Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live. When people fall into danger, they are then able to strive for victory. - Sun Tzu
While Serbia’s politicians continue to betray the electoral will of the people, keeping the country in limbo, haggling over one unholy post-electoral alliance after another and widening the disconnect between the consent of the governed and the license to rule, KFOR bulldozers have been cutting off the North Kosovo Serbs from the central Serbia, roadblock by roadblock. As the agony of the coalition-building power grab, void of any ideological premise or context, further deteriorates Serbia’s ability to sustain itself politically and economically, the North Kosovo Serbs seem to be in the care of no one. The roadblocks, the only security the unarmed population of North Kosovo has at its disposal, are being dismantled one by one, strategically, apparently severing all the physical connections these Serbs had with central Serbia. The Serbs standing on the left bank of the Ibar River find themselves increasingly alone.
After the German and American NATO troops fired at the people of the village of Rudare on June 1 with live ammo, wounding six, another attack occurred on June 16, in which another roadblock was removed, close to Brnjak, and two more people were wounded, this time by rubber bullets. It is a path the NATO occupiers have chosen and they appear determined to gradually and systematically steamroll the remaining free Kosovo Serbs out of Kosovo.
Serbia’s government, with the constitutionally limited new president, the acting prime minister who was irrelevant even during his mandate, and the new cabinet still being bartered over, is incapacitated and seems to be fine with it. Who would want to have to make difficult decisions about Kosovo anyway? In the power vacuum, KFOR and the Albanians can do what they please and no one in Belgrade will lose sleep over it because everyone has an excuse. President Nikolić, the only legitimate agent of Serbia’s government, is waiting on the cabinet to be formed and even if he weren’t what could he do? Threaten to mobilize the Army like President Milorad Dodik of the Serb Republic hinted at? No one believes the Serbian Army can fight NATO. No one even believes the Serbian Army can bluff NATO. Hell, I believe NATO, through Boris Tadić and Dragan Šutanovac, made sure the Serbian Army can’t even fight the Kosovo Protection Corpse. And these two stooges have even better an excuse: they are effectively out of power and, sorry, they can’t do anything to stop the ethnic cleansing of the North Kosovo Serbs. Not that they broke a sweat over it when they were in power. (Technically, Šutanovac is still the minister of defense, but no one expects anything patriotic of him.)
The only ones with no excuse and literally no way around are the North Kosovo Serbs. Their situation is precarious. Somewhere between fifty and eighty thousand people – closer to fifty, I’d say – are trapped in one corner of the province, unarmed and put in a headlock by the enemy force. They have been denied the right of self-determination granted to the Kosovo Albanians by the NATO bombs. Well, the Serbs have no bombs, no powerful overlords, so they cannot claim the right to determine their own political fate. Their democratic will to reject the Kosovo Albanian authority, expressed in the February referendum, was ignored. And, as the North Atlantic community’s excuse goes, borders in the Balkans cannot be changed any further so the Serb-populated territory of the North Kosovo cannot hope for any solution that carves them out of the rogue state of Kosovo, like NATO and the Albanians carved Kosovo out of Serbia, 13 and 4 years ago, respectively. Sure, these borders could be changed all up until 2008 when most of the North Atlantic community recognized Kosovo Albanians’ declaration of independence. But that was a precedent because the North Atlantic community said so to the rest of the world. Most of the world did not fall for this browbeating, the rogue state of Kosovo has not been recognized by 60 percent of the UN members, but the boot stomping on the Kosovo Serbs has spoken: the Kosovo Albanians and the Kosovo Serbs are not to have the same rights and will not be treated equally. To uphold this principle, the North Atlantic community is bent on subjugating the Kosovo Serbs to the rule of the Kosovo Albanians. And although there is a number of Serb communities that have so far allowed to survive the subjugation, most notably in Gračanica and Štrpce, it is clear that these are token communities, allowed to survive only to portray the false picture of tolerance and multi-ethnic society that the Albanian Kosovo is most definitely not. A more believable picture of tolerance could have been painted if the Albanians didn’t eradicate a number of similar enclaves in the three-day pogrom in March of 2004, killing Serbs, looting and burning Serb homes and churches across the province, drastically reducing the number of Serbs living in Kosovo and crucially changing the more even demographic distribution that testified to the past demographic character of the region. It had to be a rude awakening for any Serb who thought that a cohabitation setup was possible under the Albanian rule and the NATO occupation. Fool me twice – shame on me. The survival of the enclaves south of Ibar is not fooling the North Kosovo Serbs. If the North falls, it will be a matter of Albanian convenience as to how quickly the life of the southern Serb enclaves becomes a hell on Earth. Despite the somewhat successful tug-of-war in the international legal and diplomatic arena, Serbia’s dwindling chances to keep Kosovo hinge on the presence of Serbs in the province. In the end, the North Kosovo Serbs have nowhere to go, but to become refugees in Serbia, which, under the specific economic conditions, is a prospect as catastrophic as staring into NATO’s gun barrels. Blocking the roads with gravel and their bodies is the road they are forced to take.
The geopolitical paradigm in which the Kosovo issues operate has ostensibly been shifting and NATO and the Albanians are striving to adjust. The Konuzin humanitarian “sortie” combined with the Tadić election loss has caused some uneasiness in Priština and the time of reckoning with the North has seemingly come. No chance to chip away at Serbia can go underutilized, Camp Bondsteel has to be secured long-term by rounding off the rogue state of Kosovo, and most importantly, a door to a Russian return to Kosovo in any capacity, even a peacekeeping one, has to be shut tight as soon as possible, especially in the light of the impending proxy war in Syria between the North Atlantic –Sunni Muslim axis and the Russo-Sino-Shia Muslim alliance. The peaceful resistance of the North Kosovo Serbs has denied the aggressor the needed pretext for an all-out overrun, which has forced NATO to resort to a more methodical approach. Nevertheless, the Albanian and NATO determination to drive the Serbs out of Kosovo seems to be so strong that it can only be alleviated by an agreement to have Russian peacekeepers indeed stand on the Ibar River and guarantee the physical survival of the North Kosovo Serbs. This should be the official demand by Belgrade, if its bark had any teeth, and all the status negotiations should be conditioned on this. Reverse any concessions Borislav Stefanović made and refuse to negotiate the status without the security guarantees.
Kosovo Albanians’ aggressive maximalist agenda backed by NATO has left the Serbs with no choice. They cannot surrender. And, although alone, they have survived so far.