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Ultranationalist Serbs Organize Pro-Qaddafi Campaign

Nationalists hold up pictures of Ratko Mladic, Radovan Karadzic, and Slobodan Milosevic at a rally in 2007. Now they are rallying for Libya's Muammar Qaddafi.
Nationalists hold up pictures of Ratko Mladic, Radovan Karadzic, and Slobodan Milosevic at a rally in 2007. Now they are rallying for Libya's Muammar Qaddafi.
By Iva Martinovic and Charles Recknagel
BELGRADE -- As the NATO bombing of Libya continues, Serbian ultranationalists are trying to stoke support for Muammar Qaddafi by portraying both Tripoli and Belgrade as twin victims of Western aggression.

The pro-Qaddafi campaign comes as Serbia today marks the 11th anniversary of the start of NATO's bombing campaign to end the Serbian crackdown on Kosovo. To mark the anniversary, air-raid sirens sounded out across Serbia today.

The efforts to link Serbia and Libya as victims of Western aggression is spearheaded by leaders of ultranationalist parties. But it also has echoes in the government's own ambivalent posture toward the UN-approved Libyan operation.

"I can say that we are deeply concerned and unhappy because of the current situation in Libya," Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said earlier this week.

"We are a country that has a bitter experience and as such calls for the cessation of all combat activities and of the use of excessive force by all sides in the conflict so that destruction and civilian suffering would end."

The government has stressed that it fully supports Libya territorial integrity and sovereignty but that it also supports the UN Security Council's decisions. Belgrade has suspended all activities with Libya's Defense Ministry but taken no other actions against Tripoli.

Cheering On Qaddafi

Nationalist leaders have gone far beyond Serbia's official ambivalence. They have called for a rally on March 27 in Belgrade to protest the bombing of Libya and, to build support, regularly rail against Operation Odyssey Dawn.

Dragan Todorovic is the head of the parliamentary caucus of the Serbian Radical Party, whose leader Vojislav Seselj is being tried for war crimes in The Hague:

"Qaddafi absolutely has our support and we absolutely think that nonmeddling in one country's affairs has to be respected and that citizens of that country should choose the government that suits them," Todorovic said.

But if this language sounds blunt, it only suggests the kind of anger ultranationalist organizations are stoking among their members.

Numerous pages on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, and other social-networking sites have sprung up over the past weeks to support Qaddafi and link his story to that of the ultranationalists' hero, former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

One of the most active of the Facebook pages, Support for Muammar al-Gaddafi from the People of Serbia, hosts hundreds of messages from people urging Qaddafi to persevere and recalling Serbia's situation 10 years ago.

A Serbian Facebook page in support of Muammar Qaddafi
Some of the messages read like greetings cards to Libya's leader: "They should know we are with them! That's how it used to be for us but no one gave us support!"

Remembering 'Target'


But others focus purely on Serbia in 1999: "Target! How I remember running as a child with a couple of friends to the demonstrations, with a paper target fixed to my chest. Does anyone else remember the slogans? I remember a few. 'Only Clinton shoots in the back!', 'Monica, clench your teeth!' does anyone know a few more?"

In 1999, many Serbs took part in demonstrations to protect sites in Belgrade and elsewhere during NATO's March 24-June 10 bombing campaign. The demonstrators wore paper bull's-eyes emblazoned with the word "target."

Traces of the bombing can still be seen throughout Serbia today. In the capital, the Milosevic-era Defense and Interior Ministry buildings still stand in ruins on one of the main avenues.

The Human Rights Watch advocacy group put the civilian death toll of the NATO bombing at around 500. Official Serbian figures say some 2,500 civilians were killed and 12,500 injured during the 11 weeks of bombing.

Welcome In Tripoli

The ultranationalists' pro-Qaddafi campaign has received appreciative attention in Tripoli, where state-run television has broadcast some of the Internet content to show that Qaddafi has supporters in other countries.

A Libyan opposition group called the Libyan Youth Movement advised media this week that Serbian hackers have tried to bring down websites linked to anti-Qaddafi forces.

The Libyan Youth Movement said it estimated there are over 50,000 active Serbian Qaddafi supporters online and suspected "there are powerful nationalist organizations and political parties" behind the movement.

Some Serbian political commentators say the pro-Qaddafi movement is aimed at building support in Serbia against efforts to eventually bring the country into the European Union. Milan Pajevic of the Isak Fund says Serbia needs to carefully weigh its interests.

"There is no difference between the position of Croatia or any other European country and what should be Serbia's position," Pajevic says. "Besides this institutional, formal process of EU integration, Serbia is a European country and should behave in line with and in agreement with its partners."

Old Friends

The fact that ultranationalist Serbs are trying to link their country's bombing over Milosevic's crackdown on Muslim Kosovars with the fate of Libya -- an officially Muslim nation -- might seem a curious way to stoke political anger against the West.

