This Week: U.S. to stay more than year; U.S. caught running arms to Bosnians; killings in Kosovo; ICTY releases suspect.
17 Apr 96
The UNHCR estimates that 50,000 refugees have returned since the Dayton Accord was signed in December. Roughly equal numbers of Serbs, Muslims and Croats have moved into those areas that changed hands under the treaty. Almost none have moved into areas still under the control of other factions. As many as 15,000 Muslims are attempting to return to Brcko, a Serb town which controls the vital corridor that links Serb areas in eastern and western Bosnia.
18 Apr 96
The ICTY released Bosnian Serb General Djukic because he is suffering from pancreatic cancer. Djukic was arrested in February when he made a wrong turn in Sarajevo and wandered across the ceasefire line into Muslim territory. Djukic remains under indictment.
Croatian General Blaskic, who turned himself in, had his house arrest loosened by the ICTY. It refused to grant him outright release, despite Croatian government assurances that he would return to the Hague at the Tribunal’s request. The presence of Blaskic in Croatia would also endanger his former victims and future witnesses, thus influencing their testimony against him.
The Bosnian government released Bosnian Serb Colonel Krsmanovic due to lack of evidence. Krsmanovic was arrested with Djukic.
Clinton aide Mack McClarty collected $100 million in pledges of military aid from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait for Bosnia’s Muslim government. McClarty was accompanied on the mission by Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey. Clinton said he was “deeply gratified by the generosity” of the Arabs.
Note: The Dayton accord prevents the U.S. from providing military aid to any of the factions in Bosnia.
19 Apr 96
The disarmament of the factions is on schedule for the D+120 deadline. About 84% of the heavy artillery and 90% of the tanks are under IFOR supervision. 150,000 troops have been demobilized, with a similiar number confined to barracks. While the demobilization solves the military problem, it is creating a social one: What to do with the unemployed veterans?
The Bosnian government is issuing its vets 400 DM bank credits, but it does not have the reserves to honor the debt. Bosnian Croats are demanding that HVO vets also be compensated. (The HVO fought the Muslims at one time, but ended the war on the government’s side.)
Croatia spent is spending tens of millions on creating job opportunities for its vets. Its program is underfunded though, and much of the money is being taken from rebuilding projects in formerly Serb-held areas. Most of Heavy Arms in IFOR Designated Places in Bosnia.
The OSCE is concerned that there isn’t enough money to fund independent media in Bosnia. The majority of the nationalist media is government-controlled.
Note: The U.S., for one, has drastically cut funding the last for radio programs aimed at Eastern Europe the last few years. This ‘peace dividend’ saves mere millions of dollars each year — alot less than the billions being spent on military efforts in the region. And alot less dangerous too.
20 Apr 96
Britain is moving its headquarters from Gornji Vakuf to Banja Luka, the Serb military HQ in western Bosnia. The Serbs vehemently protested the plan. Karadzic said the Brits needed his permission. “So what? We’re entitled to go where we want,” replied a Brit.
21 Apr 96
Several thousand Muslims, Croats and Serbs clashed in Doboj. Factional leaders said they plan more confrontations.
22 Apr 96
Bosnia’s September elections will cover seven levels of government from the local office up to the Presidency. Before being registered by the elections commission, parties and candidates must confirm that they accept the ground rules and will accept the elections’ results. The vote depends on freedom of association, expression and movement, and a politically neutral atmosphere, particularly for the media. US diplomats do not believe such conditions exist now.
Refugees may vote in their new homes, rather than in their pre-war residence. The 1991 voting list is being used as a registration source. (The former would seem to reinforce ethnic separation, rather than promote unity, and the latter was intended for the election that prompted the Serbs to separate from Bosnia.)
23 Apr 96
The American media discovered that the Clinton deliberately ignored Iran’s gunrunning to Bosnia during the war, a violation of the UN arms embargo. They also discovered that Croatia took a cut of the weapons, which had to pass through its territory to reach Bosnia. Croatia made a big show of one weapons seizure during the war, but the deliveries continued unabated.
Note: This was obvious to anyone who watched the tide of war change in Bosnia over the last two years. It will be interesting to see when the American media discover that a company run by American ex-generals and colonels is training and reorganizing the Bosnian army because the Dayton accord prevents the U.S. government from doing so. It is the same organization that performed the same services for Croatia prior to its blitzkrieg in Krajina last year.
New radar and navigational equipment has been delivered to the Dubrovnik airport. The $2.3 million system will be installed by June. The improvements were prompted by the crash of Commerce Secretary Brown’s plane several weeks ago.
Police in Yugoslavia arrested two Serbs suspected of bombing several mosques in Belgrade over the last four years. The most recent bombing was on March 30. The Serbs were caught with handguns, grenades and 1.9 kilos of explosives.
10,000 Albanians protested this past weekend’s killing of an Albanian student in Kosovo by a Serb civilian. Nine Serbs have been killed or wounded in revenge shootings.
Note: Kosovo is the key. Not Bosnia, not Croatia. Kosovo. It is the first domino. If open conflict were to break out, that would draw in the Yugoslav Army and probably Albania itself. That would prompt the Albanians in Macedonia to break away, bringing Macedonia in. Greece, a traditional Serb ally, paranoid about Macedonian claims on Greece’s region of the same name, would then enter the fray. Turkey, ancient enemy of Greece would ally with Macedonia. Open conflict between Turkey and Greece would be disastrous because they are members of NATO and control vital lines of communication with the Middle East. It would be a nightmare. That’s not to say war will break out in Kosovo, just that it is something to keep an eye on. Kosovo was, by the way, the first Yugoslav territory to begin agitating for independence after Tito’s death.
