After Kosovo: Dilemma Of Colonialism

By Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal, [email protected]

Kashmir Watch
hp?subaction=showfull&id=1205767690&archiv e=&start_from=&ucat=15&var1news=value1 news
March 17 2008

On 17 February 2008 in South-eastern Europe, the Serbian Southern
province of Kosovo declared independence from Republic of Serbia and
proclaimed itself new Republic of Kosovo. New Republic of Kosovo was
later recognized by few sovereign states, mainly the USA. Kosovo now
has to become a member of the EU, the UN, OSCE, IOC, IMF, and many
other vital world bodies. Kosovo will remain a sovereign nation and
a part of UN very soon. This should show to the world that seeking
legitimate independence or "secessionism" or separatism", to use the
expression in vogue from colonial and imperialist powers, is a noble
cause and has to be respected by the world. And Republic of Kosovo
is certainly not a mistake, a reality a fact and necessity. Kosovo
will never be a part of Serbia again.

Nine years ago, the international community, led by NATO, acted to end
brutal attacks by Serbs on the Kosovo Albanian population. This timely
international intervention ended the violence, leading to a United
Nations Security Council decision to suspend Belgrade’s governance and
place Kosovo under interim UN administration. Since that time Kosovo
has built its own democratic institutions separate from Belgrade’s
control. Kosovo population got back its right to offer prayers. Many
nations across the globe have already recognized Kosovo. And Kosovo
will reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights and International Law,
as well as in the United Nations.

Last year, UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari developed a plan to
build a democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo and recommended Kosovo
be independent, subject to a period of international supervision. In
light of the conflicts of the 1990s, independence was the only viable
option to promote stability in the region. The United States supports
the Ahtisaari Plan and will work with its international partners to
help implement it and help Kosovo join the UN and other international
bodies of political and economic importance.

A couple of countries have criticised the Kosovo independence, fearing
backlash on their terrains. It is quite likely that the colonial
powers determined to retain the colonies at any cost might resort
to further aggressive as well as tactical measures to pressurize the
colonized to remain calm and obedient.


True, the 2008 declaration of independence by Kosovo, has added another
feather in the cap of nations demanding freedom nations that face
serious problem of freedom fighting people/nations. The United States
has formally recognized Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state. We
congratulate the people of Kosovo on this historic occasion. These
are clear indications that the United States will not aid, abet or
support any armed group, movement or non-state player to forcibly
breakaway to declare independent territory in any recognized nation.

President Bush has responded affirmatively to a request from Kosovo
to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries. The
establishment of these relations will reaffirm the special ties
of friendship that have linked together the people of the USA and
Kosovo. USA welcomed the commitments Kosovo made in its declaration
of independence to implement the Ahtisaari Plan, to embrace
multi-ethnicity as a fundamental principle of good governance, and
to welcome a period of international supervision. "The United States
takes this opportunity to reaffirm our friendship with Serbia, an ally
during two world wars. We invite Serbia’s leaders to work together
with the United States and our partners to accomplish shared goals,
such as the protection of the rights, security, culture and livelihood
of the Serb community in Kosovo", a US spokesperson said.

However, by sensing disquiet across the world, the USA has said
Kosovo is an exclusive issue and no parallels could be drawn on
the basis of Kosovo example. World wide, there are several types of
freedom fighting groups and depending on the nature of their demand
and struggle USA would support or oppose their claim.

Ideally, each nation/people demanding independence could be granted if
that serves the legitimate interests of the new nation concerned, if
created. USA strongly believes that Kosovo makes a special and unique
case and that the situation that existed Kosovo to gain independence
does not exist anywhere in the world today. While supporting the
independence of Kosovo, USA categorically stated that the Congress
recognized the situation led to the freedom of Kosovo was unique to
its territory and that it cannot be substituted in other situations
anywhere in the world. "The unusual combination of factors found in
the Kosovo situation (including the context of Yugoslavia’s breakup,
the history of ethnic cleansing and crimes against civilians in Kosovo,
and the extended period of UN administration) are not found elsewhere
and therefore make Kosovo a special case. Kosovo cannot be seen as
a precedent for any other situation in the world today.


The country that vehemently opposes the Kosovo freedom and threatens
with severe punitive action is Russia. Many argue that if this
policy of the US and its allies is accepted as part of the new global
political order, the Chechens, Dagestanis and Ingusetians should also
have solid international support to breakaway from Russia.

