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Kosovo Liberation Army

Kosovo Liberation Army: The Inside Story of an Insurgency

HENRY H. PERRITT
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt1xcgg3
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  • Book Info
    Kosovo Liberation Army
    Book Description:

    The military intervention by NATO in Kosovo was portrayed in American media as a necessary step to prevent the Serbian armed forces from repeating the ethnic cleansing that had so deeply damaged the former Yugoslavia. Serbia trained its military on Kosovo because of an ongoing armed struggle by ethnic Albanians to wrest independence from Serbia. Warfare in the Balkans seemed to threaten the stability of Europe, as well as the peace and security of Kosovars, and yet armed resistance seemed to offer the only possibility of future stability. Leading the struggle against Serbia was the Kosovo Liberation Army, also known as the KLA._x000B__x000B_Kosovo Liberation Army: The Inside Story of an Insurgency provides a historical background for the KLA and describes its activities up to and including the NATO intervention. Henry H. Perritt Jr. offers firsthand insight into the motives and organization of a popular insurgency, detailing the strategies of recruitment, training, and financing that made the KLA one of the most successful insurgencies of the post-Cold War era. This volume also tells the personal stories of young people who took up guns in response to repeated humiliation by "foreign occupiers," as they perceived the Serb police and intelligence personnel. Perritt illuminates the factors that led to the KLA's success, including its convergence with political developments in eastern Europe, its campaign for popular support both at home and abroad, and its participation in international negotiations and a peace settlement that helped pave the long road from war to peace.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09213-8
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The first time I was in Kosovo, during the cease fire in December 1998—or more accurately, as the cease fire was breaking down—I asked our UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) hosts if they could take me to see the Kosovo Liberation Army. After some hemming and hawing, the mission chief of the UNHCR in Prishtina requisitioned a bulletproof SUV and persuaded a driver to take us to Malisheva. Everywhere we went, on paved roads and on dirt roads so rutted they were almost impassable, we saw burned out police stations and houses that had been shelled by...

  5. 1 Faces of the KLA and Its Kosovar Antagonists
    (pp. 13-24)

    The Kosovo Liberation Army fought a paradigmatic Fourth Generation War. ʺFourth Generation Warʺ is a term coined by some of the more perceptive military theorists in the U.S. Army and Marine Corps communities. ʺFourth-generation warfare (4GW), unlike previous generations of warfare, does not attempt to win by defeating the enemyʹs military forces. Instead, it directly attacks the minds of enemy decision makers to destroy the enemyʹs political will. Fourth generation wars are lengthy—measured in decades rather than months or years.ʺ¹ Fourth generation warfare requires that fighters—and leaders of fighters—be astute about politics, which is often characterized as...

  6. 2 Building and Maintaining Public Support
    (pp. 25-35)

    So recalls Liridon Lidifi. He was fourteen in 1997, when the Kosovo Liberation Army first went public, and sixteen when he and his family were driven out of their village into a Macedonian refugee camp by Serb forces. He was never tempted to join the KLA.

    Revolution does not succeed without popular support. ʺWithout a political goal,ʺ said Mao Tse-Tung, ʺguerrilla warfare must fail, as it must if its political objectives do not coincide with the aspirations of the people and their sympathy, cooperation, and assistance cannot be gained.ʺ¹ Che Guevara agreed: ʺThe guerrilla fighter needs full help from the...

  7. 3 Recruiting Fighters and Commanders
    (pp. 36-45)

    Fahri Rama, slim and well built, looks taller than his 5'11". He now works as a waiter in the Hotel Victory in Prishtina, where his boyish smile breaks through his shyness whenever he greets a guest. (The hotel caters to internationals.) Fahri joined the KLA when he was twenty, in the village where he grew up. His father had worked for the railway, but was fired because he was Albanian, when Slobodan Milosevic came to power.

    Fahriʹs sentiments and bravery exemplify the hostility to continued Serb repression felt by thousands of others in his age group. But hostility to a...

  8. 4 Avoiding Annihilation, Taking Advantage of Milosevic
    (pp. 46-60)

    Slobodan Milosevic did more for the KLA than anyone else. Though the KLA militarily had to avoid his efforts to annihilate it, his tactics only advanced its political objectives. The KLA confronted both one of the most powerful armies in the world and a brutally efficient secret police apparatus. Alone among a historical succession of Kosovar Albanian resistance groups, it not only survived but eventually prevailed in achieving its strategic political objectives. Evaluating its success requires an assessment of Serb efforts, which were formidable, to annihilate it.

    Milosevic and his backers were well schooled in a variety of techniques for...

