Thursday, February 21, 2008

"...why can't weeee be friends?..."

(Pre-script: My dad's side of the family is Croatian and Irish. We've always "identified" with the Croatian identity more than the Irish identity, I think. That pull that some of us feel to Eastern Europe is something we can't really desribe or explain. That being said... I don't feel any ill will towards Serbs, nor do I think their arguments about Kovoso are unfounded. I kind of forget the point I was trying to make... but I think I just want to point out that I really am trying to be objective even though I identify my ethnicity with a state that may be part of a war-zone again.)

In light of all that is going on in Eastern Europe right now, I thought it would be useful to (at least tangentially) tie our blogging assignment about Lt. Col. Marttala's presention to Kosovo.

And I'll do that.... after you all read this article from the BBC.


US embassy in Belgrade attacked

Police were not guarding the embassy at the timeSeveral hundred protesters have attacked the US and other embassies in Serbia's capital in anger at Western support for Kosovo's independence.

Protesters broke into the US compound in Belgrade and briefly set part of the embassy alight.

Firemen later found an unidentified charred body inside.
Other embassies were also targeted. The United Nations Security Council condemned the violence.

The attacks followed a peaceful rally by at least 150,000 people in the city.

Most Serbs regard Kosovo as their religious and cultural heartland.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica delivered an impassioned speech condemning the territory's secession.

In pictures: Belgrade rally
"As long as we live, Kosovo is Serbia. Kosovo belongs to the Serbian people," he told the flag-waving crowd.

Later about 1,000 protesters smashed their way into the US embassy, throwing flares through the window while others scaled walls to rip down the US flag.

At the time there appeared to be no police protecting the embassy, but riot police later intervened, firing tear gas.

'Mob attacks'

The fires raged for half an hour, and when firemen finally managed to get inside the building they found a charred body.

The main rally outside parliament was peacefulThe body has not been identified, though US officials said all embassy staff of US nationality had been accounted for.

White House spokesman Dana Perino said the embassy had been "attacked by thugs" and that Serbian police had not done enough to stop them.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the US had warned Mr Kostunica and his foreign minister that it would hold them personally responsible for further damage.

Mr McCormack added that the protesters had entered the chancellery but had not breached the embassy's secure area.

Smaller groups later targeted the Croatian, Turkish and British embassies but were beaten back.
In New York, the UN Security Council condemned what it called "mob attacks" on US and other embassies in Belgrade

In a unanimous statement, the council recalled the inviolability of diplomatic missions under international law, but welcomed steps by Serbian authorities to restore order.
Kosovo 'stolen'

Serbian President Boris Tadic appealed for calm.

"This only keeps Kosovo distant from Serbia," he said.

Serbia, supported by Russia and China, says Kosovo's Sunday declaration violates international law.

During Thursday's rally, ultra-nationalist leader Tomislav Nikolic accused the US and EU of trying to steal Kosovo.

"Hitler could not take it away from us, and neither will today's [Western powers]."

After the speeches, the crowd marched to the city's biggest church, the Temple of Saint Sava.
Thick, black smoke had also earlier billowed from the crossing point at Merdare, 50km (30 miles) north-east of Kosovo's capital Pristina, as Serb army reservists tried to enter Kosovo.

"We are here in support of the Serbs who still live in Kosovo," Dejan Milosevic, one of the organisers, told the Associated Press news agency.
The Kosovo police, backed by Czech troops from the Nato-led peacekeeping force, put a steel barrier across the road and were able to hold their line.
Protest rallies were also held in the Bosnian Serb republic (Republika Srpska) here were unconfirmed reports of injuries as several hundred protesters clashed with police outside the US consulate in Banja Luka.

In the coming weeks, an almost 2,000-strong EU mission will be deployed to help Kosovo develop its police force and judiciary.
So.... two things:
One, the use of tear gas by riot police to disburse the crowd at the American Embassy in Belgrade. It's interesting that this came up since I think it's safe to say that we were all a little shocked when Lt. Col. Martalla told us tear gas can be used on civilians but not military personnel.
And two, what happens to people who attack an Embassy? Technically an attack on an Embassy is an attack on the homeland that that Embassy represents, right? So are those protesters today who threw flares into the American Embassy enemy combatants right now? And what about the ones who scaled the building and tore down an American flag? (Ten bucks says that Congress brings that good, ole "resprect the flag" legislation out again over that.)


Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Peace Turkey,

Thanks for this post. I hope you don't mind: I'm going to link to it, as a 'background' resource.

It's good to get an interested-but-attempting-objectivity point of view with this.

I particularly appreciate the expansion on that "Kosovo is Serbia" quote. It makes a bit more sense, now.

About "I think it's safe to say that we were all a little shocked when Lt. Col. Martalla told us tear gas can be used on civilians but not military personnel."

I understand the surprise, but don't share it. I'd have to do a little digging to confirm this, but I strongly suspect that the rules of engagement in cases like this are still affected by politicos' reaction to the use of mustard gas in WWI.

Military units, American ones at least, operate under rules of engagement which include limitations imposed by the civilian leaders of the country. And sometimes those limitations can reflect situations and opinions that are no longer pertinent.

("Peace Turkey?" I like that name, but haven't a clue what meaning it has.)

Poox2000 said...

Um, tessek?

You're right that host governments have a responsibility to protect foreign embassies/consulates. See mah poshting from the other day on how that works. (I was gonna post about the Belgrade riots but ya beat me to the punch!!)