Books on Bosnia & Herzegovina
Update No: 106 - (23/03/06)
There is only one subject that matters in Bosnia right now.
Everyone is looking back to the horrors of the past.
Death of the Butcher of Belgrade
The death of Slobodan Milosevic, cheating international justice at The Hague,
must be a poignant moment for every Bosnian, in one way or another, depending of
course on their ethnicity. He was certainly in cahoots with the two major
villains of the Bosnian War of 1992-95, if not the initiator of the whole gory
story with his inflammatory speeches in favour of a Greater Serbia, and
providing al the weaponry and support the Federal Yugoslav army could give their
fellow Serbs in Bosnia..
Bosnia is still divided along ethnic lines a decade after the war ended. Dragan
Cavic, president of the Bosnian Serb-run half of the country, said "a
historic person has left the scene, a person who was disputed, criticized and
Sulejman Tihic, the Bosnian Muslim member of the country's three-person
presidency, said Milosevic "will be remembered as a negative historic
person, the most responsible for the bloody break up of Yugoslavia and suffering
of its peoples, including the Serb people."
UN Crime Tribunal may release documents on Milosevic
The death of Milosevic could yet have a cathartic impact. The UN International
Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is considering the release of
confidential materials and documents from the case against Milosevic to
facilitate the inquiry by the Dutch authorities into his death.
The Tribunal on March 14th formally closed the proceedings against the former
Serbian leader, the main suspect in the genocide of Muslims in Kosovo, but is
conducting its own internal probe into his death.
Milosevic was facing 66 counts in connection with numerous crimes committed in
Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1991 to 1999 when he was found
dead in his cell on March 11th.
In a separate development, tribunal judges on March 1st convicted Enver
Hadzihasanovic and Amir Kubura, both high level commanders in the Army of Bosnia
and Herzegovina, sentencing them to five years and two-and-a-half years,
respectively, for crimes committed in central Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993 and
the beginning of 1994.
It is worth considering the views of a diplomatic figure, well versed in Balkan
affairs, on the subject:-
Justice is robbed by Milosevic's death
By Dan Simpson, a retired diplomat, a member of the editorial boards of The
Blade and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The death of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic while in the custody
of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague
brings to an end his role in the drama of the Balkans over the past 19 years,
including the war crimes trials.
But his death with his trial incomplete also leaves a number of issues
unresolved and certain questions unanswered. Perhaps the most important was
whether it made more sense for Milosevic to be tried before an international,
United Nations tribunal, as opposed to by a Serbian court, in Serbia.
The same question can be asked with respect to the ongoing trial of former
president Saddam Hussein of Iraq, currently under way in US-occupied Iraq. What
was taking place in The Hague, and the way it ended, is relevant to the Saddam
Hussein trial in Baghdad, although the circumstances are different.
Probably the main reason that the international community insisted on Serbia
turning over Milosevic to an international court was that the international
community did not have confidence that Serbia would give him a fair or a tough
enough trial. The same reasoning applied in the cases of others accused from
Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Such trials would also have been, by
their nature, tense affairs, given the sympathizers of their causes still active
and at large in those countries. The Belgrade, Zagreb, and Sarajevo governments
may have been just as happy to see those people carted off to The Hague.
But what was lost by moving the trials to the Dutch capital, to become
accessible to the populations of those countries only through the media, was the
sense that people were seeing justice done. It was also the case that the
catharsis that could have taken place as the trials unrolled, not entirely
unlike a Truth and Reconciliation Conference, was lost.
Instead, Milosevic, in his red, white, and blue tie, and the other accused war
criminals were able to play to the house, to the camera, presenting themselves
as victims of the international community and martyrs to the sacred, holy
nationalist cause of Serbia, Croatia, or whatever.
The most important loss occasioned by holding the trials at The Hague, in my
opinion, was that the enormous amount of money that went into holding them in
the Netherlands could have been poured instead into reviving the sometimes weak
and damaged legal structures of the countries concerned, rebuilding confidence
in their legal systems. That would have been a serious investment, as opposed to
what was instead a vast, questionably useful expenditure in a country that has
adequate money for such things already.
Milosevic himself was both despicable and pathetic. Looking at the history of
the former Yugoslavia, there is no question that he was the lead player in
setting off the mayhem and bloodshed that occurred there in the 1990s.