But analysts say that the effort not only plays on memories of NATO's 1999 campaign but also upon decades of officially close ties between the former Yugoslavia and Qaddafi. Both countries were among the founding members of the Nonaligned Movement (NAM), which was established in Belgrade in 1961.

Those ties between Tripoli and Belgrade continued despite the breakup of Yugoslavia. Qaddafi consistently expressed support for Milosevic against the West, particularly during NATO's 1999 bombing campaign, and Serbia kept close ties with Libya in the form of weapons trade and a business presence.

Serbian President Boris Tadic has flown to Tripoli several times since he was first elected in 2004, and has been given state awards by Qaddafi. Several other Serbian officials have also visited Libya in recent years.

Serbia has several times found itself in the news in connection with the Libya crisis, including media reports that Serbs had piloted planes that reportedly bombed protesters in the eastern city of Benghazi. Belgrade has denied those reports, as has Qaddafi.

Qaddafi made the denials in an exclusive interview he gave to the private Serbian television station Pink just hours after the UN Security Council voted in January to impose sanctions against him, his family, and close aides. He told Pink that "the Arab media tried to bribe [the Serbs] to say that they bombed civilians" and also rejected charges his forces had violently suppressed opposition protesters.

The nationalists' embrace of Qaddafi contrasts sharply with the activities of Serbian pro-democracy youth activists who helped train Egypt's antigovernment demonstrators in the nonviolent resistance tactics that helped push President Hosni Mubarak's from power last month.

Nedim Dervisbegovic of RFE/RL's Balkan Service also contributed to this report
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by: Slavisa from: Kragujevac
March 24, 2011 17:44
We support Gaddafi cause we know that USA just want oil, and don't care about any people.
In Response

by: Seper from: Munich
March 24, 2011 18:47
And you committed genocide after genocide because of the USA?

Slavisa and all you Other Serbs, too much delusion, enough African.
In Response

by: CD from: Belgrade
March 24, 2011 20:17
Is this irony or what, German blaming other for genocide? Oh god, can it get any worse....
In Response

by: Rade from: Belgrade
March 24, 2011 22:50
Genocide after genocide?! Too much influence of your media propaganda it is not good for your brain, especially it will not be good for you when you need to face with truth after your country got what it deserved for been a part of barbaric NATO force all over the world. Serbia is country with a greatest number of refugees in Europe and only republic from FRY that still have a same number of minorities as before collapse of former state, if you are half-educated you should know what that mean.
In Response

by: Sasa from: Novi Sad
March 25, 2011 00:15
Psssst! ;)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herero_and_Namaqua_Genocide
In Response

by: Stale from: Beograde
March 25, 2011 07:53
Seper...you Germans are the one to talk about genocide...and what genocide did we made exactly?Because all the numbers you have came from Western forces...and they must tell the truth for sure...i mean they always tell the truth...exept when they lie so they could complite their goals...peace with you
In Response

by: Sinisa from: Beograd
March 25, 2011 08:18
Seper, it wasn't enough for Germany to bomb us 3 times in 20th century? Genocide was done against Serbian population in Kosovo, almost eradicated in 1999, learn some facts not just nazi-propaganda
In Response

by: ladusan from: earth
March 31, 2011 13:43
Good Axis work Seper, just keep on working because Arbeit Macht Frei
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
March 24, 2011 19:02
I agree with Slavisa, that's all the americans want and that's why they were smart enough to get into this third war they are waging simultaneously. Let's see whether this one will be even more successful than the one they have been "winning" in Afghanistan for the last 10 years :-).
In Response

by: Slava
March 24, 2011 20:08
I doubt that the Serb support for Khadafy is greater than Croat support for the Nazil allied Ustasha regime, whose level of brutality shocked some Germans stationed in Yugoslavia during WW II.

Issues like the latter get little if any attention at the anti-Serb propaganda leaning RFE/RL.
In Response

by: nomad from: us
March 24, 2011 21:43
It is all about stealing their natural resources--just like Iraq and the rest of the countries. It seems like the US is the biggest terrorist to me. They send people into a country to destabilize it then they send their military in to save the people. What a bunch of $%%.
In Response

by: branislav from: Bijeljina
March 25, 2011 05:12
Here's the dictator Gaddafi:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19O6u7lAex0

look at this......
In Response

by: Tatjana from: Belgrade
March 26, 2011 19:01
Organized mass murder (war) is very often justified as "justice" or moral. Indeed it is almost always the good guys against the bad guys (unless it is a war waged by mercenaries). American wars are always in foreign countries against native peoples, so on the surface it is hard to understand why America is in so much denial about their empirism, colonialism, and imperialism...
VIVA Colonel! ---
NATO fight for what? FOR FREE(OIL)DOM
How many coutries bombimng by US and how many inocent people killed US miltary?
Please ..... please .... Western hypocrisy lose sense of humor
In Response

by: Gldenn Grujic from: New York City
March 27, 2011 02:03
I am Both Serbian And A US Marine This Is The War Of The Media And IT IS Very Easy To Mis Conceive What You Are Shown And Told Because IT Is Already Chosen For You What You Should Think They Obviously Need To Raise Thew War Effort By Making Americans Support It So They Show The Horrible Images And Tell The Lies Semper Fi
In Response

by: Дејан from: Србија
April 01, 2011 14:26
You cannot be a Serb and serve the US war machine. You are a traitor, much like Nazi collaborators in WW2. Stay in the US and never mention to anyone that you are a Serb again, because you are no better than an ustasa.

