Thursday, March 31, 2016

Crisis In Kosovo A Mixture of Iron and Clay

An interesting article from about Kosovo. This follows this post about India and Pakistan. This follows this post about former Muslims in America. For a free magazine subscription or to get the books recommended for free click HERE! or call 1-888-886- 8632.

A broader perspective of the Balkans is needed than what the electronic news media typically provides. Much information about this “campaign” cum war is presented in the form of fast moving video clips and short sound bites. A more valuable insight can be gained in part from history, and in part from holding current events up against the backdrop of biblical prophecy.
Population statistics for the Kosovo of early 1999 indicate there were between one and two million people, 90 percent of which were ethnic Albanians. In the mid-60s the population of Kosovo was roughly 75 percent Albanian and 25 percent Serb. A quarter century before that it was about 65 percent Albanian descent and 35 percent Serb. But as recently as 1918, the ethnic Serbs and Albanians were relatively equal in size in Kosovo. What happened to the Serbs that used to live in Kosovo? That's a long and complex story that has much to do with recent events. They were forced out in part by the knives and guns of Albanian militia, in part by the troops of Mussolini, in part by the governing policies of Marshall Tito, and in part by economic forces.
Yugoslavia, meaning “Southern Slavs,” was literally created by the Allied Powers after World War I. From its inception it was an unstable, bitterly divided kingdom in which its various ethnic groups feuded with each other. Marshall Josip Broz Tito governed Yugoslavia from 1953-1980, and did much to create the present situation. It was in his best interest to encourage various rival ethnic groups to dominate different parts of the country. In line with that strategy, he refused to allow Serbs to return to Kosovo after WWII and encouraged immigration by and growth of the ethnic Albanians. A one-percent payroll tax was imposed upon all of Yugoslavia to subsidize the development of Kosovo along Tito's design. He established an autonomous government in the region (Serbs who live in Kosovo, from that day up to the present time, are required by law to study the Albanian language from the 7th to the 12th grades).
Religious and Nationalist Roots
These are not the only reasons why President Milosevic has been able to arouse such nationalistic fervor among Serbs in recent years. Religion is also a major, albeit little mentioned factor. The western third of the province of Kosovo was established as a direct dominion of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the Middle Ages and still has many areas that Serbs consider holy to their faith. The Serbs are Orthodox, having their own Patriarch and their own faith separate and distinct from the Eastern Orthodox Church. By contrast (a primary component in the current crisis), the Kosovar Albanians (as of early 1999), were approximately 90 percent Muslim.
Serbs first migrated to the Balkans in the sixth century A.D. and by the 1300s had established a powerful empire with its heartland in Kosovo. They fought a bitter battle against the Turks in the late 14th century on the plains of Kosovo. Awareness of the battle is intricately woven into the Serb national consciousness. Serbs were brutally dominated by the Turks for over four centuries, before gaining their independence in a 20-plus year war in the early 19th century.
The meaning of Kosovo to the Serb is compared to the meaning of Jerusalem to the Jew. So deep is the Serb passion for this land that one government official is quoted as saying recently that Serbs would fight until the last man to preserve Kosovo as part of Serbia. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Draskovitch (labeled a moderate) said, “Our faith was born there, as was our language, our nationhood, our pride. It is incumbent upon us to defend Kosovo even if we die.” Asked by an American reporter if he does not want his hungry country to become part of the West and share in its wealth, he replied, “Not if the price is Kosovo.”
But the roots of the ethnic Albanians are, if anything, even deeper than those of the Serbs in Europe. Believed to be descendants of the ancient Illyrians, their forefathers settled the Balkan Peninsula hundreds of years B.C.! Albanian is one of Europe's oldest spoken languages. Parallel to the Serb action against Turkish rule was an Albanian resurgence of nationalism that led to the freedom of Albania from the Turks. Kosovar Albanians led that drive for independence, imprinting the Albanian people with their own nationalist feelings for Kosovo. Migrations of Serbs forced the Albanians into present-day Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro.
A little less than a hundred years later, during the 1912-1913 Balkan Wars, Serbia defeated the Turks once again, seized Macedonia, and was awarded control of Kosovo. Serbs conducted the first ethnic cleansing of Albanians and other Muslims at that time, killing or expelling about 100,000 (including the family of Mother Teresa).
Leading up to World War II, Serb Nazi academics advocated the total “ethnic purification” of “inferior” Muslims and Albanians from Yugoslavia. During 1945-1947, another 100,000 Albanians were killed or expelled from Kosovo. In turn, Mussolini's troops drove back the Serbs, encouraging ethnic Albanians to pour into Kosovo. Back and forth the angry, bitter ethnic fighting went. As stated above, Tito would not allow Serbs back into Kosovo after Mussolini's purge.
