This Issue
Current Issue
Next Issue
Back Issues
Marxist Theory
Socialist History
Left Politics
Left Groups
New Interventions
Islamophobia Watch

Kosova and the KLA

Nick Brauns

THE ALBANIANS in Kosova have always been an oppressed nationality, in Tito’s Yugoslavia too. However, they had more autonomy then than in recent years. In the 1980s there was a big movement in Kosova and also in Germany by emigrants called the Red Front. It was fighting for an Albanian Republic of Kosova inside the Yugoslav Federation. Enver Hoxha’s Albania inspired the movement. About 80 leading members were killed in Germany in the 1980s by the Yugoslav secret service with the help of the German secret service. At that time the Kosovar Albanians lost a lot of their left-wing Maoist leaders.

In 1989 the chauvinist Milosevic government organised a demonstration with one million Serbian participants in Kosova dismissing the Albanians as just rubbish. The autonomy that had existed under Tito was taken away from Kosova. In the very rich mining area of Trepca all Albanian workers were fired and Serbian workers do their job now. Kosova is a rich country because of its mines (gold, silver, coal ...). It is sometimes called the Kuwait of Europe. Yugoslavia took the metal of the mines to pay its debt to the West in the 1990s. Nearly 90 to 95 percent of the Albanian population in Kosova is unemployed. (This means that Trotskyists can’t in a schematic way call for mass strikes and workers’ councils. Maybe the KLA guerrilla struggle is a more adequate form of resistance?)

The UCK [the KLA’s initials in Albanian] was founded in the middle of the 1990s from some Marxist-Leninist (Maoist) groups who came out of the tradition of the Red Front of the 1980s. The most important of the UCK founding groups was the LPK, the People’s Movement of Kosova. They organised the fund-raising and worked out the theory and strategy of the liberation struggle. However, the UCK is not a Maoist movement. In 1997 maybe 300 members of the UCK launched a number of attacks on the Serbian police. At the same time Rugova, the reformist "President" of Kosova, called the UCK a Serbian provocation. Rugova and his clan are the biggest landowners in Kosova and the biggest bourgeois family. The Rugova clan tends to be a classical comprador bourgeoisie.

After the massacre of the Jashari clan, who supported the UCK, the UCK became a mass movement in spring 1998. At this time they got weapons from Albania – after the breakdown of the Albanian state in 1997 a lot of weapons were on the market. It was impossible for the LPK to control the new mass guerrilla movement of the UCK. In a few weeks an organisation of 300 grew to a movement of 30,000. Also many right-wing forces as well as Rugova followers joined the UCK. The left-wing Hoxhaist Kosovar opposition in the 1980s had gone to Western Europe. The anti-communist emigration went to the US. The latter section of UCK supporters opened the door to CIA influence.

In my view the recent development of the UCK has been similar to the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) in Iraq. The KDP was for a long time a progressive national organisation, but after the fall of the USSR it turned into an openly counter-revolutionary organisation working together with NATO. The same is true of the UCK, but under the New World Order it took only half a year for a progressive national liberation movement to turn to the right. Until two weeks ago the Voice of Kosova, paper of the LPK, had as its original subtitle "long live Marxism-Leninism". The book list of the LPK was full of Enver Hoxha and Ramis Alia. The latest LPK paper has the headline "NATO thank you"; there are no left books any more and all the names of the old editorial board have changed (maybe the old editors have even been liquidated by the UCK right wing).

The UCK still has different currents within it. The "left" wing complains that NATO will not give them independence, but also calls for the "help" of NATO. We should support the line of Adem Demaci, the former head of the UCK, who resigned in protest at the signing of the Rambouillet agreement. Now Demaci is in Ljubljana and the UCK seeks to kill him as a traitor because he opposed the NATO attacks. Demaci wrote that the NATO attacks would be attacks against Serbia and the Albanians and that both people must act against imperialism. He also calls for self-determination for Kosova with full rights for the Serbian minority in Kosova. But Demaci also urged the right of self-determination for the Krajina, a part of Serbia that is occupied by Croatia.

Along with Demaci there is also another left-wing Kosovar party, the LKCK, a left-wing split from the LPK. They are still Marxist-Leninist and control some small sections of the UCK. They also call for land reform in Kosova and for the nationalisation of the mines and industry, and they look for the support of the Serbian workers. We hope to get in contact with them in the coming weeks.