  9. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  10. 5 The KLA at War
    (pp. 61-87)

    Military actions that were precursors to KLA operations began in the late eighties with armed resistance to Serb police trying to take Albanian activists into custody. By the early nineties they included organized attacks on police convoys, police stations, and individual police and secret-service officials infamous for their abuse of Albanian civilians. By mid-1998 the KLA was engaged but badly outnumbered and outgunned in frontal warfare.¹ During the NATO bombing campaign in 1999, necessity forced a return to guerrilla warfare, now more often aimed at Serb military units than at police and collaborators.² The KLA claimed as many as twenty-four...

  11. 6 Financing
    (pp. 88-99)

    Overall contributions in support of the Kosovo Liberation Army ranged from $75 million to $100 million. Modest fund-raising activities began in Switzerland in the 1980s, as part of the Planners in Exileʹs efforts to prepare for armed resistance. After the 1989 demonstrations in Kosovo, Milosevicʹs revocation of autonomy, and the first multiparty elections in 1990, fund raising became more formal but also splintered between the Peaceful Path Institutionalists, who wanted to finance the Kosovar Albanian Government in Exile, and the Planners in Exile, who wanted to build an adequate war chest for guerrilla warfare against the crushing Serb yoke of...

  12. 7 Training
    (pp. 100-109)

    Before mid-1998, most KLA fighters received no training. They just got guns, teamed up with some of their buddies, and improvised attacks on police stations. As the conflict intensified in late 1997 and early 1998, and after the number of volunteers mushroomed following the Jashari Massacre, training was organized, after mid-1998, on a more or less systematic basis in each of the three main operational zones: Dukagjini, Drenica, and Llap. All of the training activities made use of practical knowledge gained by some KLA officers from their service in the VJ or in MUP. A number brought knowledge and experience...

  13. 8 Supplying
    (pp. 110-129)

    Early fighting effectiveness was constrained mainly by an inadequate supply of arms. In 1996, there were only a few dozen armed fighters. Many others wanted to fight but they had no weapons. There was a tendency before mid-1998 for the KLA to underestimate the importance of logistics and supply. As one close observer said, ʺIt was: Allegro! Ho ho! A few AK-47s will expel the Serbs.ʺ¹ Others, slower to embrace armed conflict, were cautious at least in part because they recognized—and sometimes overestimated—the political and logistical challenges. Bujar Bukoshiʹs Military Advisory Committee told him in the early 1990s:...

  14. 9 Shaping International Reaction
    (pp. 130-151)

    In late February 1998, the American envoy to the Balkans was calling the KLA a ʺterrorist group.ʺ Fifteen months later, and led by the United States, NATO was bombing Belgrade. How did this come about? The Kosovo Liberation Army was ultimately successful in 1999 because it brought about international intervention in the form of a NATO air campaign that caused the Serbs to withdraw their forces from Kosovo. International intervention became the paramount strategic goal of the KLA in the mid-1990s, and joined its original goal of demonstrating to the Kosovar Albanian population that it was possible to resist Serb...

  15. 10 Postwar Politics: The KLA at the Ballot Box
    (pp. 152-166)

    The Kosovo Liberation Army experience defined postwar politics in Kosovo. The popularity that had allowed the KLA to operate did not evaporate when the organization itself had ceased to exist. Thousands of its fighters staffed the postwar Kosovo Protection Corps and Kosovo Police Service. Others returned to their villages and jobs, heroes always to families and friends because of their service. Its generals and political leaders occupied the leadership ranks of the major political parties, and the wartime cleavage between the KLA and the LDK simmered beneath the surface of every important policy decision. But even as it moved into...

  16. 11 The KLA in the Dock
    (pp. 167-180)

    Any story of the KLA would be incomplete without considering postwar prosecution of many KLA leaders for war crimes. Postconflict political evolution in Kosovo was significantly affected by these prosecutions, a new feature of the international legal order, born of the desire to do something about Milosevic. The International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia, established ostensibly to try Milosevic and other perpetrators of human rights violations in Bosnia and Croatia, later turned its sights on the KLA, joined by local Kosovar courts armed with jurisdiction and staffed by international judges.

    After the war, three high-level KLA commanders, Remi, Limaj,...

  17. 12 Conclusion
    (pp. 181-184)

    As this story of the Kosovo Liberation Army concludes and the international community works with Kosovar Albanian political leaders to chart Kosovoʹs entry into the community as an independent state, the KLA insurgency invites reconsideration of the realities of insurgency in the twenty-first century, including careful reflection on the context for the KLAʹs success.

    One reality that is often ignored after the attacks of September 11, 2001, is that nationalism is a more powerful engine of insurgency than religion. Long-standing foreign occupation creates a spirit of defiance and strengthens cultures of resistance, which provide a local political context for an...

  18. ACRONYMS AND ORGANIZATION NAMES
    (pp. 185-188)
  19. ROSTER OF KEY INDIVIDUALS
    (pp. 189-194)
  20. NOTES
    (pp. 195-206)
  21. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 207-210)
  22. INDEX
    (pp. 211-230)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 231-233)