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Making Sense of Kosovo


The Major Players
The Kosovo Liberation Army and Serb forces have been fighting since last winter. Click to see interactive.(AP Photo or Reuters)
ABCNEWS.com
June 17 — Calling Balkan politics complicated is a vast understatement. It’s a part of the world that seems to be in constant turbulent upheaval, daunting to most observers. But understanding the region is vital. Conflicts there have the potential to spread quickly&#0151as they did in 1914. This brief ABCNEWS.com guide may be of help in untangling news reports from Kosovo.


The Players in the Kosovo Conflict
Milosevic
Slobodan Milosevic: Now figuring prominently in his second Balkan conflict, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic refuses to let Kosovo have independence. In fact, in 1989 he revoked the province's autonomous status and instituted military rule. Milosevic has thousands of troops he'll use to keep the province part of Yugoslavia. After his recent meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, he agreed to start negotiations with ethnic Albanian leaders, but anyone familiar with Milosevic's record knows this is no guarantee of peace.
Ibrahim Rugova
Ibrahim Rugova: For nine years, Kosovo's ethic Albanian majority followed Rugova's peaceful resistance to Milosevic's harsh rule of the province. Rugova, often called the “Ghandi of the Balkans,” even led a shadow government in Kosovo after autonomy was revoked. But in recent years the violent Kosovo Liberation Army has emerged, along with a growing desire on the part of the Kosovars for independence from Yugoslavia. Nevertheless, Rugova is still a popular leader with a considerable following. He’d likely be the first choice for president if Kosovo attains independence while he’s still alive.
Jakup Krasniqi
Jakup Krasniqi: The spokesman for the shadowy Kosovo Liberation Army guerrilla group has yet to make a public appearance, or release many statements. If Yugoslav troops caught him, he would certainly be arrested and possibly shot.


NATO logo
NATO: The Western powers watching the conflict in Kosovo may eventually lose patience and order airstrikes or other attacks on Yugoslav forces. If they do, the armed forces of the 16 countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will be on the sharp end. When NATO decided to flex its muscles recently, 85 attack and support aircraft from 13 NATO countries—including the United States—conducted a four-hour exercise over Albanian and Macedonia, across the border from Kosovo.
KLA
Kosovo Liberation Army: The guerrilla group, which first emerged in 1996, intends to “liberate” Kosovo from Yugoslavian rule. For now its fighters are poorly trained and equipped, but its leaders are scrounging weapons and funds as quickly as they can. The KLA includes a few hundred full-time guerrillas and several thousand supporters and is said to be growing. Many weapons—including rifles, rocket launchers, and possibly anti-aircraft missiles—have leaked across the border from Albania.
Richard Holbrooke
Richard Holbrooke and Robert Gelbard: As U.S. envoys to the Balkans, Holbrooke—who was key to brokering an end to the Bosnian War, and Gelbard are responsible for negotiating peace deals between groups that have hated each other for centuries. They managed to persuade Milosevic and Rugova to meet at the end of May, but those talks later broke down. Holbrooke has said the situation in Kosovo could be “worse than Bosnia” if nothing was done to end it.



Search for more on:

Kosovo
In This Series
Index of Kosovo Coverage

Related Links

Balkans




Check out this short guide to the major players in the Kosovo conflict.

atlas


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