Crossfire War – Serbian Demonstrators Destroy Two Police Checkpoints -Kosovo

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Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – KOSOVSKA MITROVICA – BELGRADE WATCH – Southeast Europe Theatre: Tehran – Moscow – Banja Luka – Sofia – Bucharest – Athens – Belgrade – Kosovska Mitrovica/(Brussels – Vienna – Warsaw)/Pristina – Tirana – Sarajevo – Ankara; Serbian Demonstrators Destroy Two Kosovo Police Checkpoints on Serbia/Kosovo Border – NATO-UN Troops Called by Both Sides – Iran Increases Relations (Military) with Serbia – North Korea Constructed Underground Nuclear Reactor for Syria – Baghdad Airport – Camp Victory Hit by Katuysha Rocket Barrage – 400 Qassams Fired from Gaza in 2008

Night Watch: LEPSOVAIC – As expected, less than a week after Albanians in Kosovo declared independence, one of the flashpoints between the Serbian/Albanian community has exploded as Kosovo police attempted to control two checkpoints in northern Kosovo near the divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica. B92 reports local radio station KIM aired the Jarinje border post was shut down as well the post at Brnjak near Zubin Potok were mined then blown up. Both are crossing points on the Serbian administrative line. Slavisa Pistic, Mayor of Zubin Potok, said the demonstrations had ended by 1 pm and were started when local Serbs found out Albanian customs officers were going to take over the border checkpoints. Kosovo police took refuge in a tunnel and called for NATO- KFOR units to rescue them as several KPS vehicles were set on fire as more than a thousand Serbs demonstrated. Mayor Pistic also called on KFOR, NATO troops in the area at their nearest camp Notting Hill which has ten armoured vehicles. Troops serving with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) were also called in to protect Kosovo Serbs from Pristina and the Kosovo Police (KPS). [B92]

KFOR-UNMIK used their vehicles to block all access roads to Leposavic, the town on the administrative line and then used bulldozers to push soil onto the road. But Serbs then used their own bulldozers to clear the road as the international soldiers backed away. Last night there were three explosions in Kosovska Mitrovica and Zvecan. One of the explosions targeted the offices of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) the amorphous European institution headquartered mostly in Vienna that was supposed to help orchestrate the division of Yugoslavia in the name of the New World Order and European unity. In their insulated decision making them and other international agencies, UN-NATO-EU (European Union) underestimated the impact of weapon dealers. Now the rival governments within the former Yugoslavia are more heavily armed than in 1990.

Notting Hill – “KFOR is going to intervene now.” That was a quote from a KFOR spokesman but they did not say exactly how many of the 17,000 troops will be deployed first. Both Albanian police and Serbian residents in Kosovo are calling for intervention which puts NATO-UN-EU into a classic crossfire. Ten years ago then U. S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen stated, as NATO was planning to intervene into Kosovo against Serbs the following year, Cohen admitted if NATO puts troops in the area they could be eventually attacked by both sides. Of course his warning was ignored. SWISSINFO/Reuters reports there are currently NATO troops in the immediate area from France, Denmark, Belgium and U. S. After the destruction of the two crossing points a Western official said, “We are inches away from partition.” One of the scenarios of post-Kosovo independence was the northern part of the province leaving Kosovo to become part of Serbia but Pristina/Belgrade have already said they will never agree to that, but what if Brussels insists? NATO will then be attacked by both sides. [SWISSINFO]

This is why Serbia Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has indicated for more than a year, without the presence of NATO troops and the EU, Serbia and the Albanian community could come to some agreement. Serbian demonstrators agree since most of the targets are embassies that have recognized Kosovo and international agencies which are supposed to control events on the ground. And Brussels is sending another target for them the 2,000 “EULEX” police-justice officials mission due to arrive to supervise Kosovo’s independence. Belgrade-Moscow have already stated its mission is completely illegitimate and its authority will not be recognized so I suspect EULEX will be calling for KFOR protection next.

Tehran – Iran has observed, with no surprise, the new war emerging in Southeast Europe, as a result of Kosovo’s independence declaration that will engulf NATO and create more divisions within the Brussels based alliance. That is why Tehran signed a security agreement with Belgrade in 2006 as did Athens that November. Iran agrees with Serbia’s sense of mission. Yesterday Iran First Vice-President Parviz Davoudi sent a message of support and congratulations to Serbia Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica on Serbia’s National Day and expressed Iran’s hope for an expansion of relations. Military relations, cooperation and not just in the form of weapon shipments to Serbia. I expect Tehran to activate the security agreement and commit most of its armored-infantry units to this theatre. And they will not be directed at Albanians. [IRNA]

Pyongyang – “The US government has circumstantial evidence that the North provided technology assistance to build an underground reactor in Syria.” That is a quote from today’s edition of the South Korea paper Hankook IIbo on what was essentially an open secret which is why Pyongyang reacted so strongly last September when Israel attacked Syria’s nuclear-ballistic missile base. The Jerusalem Post/AP report U. S. Embassy officials in Seoul had no immediate comment. [JPOST]

Camp Victory – Al Jazeera reports Baghdad International airport and the U. S. Camp Victory adjacent to it were hit by a barrage of Katyusha rockets. Five people were killed, 16 wounded including two U. S. soldiers. I assume they were fired by Shia militia groups supported by Tehran. [ALJAZEERA]

Gaza – 400 Qassam rockets have been fired in the first six weeks of 2008 by Palestinian units from Gaza. The Jerusalem Post reports that was the figure given by Homefront Commander Major-General Yair Golan. This will easily outpace the amount fired for the past two years and remain the single biggest reason for Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip. [JPOST]

It has also been reported Israel, in anticipation of full scale war with Hezbollah- Syria-Iran, has positioned Patriot missile batteries outside Haifa which was hit by Katyusha rocket fire in 2006 by Hezbollah. The Patriot was not really effective intercepting enemy missiles because of the closing speed of 8,000 miles per hour. By the time the Patriot’s proximity fuse sensed being near the incoming missile the Scud had just passed it on the way down. The Patriot is however effective against enemy aircraft which is what it was initially designed for.

Lebanon/Israel Border – There are concerns (suspicions) Europe will immediately pull its 12,000 troops with UNIFIL out of southern Lebanon when war resumes between Israel/Hezbollah and of course with Syria-Iran entering it. This should not be surprising though UNIFIL officials are denying it. A high-ranking Israeli defense official has informed the Jerusalem Post Spain is already considering withdrawing its units from the area since they have been attacked a number of times in the past several months. They did not go in expecting heavy combat and may now finally realize Hezbollah will not only attack Israel. [JPOST]

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Willard Payne is an international affairs analyst who specializes in International Relations. A graduate of Western Illinois University with a concentration in East-West Trade and East-West Industrial Cooperation, he has been providing incisive analysis to NewsBlaze. He is the author of Imagery: The Day Before.