Chapter 3. U.S. Conspiracy to Overthrow
the Yugoslav Government

By Sara Catalinotto (New York)

We charge the United States government with interfering with the Yugoslav government’s right to exist and function as it sees fit—indeed, conspiring to overthrow the elected leadership of that country by any means available. We will detail their admitted strategies, which are not limited to political and financial support for the violent opposition group known as the Kosovo Liberation Army or KLA.

The apparent motive in this destabilization campaign is to maintain and expand foreign control over the Balkan region, which the intended victims have resisted on behalf of the population of what remains of Yugoslavia.

As cited in Marie-Pierre Lahaye’s essay "Yugoslavia: How Demonizing a Whole People Serves Western Interests," former U.S. congressman Lee Hamilton writes—not unhappily—in the February 1, 1999 New York Times: "We have completely taken over the control of the Balkans. U.S. officials exercise managing functions in all states of the former Yugoslavia. We are virtually the pro consul."

A June 27, 1999, Los Angeles Times article by Doyle McManus entitled "Ouster of Serb Leader Sought" cites unnamed U.S. officials as sources for the following information:

"President Clinton has decided to mount a concerted campaign to remove Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic from power. … At the same time, Clinton and his European allies have told the Serbian people that they could get millions of dollars in reconstruction money from the West—if they pushed Milosevic out of office.

"Among the actions that U.S. officials listed: Clinton has notified Congress that he has directed the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies to undermine Milosevic and encourage his ouster. … [T]he controversial proposal to use computers to drain funds from foreign bank accounts held by Milosevic and his allies [more on this below]. … Clinton has authorized U.S. military and intelligence officers to encourage senior Yugoslav military figures to turn against Milosevic—and even attempt a coup. … Senior State department official Robert S. Gelbard has held a series of clandestine meetings with Yugoslav opposition leaders in Montenegro. … [He] traveled secretly into Montenegro during the war and told the opposition leaders that the United States would help them but encouraged them to forge a broad anti-Milosevic coalition. … Serbian participants in these meetings included Zoran Djindjic, president of Serbia’s opposition Democratic Party and Vladan Batic, chairman of the Alliance for Change . …

"The Clinton Administration announced last week that it is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to Milosevic’s arrest and conviction on war crimes charges—the first such reward ever offered by the U.S. government for the arrest of a foreign head of state. … Officials said the order was intended to rattle Milosevic and his allies and [threaten] other Yugoslav officials. … [More on this below.]

"The administration is pressing other countries to freeze assets held by Milosevic and other indicted Yugoslav officials in overseas bank accounts … Switzerland and Cyprus have been cooperating. … The State Department is working on proposals for overt financial and technical aid to anti-Milosevic forces inside Serbia. … The administration is also hoping to help the Serbian opposition by funding professional political consultants through the foreign-aid branches of the U.S. Democratic and Republican parties. …

"Clinton has called for an international summit by the end of July on Balkan reconstruction effort. One purpose … would be to encourage wealthy countries to commit significant aid to Kosovo and to Yugoslavia’s neighbors, including Albania and Montenegro. Another would be to remind the Serbian government and people what they are missing by keeping Milosevic in power.

"U.S. officials are waging an energetic propaganda war against Milosevic, doggedly publicizing evidence that his regime might be in trouble."

On July 5, 1999, an Associated Press article titled "Clinton Calls on CIA Hackers" reported: "Time magazine reports today that Pres. Clinton has authorized the CIA to help topple Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. CIA computer hackers will try to meddle with his private financial transactions and electronically siphon funds from his overseas bank accounts, Time says, … citing unnamed sources.

"The CIA also is trying to deposit cash with opposition organizations in Yugoslavia and to recruit dissidents in the Belgrade government and Yugoslavian military. While NATO air strikes pounded Serb targets this spring, Clinton signed a secret document giving the CIA the go-ahead to try to oust Milosevic. … As part of Clinton’s wide-ranging plan to make way for a new leader in Yugoslavia, diplomats, bankers and disc jockeys will mount a propaganda campaign. … The U.S. Information Service plans to station six radio transmitters on Serbia’s border and continuously beam Western news programs into [Serbia]. …

"So far the CIA is having trouble locating [any] bank accounts and U.S. radio transmissions are being drowned out. … … Albright met in New York City last week with foreign ministers from Britain, France, Germany and Italy to discuss how each country could utilize its links to dissidents in Serbia. "We are making it quite clear that we don’t want to see Milosevic in the future,’ Albright said. … Officials in Washington, D.C., want Pope John Paul II, who was instrumental in ousting the communist regime in Poland, to help push out Milosevic."

Again, every possible trick is pulled out of the bag for the purpose of eliminating those most defiant of NATO and U.S. domination of the region. Regarding the "reward program," a press statement from U.S. Department of State spokesman James P. Rubin declares that "under authority provided by the U.S. Congress, … the United States is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction in any country of persons indicted … by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague. … Contact the nearest U.S. embassy (or) call 1-800-HEROES1 or … contact the web site. … " The statement promises the strictest confidence and notes that governmental officials are not eligible for rewards. It says the United States "strongly encourages all indictees still at large to surrender themselves voluntarily to … local authorities or the NATO-led Stabilization Force in Bosnia," while it "discourages bounty hunters from taking actions to detain any indictee."

As for the NATO powers’ relationship with the KLA, consider the partial disarmament agreement between them signed on June 22.1999. A New York Times article on that date by Steven Lee Myers, titled "NATO to Consider Letting Kosovo Set Up New Army" reports: [The] agreement to disband the KLA included, at their insistence, a pledge by NATO to consider letting the rebels form a provisional army for Kosovo. … [It] gave no timetable for creating an army and no details of its size or mission. … [This] insures that after laying down its arms, the KLA can pursue its ambition to remain an organized political and military force in the province."