UNTAES, the UN authority overseeing the return of Eastern Slavonia from Serb to Croatian control, moved its headquarters from Zagreb to Vukovar. Vukovar is the Slavonian town devastated early in the war. There are currently 3,000 UNTAES peacekeepers in the region. When the deployment is completed in May, there will be 5,000.
The ICTY issued secret indictments against war crimes suspects in the Balkans. A Tribunal judge may issue a secret indictment to “protect confidential information obtained by the prosecutor” or “in the interests of justice”. The ICTY said the secret indictments were issued for witness security and the location of suspects. Lawyers for Dusan Tadic protested that some witnesses may not come to The Hague to testify, fearing their names may be on the secret wanted list. The indictments must be revealed once the suspects are arrested.
24 Apr 96
EU envoy Carl Bildt proposed that an independent TV network be established in Bosnia, to allow all views to be expressed. He also asked the factional governments to ensure free access to the state media for all political parties. (The Croatian government, in particular, has recently been infiltrating more friendly journalists into top media positions.) IFOR would, if necessary, be asked to help the project’s implementation.
25 Apr 96
House Speaker Gingrich ordered a congressional investigation into the administration’s role in Iranian arms shipments to Bosnia. “Clinton’s policy of virtually inviting Iran into Europe could have disastrous results,” Gingrich said. “The president undertook this reckless policy hastily and then kept it secret from Congress, the American people and our allies.”
Five Bosnians were arrested near Senj, Croatia, on terrorism charges. Three were Bosnian Interior Ministry agents, another was an employee of the Bosnian Agency for Investigation and Documentation (which answers directly to Bosnian President Izetbegovic.)
Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic denied reports that the agents were trained by Iranians to kill or capture enemies, claiming the whole affair is a publicity stunt by the intended victim, deposed Muslim rebel Fikret Abdic. Abdic, closely tied to the Croatian leadership, plans to run in the upcoming elections. He was meeting with Serbian President Milosevic in Belgrade at the time of the arrests.
The U.S. believes Iranian military intelligence agents are still operating in Bosnia. Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Peter Tarnoff said “our ‘train and equip’ programme will not be implemented unless and until the Iranian military intelligence presence is out of the country.”
ICTY President Antonio Cassese said Yugoslavia and the Bosnian Serbs should be be punished with sanctions unless they start cooperating with the court, including handing over wanted war criminals. He added that Croatia was reluctantly cooperating and Bosnia’s cooperation had yet to be tested. The Tribunal wants the leaders — primarily Karadzic and Mladic — first. Cassese believes that if they aren’t handed over now, they may be as they are gradually marginalized by new leaders after the September elections.
The UNHCR said it is getting next to nowhere with its main task in Bosnia of helping hundreds of thousands of refugees to retun to their homes. It blamed authorities on all sides for obstructing the freedom of movement which was guaranteed by the Dayton accord. The UNHCR wants “a lot more pressure and a lot more effort by everyone [or] this will be a partitioned country.” General Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said NATO does not want to get into the process of helping refugees return home.
Meanwhile, Slovenia will begin returning the 15,000 Bosnian refugees within its border. The repatriation will take about a year.
The Muslims and Bosnian Croats agreed to end their acrimonious dispute over the nature of the federal police force by disbanding half of their respective forces, merging the rest, and issuing them neutral gray uniforms. Germany had threatened the two sides with sanctions if they did not reach and stick to agreements to bolster their shaky federation.
Meanwhile, the Bosnian Croats are resisting military integration, citing security concerns. The government claims that officers on active duty would be barred from elected office or from holding high positions in political parties. However, President Izetbegovic’s Party for Democratic Action (SDA) has been consolidating its hold over the military. Its governing bodies at all levels contain officers, and two generals serve on the top SDA steering committee.
Greece officially recognized each of the Yugoslav successor states. (However, it still refers to Macedonia as the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”.) Norway also officially recognized Yugoslavia. Japan is expected to normalize relations within the year.
26 Apr 96
The Yugoslav government is trying to marginalize National Bank Governor Avramovic. He has been replaced as chief negotiator with the IMF by Finance Minister Zebic.
Note: This might not be a disaster, but it certainly isn’t good news for Yugoslavia. Avramovic was the chief architect of the programs that curbed Yugoslavia’s hyper-inflation. The inflation peaked at an annualized rate of 320,000,000,000,000% (quadrillion) in early 1994. By comparison, Germany, the previous record holder, had a rate of 30,000% in the late 1920’s.
Ethnic Albanian activists distributed leaflets calling for more mass demonstrations in Kosovo. The appeal is not supported by any of the shadow-state’s political parties, which have asked on the population to remain calm. The shadow-state government may lose control over more radical activists. Serbian police have arrested more than 100 Albanians since last weekend.
27 Apr 96
One Albanian child was killed and three injured by a bomb thrown from a passing car in Kosovo. The children were tending their sheep.
A Serbian court in found three Serbs guilty of war crimes. Two soldiers recieved 10 and 15 years for murdering four Croats in 1993; another recieved 3.5 years for stirring up ethnic and religious hatred.
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