Yugoslavia started to unravel after Tito's death in 1980 with a re-igniting of ethnic and religious conflicts. Kosovo, the poorest region of the country, was not an attractive home for Serbs who could move elsewhere. Serb emigration, coupled with a much higher birth rate among the Albanians and illegal immigration (one Internet report says that there are at least 500,000 illegal aliens among the Kosovar Albanians!), resulted in an 80 percent Albanian population in Kosovo by the early 1980s.
Old Wounds Reopened
Milosevic rose to power on anti-Albanian rhetoric, promising to restore a Serb majority to Kosovo. Drawing upon unsavory memories, he referred to ethnic Albanians as “Turks.” Age-old animosities were on the rise once again. Over the next decade, Milosevic attempted to make good his promises through three wars, involving Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia. Although a democratically elected president, Milosevic is a former communist who has encircled himself with criminal elements, including men who are both anti-Muslim and anti-Catholic. He has exercised a combination of skill and ruthlessness to inspire nationalism as well as generate fear, ensconcing himself in power.
Now we need to look at the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the military force that is perceived by many in the West to represent the interests of the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. The KLA wants to take over the existing infrastructure of Kosovo completely, an infrastructure that the Serbs, ethnic Albanians, (and over two dozen other ethnic groups), have built up over the years. A March 24, 1999 CNN report called the KLA an unlikely catalyst for NATO's first attack on a sovereign nation in its 50-year history.” Even a year ago it was a tiny, militant splinter group that was pushing for complete independence of Kosovo. The U.S. State Department listed the KLA as a terrorist group and some reports assert that the KLA was initially set up and financed by none other than Muslim radical Osama bin Laden. KLA militia has killed numerous ethnic Albanians in Kosovo attempting to force its leadership upon the Kosovars. It is well known that the KLA funds itself through the sale of drugs.
Nationalist rhetoric by President Milosevic, coupled with his 1989 repeal of Kosovo's autonomy and its financial subsidy, provided the political environment for the KLA to spawn. Serb police and the Yugoslav army took actions to purge the KLA and its drug operations from Kosovo. Sporadic murders of Serb policemen and Serb farmers in Kosovo by the KLA brought on reprisals by Milosevic's army-actions that in turn inflamed the KLA further. So much has happened in recent months-now in recent days -with all sides suffering anguished wounds that serve only to inflame their passions and their causes even more. Responding to the current crisis, men of Albanian descent are streaming from all parts of the world into Albania on a daily basis-volunteers to join the KLA. No immediate, truly peaceful solution is in sight.
Extremists on Both Sides of a Complex Situation
Prince Tomislav, fifth in line to the exiled Yugoslav throne, is anguished over the destruction of his homeland by NATO bombs and missiles. His wife is the daughter of an American father who flew for the RAF in the Second World War and a British mother who was also in the military. The Princess said, “It is shocking to think the Americans and British are driving this bombardment. If people knew the real truth about the Balkans the British public would never have given its support. There are extremists on both sides . I pray to God for an early end to this madness but I cannot see how it will happen” ( The London Times , emphasis added).
“There are extremists on both sides” offers a poignant summary of the entire tragedy.
Macedonia is a former province of Yugoslavia, slightly larger in size than the state of Vermont, bordering Kosovo. Possessing a sense of its size can help us appreciate the choking problem of a sudden influx of tens of thousands of refugees. Just to illustrate the ethnic mixing in the area, the country is 65 percent Macedonian, 22 percent Albanian, 4 percent Turk, and 2 percent Serb. Its principal religion, the religion of the majority, is Eastern Orthodox. Politically, it sympathizes with Serbia. Like its former sisters in the Yugoslavia of Tito, it's a transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin and hashish. Unemployment, running at approximately 30 percent, is arguably a major factor for unrest.
Serbia, including Kosovo, is slightly larger than the state of Maine. Recent population statistics show it to be 63 percent Serb, 14 percent Albanian, 6 percent Montenegrin, and that the primary religion is [Serbian] Orthodox (65 percent), followed by Muslim (19 percent). Unemployment is estimated at over 35 percent and the country is poor.
Such a diverse ethnic makeup is indicative of many of the countries of Europe. For another example, Vojvodina province of Hungary, located along Serbia's northern boundary, has a majority Serb population and an autonomous government. This factor of great ethnic diversity represents a profound concern to the many nations of Europe, as they watch to see how NATO will resolve the crisis in Kosovo. A newly created independent country for the Kosovar Albanians—a long—stated objective of the KLA-could well fuel independent movements in ethnic minorities in numerous nations of Europe.
