BY MAURICE WILLIAMS
The Yugoslav government headed by Slobodan Milosevic has intensified its war against Albanians in Kosova who are fighting for self-determination, while Washington and other imperialist powers discuss preparations for a military assault on the Balkan republic.
The Kosova Information Center reported that clashes have stepped up between the Serbian chauvinist forces of the Yugoslav Army and Albanian fighters in villages of the Decan. The Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) has set up road blocks on main roads in the province, which has led to frequent battles.
The Serbian military has also continued its assaults on the villages of Recak and Belince, using tanks and heavy cannons June 24. Electricity to entire regions of Kosova have been cut off, including most of the capital city Pristina.
The UCK is a guerrilla group that is waging an armed struggle for the independence of Kosova, where 90 percent of the population is Albanian. The support for independence has become overwhelming in face of the recent military assaults on the region, which was an autonomous area within the Yugoslav Republic of Serbia until the Milosevic government revoked that status in 1989. As the bureaucratic caste that had ruled Yugoslavia splintered, Pristina was the city where Milosevic launched his nationalist tirades to justify grabbing territory and resources for the layer of the bureaucracy loyal to him. Prejudices against ethnic Albanians have been widely promoted by the regime since then.
The UCK released a statement June 20 calling for a "general mobilization" and declared it was prepared for a "decisive confrontation" with Serbian forces. In the state ment the guerrillas say they control more than 40 percent of Kosova territory and have 30,000 armed fighters.
The rebels are standing up against 50,000 Serbian soldiers and special police forces, whose sweeps have left more than 300 people dead and displaced 60,000 from their homes since March.
NATO still planning bombing raids
While a military onslaught on Serbia has been delayed, Washington and its imperialist allies in NATO are still planning bombing raids and using ground troops in the name of defending Kosova. As part of this, Canadian government officials announced June 20 a decision to send six warplanes and 130 troops to Italy, to be integrated with the forces of the other NATO powers in the region.
On June 23 ambassadors from the 16 NATO member states met in Brussels, Belgium, to work out future war moves in the Balkans, the Associated Press reported. That same day U.S. ambassador Richard Holbrooke met with Serbian president Milosevic to deliver what the New York Times said "could be the final warning" before the imperialist military alliance launches air strikes on Serbia.
Holbrooke traveled to Kosova the next day where he met with leaders of the UCK as "all part of a process" to supposedly foster negotiations. "I wouldn't want to get your expectations up that we're going to have any breakthroughs," though, he told CNN reporters.
Despite professing outrage at Belgrade's massacre of Albanians, the imperialists are not calling for complete withdrawal of Serbian military forces from Kosova. U.S. government officials have opposed the Albanian demands for independence.
"We support enhanced autonomy," declared U.S. State Department spokesperson James Rubin. "People are deluding themselves if they think that they are going to achieve independence."
UCK commander Lum Haxhiu responded after meeting with Holbrooke, "We need freedom, not just peace. It is freedom we are fighting for."
Washington and its imperialist allies are using Belgrade's war on the Albanians in Kosova as a pretext for their military moves. The U.S. rulers are pressing to deepen intervention in the Balkans with the aim of reestablishing capitalism in Yugoslavia. Its war moves in the region are linked to NATO expansion and tightening the imperialist encirclement of the Russian workers state.
In a related development, the U.S. military organized exercises June 23 with Ukrainian officers at military base near Kiev using an "observation" aircraft.
The procapitalist president of the republic of Kosova, Ibrahim Rugova, said only intervention by the North Atlantic military alliance would force the Serbian government to pull out its military and police forces. He praised NATO's June 15 show of force that included 85 war planes from 13 countries. While claiming support for independence, Rugova asserted that the Kosova leadership "would accept an international protectorate."
Meanwhile, hundreds of parents of Serbian soldiers
demonstrated at the Yugoslav Army headquarters in Belgrade
demanding the withdrawal of Serbian military forces from
Kosova. Some Serbian troops are deserting the army,
according to the Kosova Democratic League (LDK) Information
Commission in Gjakova.
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