New Balkan War? – Part IV

Dear Readers:

Today concluding this piece by military reporter Evgeny Krutikov.

Our story so far, in a nutshell:  The deadline for the compromise solution (Serbia vs Kosovo) expired;  Serbia was willing to accept the compromise (=some minor territory swaps between the Albanian and Serbian communities plus a partial recognition of Kosovo); the Kosovo Albanians balked because they got greedy and wanted it all — probably also bolstered by NATO’s show of military support; at this point the Serbian Orthodox Church jumped into the fray and declared Holy War to liberate ALL of Kosovo from the Ottoman yoke.

Watch for it, one paragraph down…

Resistance to the deal from the Serbian side was headed by this guy, Father Theodosius (BISHOP TEODOSIJE ŠIBALIĆ) who is in charge of the Orthodox souls of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija.  Prizren being an ancient Christian Diocesan see from the 11th century.  Like his website says, “In 2007 Bishop Teodosije participated in the negotiations on Kosovo in Vienna as one of the Serbian Orthodox Church delegation members for protection of Serbian religious and cultural heritage in Kosovo.”

Tolstoy wrote of the clash of civilizations

Which leads us to the broader geopolitical context.  We already touched on the Ottoman history and the Muslim vs Christian angle of this conflict.  But Serbia is being squeezed from two different historical directions, both of them revanchist in nature, and one of them fully Christian.  This second revanchist tendency being the Greater Reich.  And before one starts screaming “Godwin’s Law!” please allow me to explain.  During WWII the greater German Reich, which included almost all of the civilized nations of Western Europe, most of which nations perfectly happy to participate (excluding England from this discussion, for purposes of simplification), narrating the saga in Tolstoyan terms, could be said to have hurled itself eastward, against Russia.

Despite fanciful tales of the “French Resistance” (which did exist, but was tiny and ineffectual) and various other myths about supposed Resistance to Nazi rule, most of the nations, as I stated, were quite happy and enthusiastic about their role, were eager foot soldiers in Hitler’s army, and hoped to achieve the Führer’s master goal of destroying Russia.  I don’t have time to go into all the historical underpinnings of these mighty conflicts, but the religious factor is certainly there; and simplistic minds can (and do) easily simplify the matter to a “Catholic/Protestant alliance against Eastern Orthodoxy”.  Again, this is an over-simplification, since the Greeks (who are also Eastern Orthodox) made for happy fascists too.  From a Marxist point of view, one might see this civilizational conflict as a struggle for the resources of the Eurasian continent.  But again, I don’t have time for that analysis right now.  Just keep in mind one thought:

The one exception to this general rule (Europe vs Russia) being Yugoslavia.  And within Yugoslavia, the Serbs being the one nation that was truly a friend to Russia (unlike, say, the Bulgarians, who only pretended to be friends) and fought for Russia, as well as for themselves.

Having lost that war, the Neo-Reich, 75 years later and now led by the USA instead of Germany, learned its lesson well:  Next time around, take out Yugoslavia first, and then go after Russia.  And so it came to pass, in the 1990’s.  Realistically, the stump of Serbia which remains, cannot stand up to a force like NATO.  Also realistically, Russia can not move tanks into Serbia to help them get Kosovo back.  Russia will fight a war for the Ukraine, but will not fight for Serbia.  It’s too far away.  The Serbs have a saying, “God is remote, and Russia is also far away.”

The Bishop’s Crusade

At the end of July, when all of this was going down, Father Theodosius wrote an open letter to Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, calling for the liberation of the Kosmet (the name by which the Serbian community in Kosovo calls itself) from the Albanian yoke. Vučić got scared at the thought of a new war in Kosovo, he didn’t know what to do, his nerves gave out, he nostradamized that:  “Those who reject the partitioning of Kosovo today will be defending Vranje 40 years from now.”  Vranje being on the southern border of Serbia proper.

