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Resisting an Oppressive Regime: The Case of Kosovo Liberation Army

NCJ Number
Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume: 31 Issue: 12 Dated: December 2008 Pages: 1103-1119
Klejda Mulaj
Date Published
December 2008
17 pages
This article identifies and analyzes the factors that have contributed to the achievements of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), one of the most successful guerrilla movements in recent history.
The mission of the KLA as a guerrilla movement emerged in the context of Serbian governments’ persistent oppression of the Kosovo Albanians. KLA’s resilience in the face of violent Serbian suppression of Kosovo Albanians raised international awareness of injustices being perpetrated against the Kosovo Albanians and prompted NATO’s support of KLA’s efforts to affirm and protect the survival and human rights of Kosovo Albanians. This article identifies and discusses four factors related to KLA’s success. One factor is the historical context in which the Albanian resistance movement against Serbian rule emerged, developed, and expanded. The emergence and evolution of the KLA was conditioned by the historical context of the Albanian-Serb relations in Kosovo since the occupation of the Province by Serbia in the course of the 1912-1913 Balkan Wars. Approximately 20,000 Albanians were killed and an estimated 100,000 left Kosovo during the Balkan Wars. The second factor was the effort of various factions of the Kosovo Albanian political elite in pursuing the mission of achieving Kosovo’s independence from Serbian rule. A third factor was the evolution of KLA’s tactics and strategy in attempting to gain this independence. As nonviolent resistance proved ineffective in gaining international intervention on behalf of Kosovo’s independence from the Serbs, KLA turned to guerilla tactics and sporadic attacks against the Serbian military throughout the early and mid-1990s. A fourth factor was the support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which decisively secured the liberation of Kosovo from Serbian rule and international legitimation of the KLA. This occurred largely because of international outrage at the Serbian military’s massacres of Albanian civilians perceived as ethnic cleansing. 78 notes


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