Although Milosevic sought to present himself at The Hague as a Serbian
nationalist hero, his motives were not as pure as that. His career reveals him
to have been a relatively low-talent bureaucrat with enormous ambitions,
demagogic skill, and no scruples.
The most pathetic - I shy away from the word "sympathetic" -
aspects of Milosevic were his ordinary origins, the fact that both his parents
committed suicide, and the fact that at the end he chose to defend himself
pretty much alone against a relentless international prosecution headed by the
self-righteous international chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte. The supreme
irony was that at the time of the negotiation of the 1995 Dayton Accords,
Milosevic was considered to have been a positive element in reaching the
agreement that brought the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina to an end.
In any case, the world and, more importantly, the people of the Balkans were
robbed of the opportunity to see justice done by convictions of Milosevic for
some or all of the charges against him - genocide, war crimes, crimes against
humanity. The court had more than four years to do its work; it never finished
In the end, Slobodan Milosevic, 64, died in prison. If he had been convicted of
the crimes of which he was accused, he would have died in prison, so the end of
the story was not changed much by whatever happened, only the timing.
For Serbia itself, its people would be wise to take the death of Milosevic as a
conclusive end to the rottenness that they perpetrated in the region in Croatia,
Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo in that miserable decade and now work to move the
country forward on a more propitious path.
But the assumption that Milosevic was the master villain of the whole affair,
largely true, needs to be corrected by another viewpoint. That Franco Tudjman,
the president of Croatia throughout the 1990s, instigated genocidal acts against
the Serbs, is not in dispute.
The Bosnian Muslim leadership, however, is mainly exempted from blame. The
following provides another version, written in a highly partisan manner, to
blatantly omitting the clear Serb provocations leading to the war, and their
awful massacres of civilians, both Croat an dBosniak:-
The Bosnian Jihad
By Vojin Joksimovich
Presidents Bush-41 and Clinton sided with Alija Izetbegovic-led Bosnian
Islamists in the civil and religious conflict in Bosnia in order to mollify the
radical Muslim world and Saudi Arabia in particular. A secular Bosnian Muslim
faction, who had no interest in war with either the Serbs or the Croats, was
completely marginalized by Washington. Izetbegovic publicly stated that he
needed the war to accomplish his objective of an Islamic Republic in Bosnia
(creation of what some call "mujoland" in the heart of Europe). The
Iran-led pan-Islamic coalition lavishly financed by Saudi Arabia and other
petrodollar countries launched the Bosnian jihad. Al Qaeda and other terrorist
organizations, like the Algerian Group Islamic Armee (GIA) and Egyptian Gamm'a
al-Islamiyya, infiltrated the jihad. While Iranians are predominantly Shiites
and the Iranian Islamists are anti-American and anti-Jewish they were allowed to
lead the pan-Islamic coalition in an attempt to forge unity of the Muslim world.
Alija Izetbegovic, the 1994 winner of the King Faisal Award and 2001 Figure of
the Year in the Islamic World, spent most of his life dreaming of a Muslim-led
independent Bosnia-Herzegovina. His US supporters and admirers such as former
President Clinton, Clinton's Balkans envoy, Richard Holbrooke, former Secretary
of State, Madeleine Albright, former US Ambassador to Belgrade, Warren
Zimmermann, and various handmaidens in the media--characterized him as a devout
Muslim but committed to a multi-ethnic and democratic Bosnia. They claimed that
Serbs and Croats only painted him as an Islamic supremacist and that this was
not the case. Izetbegovic's two prison terms, his writings in Islamic
Declaration (inspired by famous jihadist ideologue Sayyid Qutb's writings) and
close relationships with the Islamists defeat that argument. Nonetheless, the
petrodollars turned lies into the truth.
