factors, Kosovo is not run along lines which have historically been proven to be viable from the standpoint of national management.

There is nothing mystical or pre-ordained about statehood and sovereignty. To be valid and lasting, statehood and sovereignty are conditions which are earned and defended, not dispensed by other, more powerful societies. Even Yasir Arafat said that any state given to the Palestinians by their enemies was a state not worth having.

In my new book, The Art of Victory: Strategies for Personal Success and Global Survival in a Changing World,1 I deal specifically with how societies form and prosper. I noted: �Few people today are familiar with many of the countries which existed only, say, 300 years ago. ... Italy did not then exist as a sovereign state; nor did the United States. And more countries will appear or disappear in the next few decades. The wars of secession, and the re-shaping of boundaries � largely suppressed by the Cold War � begin anew. The wars to break up Yugoslavia are still unfinalized. And in many of the new wars we will see savagery abound as groups �re-discover� old identities, and seek to capitalize on the permissive climate of change and chaos.�

In the book I go on to say that in many respects, the �al-Qaida� phenomenon owes its success to the financial links with what we are calling the Albanian mafia, just as the Albanian criminals owe their success to the logistics and networks of al-Qaida. The chaos of changing borders � such as we are seeing today in the Balkans, and elsewhere � is fertile ground for criminality. In the coming decades there will be more and more �no go� areas in the world. In many respects, the terror has just begun. Criminal states, such as the proposed Kosovo Albanian �state�, will profoundly change the sense of security of all peoples around the world. Already Kosovo is becoming like Afghanistan under the Taliban. And like the Taliban destruction of the ancient Buddhas of Bamiyan, the Albanian Islamist process of destruction of the Christian Churches will be complete if Kosovo is granted independence, and Western civilization will be gone from a large part of the Balkans. In its place will be a criminal-terrorist state, leaching into the heart of Europe. And it was made feasible by the short-term policies of many European and US politicians of the 1990s.

We are now at a watershed. The World community does not have to continue with the errors of the 1990s. It does not have to willingly accept � and pay the price in economic and security terms � that Kosovo should be granted the status of a sovereign state. Kosovo does not meet any of the criteria for a modern nation-state, either in terms of the structure developed since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, or of the post-Westphalian structure now emerging. Because of globalization and the free movement of people, ideas, and capital, 21st Century statehood will demand, at least, certain conditions of economic and structural sustainability and multi-confessional and multi-cultural composition. Attempts to define sovereignty in terms of the antique tribalism of mono-ethnicity and single belief societies flies in the face of the realities now emerging with a globalized society.

Kosovo and Narco-Trafficking

Kosovo is now the principal center of narco-trafficking for all of Europe, and this has enabled the Albanian mafia to displace other criminal enterprises throughout most of Western Europe, and to expand criminal activities into other, non-narcotic areas. Two points in this regard are important: firstly, the Albanian mafia is essentially what we can loosely call the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), although it now goes by various names; and secondly, the KLA exists, and is able to access much of its narcotic product, because of its close interrelationship with jihadist movements and foreign state sponsors.

See Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, October 25, 2005: Heroin Production Facilities Flourish in Kosovo Area Under US Military Protection.

As an example, three major heroin production laboratories, run by the KLA, are operating within the area of Kosovo which has been under the control of US Army units operating from Camp Bondsteel. Ironically, to support the KLA which the former US Clinton Administration had deemed an ally, some US authorities operating in the area specifically protected the laboratories from inspection by other NATO forces in the area. There is also evidence that, over a period of years, US military and possibly intelligence elements have actively engaged in relations with, and protection of, the narco-traffickers.

Since the withdrawal of Serbian control over its Kosovo province, there has been an increasing amount of opium grown in the area, and this is a major supply source for the heroin laboratories, although some raw opium may also be fed into the laboratories from, or via, Turkey (possibly including some raw opium from Afghanistan and Iraqi Kurdistan).

The determination of the KLA to defend these facilities is now well-known locally. A Russian unit, some four years ago, engaged the KLA in a firefight in the area, at night, after which the KLA forces were sufficiently strong and well-armed that they surrounded the Russian camp and essentially prevented the Russian forces from leaving their camp.

The KLA�s use of Kosovo as a criminal clearing-house extends to a wide range of other activities. Stolen cars from all around Europe, but particularly from Italy, are �re-processed� in Kosovo, and given new papers, before being re-exported to places such as Albania. One such car was used for some time by the Albanian Interior Minister, until a few years ago, before, on a visit to Greece, it was identified because of an Interpol alert, and seized by Greek authorities and taken from the Albanian Interior Minister. As well, electrical goods and household fittings removed from the homes of Kosovo Serbs, who have been driven from the area, are on sale through a major network of retail outlets in Albania.