But, however, Russia has indicated that the Kosovo principle can be
applied to Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh of Georgia and
Armenia, as Moscow supports them. These regions are already trying to
merge with Russia. They might as well declare unilateral independence.

Russia which opposes Kosovo’s independence because of its own trouble
spots in several parts of Russia, particularly in Chechnya, hopes
if European members of NATO suspend their membership and decide that
the US should withdraw her military forces from Europe, the US will
be very vulnerable. However, if the US in that moment looks for an
ally in the UK, the UK as the US biggest ally will turn back on her
and closely bond with the EU. That is not going to happen in the
foreseeable future, no matter who would be in charge the White House
and European capitals.


Russian concerns have been echoed by China, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

China criticised Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia while
Taiwan welcomed it. China is worried about similar action by Taiwan,
which has recognised Kosovo. China is also concerned about its western
Xinziang area, where Uyghur Muslim rebels are fighting a ‘liberation
war’ for over three decades. The Tibet issue too has the potential of
troubling Beijing again. But not all of these countries are colonizers.

Sri Lanka has voiced concern out of fear that the rebel Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) might follow the Kosovo example and might
even be recognized by some world capitals. Indonesia has already lost
East Timor and is worried about the Aceh province, where rebels want
to secede from the mainland regime. Thailand is involved in fighting
the Muslim minorities in the three southern provinces, saying that
the so-called International Islamic Jihad is patronizing the Thai
Muslims. Sri Lankan Muslims say the can derive no inspiration whatever
from Kosovo’s independence. They can profit in no way from the break-up
of the island which under sever threat from climate change.

Now India, though abetting separatism among Indian origins in Lanka for
a separate nation that would exist along with India, says by supporting
Kosovo US has probably seeded another poison-tree that might lead to
the Third World War. Creation of new nations based on religion and
redrawing national boundaries of several states had started after
the First World War. After the Second World Order, the Big Powers
assumed this task as a matter of international policing privilege.

Some argue if the US and its allies now go for three separate
nations in Iraq – Sunni, Shia’ and Kurdish? Would the UK agree to
create a separate Northern Ireland and give full political rights to
the Catholic Irish community? USA is clear about its policy: it all
depends on the merits of the nations seeking independence. Scotland,
a constituent of UK and the homeland of UK premier Brown, has been
clambering for independence for quite some time now.


In every zone where conflicts have been on for self-determination,
there have been a lot of blood-letting and destructions and the state
sponsored terrorist forces evade human rights without hindrances
and ignoring the warnings from the international community and

Major zones of turmoil are: Middle East where Palestinians fight for
their own homeland under Israeli occupation; Kashmiri patriots struggle
for getting back their country under Indian occupation and genocides;
Sri Lanka where Tamils are waging a long war for a separate nation;
Russia, where the Chechen patriots wage a long re-independence war
with Russian terrorist forces; China, where Tibetans struggle for a
nation of their own, but the Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama,
as a tactical step has asked China for autonomy and more religious
freedoms (the present attack by Chinese forces on Tibetans indicates
that Beijing does not think of granting freedom for Tibetans), to
mention the most important ones.

The decisions like that of India to support their people in their
demand for separate nations have only complicated the lives of
non-ethnic people in every country and many country countries like
USA have become more restrict with their immigration policy.


There could be several categories of freedom fighting nations/peoples
around the world. The first category of nations/peoples that seek
independence are the offspring, i.e., those that have lived together
for a long period of time, may be centuries, contributed to the growth
and development of the county, but felt marginalized by the major
community of the country, denied their legitimate share in resources,
freedom in all respects, leading to serious differences and resultant
tensions with the main land. Pakistan and Bangladesh, for example,
emerged on this basis. Kosovo was a part of Serbia, the successor state
of Yugoslavia that has already Balkanized into several independent
states, but Kosovo was denied independence by Serbia for a long time.

Soviet Union was another example in this type of nations. Michael
Gorbachev, the last Soviet President, voluntarily granted independence
in 1987 to all 15 constituent republics that formed the then Soviet
Union, accepting utter failure in making the Soviet state into a
functional communist multi-nation. Successful October revolution
in 1917 led to the unification of several neighboring nations into
Soviet Russia that culminated into the establishment of USSR by
the end of the World War II by 1945 and set the background for the
so-called Cold War afterwards. However, while granting independence
to 15 republics, nations like Chechnya, annexed by Imperial Russian
in the past, were not granted are-independence mainly because it was
then a part of Russian Republic and the Nobel Laureate from Russia
Gorbachev expected, perhaps still expects, that Russia, the successor
sate of USSR to grant freedom to the needy nations. He expressed his
views in an article published in The Bangladesh Today recently that
Russia was also under foreign occupation for nearly 300 years which
clearly shows the nations Russia annexed and kept under its control
could be given freedom.

