Tuesday, April 20, 1999 Published at 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Analysis: Nato and the KLA
Thousands of KLA supporters are returning to Kosovo to fight
By South-East Europe Analyst Gabriel Partos
Macedonia's Interior Minister, Pavle Trajanov, says he has received assurances from Nato and the United States that they will not be supporting the Kosovo Albanian guerrillas of the Kosovo Liberation Army, the KLA.
But the signs are that the KLA is continuing to fight back and large areas remain under its control.
There have been several reports in recent days from the handful of foreign journalists who have managed to get inside Kosovo about the KLA's resilience.
Meanwhile, thousands of ethnic Albanian men who have fled Kosovo are returning to the province to join the KLA once they have taken their families to places of refuge in Albania and Macedonia.
The KLA has also stepped up its co-operation with Nato. The guerrillas handed over a captured Yugoslav army officer to the Albanian authorities who, in turn, surrendered him to Nato.
The KLA says it is handing over three more detainees. More importantly, the KLA is also stressing that it is providing intelligence to Nato about Yugoslav military targets in Kosovo.
That way, there is no direct link between Nato and the KLA - which would be a diplomatic embarrassment for the Western alliance.
Given this roundabout way in which the information gets passed on, there is considerable doubt as to how useful the KLA's intelligence proves in practice.
The Serbian military can move its armour on before Nato gets the intelligence; while for fixed targets, Nato usually relies on its own satellites and spy planes.
The absence of formal links with the KLA is a sign of Nato's dilemma over Kosovo. The KLA is the only force on the ground that can do something to protect Kosovo's Albanian majority from ethnic cleansing and to that extent Nato would want to help the guerrillas.
On the other hand, Nato does not want to be seen as the KLA's air force, working hand-in-hand with the guerrillas.
There are several reasons for Nato's reluctance to co-operate with the KLA:
That is why Macedonian Interior Minister Pavle Trajanov was keen to announce on Tuesday that he had received assurances that Nato would not be supporting the KLA.
In any case, Nato and the West, in general, expect that the air campaign will force Belgrade to stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and accept some kind of international protectorate over Kosovo that would be enforced by a multi-national troop contingent.
There is no desire at this stage to see an independent Kosovo, as envisaged by the KLA. Nor would the West want to help the KLA emerge from the current conflict as a powerful force which would then be difficult to put under control.