According to the same article, the political arm of NATO had objections to the pledge that "delayed the signing until Tuesday morning, while NATO military officials and rebel commanders had reached agreement Saturday night and toasted it in General Ceku’s" home. Agim Ceku was the KLA commander in the "war against Yugoslav forces." When Germany opposed the pledge, Madeleine Albright met with the German foreign minister to talk him into it. In this context the article mentions that the Rambouillet Accords called for "an international consideration of the province’s [Kosovo’s] future within three years."

The agreement did not deny the KLA the "right to self defense" nor to continue owning pistols and non-automatic rifles, while giving them 30 days to store large weapons, automatic weapons and explosives. "Once stored, these will be under joint control of rebels and NATO for 60 days," then control will go to NATO. Meanwhile the KLA was granted 90 days instead of the originally proposed 30 to stop wearing uniforms and insignia, says the article, insuring, "that the visible presence of the group, which spread all over Kosovo as Serbian forces withdrew, remains through the summer." Here Myers admits that "thousands of Serbian civilians have fled the area, fearing the fighters as terrorists bent on violent domination." Further, the article says the agreement "called for the rebels to be given ‘special consideration’ for posts with a new civilian police force in Kosovo ‘in view of the expertise they have developed.’" It cites Sir Michael Jackson commending the document as a "unilateral undertaking by the rebels" to do what the UN and NATO wanted, and says Clinton and Albright called KLA top negotiator Hashim Thaci "to express support for the rebels’ willingness to abide by NATO’s demands and begin a transition to ordinary civilian life." A "senior diplomat involved in the talks" is quoted as saying about the so-called concessions to the rebels, "We had to show them respect. These are fighters who have been through a lot."

In a related article in the same day’s New York Times, titled "Rebel General Planning a New Army for Kosovo," reporter Carlotta Gall details KLA chief Ceku’s plan for an army composed of: a small active core of professional soldiers, a larger component of reserves, and an "intervention unit" similar to the National Guard in the United States.

A series of interesting interactions between the French Foreign Legion, the British Army and "Kosovo Albanian citizens" found looting and burning homes in the abandoned Serbian village of Grace on June 20 and 21 is related in the New York Times article by David Rhode titled "NATO Peacekeeping Force Defied by Both Sides," also of June 22, 1999. It says, "Dozens of local Albanians were streaming out of the town in tractors loaded with windows, … fences, stoves, … furniture and clothes. … French officers at first allowed them simply to leave with their tractors and the goods. One French jeep even helped tow an apparent looter’s jeep from a ditch … British forces sealed off the three entrances to the village catching about 40 tractors inside. As the group waited for French military police to arrive, at least seven Albanian men slipped back into the village and began lighting fires in more abandoned Serbs’ homes." The week before, according to the article, "French soldiers allowed the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army to take over" Srbica, the largest city in the Drenica region in Central Kosovo, "and to carry their weapons during an initial grace period."

Note that the use of the term "both sides" in the headline refers to Mitrovica, where the French troops "also continued to allow small crowds of Serbs in civilian dress to stand at the end of the two bridges dividing the [Serbian and Albanian] neighborhoods and to berate any Albanian who tried to enter."

Recall that Clinton’s list of strategies against Milosevic was first published on June 27. On July 9, Washington Post staff writer William Booth writes of a "series of anti-government demonstrations staged around Serbia in the past ten days calling for the resignation of Milosevic and his coterie. Petitions have been circulating demanding Milosevic’s removal … " [Emphasis added.] Booth goes on to state that "Milosevic’s party according to the latest credible polling here, still retains widespread although diminished public support." The article lists the cities and dates of anti-government protests: Cacak on June 29; Novi Sad on July 2 and 3; Leskovac on July 5, 6, 7, 8; Uzice on July 6, and Prokuplje on July 8, where there were street battles between an opposition protest of 4,000 people and unofficial counter-demonstrators from the Socialist Party.

In another type of outpouring, as reported by Kurt Pitzer in the July 3 Boston Globe, in an article titled"Crowds exalt as they smash Serb symbols." "[In Pristina,] ethnic Albanians celebrated the nine-year anniversary of a self-declared statehood. ‘Free at last!’ shouted a reveler in English, flashing the victory sign at a passing British soldier. … ‘Thank you NATO.’ … Among the marchers were KLA commander Hashim Thaci and, next to him, a man in traditional Albanian costume waving the double eagle Albanian flag in one hand and the American Stars and Stripes in the other."

The FBI, a U.S. agency well known for disseminating misinformation, was brought in to try and substantiate recent charges against the Yugoslav president. A June 24 New York Times article by David Johnston notes that a team of 56 FBI forensic and other investigators "began poring over two sites in Kosovo in an effort to identify victims of two mass killings cited in the war crimes indictment of Slobodan Milosevic, law enforcement officials said."

This summarizes a small part of the U.S. government’s dealings that seek to promote instability in the former Yugoslavia for the apparent purpose of taking over the region. As UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said in late March of this year when asked why Kofi Annan had not intervened in the crisis, "Political decisions regarding Kosovo are being made elsewhere than in the United Nations." (Quoted on Radio B92, Open Yugoslavia News, March 31, 1999.)

 

Commission of Inquiry
c/o International Action Center
39 West 14th Street, Room 206
New York, NY 10011
email: iacenter@iacenter.org
http://www.iacenter.org
phone: 212 633-6646
fax: 212 633-2889

 

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Table of Contents: Selected Research Findings