Kosovo Sends Entire Platoon of Peacekeepers To Aid US in the Middle East

The restoration of neoliberal-neoconservative axis of interventionism in Washington is proceeding apace, with the announcement that Kosovo has sent its first contingent of peacekeepers abroad.

The renegade province of Serbia, recognized by the US as an independent state since 2008 but in reality at best a vassal principality, held a ceremony on Tuesday for a platoon – 32 troops in total – that departed for Kuwait, and from there to parts unknown.

AP reported that the troops will be deployed for six months after "a request from the US Central Command" and will be under the command of the Iowa National Guard.

CENTCOM’s area of responsibility stretches from Egypt to Afghanistan. It is unknown where exactly the ‘Kosovian peacekeepers’ will be stationed or to what purpose. Their number is too small to be more than symbolic, which may have been the point.

"It’s extremely important because 22 years after the war, we’re not just importing peacekeeping troops, we’re also exporting them," acting President Vjosa Osmani was quoted as saying. She is a major ally of PM Albin Kurti, who was ousted by the US in 2020 over intransigence in talks with Serbia, but triumphantly restored to power by last month’s general election.

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It appears a new regime in Washington means a new one in Pristina as well, and the very same ambassador that oversaw Kurti’s ouster now officially professed eagerness to work with him.

The Kosovo Security Force (KSF) was set up by NATO years ago, as a sort of jobs program for the officially retired members of the UÇK (also known by its English acronym KLA), a terrorist group on whose behalf the Alliance invaded and occupied the Serbian province in 1999. It numbers around 3,500 members and was declared a regular army in 2019. Its members are supposedly trained for disaster relief and handling "civil unrest" – in practice, mostly terrorizing the remaining Serbs and ethnic Albanians who don’t toe the line – and disaster relief. The KSF is "heavily supported by the US," as AP reporters delicately explained.

While Osmani’s statement reveals that the mission is important to her government’s sense of statehood and self-worth, what possible use CENTCOM might have for 32 ‘Kosovian’ fighters at an undisclosed location in the Middle East is anybody’s guess.

Efforts by the previous US administration to draw down US troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria were first blocked by Congress and then reversed by the "Obama restoration" that took over in January. However, some 25,000 National Guard troops were needed to occupy Washington itself on behalf of President Biden. Almost 5,000 are still there, to be gradually reduced to 2,300 by May 23 – but may not leave the Capitol compound even then. So it is entirely possible that CENTCOM is short of bodies for whatever mischief it wants to get into in the Middle East.

Major General Ben Correll, the Iowa NG commander, is quoted by AP as saying that the "partnership" with KSF "greatly contributes to these efforts and demonstrates to others what is possible by working hard and relationship," presumably referring to what the agency described as preserving global peace and security – not exactly what CENTCOM is known for.

If Washington has to plug the gaps in the ranks with platoons of troops scrounged from vassals like Kosovo, however, the Empire might be in far more trouble than meets the eye.

Nebojsa Malic is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Telegram @TheNebulator and on Twitter @NebojsaMalic.

Author: Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia, and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for Antiwar.com debuted in November 2000.