Nebojsa Malic, an antiwar.com columnist, concluded: "Izetbegovic's vision
of Bosnia was not a multi-ethnic democracy, but a multi-caste hierarchy of the
kind that existed under the Ottoman Empire, the memories of which were still
fresh at his birth in 1925." Jonathan Eyal, director of the London-based
Royal United Services Institute, stated that Izetbegovic was not only
responsible for atrocities committed by the Bosnian Muslims, Iranian and Arab
mujahideen but also for the declaration of independence when it was abundantly
clear that it was leading to war, for gambling with the destiny of his people,
and for the corrupt, single party state he was attempting to establish with rule
The Western governments and the compliant media demonised the Serbs and
attributed almost every atrocity committed to the Serbs. In November 1998 The
Times of London published a letter quoting General Sir Michael Rose, Former UN
Military Commander in Bosnia: "We were escorted by a woman from the US
Embassy as we flew towards Tuzla. She pointed at all the destroyed villages and
exclaimed excitedly 'Look at what the criminal Serbs have done.' In fact they
were Bosnian Croat villages ethnically cleansed by the Muslims…Later (we)
visited Mostar where the Croats had virtually destroyed the Muslim sector. The
US official cried: 'Well at least this was done by the criminal Serbs.' The
woman burst into tears when it was pointed out that the Croats had been to
Bin Laden's Master Plan
The Clinton administration fuelled the rise of Osama bin Laden from an
ordinary man to Hydra-like monster. Al Qaeda operated with impunity in Bosnia.
Bin Laden's master plan was to establish a hub in Europe against al Qaeda's true
enemy, the US Without the Bosnian jihad it is difficult to imagine 9/11. Who's
who in al Qaeda were directly involved in the Bosnian war including bin Laden
himself, Al-Zawahiri, masterminds of the 9/11 and Madrid bombings, recruiters of
the pivotal Hamburg cell, members of the supporting Madrid cell, five 9/11
hijackers, etc. All in all 9/11 and Madrid bombing capabilities were then
established. The Clinton administration transported al Qaeda's mujahideen from
Central Asia to Bosnia; encouraged the Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto,
to send a unit to Bosnia, which included British Pakistani involved in the 7/7
London bombings; gave a green light for transportation of Iranian arms to
Bosnia; recruited mujahideen to fight the Serbs in Kosovo, etc. Omar Sheikh, a
British Pakistani convicted of kidnapping the Wall Street journalist Daniel
Pearl, was lured into the Bosnian jihad.
Had the US decided to remain neutral, the war could have been prevented as
the EC (EU predecessor) brokered a deal with all three parties. However, acting
upon advice from the US and the Islamic world Alija Izetbegovic reneged on the
agreement. The ensuing civil and religious war killed some 100,000 people (not
200,000 or 250,000 as commonly reported by the media and the State Department
for over 10 years). Two independent studies have arrived at a figure of 100,000
including the one by the International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). In
addition, Bosnia would not have become al Qaeda's staging ground leading to
Had the Clinton Administration not rejected four peace proposals, including the
Vance-Owen plan, the 42-months war would have ended much sooner.
Clinton Administration Legacy
As a part of the Dayton Accords, the US recognized that the mujahideen
represented a threat to NATO troops and demanded withdrawal within 30 days.
About 3,500 of them stayed, some having no option to return to their native
countries, they married local women, became Bosnian citizens, and obtained
Bosnian passports. In 2002, six of them were flown to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,
after it was discovered they were plotting to blow up the US Embassy in
Sarajevo. In November 2005, cooperation by law enforcement officials in four
European countries and the US stopped a terrorist cell of 14 Muslims, spanning
from Bosnia to Britain, who were planning a suicide attack in Europe or America.
The Sarajevo police confiscated a suicide bomber belt and a video of masked men
begging for God's forgiveness for the sacrifice they were about to commit. The
tape, showed on Bosnian TV, was made 20 hours before the raid. The probe began
October 19 with a bust in Sarajevo that netted explosives, rifles, other arms
and a videotape pledging vengeance for the "brothers" killed fighting
Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq. One of those arrested ran a Web site on
behalf of Abu Musab Zarqawi who heads the insurgent group al Qaeda in Iraq.
Ten years after the Dayton Accords and billions of dollars spent or
misspent, Bosnia remains a desperately poor place suspended somewhere between
war and peace. The economy has continued to be on international life support.
The peace has been kept but the nation was not built. The Serbs want to be a
part of Serbia, the Croats part of Croatia while the Bosnian Muslims want to
dominate the Christians either with assistance from the West or the Islamic
world. The present state of affairs is unsustainable. The EU has recently added
the carrot of possible membership by announcing negotiations of a Stabilization
and Association agreement deemed as the first step towards the EU membership.
NATO membership is also mentioned.
