The Emperor is wearing Albanian Clothes
This article belongs to With a Grain of Piquant Salt column.
Kosovo has declared independence on the 3rd Sunday of February, 2008 and the expectation is that it will be recognised by USA, UK and many other countries immediately. As soon as these western powers do recognise Kosovo as an independent country, it will immediately cause a huge dislocation in the fabric of all other separatist terrorist campaigns, their supporters and the states/groups who oppose them. We have examples ranging from the Turkish, Iranian, Syrian or Iranian Kurds, Northern Irish Catholics, Palestine, Malaysian Indians, Kashmiri Muslims, Naga's etc. in India, Thai Muslims, Sri Lankan Tamils, Darfurians against Arab Sudanese to the Turkish Cypriots. This will make the international political scenario very complicated and the hypocrisy galore of almost all countries will be exposed. How so? Well, let us take a look.
But first, a brief look at Kosovo. A country which can be said to be part of the Bulgarian (Christian) Empire, which then became part of the Byzantine Empire in 1018 AD. The local Slavs fought against the Byzantines and then finally became independent in 1208, but that did not last for long. Then the Ottomans came in 1389 and the epic battle of Kosovo happened, something that has been seared into people's minds. This battle is at the same level of the Battle of Hastings for the English, the Battle of Panipat for the Indians, the Battle of Karbala and the Battle of Badr for the Muslims, etc. That battle defined what Serbia is, some of the leaders of the Serb armies were even canonised as saints! But to no avail, over the next hundred or so years, the Ottomans won and Islamisation happened rapidly till 1871 when Serbian Nationalism again arose. Wars erupted, the Turks ethnically cleansed a very large number of Slavs from Kosovo and it was a big fur ball, but by the end of the 19th century, effectively, the land of the Serbs was now the land of the Albanians.
Then in 1912, the Balkan wars broke out again, and this time, the Serbs won and did a re-colonisation of Kosovo, and the Albanians had to move out. Then the World War I broke out, which ended in a confused mess. In 1929, the kingdom of Yugoslavia was formed lasting till 1941 when the Italians invaded and then again after some confused to'ing and fro'ing, the Republic of Yugoslavia was formed. Now the Albanians lived under the atrocious and horrible regime of Hoxha in Albania proper, and for them, Kosovo seemed like paradise. So all the Serbian re-colonisation and wars were frankly useless, as the population of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo rose rapidly to the low 90% by the late 1970's.
Then the Slobodan Milošević phenomena happened and all hell broke lose. Whether it was him to blame or he was just a conduit for long festering religious/ethnic tensions will be long debated, but Yugoslavia broke apart into civil war, ethnic cleansing and genocide. The Kosovo problem is just one step in the still to be completed Balkan saga. After the Bosnian war, the attention of the Serbs turned to Kosovo and then the Albanians reacted, peacefully at first and then violently. Horrible atrocities were carried out by both sides and then the Serbs got pounded by NATO who stepped into the breach on behalf of the Albanians. Hundreds of thousands of Serbs and Albanians were ethnically cleansed, thousands were killed, and it even degenerated to the destruction of houses of worship, both churches and mosques.
And now, under UN guardianship, the situation is that the Kosovo-Albanians are confident enough to declare independence. The rights or wrongs of the actual step are beyond this essay, but the point is, that this independence struggle is being fought under the guidance and approval of the west, mainly Europe and America, They will recognise the independence of Kosovo immediately and they are the people who are providing the military, police and economic cover to the Kosovars. While countries like Serbia (naturally!), Russia, Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania are also the doubters and are the countries who will not recognise an independent Kosovo.
So what does this mean for other insurgencies, terrorist campaigns and separatist movements? Let us take things within Europe first. Well, the Northern Ireland issue is calming down rapidly, so I am not very sure how much it will impact them. If the protestant/Anglican minority in Northern Ireland or in mainland UK do decide to stall the peace process, this is definitely a way out for the Catholic politicians to declare unilateral independence as an interim way to get to full union with Ireland. Will Scotland use the same mechanism? I do not think so. How about Wales? Nope, it will not. But the Basques in Spain will and can definitely claim this precedent to demand their own homeland as well now.
How about the demands of the far right in Northern Italy? No? How about the very dangerous and frankly hypocritical stance in Northern Cyprus? That statelet is recognised by the Turks and only by the Turks. Why is Europe not recognising Northern Cyprus as an independent country? See? No response and no comment. Hypocrisy galore. No, actually they are liars, for lying to the Turkish Cypriots, but then, hypocritical lies come very easily to certain people. So the much vaulted principled foreign policy, the speeches about democracy and ethical treatment are nothing but hypocrisy.
So if that is the case of how to deal with separatist movements, how will the EU/USA work with the other members of the Quartet on the Palestinian case? Will they provide another two thousand members of a stabilisation force to help settle and provide security to the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank? A similar situation will come up when we talk about the Kashmiri Muslims, the Sri Lankan Tamils, Darfurians, and so on and so forth. Will the USA agree to acknowledge the Puerto Rican struggle for independence? Or how about the Hawaiian struggle? For that matter, would the American Civil War have happened? Curious when these kinds of decisions are extrapolated wider and taken back in time.
Another question that arises is what happens when the minority becomes the majority? What happens to those new minorities in the now new majority country? The tragic situation is that the new minority will always end up suffering. Look at what has happened to Pakistan and Bangladesh! Two countries created to be the homeland of Muslims, separating from the non-Muslim majority. This invariably meant that the minorities of Christians and Hindus have their numbers rapidly reduced. Similarly, we have seen the situation in Palestine, where the Christians have been emigrating or are being terrorised to a great extent. We saw this behaviour in Bosnia, where the various minorities, which became the majority, in turn oppressed the minorities.
So here's the other question to NATO. If the ethnic Albanian Kosovars now oppress the ethnic Serbs as it will happen, will NATO bomb the ethnic Albanians like it did the Kosovars? Or will the EU police force be in there for the next two hundred years? Or what? It is very clear that it will not do so and more hypocrisy is very clear on part of the Western Powers. This is the reason why all these high sounding principles are frankly distasteful when you hear them from these politicians. Not surprising, specially when you remember that these politicians are the inheritors of the same tradition which has managed to carry out two world wars, innumerable genocides and centuries of warfare and colonisation. Fifty years of civilisation and soft EU power is too short a time for the hypocrisy and naked ambition to breed out. Watch out for more hypocritical statements emanating from these politicians, especially for places such as Northern Cyprus. In this case, the Western Emperor is currently wearing Albanian clothes.
All this to be taken with a grain of salt!