Different Focus-Different Picture
Mr. Herbert Armstrong often related that focus was all-important in understanding. “Like taking a photograph,” he would say, “everything depends on where you situate your camera.” Looking at a subject with even a slightly different focus can radically change “the picture” that you see. It is revealing to use the focus of today's events in Europe to look again at familiar prophecies of the Bible.
The life of the prophet Daniel was once threatened by a rash and impetuous decision by Babylonian Emperor Nebuchadnezzar. The background of this crisis in Daniel's life is explained in Daniel 2. Nebuchadnezzar had a terrifying dream that he could not recall or understand. He threatened to execute all of his advisors if they would not tell him the dream and its meaning. The Empire went from relative peace one day to an impossible stalemate the next that threatened to wipe out the entire senior staff (here we find an example, similar to recent events in Europe, of how unforeseen circumstances can bring sudden change)! The advisors couldn't be certain that this was not a trick and dare not “invent” a dream to satisfy the king. And Nebuchadnezzar's pride would not allow him to back down and lose face from this impossible demand he had made of his senior staff. This seemingly brutal threat from Nebuchadnezzar illustrates the different mentality of different cultures and peoples. Violence and bloodletting were routine “tools” of governing.
The catalyst for this unexpected and unforeseen crisis was a dream given by God ! He has reserved the prerogative to change the course of human affairs. “He changes the times and seasons,” said Daniel (Daniel 2:21). Political and military strategists can predict with some accuracy the likely actions of leaders and nations. But there are unseen factors that they cannot predict. Not only does God plant thoughts in the minds of men, He also brings or allows various men to come into positions of power and influence at key times. In Daniel's words, God “removes kings and raises up kings” (Daniel 2:21). Arguably, whoever is in power at a given point or place in history has a profound effect on the course of human events. Consider but a few of the personalities that helped to shape the current Balkan crisis: Marshall Tito, Pope John Paul II, Presidents Clinton and Milosevic-perhaps even the terrorist Osama bin Laden! Unique factors formed and shaped these men, and their influence at a given time has changed history.
Iron Mixed with Clay
Nebuchadnezzar's dream, interpreted by Daniel, was a prophetic overview of world history in advance, from Babylon's days up to the return of Christ. Shortly before His coming the world will be dominated by a confederation of nations characterized in the prophecy as “iron mixed with ceramic clay” (Daniel 2:33, 41-42).
The prophecy provides its own commentary in verse 43: “As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men ; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.” Different “ethnic groups” that would not normally coalesce as a unit are “baked” in the heat of crisis into a temporary union. “Ethnic” comes from the Greek word ethnos that is translated as “nations” in the Bible.
Carry that thought of the unexpected and the unpredictable to Revelation 13. A modern version of ancient Babylon, combining the old empire's speed, brute force, and powerful voice, controls the world at the crisis at the close of the age. Note that this “beast” comes out of nowhere, its “birth” is unexpected and unpredictable , dependent upon supernatural action from God [according to Daniel's prophecy] and the unseen influence of Satan [according to John's prophecy]. One sharp refresher lesson of the Balkan war, the crisis in Kosovo, is that world politics can spin or turn with appalling suddenness.
Note that a second beast, a super-religion in contradistinction to the political super power that is the first beast, comes into power at about the same time (verse 11). In a marriage of convenience the persuasive capacities of religion will bond with the political power of government (this fact is verified in a prophecy of one beast eventually destroying the other; Revelation 17:16). The political power of government wields the legal, financial, and military authority of a constituted superpower government (verse 12). In return, the religion uses its “pulpits”—literally—to excite and incite the world to align itself behind the political superpower entity. In a symbiotic relationship, they bring each other to their mutual pinnacles of power— suddenly .
Speaking to the same subject, chapter 17 of Revelation confirms that this end time outline includes a hastily achieved alignment of previously unknown nations and leaders. “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast” (verse 12). Remember again the lessons of the current picture of the Balkans where nations and leaders have come out of what was Yugoslavia to form completely new entities.
Clearly fingering the Roman Empire as the precursor of the final confederation of states (verse 9), John thereby identifies Europe as the setting for the final world government. The Balkan crisis shouts “iron and clay!” What elements make it unlikely that Europe's ethnic groups will join together? Religion, economy, history (today's crisis, WWII, or all the way back to the 14th century!), nationalism, racism, conflicting governing philosophies (democracies, fascist dictatorships, communism, socialism-all in various forms).
Finally, Revelation 17:17 reminds us of the element of the unknown and the unpredictable-“God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose.” As Daniel recorded, God reserves to Himself the prerogative to change the course of human affairs. We have the broad outline of prophesied events, but there are other facets to that outline-personalities, catalytic events, and their timeline—that God will trigger or allow according to His will. In the meantime, we watch—and we pray. WNP

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