On the 10th anniversary of Dayton, the State Department summoned presidents of
all three parties to Washington to celebrate US diplomatic achievements in the
field of nation building. In addition they were coerced to negotiate on ways to
make the country unified. Assistant Secretary of State, Nicholas Burns,
explained: "Simply put, the Dayton Accords need to be modernized. They
served Bosnia well over the last decade, but they were never meant to be
immutable or set in stone." It was also built up as a slogan, "from
Dayton to Brussels." Needless to say all three parties pursued their own
interests. For Muslims that meant abolition of Republika Srpska in order to
establish domination over the Christians. The UShowever, did not clobber the
Serbs as the Muslims expected. In disappointment, Tihic, the Muslim
representative, accused Burns of being a liar. In the end, the parties signed a
commitment to pursue constitutional reform so that Dayton-plus Bosnia will have
one president, a strong prime minister and a parliament.
Croatia and Bosnia to organise trade conference
Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina will organise a conference to promote economic
cooperation between the two countries while an intergovernmental ministerial
task force will try to resolve all outstanding issues, Croatian Prime Minister,
Ivo Sanader, announced in Zagreb after meeting the Chairman of the Council of
Ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Adnan Terzic, Hina News Agency reported.
The conference will take place in the Bosnian coastal town of Neum and a date
will be set later. The outstanding issues such as the use of the Croatian port
of Ploce by Bosnian companies, the construction of the Peljesac bridge and the
border will be addressed by an interdepartmental task force at ministerial
level, which is to be formed in the near future, Sanader said at a press
conference. Congratulating Bosnia-Herzegovina on opening talks on a
Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union, Sanader said
Croatia would provide full support to its neighbour on the road to EU
membership. The two officials were pleased with the conclusion of an agreement
on dual citizenship.
EIB approves an 86m Euro loan for railways
The European Investment Bank has granted an 86 million Euro loan to Bosnia and
Herzegovina to rehabilitate and modernise both the North-South and the East-West
railway routes, ANSAmed reported.
The 20-year loan, carrying a five-year grace period and representing some 50 per
cent of the total finance, will contribute to overhauling the track and
reconstructing bridges, tunnels, and stations. Furthermore, the signalling
systems, the electrification and the telecommunications will be updated to
enhance safety and increase the speed on these key lines. In total some 172 km
will be upgraded. The project includes the preparation of detailed design
studies, construction works supervision, management consulting activities and,
if needed, land acquisition. The design work is to start in 2006, while the
construction works are planned for the period 2008-2011. The project will
redevelop the existing heavy industry by making available efficient and
environmentally friendlier transport of heavy goods between national industrial
centres, and across borders for export.
World Bank invests US$100 million in 2006
To encourage crucial structural reforms in Bosnia, the World Bank will provide
US$100 million this year for three projects to improve the economic situation in
the public and social sector, ANSAmed reported.
Dirk Reinermann, the bank's representative in Bosnia, made the announcement.
Further to the initiative, the World Bank and Bosnian authorities are preparing
a series of investment projects relating to infrastructure, land and
Microsoft opens office in Bosnia
US software giant Microsoft will open an office in Bosnia, saying it hopes to
reduce the illegal use of software there, ANSAmed reported.
Microsoft manager for southeastern Europe, Goran Radman, said that "some 70
per cent of software market in Bosnia-Herzegovina is illegal," adding that
the average European rate was 30 per cent. The company planned to slash by half
software piracy in Bosnia within the next five years, he said. Since November
last year, Microsoft has run a campaign in Bosnia offering its products at a 40
per cent discount.
MINERALS & METALS
Bosnia's Mittal Steel plans to double output
Bosnia's largest steel maker, Mittal Steel Zenica, aims to nearly double output
this year to 630,000 tonnes from 340,000 in 2005, an official said recently. In
2004 output by the unit of Mittal Steel, the world's biggest steel maker, owned
by Indian-born steel magnate Laksmi Mittal, was about 110,000 tonnes,
development director, Aziz Mujezinovic, said, New Europe reported.
He said the company had initially planned to produce 800,000 tonnes in 2005 but
had to revise its plans as the trial of a new 100-tonne electric arc furnace
installed that year took longer than expected. Its annual production capacity is
800,000 tonnes, he added. Mittal Steel, which raised its stake in the Zenica
plant to 92 per cent from 51 per cent for US$98 million last month, plans to
export 450,000 tonnes of products including forgings, bars and rods to the
countries of the former Yugoslavia and the European Union. Mujezinovic also said
the new owner would invest some 100 million Euro (US$120.9 million) in 2006 to
restart integral production which will enable total output of about two million
tonnes of steel a year.