The KLA took power just as NATO moved in some 17 months ago. You can take your pick as to the reason why the KLA was allowed to take over the towns, in spite of all the evidence that they were and are a vicious Mafia/terrorist group: either NATO had no clue what to do and couldn't stop them, or else NATO was returning the favor for KLA help on the ground during the bombing last year. The fact is that NATO would have had to go to war with the KLA to stop them, and everyone here knows that priority #1 here is "Don't piss off the KLA." The consequences would be a rapid undoing of the Western presence, a complete collapse, and bloodshed. That would mean pulling out of Camp Bondsteel, the largest U.S. military base that built since 1968, complete with a Burger King. No fucking way will we ever give up a Burger King, not on behalf of saving some Serbs or Albanians at least.
Want proof? In July of this year , the second-scariest KLA thug, Ramush Hardinaj, led 40 gunmen in a hitjob on his rivals, the Musaj brothers, over in the Italian-occupied Western sector of Kosovo. Ramush was seriously wounded in the hit, and Italian KFOR and UN Police quickly responded, detaining him and his men.
Almost immediately, U.S. forces swooped in from their eastern sector and declared, "We're in charge here." Like "The Wolf" character, they cleaned up all evidence of the shootout, medivac'd Ramush to Camp Bondsteel, and from there to a U.S. Army hospital in Germany, patched him up, and returned him in time for the elections. Last week, one Musaj brother was shot and killed, and another wounded. Ramush is riding high. And Burger King is going strong.
[NOTE: Ramush Haradinaj was subsequently indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia on charges of war crimes, including ethnic cleansing, murdering and torturing civilians, and other crimes against humanity, and is currently awaiting trial in The Hague. However, everyone from US Senator Joe Biden, the US State Department and even Kosovo's UN viceroy, Soeren Jessen-Petersen, lamented, ""Thanks to Ramush Haradinaj's dynamic leadership, strong commitment and vision, Kosovo is today closer than ever before to achieving its aspirations in settling its future status. Personally, I am saddened to no longer be working with a close partner and friend." The Observer (UK) had a slightly different impression: "British military personnel who liaised with Haradinaj before and during the Nato bombing campaign paint a different picture. One former soldier, who served with the Kosovo Verification Mission, described him as 'a psychopath' and accused him of terrorising his own men and the local population into loyalty to him. 'He would beat his own men to maintain a kind of military discipline,' he said. 'Someone would pass him some information and he would disappear for two hours. The end result would be several bodies in a ditch,' he added.]
The KLA's parallel power structure was formalized at the end of last year when the UN set up its euphemistic "Joint Interim Administration Structure." Under the JIAS, the UN "appointed" an "advisory" council of local political leaders to consult with and implement the running of each municipality, alongside the UN. A disillusioned OSCE worker showed me a list of the JIAS council running the south-western city of Prizren: nearly all were members of the KLA's political party, the PDK. There was one token member from another Albanian political party, one token Muslim Slav, and one token Turk.
No Serb bothered participating, as it would give legitimacy to the KLA's takeover and subsequent ethnic cleansing. Of Prizren's pre-war population of nearly 11,000 Serbs, only about 200 remain, protected round-the-clock, like some endangered species.
In the few days I spent in Prizren, I met two internationals (both women, both from English-speaking countries) who were under death threat from KLA-tied structures. One, a middle-aged woman, is supposed to wear a helmet and flak jacket at all times; she has a bodyguard on constant call. The day before I arrived for a piece I was going to write on the German occupation force ("Life Under the New, Improved Einsatzgruppen"), the KLA had set off a carbomb in Dragash, a Muslim Slav enclave outside of Prizren. The carbomb went off one house away from an American working for the OSCE, and in front of the house of an OSCE interpreter. The same day, a bomb had gone off just a couple hundred meters away from the UNMIK police headquarters in Prizren.