Yugo Digest: 1995-12-16

yugo_digest_logoThis Week: French pilots released, peace treaty signed in Paris, weather delays US deployment, the refugee question.

10 Dec 95

In London, 52 countries and international organizations finished a three day meeting on plans for the reconstruction of Bosnia. The session approved a 47-point document setting down broad guidelines that will have to be fleshed out. A steering committee has been set up; chief EU negotiator Carl Bildt will serve as its chair. Bildt’s first task centers on Sarajevo. He said that “the civilian [reconstruction] aspect is the real key to a lasting peace.”

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In Sarajevo, Bosnian Serbs threatened to destroy vital utility lines in their neighborhoods if the Bosnian peace accord is not amended to protect them. In response the UN has begun identifying key points in the Serb suburbs where troops might have to be deployed to prevent any such sabotage. An attempt to destroy utilities serving Sarajevo would be a major challenge to NATO patience in the opening days of the peace process. Utilities were restored in October, one of the preconditions for a ceasefire and, eventually, the Wright-Patterson peace talks.

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The Bosnian Croat parliament approved the Dayton peace treaty, albeit with misgivings over northern Bosnia.

Bosnia Pay Issues

Troops assigned to Bosnia don’t have to worry about losing their meal money — they will be on temporary duty status, which allows them to retern all their monthly allowances plus qualify for daily expense payments. Personnel officials changed the policy in 1994 to ensure that deployments do not cause financial hardships for military families.Here’s how the system will work in Bosnia:

  • Enlisted troops already authorized to eat meals outside of mess halls will continue to receive $209.40 monthly allowance. They also will get $8.25 temporary duty allowance for meals and incidentals — $4.75 of which will be deducted for their meals. Their net increase will be $3.50 per day, or $105 per month.
  • Enlisted troops who are required to eat in mess halls because they live in barracks will start collecting the $209.40 monthly food allowance, or $6.98 per day. They too, will get the $8.25 temporary duty allowance of which $4.75 will go for meals. Their net increase will be per day, or $314.40 per month.
  • Officers will continue to collect their monthly allowance of $146.16. They also will get the same temporary duty allowance and pay the same $4.75 for meals. Their net increase will be $3.50 per day, or $105 month.

In addition to food allowances, all troops sent to Bosnia will receive $150 each month in danger pay. Troops with dependents also will qualify for the $75 monthly family separation allowance after they have been deployed for more than 30 days.Enlisted troops also will qualify for certain places pay, which ranges from $8 to $22.50 per month on rank. The area is not expected to be declared a combat zone, which would entitle troops to special tax breaks.

11 Dec 95

Clinton sent Congress a formal request for its support of his deployment of US troops to Bosnia. He also promised to arm and train Bosnian Muslims. More congressional support is expected if steps are taken to teach Muslims to defend themselves. That, in turn, would enable US peacekeepers to leave in a year.

Polls indicate two out of three Americans opposed the mission a week before it was to get under way.

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Fearing government retribution, some Bosnian Serbs have begun fleeing Sarajevo’s traditionally Serb neighborhoods. Bosnian Serb authorities have begun transferring industrial units and other equipment to Serbia. There was a ‘multiethnic demonstration’ in government-held parts of Sarajevo to urge the suburban Serbs to stay. The Dayton peace treaty puts the 70,000 Serbs living in Sarajevo suburbs under Muslim-Croat jurisdiction. “This is an unacceptable situation,” said Trifko Radik, a Serb leader in Ilidza. The Sarajevo Serbs fear they will be terrorized and discriminated against as a minority group if cut out of the Serb portion of Bosnia.

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Croat refugees living in northern Bosnia protested their inclusion in territory to be run by Serbs. They demanded the return of Posavina, a Croat region that Serb forces captured early in the war to link their domains in eastern and northern Bosnia.

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Judge Goldstone, chief justice of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, turned down a Russian request to “suspend legal action” against Bosnian Serb President Karadzic, an indicted war criminal. The Russians requested the reprieve so Karadzic could attend the peace treaty signing in Paris.

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Bosnian President Izetbegovic promised that all Mujahideen in Bosnia would be sent home within 30 days. He added that his government will work to reassure the 60,000-70,000 Serbs in Sarajevo who will pass from Bosnian Serb to government control.

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A Croatian military court sentenced 16 Krajina Serbs to prison terms for war crimes. The only accused actually in custody was given ten years.

