Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosovo

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Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosova
Forcat e Armatosura të Republikës së Kosovës
Participant in the Kosovo War
Active August 1998 – 1999
Leaders Tahir Zemaj  
Bujar Bukoshi
Sali Çekaj  
Area of operations Kosovo
Strength 200 – 300 officers,[1] 3000-5000 soldiers
Opponents UCK KLA.svg Kosovo Liberation Army
 Yugoslavia

The Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosovo (AFRK; Albanian: Forcat e Armatosura të Republikës së Kosovës (FARK)) was a paramilitary organization, a military wing of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), the main right-wing party in Kosovo established by Ibrahim Rugova and Bujar Bukoshi. It was active during the Kosovo War (1998–99).

History[edit]

Bujar Bukoshi, the former Prime Minister in exile of the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosova from 1991 to 2000, created the FARK in Albania with a few dozen former Kosovo Albanian officers of the Yugoslav People's Army gathered by Sali Cekaj. He then put it under the command of former colonel Ahmet Krasniqi. Most of the FARK members were then loyal to the President of the Republic of Kosova, Ibrahim Rugova, while the rival group Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA/UÇK) was led by Hashim Thaçi, a man who had earnt credibility among separatists due to the alleged shortcomings in FARK's achievements.

Bukoshi, while spending most of his time in Bonn, Germany, had been a representative for the Kosovo Albanians from 1991, the year they tried to proclaimed independence, to 1998. On 2 April 1999, as Rugova had then been sidelined by recent developments, Hashim Thaçi proclaimed himself Prime Minister in his place, while Bukoshi refused to recognize him and hand over the funds he had received from the Albanian Diaspora in the West. As a representative of Rugova, Bukoshi received regular contributions from the diaspora for his "Republic of Kosova Fund" which had been spent to finance the parallel government of Kosovo under Rugova, with a network of private schools and health care centers. The KLA then created its own fund, Atdheu Thërret ("The Motherland calls"), both funds now being used to buy military equipment.

The KLA also tried to prevent recruitment into the FARK among the Albanians in Western Europe, and to attract them to its own centers of Durrës, Tirana and Kukës in Albania. FARK and the KLA separately fought Yugoslav forces, and also fought each other. Politicians in Albania took sides in the rivalry between the KLA and the FARK, with the Socialist government in Tirana supporting Thaçi and the KLA, while the opposition Democratic Party of Sali Berisha supported the FARK. 30 members of the FARK were jailed for taking part in violent anti-government demonstrations in Tirana in September 1998. FARK said they only participated after the murder of Ahmet Krasniqi, a former FARK leader, on 21 September 1998.

Rivalry with the KLA/PDK[edit]

Numerous members of the FARK or LDK party were murdered during the rivalry with the KLA, but also former members of the KLA was assassinated. The number of victims during the rivalry is estimated currently at more than 1000. The perpetrators or instigators were mostly former senior KLA leaders - after the war, they were almost exclusively integrated into civilian Kosovo Protection Corps, the successor to the KLA. The command structure and composition, and even the coat of arms of the Kosovo Protection Corps is essentially identical with the officially disbanded KLA. This also applies to their leader. First general was Agim Ceku, a former commander in chief of the KLA. Some former KLA members also joined the Kosovo Police. The rivalry did not end after NATO troops entered Kosovo in June 1999 and the paramilitary groups were officially disbanded.

In December 2002, Daut Haradinaj, the brother of former KLA leader Ramush Haradinaj, was sentenced with five other members of the KLA by a UN court in Kosovo for his involvement in the kidnapping and murder of four former FARK and LDK party members. In the case against Daut Haradinaj previously testified Tahir Zemaj, a former FARK leader, as witness against Daut. Tahir Zemaj murdered in 2003 with his son Enis and nephew Hasan, had also been a leader of the FARK, in Peć, in the city of Ekrem Lukaj, financier of the former leaders of the KLA, Ramush Haradinaj and Hashim Thaçi. Ramush Haradinaj was suspected of murder. In November 2003, Sebahate Tolaj und Isuf Haklaj were shot while driving to work. Both had served under Zemaj as FARK members.

In April 2005, days after Ramush Haradinaj surrendered to The Hague, Enver Haradinaj, another brother of Ramush Haradinaj was assassinated in a drive-by shootout in Kosovo, according to the UN security forces, there was a confrontation between rival Kosovo-Albanian clans.[2] Presumably the long-standing feud between the Musaj clan and the Haradinaj clan. The Musaj family was prominent in the FARK during the late 1990s. Between 1998-99, the Haradinaj family, which originated from the Peć area in western Kosovo, was influential in the KLA, became embroiled in a vendetta with the Musaj′s. Already in 2000, Ramush Haradinaj should have been involved in a gun battle with members of the Musaj family at their home in Strellc, also in western Kosovo. The Musajs allege that he ordered the murder of their brother and three others in 1999. The murder of Enver Haradinaj has evoked heated reached in Pro-KLA parts of Kosovo.

On 3 June 2005, Bardhyl Ajeti, a journalist on the Kosovar newspaper Bota Sot, was shot near Gnjilane. He later died. Bota Sot was close to LDK and Ajeti was a vocal critic of the post-war elite, most of whom were associated with the KLA. Bardhyl Ajeti was not the only journalist of Bota Sot who was killed in Kosovo. Bekim Kastrati was killed on 19 October 2001 along with two other men who were riding in his car at the time in village Lauša near Pristina.[3] Then, on 12 July 2005, two members of the Musaj family were killed in a drive-by shooting near Peć in western Kosovo. The Haradinaj-Musaj feud became emblematic of the wider FARK-KLA feud.

On 1 January 2010, Bedri Krasniqi was sentenced to 27 years of imprisonment for the murder of two and attempted murder of one member of the Kosovo Police Service.

Although these are the military wings of LDK and Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), to date, there are between the LDK and AAK, as well as the PDK, the political successor to the KLA, continuing political disagreements.

References[edit]

  1. ^ James Pettifer (2005). Kosova Express: A Journey in Wartime. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-29920-444-0. 
  2. ^ "Ramush Haradinaj’s brother murdered". B92. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Attacks on the Press in 2001 - Yugoslavia". United Nations High Commission for Refugees. February 2002. Retrieved 15 May 2011.