Because of the NATO war the contradictions between Serbian and Albanian people in Kosova became antagonistic. Every call for autonomy, federation or any other solution that lets Kosova remain a part of Yugoslavia will be impossible. NATO, however, looks for a NATO protectorate similar to that in northern Iraq. They will not let Kosova join Albania. An independent Kosova or a Greater Albania is not in the interest of NATO, because NATO searches for a bridgehead inside Yugoslavia with its troops. This means there will be conflicts between the UCK and NATO in the future. Just now the pro-NATO feelings among the majority of Kosovar Albanians are turning under the impression that NATO can’t really help the refugees. In Germany the UCK is called a "terrorist" organisation. Police banned the fund-raising of Albanian groups and confiscated the funds of the LPK. At the moment the UCK feels itself to be NATO’s ground troops. But they don’t get modern weapons from NATO; they don’t get the support that they are calling for. We must wait for the moment when NATO openly turns against the UCK and its desire for independence.

The most important thing for us at the moment is to defend Serbia against NATO. We must closely work together with Serbian forces. The problem is the dominance of right-wing, even fascist, Serbs in the anti-war movement. The NATO bombs helped Milosevic and the Chetniks to get the overwhelming majority of the Serbs and even the former opposition behind them.

There was a deep economic crisis in Serbia. The oppression of Kosova and the nationalist campaign helped Milosevic to handle the protests of the workers in the past. Now it is even easier for him because there is no opposition at all. The majority of the Serbian workers are nationalists now. On the demonstrations in Germany as in Belgrade the main slogans are not only "NATO out", but also "Kill all Albanians", and "Kosova is the heart of Serbia". Pictures of Milosevic, Karadzic and former Serbian king Alexander are shown, as well as the skull flag of the Serbian fascists. We must join these demonstrations but with our own slogans. On these demonstrations we must have as the main slogan "NATO out of Yugoslavia", but we must also call for self-determination for Kosova. Both slogans are important. Otherwise it will be a rotten bloc of Communists, nationalists and fascists.

There are also German fascists on the demonstrations with the slogan "Foreign troops out of Germany, German troops out of the Balkans" and "No German blood for foreign interests". This is also the position of parts of the German bourgeoisie. We must oppose this German nationalist anti-war position. We must oppose petit-bourgeois pacifism that in nearly every case leads to the support of imperialist wars in the name of humanity. The former pacifists are now in the German government! We must oppose Albanian illusions in NATO and their chauvinism (though of an oppressed nationality) towards "Slavic barbarism" (a slogan of the UCK on a Munich demonstration). We must oppose Serbian chauvinism and fascism. We must oppose the pro-Milosevic positions of German Stalinists like the DKP who call the Albanians and the UCK "terrorists". (By contrast most Maoists have correct positions on this war, as the Trotskyists have.) Our slogans must be "NATO out of Yugoslavia! Self-determination for Kosova!"

In my opinion this war is the last united NATO action. The contradictions between Germany/EU and the US grow from day to day. There will be a German orientation towards the East, towards Russia the next time. Last week German BASF and Russian Gasprom made the most important co-operative gas and oil agreement that exists between the two countries. Official Yugoslav anti-NATO agitation in Belgrade, but also in Germany, is always against the US and almost never against Germany. Serbia hopes for a split between Germany and the US in NATO.

Even now the German press has begun to report more objectively about the NATO terror against Serbian civilians. It seems to be a German turn away from the USA in the period (maybe before ground troops invade Yugoslavia). Anti-Americanism in Germany is very popular now. You can read in the journals of the bourgeoisie and also in publications such as Spiegel and Focus (similar to Time magazine in the US) about "US imperialism", "US terror" and so on. Sometimes the German bourgeois papers look like Maoist papers from the 1970s! Some papers now claim that the US has forced Germany into the Balkans war. This is a lie of course, because Germany has its own interests there. But now the German bourgeoisie feels that they have no control over the war any more and that they maybe will not get the fruits of their engagement.

In my view the US also wanted the war now because they needed it to weaken the Euro currency. And this is exactly what has happened. By totally destroying Serbia and Kosova the US hopes to create a permanent wound that divides the united Europe in the future.

Of course we as German Communists also oppose US imperialism. But we must oppose this kind of anti-Americanism that is in the German bourgeois press and unfortunately in many left-wing papers also. In Junge Welt, the daily Marxist paper that I am a writer for, US imperialism is said to be the most evil enemy in the world. The chief of the editorial board told me that it is the same situation as in the 1930s and 1940s when the Anti-Hitler Alliance opposed Germany. In the same way he now calls in this paper for an alliance against US imperialism. Also leading members of the DKP and PDS call for a United Europe to oppose the US. Most sections of the German left are now preparing the next August 1914, the time when the German SPD supported the imperialist war to defend its "Fatherland". In 1914 the German Social Democrats organised big demonstrations against Tsarism in Russia, but they forgot to demonstrate against German imperialism. Of course Tsarism was a big enemy of the Russian workers. But by demonstrating only against Russia in 1914 the SPD prepared the workers to support the Emperor Wilhelm in attacking Russia. When we now attack US imperialism as our main enemy in Germany, we become social-imperialists and forget everything that Lenin and Liebknecht taught us.