Troops heading to Bosnia should handle their peacekeeping duties just fine if leaders keep a few things in mind. When possible:

  • Feed them hot meals.
  • Make sure they can shower. (Hygiene, including clean toilets and adequate drinking water, were cited as most critical by an Army study.)
  • Give them a bit of personal time each day, an occasional night off, and phone calls home.

Officers especially should keep troops informed, avoid micromanaging, follow their own rules and be less concerned with their careers than their soldiers’ morale.Those are the conclusions of an Army study of study of 3,200 soldiers deployed to Haiti peacekeeping operations last year.

12 Dec 95

The two missing French pilots were released by the Bosnian Serbs today. Serb officials in Yugoslavia brought decisive pressure to bear on the Bosnian Serbs. (The US intercepted phone calls in which Serb President Milosevic threatened General Mladic with arrest and loss of pay to get him to free the pilots.) The pilots’ release eliminates one of the last major barriers to the December 14 signing of a final peace treaty in Paris.

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Sarajevo’s Serbs voted ‘no’ by a large majority on today’s Dayton peace treaty referendum.

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A squabble has broken out at the UN over who should police eastern Slavonia. UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali recommended that 9,300 troops be sent to the region under the auspices of a multinational force to be attached to the NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR). This proposal contradicts an earlier understanding with the US that the east Slavonian force remain a UN operation. US Ambassador to the UN Albright called Boutros-Ghali’s report “misguided and counterproductive”. Albright then convinced Boutros-Ghali to downgrade the “recommendation” to a “preference”. Currently, 1,600 Belgian and Russian UN peacekeepers serve in eastern Slavonia.

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The US Air Force’s only two JSTARS (Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System) aircraft deployed to Bosnia. Ten ground station modules are also being deployed.

U.S. Deployment Plans

First, 1,500 US paratroopers from Italy, will arrive in Tuzla within two days after the Paris peace treaty is signed. The lightly armed, airborne troops will remain in the vicinity of the Tuzla airfield and will not deploy elsewhere.US armored troops traveling overland from Kaposvar, Hungary, will begin arriving in Bosnia within a week. The armor will go by rail from Germany to Hungary, taking about three days. Troops will travel by bus or plane. In Hungary, the troops will need about a day to collect equipment and reorganize, and another day to make the overland trip from Hungary, through Croatia into Bosnia.

The most critical phase of the deployment will be crossing the Sava River on the Croatia-Bosnia border. All the major bridges across the river have been destroyed. US troops will cross the 300-yard to 500-yard-wide river using pontoon-type bridges built by Army engineers. Bridges are essential to link US forces in Tuzla with the supply depots being established in Hungary.

“We’re going to go in fast,” said US secretary of Defense Perry. Ten thousand troops will be in place within three weeks; the other 10,000 in six to eight weeks, he added.

A armored brigade could be fully deployed within three weeks. The speed of deployment will be limited in large part by the crossing. Only two vehicles at a time will be able to cross each bridge even under ideal conditions. Army engineers will build permanent bridges or repair damaged ones, but it is not clear how long that will take.

13 Dec 95

The US House of Representatives and Senate defeated attempts to cut off funding for the US mission in Bosnia. The House vote was 210-218 to cut off funding. The Senate voted 77-22 to maintain funding.

Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold was the only Democrat Senator to vote against funding the mission. “It is obvious that this institution … does not have the will to challenge decades of executive aggrandizement of congressional war powers,” said Feingold.

The Senate had debated three options: Cut off funding (the proposal that failed); oppose Clinton’s decision to send troops but support the soldiers themselves, which is expected to pass; and permit Clinton to send troops while imposing restrictions on the mission, which is also expected to pass.

The House has twice previously voted against deployment.

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A large explosion at a mujahideen camp near Podbrezje killed one Muslim. Police say the car exploded when people trying to rig a car bomb accidentally detonated it.

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Tuzla is sinking. Literally. Hundreds of salt mines, which once formed the basis of the city’s economy, were never shored up after they were abandoned dozens of years ago. (Tuzla means ‘salt mine’ in Turkish.) Now, houses, shops and roads are badly cracked from the settling of the mines and are being swallowed. Sinkholes are opening up almost weekly, and certain parts of town are considered unsafe to even walk through.


14 Dec 95

The presidents of Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia finalized the Dayton peace treaty in Paris. Witnessing the signature of Presidents Izetbegovic, Tudjman and Milosevic were Clinton, French President Chirac, German Chancellor Kohl, British Prime Minister Major and Russian President Yeltsin. Over 50 countries and international organizations were represented at the ceremony. Earlier in the morning, the foreign ministers of Bosnia, Croatia and Yugoslavia signed the annexes, which contain the real substance of the Dayton agreement.