The first Russian president Boris Yeltsin let the Chechens and other
freedom seekers with hopes to be free soon, but later, incapacitated,
he let the military decide the matter which led to wars with
Chechnya, killing thousands of innocent people. President Putin
once said if Chechens want independence "this is not the way to ask
for independence", was meaning that they must give up violence and
counter-terrorism for freedom from the Kremlin.

This type of freedom seekers are a logical development of human
relations in every country and this trend would continue for ever,
creating more and more nations as the globalization progresses further.

The second category includes nations, annexed by colonial powers
and kept under their custody, and the strong powers refuse to grant
re-independence. India and many other third world nations that got
freedom form UK belong to this category. Kashmir is striving for
independence on this basis. These peoples have lost their sovereignty
to their neighbours who annexed the land and keep on expanding o or
terrorising the inhabitants. India has over decade since 1947 when
it annexed Kashmir tactfully, killed over 90,000 Kashmiri patriots.

Chechnya is another best example.

There is yet another, third, category of nations that settled down and
depend on the host countries for sustenance. There are peoples/nations
that once went to another county to earn their livelihood and gradually
settled down there over a long period, demanding more powers and rights
and have finally claimed separate nations. There are many blocks of
Indians living abroad for decades now and demanding separate states
for themselves by dividing the host countries. Indians in Sri Lanka
fit well here. Here India, economically better-off now, should, in
stead of fuelling more explosive situations, try to make alternative
settlement arrangements in India itself.


Even after the collapse of many colonialist and imperialist powers
world wide last century, India that became free in 1947 began
entertaining colonial empire ambitions by annexing Kashmir. It dreams
of acquiring the areas from Afghanistan and Myanmar. Nepal, Bhutan
and Sikkim are now considered safe and by using Indian living in Sri
Lanka, New Delhi aims to split Sri Lanka and add one part into its
future territory. On the one hand, New Delhi doesn’t take a final
decision to let Kashmiris have their sovereign back, one the other,
it also encourages a separate country by splitting Sri Lanka.

India, as one of the contemporary imperialist nations having alien
nations, like Kashmir, under its custody, has developed cold feet a
Kosovo declaration mainly because the Western powers spearhead the
Kosovo cause and Kosovo is predominantly of Albanian Muslims. That
also signals follow-up action in India as well. In the habit of
linking Islam and Muslim with so-called fundamentalism, terrorism and
cross-border terrorism, India aims at US support and guidance. India
always thought it has USA in its pocket along with the nuclear deal
thanks to its grand auspicious of "terrorism" plank. It is under this
illusion that New Delhi let its intelligence agencies work under
the dictates of USA, ostensibly to coordinate efforts to track the
so-called "terrorists". Indian hopes for coming closer to USA and
the West on the pretext of combating terrorism, have been proved

Indian hegemonic strategists want to keep Kashmir under its military
boots. Kosovo has written new international laws for all the simmering
separatist movements. The government of India has so far remained
silent about the Kosovo developments basically out of fear that any
opposing statement would erode its ‘secular’ image, annoy its targeted
vote banks and displease its supposed friends in the comity of Muslim
nations. The very threat tone in its statement that Kosovo would lead
to World War II betrays the its democratic and Non-Aligned credentials
the real format of its foreign policy of using war threats.

Many Indians ho make fortunes by churning out anti-Islamic and
anti-Pakistani and anti-Kashmiri stuff regularly that Indian media
wholeheartedly promote and uphold, ask India to stridently oppose
unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo, while under UN
administration. India is worried that Kosovo is free now and want to
openly support Russia and China in the UN and ask Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon to explain to the world body as to how the US and allies
could bury the UN mandate and agree to the creation of another nation
on ethno-religious considerations.

India, a close ally of USSR developed bad breathing because not only
the Kashmiris were already demanding re-independence, some states
within India also glamour for independence. But India does not want
to grant re-independence to Kashmiris to self-determination and
independent rule. Hence Kosovo created a jerk in New Delhi.