by: Goldfishrock from: UK
March 24, 2011 18:05
It's 12 years since the start of NATO's immoral and brutal attack of Serbia & still no apology?!
In Response

by: Bigfut Laza from: Belgrade
March 30, 2011 16:07
You really think that someone should do that?! If you do you are a fool. I was then 4 years old, and I remember everything, the sound of the sirens roaring in my head, the bombs falling like a rain! Would you forgive someone if you were in my place at the time? I doubt so. As our Ortodox Church sais, I shall forgive you, I have done that a long time ago. But I will never forget what you have done, never...
In Response

by: Goldfishrock from: UK
April 01, 2011 09:53
Bigfut Laza, Read my comment again! I wasn't saying that Serbia should apologise.... I was saying that NATO should be apologising to Serbia for what they did! I never supported the NATO Aggression against your wonderful country. Serbia don't need to apologise for anything.
In Response

by: Bigfut Laza from: Belgrade
April 01, 2011 17:40
Sorry, then I didn't understand your sentece. I understood that you want forgiveness. Then I must ask you, do you relly expect that NATO alliance will do something like that?

by: Milan from: Serbia
March 24, 2011 18:22
Haha „Ultranationalist Serbs“

by: Aleksandar from: Kragujevac
March 24, 2011 18:30
People of Serbia is standing along with their brothers in Libya against NATO agression. We tasted your "democracy" it taste like lead, it taste like pain and it taste like suffering, so keep your democracy away from us we don't want it.

by: The Truth from: Belgrade
March 24, 2011 18:40
I am not nationalist, i 4 freedom and truth!

Support Gaddafi!
Support Gaddafi!
Support Gaddafi!
Support Gaddafi!
Support Gaddafi!
Support Gaddafi!
Support Gaddafi!
In Response

by: Max from: Sydney
March 24, 2011 23:38
If only there was a 'return to sender' button we could press for these missiles

So anyone who supports Gaddafi is an 'ultra nationalist"?? Nice and easy propaganda. Im an Aussie and i support Gaddafi, so what does that make me??

The bastards who bombed Serbia 12 years ago should all be in rotting in jail cells, not sipping cocktails by the beach

by: Petar from: Beograd
March 24, 2011 19:38
It's not just the ultranationalist that are opposing bombing and attacking of Libya, most of the Serbs do, including the pro-democratic youth. It's painfully obvious that USA, UK, FR, and other aggressors have only one thing on their mind. And it has nothing to do with the freedom, democracy or care for the people of Libya. Propaganda from "western" media no longer has effect, since it was bluntly used too many times only couple of years ago ('99, '01, '03).

by: Serb from: Serbia
March 24, 2011 20:04
Www, we did not know that we are hackers. Uninformed journalists stop writing nonsense. We are not hackers but most normal Internet users who understand the situation and not falling under the influence of Western imperialist media. So. Thanks!

by: ddt from: serbia
March 24, 2011 20:07
50000 and rising...i hate america,i hate nato

by: Milan from: Serbia
March 24, 2011 20:15
Ultra nacionalists are not behind facebook group and other movements, simply because there are not that much ultra nacionalists in Serbia. This is attempt to discredit social groups and movements claiming that ultra nacionalists are orgaanizing it. You can check on ultra nacionalists websites in Serbia that they stated no one from them organized it. Its just Serbian people who only understand what Libyan people is going trough.

SERBIA

by: Eleni from: Athens
March 24, 2011 20:23
First of all, Slobodan Miloshevich is not an ultranationalists' hero. Ratko Mladich, Radovan Karadzhich and Voyislav Seshel' are. In Serbia, only Yugonostalgic folks mourn Miloshevich, very few praise him.

Second of all, under the Facebook and Twitter accounts there are only plain Serbian (and not only Serbian!) people supporting Quaddafi just by clicking the Like button on the pages. There is no money included- just anti-Americanist and anti-globalist point of view. Is that forbidden? To be free to choose wheter to put even Like?
NATO aggression over FR Yugoslavia might never be forgotten. And how could it be? Bringing peace and democracy through bombing a country? Hypocracy! That is the main reason for supporting Quaddafi for most of the people. It may not be supporting his dictature as such, but the reaction on the American, British and French (little Napoleon, btw) agression towards Libya.
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