Gračanica Monastery

Angered by this display of unmanly cowardice, Father Theodosius ordered all the Orthodox Churches under his jurisdiction to sound prayers for the unity of Serbian Kosovo.  He then pulled up his robes and flounced off, to shut himself away in his monastery of Gračanica which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and declared a curse on Vučić:  “Certain hired laborers of our time, who present themselves as shepherds of the flock, throw everything to the wind when they see their own interest, and do not take care of their flock.” Marko Đurić, who is in charge of Kosovo-Metohija for the Serbian government, shot back at Father Theodosius, alluding to him in a plaint against “priests who gave in to the influence of foreign agents”.  As the ladies on “Real Housewives” might say:  “Ouch!”

Vučić next met in secret with Patriarch Irenaeus (Irinej). This old Patriarch (born in 1930) is very a powerful guy, he’s like the Serbian Pope.  His real name is Miroslav Gavrilović, but after he was tonsured (which literally means “got a haircut”) as a monk in 1959 he took the Greek name of Ειρηναίος, after Saint Irenaeus who was the Bishop of Lyons back in the 2nd century AD and who fought against the Gnostic heresy.

NATO troops can ski at Kopaonik any time they want

The Serbian Irinej was elected Patriarch on January 22, 2010.  Orthodox people believe that the Patriarch is chosen by divine intervention, when his name is pulled from a sealed envelope.  Upon assuming the patriarchal throne, Irinej’s first utterance was a criticism of Muslims (quoting the wiki here):  “Islam’s philosophy was that Muslims, when they are in small numbers, can behave well and be fair, but that once they become superior, they start to exert pressure”.  Serbia’s Muslims took umbrage at this statement and expressed their resentment.  Irinej then went on to state that international recognition of Kosovo is a sin.  Despite these utterances, Irinej is considered a moderate and did not oppose Serbia’s entry into the European Union.

Nobody knows exactly what Irinej and Vučić discussed in their secret meeting.  That’s why it was secret.  But there are certain indications from his pessimistic utterances that Vučić is experiencing the psychological state of melancholy and a sense of defeatism.  When he learned that the NATO troops were able to take Lake Gazivode without resistance — instead of beefing up security or trying to do something about it, he merely commented gloomily that they could also take the mountain peak of Kopaonik if they wished.  Since there was also no security there either, and one could spot NATO KFOR patrols up on Pančić Peak all the time.  Well, one might say, if one were a Serbian patriot:  “Really, Aleksandar?  Can one not put some Serbian army units in both places and offer at least some token resistance to this creeping invasion?  I mean, instead of just whining about it?”  One expects the President’s next utterance to be something along the lines of “Why bother to even go on living in such an unfair world?  What is the point?”

Vučić is said to be depressed

After meeting with Patriarch Irinej, Vučić issued the following utterance:  “We are divided between those who are prepared to recognize an independent [Albanian] Kosovo, but who weep over our sad fate and sing songs in the cafes about the fact that everybody is against us; versus those who don’t want to even discuss the issue and who are just waiting for the day when we can expel all the Albanians beyond the Prokletije Mountain Range [i.e., back to Albania].”   Okay, I get it, Aleksandar, you’re depressed.  And with good reason:  I cannot imagine any person in the world who would want your job.  Watching your beloved country being taken apart, molecule by molecule, by this unholy Ottoman-Reich coalition, and unable to do a damned thing about it.  Well, actually, there is one thing you can do:  You can put your chin up and take a more positive attitude.  Turn that frown upside down, man!

While Vučić and Theodosius were exchanging mutual curses and metaphors, the American marines left Zubin Potok and returned to Camp Pindosia, aka Nothing Hill in Kosovo.  (This is the second American base in Kosovo, located just 3 kilometers from Mitrovica.)   And NATO KFOR representatives entered into a positive dialogue with the Serbian armed forces, regarding the unblockading of Gazivode and averting accidental clashes in the future, while NATO completes its silent occupation of Serbia.

And while these amiabilities were going on, Albanian militiamen occupied the crossing to the village of Jarinje, which is on Kosovo’s northern-most border with Serbia proper, thus cutting off a further chunk of northern Kosovo from central Serbia.   Remember the rule that we discussed earlier:  Albanians are relentless.

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