Countries like India exist as nations as all ethno-religious and
linguistic sub-nationalities, but not have mutually agreed to make
it a nation-state, rising above narrow considerations. Every state
within India has a right to cede. Kashmir was an independent country
until 1947. Wanting to keep Kashmir in its Union, India says that
Pakistan continues to incite and abate sections of "misdirected
Kashmiri" and mainland Muslims for seceding from India. The Kashmir
Media Service (February 20, 2008), a pro-independence website, quoted
the pro-liberation leaders like Syed Ali Geelani and Shabbir Ahmad
Shah of the All Party Hurriyat Conference and chairman of Jammu and
Kashmir Liberation Front Muhammad Yasin Malik as saying that the
sacrifices of the Kashmiris would not be allowed to go waste. They
cited Kosovo as a ray of hope and urged the international community
to resolve the Kashmir dispute.


UN, founded by replacing the then less effective League of nations soon
after the devastating World War II, is supposed to play a proactive
role in such crucial issues like world wide, but it has over years
become a forum for nations to finalize trades, especially in weapons
and technology and busty with determining the commissions package
in the deals, has totally failed to do any thing positive and let
the explosive freedom struggles explode by themselves resulting in
constant genocides and destructions. UN and other related forums have
refused to mediate honestly for peaceful settlements, by involving
the stake-holders in every conflict. Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya,
Taiwan, Tibet and Sri Lankan Tamils, among others have been fighting
for independent nations and the regions remain explosive all the time.

Under these mischievous circumstances, decision of Kosovo patriots
to declare independence voluntarily is indeed remarkable. More
broadly, every nation that seeks freedom could be allowed to be free,
if they are capable of independent existence. But those who seek
independence and freedom should also ask themselves if they really
require independence and for what.

Gaining and enjoying freedom and independence from the oppressive
rulers is accepted as the rightful action by oppressed people.

However, the colonial and imperialist powers would continue to resist
only to eventually lose in stopping the freedom loving peoples form
gaining independence. That has been the message from human history,
including India. India is now cash rich and can support the Indians
living abroad, especially in Sri Lanka, in many positive ways,
instead of fuelling crises.

Kosovo may be a tiny territory but in the great game of oil politics
it holds great importance. US knows that Kosovo does not have oil
but its location is strategic as the trans-Balkan pipeline – known
as AMBO pipeline, reportedly being built at a cost of 1.1 billion
dollar by US builder and operator company, the US-registered Albanian
Macedonian Bulgarian Oil Corporation will pass through it in due
course. The pipeline would pump Caspian oil from the Bulgarian port
of Burgas via Macedonia to the Albanian port of Vlora, for transport
to European countries and the United States.

Muslims everywhere, have a dual identity, in one of which he is a
member of Universal Islam, the charismatic community of Muslims all
over the world, an identity which transcends ethnic and national
identities. Practice of Islam in real faith and spirit demands the
Muslims in Kosovo to regain and imbibe the Islamic values.

Independence could offer the Kosovo enough strength to practice their
religion freely. There can be no doubt that the Kosovo Muslims could
not so practice their religion as members of a Serbian state that kills
Muslims in Kosovo, but now they can practice their religion without
let or hindrance. However, only when they are recognized by the UN
and other world bodies Kosovo can pursue their legitimate economic and
security interests in a sustained manner. One hopes, with the support
of the USA that has already recognized Kosovo as an independent country
and asked them to open their embassy in Washington, they will emerge
stronger as a nation belonging to UN and EU and other world bodies.

Kosovo is lucky to have the USA and Europe on its side and it will
achieve its legitimate objectives and goals with their help. Looking
from the economic side, the United States would shoulder additional
expenses over Kosovo. But Kosovo is for many years in deficit, and
there is not much that the US can take from Kosovo which Europe does
not want. Europe also would support Kosovo to emerge stronger in
the years to come. UN cannot sit idle but has to guide and support
similar freedom seeking nations to achieve their legitimate goals
with lesser difficulties. Meanwhile there should be a global debate
on the scenario of freedom movement to decide about the relevance of
each freedom fighting nation. Colonialism has undergone changes over
decades but still its vestiges are visible in many corners of globe.

It is time every country gives up its colonial ambitions and

Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal Research Scholar,School of International
Studies,Jawaharlal Nehru University,New Delhi can be contacted at
From: Baghdasarian