A perspective on Western response to genocide in Kosova

A mosque in Kosova

I watched with relief as Muslim Kosovar refugees received food and medical attention, and the conditions of some of the refugee camps outside Kosova improved.

I had prayed and prayed for them to get their basic needs as soon as possible last week. Alhamdulillah, my prayers were answered.

Perhaps many Muslims breathed a collective sigh of relief.

The worst is over, we may say.

But I was dead wrong.

First, I had forgotten that there are still Muslims trapped in Kosova.

Second, I had lost sight of the bigger picture.

It wasn't the unfolding events that made me realize it. It was an editorial. Not from 1999. But from 1992.

“Why western governments will do nothing to save the Muslims in Bosnia” was the title of the piece by Leslie H. Gelb, originally published August 7, 1992 in the International Herald Tribune.

A Muslim brother from the local community had distributed the editorial during the war in Bosnia. Like many other articles that come my way, it had gotten lost in a paper shuffle.

But the title struck me as I once again mysteriously found the wrinkled piece of paper a few days ago.

As I read the editorial, it was eerie how I could substitute “Kosova” for almost every time “Bosnia” was mentioned.

Whenever “Muslim” was mentioned, I could substitute Kosovar Muslim for Bosnian Muslim.

The piece was candid, clear, and chillingly precise. It was the truth.

“And, as is becoming tragically clear, western policy is merely to provide enough humanitarian relief for Bosnian Muslims to quiet western public opinion-and to do so without taking any military action that might suck western forces into actually protecting the Muslims or their territory,” said Gelb.

Humanitarian aid can only be a temporary measure. The long-term goal of any effort to help the Muslims of Kosova must be getting them safely back to their legitimate homeland and eventually ensuring the province's independence from Serbia.

The help the displaced Kosovars have and are receiving must only be temporary.

For all the tough talk and aerial bombings from Western leaders, Muslims should open their eyes to the reality.

Unlike Bosnia in 1992, the West has decided to bomb Serbia in 1999. But these actions can only be considered superficial at best. Genocide is still going on in Kosova.

The clear answer is ground troops.

Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic is a man of force and the only way to deal with him is to throw force right back into his executioner face.

This is not done by dropping some bombs and flying away.

This will have to be done in a face-to-face battle, looking the enemy in the eye.

Muslims must pressure the governments involved in the bombing of Serbia to move beyond aerial attacks to sending ground troops.

More importantly, we must jerk our own Muslim governments out of their reverie and express our outrage at their virtual absence on the world stage with regard to Kosova.

As “Muslim” governments, who use the name and honor of Islam when it is politically convenient, they have the first obligation, before NATO or any other country, to send in Muslims to fight for the defense of our brothers and sisters and their land.

Financial and humanitarian aid must only be the short-term goal moving to the achievement of the long-term one: the return of Muslim Kosovars and the independence of Kosova from Serbia.

There must be no delay in fighting for this, even if the immediate refugee crisis is improving slightly.

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