The Balkans Truce So what sort of peace will it be?: The KLA - Old scores are still to be settled

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The Independent Online
THE KLA boss in black shirt and gold tie interviewed on Sky News television tried his best to look disappointed when asked about the deal. "I'm not very positive," he said, donning a hangdog look. "We don't want to disarm, and what about Kosovo's independence...?"

Pull the other one. For the Kosovo Liberation Army, formed less than two years ago, the peace deal forged by Nato's muscle is an almost unmitigated triumph. They never had a ghost of a chance of driving the Serbs out of Kosovo on their own with their rusty guns, and the flat dustbowl of the central plain of Kosovo is pretty hopeless terrain for a guerrilla warfare. The best the KLA could look forward to on their own was a wretched future spent harassing the Serbian army from the hills and gorges of the rugged Drenica region and the Albanian border.

Their only hope from the start was to drag in Nato, which they have succeeded in doing, and to befriend Western leaders, which they have also succeeded in doing. Witness Tony Blair's regular cosy chats with the KLA boss and self-styled Kosovo prime minister, Hashim Thaci.

Now the KLA fighters can stream back to the ruined cities of Kosovo with the tide of returning refugees and claim the kingdom. True, they will apparently be disarmed by the Nato-Russian peace implementation force. But the KLA will dominate the political landcape and Mr Thaci will cash in on his status as resistance leader during the "war".

Whether the KLA will prove to be democrats is quite another matter. There will be ugly scores to settle with the remaining Serb civilians and with their older, more pacifist rivals in the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) run by Ibrahim Rugova. He will never live down the shame of his televised handshake with Slobodan Milosevic at the height of the slaughter. And there may be troubles in those parts of Kosovo that fall into the Russian zone.