Little of this gains international attention, although the use of roadblocks by the KLA reached such a level that the United Nations and NATO leaderships in Kosovo have issued warnings to their personnel.

See Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, October 20, 2005: KFOR Claims �Criminals� Active in Western Kosovo; Linked to KLA and Narco-Trafficking.

US involvement with the narco-trafficking has gone beyond merely turning a blind eye to the activities of the KLA in the area. US military vehicles, several years ago, were known to have actually transported narcotics from Kosovo, into Western Europe.

Kosovo and Jihadist Links

Our organization, the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA), has for some years identified the growing links which the KLA has with the jihadist movements which are largely identified under the rubric of al-Qaida. It is important to note, however, that labels such as �al-Qaida� are misleading. These KLA-jihadist links have been well-documented.2 Moreover, the KLA, and the territory of Kosovo, forms the basis of the territorial link for jihadists moving into and out of Europe, seamlessly interacting with jihadists in Bosnia, and in the southern Serbian area of Ra�ka, as well as in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and the newly-independent state of Montenegro, and so on.

Significantly, as we know from a wide range of information, Europe is a major target for the global jihadist movements, and not only those under the al-Qaida label, but also those financed and logistically made viable by the Iranian Government.

We know that a number of foreign governments support, either directly or indirectly, jihadist activities which are based in Kosovo and Bosnia. These state sponsors include the Turkish and Iranian governments, and both governments do so for nationalist reasons or, often, because of corruption, rather than for ideological or religious beliefs. Indeed, even secular officials in Turkey who are concerned over the rise of Islamism in their own country support the KLA, for example, because of historic links into the Balkan territories and communities which once formed an integral part of the old Ottoman Empire and which still are seen as being within the orbit of pan-Turkism. In this regard, although it is not the topic of this presentation, we see a major spread of jihadist, criminal, and intelligence activities into FYROM, Montenegro, and these activities are often dependent on the support of the Albanian Government. The People�s Republic of China (PRC) is actively engaged in the area, as well, using its old Cold War contacts in Albania.

Illicit Weapons Trafficking

It is axiomatic that narco-trafficking and terrorism are interdependent with the illegal traffic in weapons. We have strong evidence, which is touched upon in Appendix (iii), that the entity which we are, for the sake of expediency calling the KLA, is heavily engaged in arms trafficking not only to support its criminal and jihadist-linked activities, but also as a profit-center in its own right.

It is significant that international financial controls have meant that the terrorist-criminal movements have been forced to adopt new means of handling and funding their activities, and in organizing their command and control. We�re seeing the use of bartering, or commodities and services exchanges, replacing wire transfers of funds in the financing of acquisition of weapons and explosives throughout Europe, for example. The KLA has been able to operate an illegal weapons exchange with impunity, having the �safe haven� of Kosovo, protected by the international community.

The man who has been at the center of this activity has been a second-ranking KLA leader, Niam Behzloulzi, also known as �Houlzi�. That may not be his real name, but we know he carries (or has until recently carried) ID under the name of Niam Behzloulzi.3

In Conclusion:

There is ample evidence that Kosovo has no legitimacy in the normal sense of a sovereign state, and that, if it was to be recognized as such, it would further erode the credibility of the international system. Indeed, the United Nations is a body based on the membership of sovereign states, fewer and fewer of which can actually meet the criteria for real sovereignty. The Cold War bi-polar system sustained, for 50 years, many non-viable, so-called �states� within the ambit of the superpowers, but that world is gone, and now we are increasingly seeing �failed states� for what they are.

Kosovo would emerge as a �state� at a time when it can no longer expect the long-term protection of the global system. This will only force it to turn increasingly to the criminal-terrorist enterprises which have been the hallmark of its birth.


1. Copley, Gregory: The Art of Victory: Strategies for Personal Success and Global Survival in a Changing World. New York, 2006: Simon & Schuster�s Threshold Editions. ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-2470-0, or ISBN-10: 1-4165-2470-3.

2. Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, October 25, 2005: Jihadist Terrorist Leader Returns to the Balkans as Actions Intensify to Promote Kosovo Independence, and Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily, March 19, 2004: New Kosovo Violence is Start of Predicted 2004 Wave of Islamist Operations: the Strategic Ramifications, and Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, November 12, 2005: The Origins and Developments of Modern Islamist Organizations in the Balkans; Links Into Narco-Trafficking.

3. Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, October 25, 2005: New Evidence Highlights Albanian Link to Explosives Used in London, Madrid Bombings.


Copyright � 2006, Gregory R. Copley. All rights reserved.
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