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Five mujahideen were killed in a shootout with Croatian militia near Zepce. Two Bosnian Croat police officers were wounded. The attack was caused by yesterday’s car bomb explosion. Bosnian Croat forces are preparing for further car bombings and assaults on isolated villages by the mujahedeen. There are 2,000-4,000 mujahideen in Bosnia. Only 136 have so far left, which the Dayton peace treaty requires them to do. (Many are second or third generation European Arabs.)

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The US is sending a special “combat stress team” of 15 specialists, including psychiatrists and psychologists, to Bosnia with the troops to help soldiers handle stress.

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Two feet of fresh snow in Sarajevo prevented 17 US troop flights from landing.


15 Dec 95

In a unanimous vote, the UN Security Council formally ended UN peacekeeping in Bosnia. It formally passed authority to NATO.

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Bosnian Serbs shelled the Bosnian government area of Sarajevo. Bosnian government troops fired at a French helicopter. Croatian troops clashed with the Mujahideen allies of the Bosnian government.

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Poor weather prevented US aircraft from landing in Tuzla for the second day in a row.

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In the week since the PSRC was signed by Clinton, 52 National Guard units with 2,223 personnel and 33 Army Reserve units with 1,370 personnel have been mobilized. That represents more than 65 percent of the call-up authority of 3,388. 26 units have been identified and are awaiting mobilization.


16 Dec 95

NATO commander GEN Joulwan approved the North Atlantic Council operations order, officially beginning Operation Joint Endeavor. “The mission is clear, limited in time and scope, and with robust rules of engagement,” said Joulwan. Deployment in force begins tomorrow. Meanwhile, winter weather delayed NATO air deployment to Bosnia for the third straight day. Up to 60 flights have been delayed so far. British and French troops have not had as much trouble. (Many of them are already in country, most of the rest are traveling by land or sea.)

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The illegal Albanian-language university in Tetovo, Macedonia, celebrated its first anniversary. University dean Fadil Sulejmani called the day the university was founded, a “day of Albanian liberation in Macedonia.” Police earlier this year destroyed parts of the self-proclaimed university’s premises and prevented students from entering the building. (One person was killed in the ensuing riot.) Nonetheless, the university’s 150 professors teach a wide variety of ‘underground’ courses to its 1,300 students.

The Refugee Question

US Secretary of Defense Perry insisted that unlike in Somalia, where peacekeeping turned into nation building, the military mission in Bosnia is strictly limited. During the yearlong peace mission, warring troops will be kept separated territory will be divided according to the peace agreement and fighting will be prevented. “The cycle of violence will be broken for a year,” Perry said. But he acknowledged that longer term prospects for peace depend on creating a military balance between the Serbs and the Bosnian Muslims. The country’s fate also depends on efforts to begin rebuilding Bosnian society — the economy, preparing for free elections and resettling refugees.UN and humanitarian officials envision a three-part plan to repatriate ex-Yugoslavia’s refugees, who will be encouraged but not forced to return home. In the first phase, next spring, 1.3 million refugees within Bosnia will be encouraged to return home. In the second phase, refugees now in the rest of ex-Yugoslavia will be invited to return to Bosnia — 463,000 from Croatia, 330,000 from Serbia, 24,000 from Slovenia and 6,500 from Macedonia. The final phase is a homecoming for about 700,000 other refugees, mostly Bosnian Muslims, living in Europe or the USA. (350,000 live in Germany, 19,000 in the US.)

“People who have been persecuted are unlikely to return to places where their erstwhile neighbors persecuted them,” said Arthur Helton, migration director for the Open Society Institute, a foundation involved in rebuilding war-torn areas.

“Most of them think they can’t go home,” said Sheppie Abramowitz of the International Rescue Committee, a refugee-aid organization.

To calm their fears, UN and Bosnian officials are asking US peacekeepers to secure the refugees’ safe passage home and protect them once they’re there. The US Army said no decision has been made about troops escorting or protecting returning refugees.

“This is going to be an extremely complicated and delicate process,” said UN spokesman Chris Gunness. “And I hate to say it but we have no idea whether it will work.”

Trivia

The Hotel Ilidza, in Sarajevo, is host to the NATO headquarters in Bosnia. It is the same hotel where Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand stayed the night before he was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip — the spark that touched off World War I.


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