Thursday, January 24, 2008

"How Bosnia Armed" by Attila Marko Hoare [3]

I repeat my recommendation of this excellent, well-researched, and readable account on the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This book is of interest to anyone curious to understand more about the Bosnian war; it should be noted that while the topic requires Hoare to cover certain military incidents and trends, it is not a military history of the war, but rather a study of the development of the ARBiH. Unfortunately, while the military story ends somewhat positively (against the odds, the ARBiH managed to prevent the absolute destruction of the country), the institutional story is much less ambiguous, and much more discouraging.

The ARBiH became a more effective fighting force in the final two years of the war, but it also abandoned its (admittedly always somewhat nominal) commitment to a multicultural, secular Bosnia. The army became an explicitly Muslim nationalist armed force. While that might not be a surprise to any reader familiar with the inevitable breakdown of interethnic cooperation in a vicious ethnic war; the point that Attila Hoare brings to light is how much of this process was a deliberate policy on the part of the leadership. He details how the control over the army by the civilian government was usurped by the SDA leadership; the army became a party army directly controlled by Izetbegovic and his party. The government was out of the loop, and the army's leadership instituted policies in line with SDA ideology.

Attila Hoare traces this depressing development adeptly. The breakdown in relations between ARBiH leaders and various non-Bosniak factions within the army and the government are painful to read; nor does the author shy away from detailing episodes of gross human rights violations by ARBiH units. The stubborn refusal to accept cooperation from friendly HVO factions after the outbreak of war between Herzegovina separatists and government forces defies understanding. And most depressing of all is Attila Hoare's contention that Izetbegovic and the SDA were, in the final two years at least, fighting for a Muslim ministate (or "parastate" in his apt phrasing, which he applies throughout the book to Herceg-Bosna and Republika Srpska as well) of their own, even while publicly maintaining a commitment to a unified, secular Bosnia. Ultimately, Bosnia was betrayed by their political leaders just as it was betrayed by an indifferent international community.

This does not suggest to me that intervention would have been less justified; if anything this breakdown in commitment to a unified Bosnia by the ruling party (as opposed to it citizens) only illustrates how in such situations the international community needs to intervene early rather than to wait for the situation to deteriorate.

Attila Hoare's brief Appendix on Osama bin Ladin and Al Qaeda is worthy reading, acknowledging the controversy over the mujahedin in Bosnia and then dismissing most of said controversy as overblown. This most likely will not have much effect on Bosnian revisionists keen to believe that the Bosnian government was an Islamist front bringing jihad to the Balkans. I'm quite certain he knows that mere facts are not enough to dissuade the likes of Diana Johnstone and Jared Israel; most likely he believes they are simply not worth the bother.

Again: I highly recommend this book.


Anonymous said...

I e-mailed Marko and told him you are reviewing his book. I would like to thank you for continuing this excellent blog. If I could rate this blog from 1-5, I would rate it with 100, because it's in the ranks of "the best of the best!"

ARBiH was in a very difficult situation due to the "Arms Embargo" placed by the United Nations. Let us not forget that the United States Congress voted to lift the arms embargo, but Bill Clinton vetoed it.

On May 30, 1992, the United States imposed an arms embargo on the former Yugoslavia. As President, Bill Clinton promised when he was a candidate, he would lift the unfair United Nations arms embargo against Bosnia. But once in office, Bill Clinton completely changed his mind. He broke that pledge, broke that promise, and opposed lifting the arms embargo.

The Congress, however, voted to lift the arms embargo and sent the President a bill. It was not quite unanimous, but it was hugely bipartisan. Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate sent the President a bill to help the Government of Bosnia-Herzegovina defend the country. The President Clinton vetoed that bill. He said nobody, not Turkey, not Saudi Arabia, none of our friends, least of all the United States of America, could help arm the Bosniaks.

Richard (nickname) said...

DARKO TRIFUNOVIC - self-proclaimed "terrorism expert", identity thief, and discredited Srebrenica genocide denier

By: Dr. Richard Johnstone

On March 12 2002, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia & Herzegovina (comprised of Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats) fired Darko Trifunovic from B&H diplomatic services due to his involvement in document forgery.

Only after expulsion from the diplomatic service of Bosnia & Herzegovina, Darko Trifunovic became self proclaimed "expert on terrorism" writing mostly against Bosnia and Herzegovina and labeling anybody who criticized him as "Al Qaeda terrorist."

As an experienced document forgerer and identity thief, he offered his services to defense teams of various indicted Serb war criminals at the International Criminal Tribunal (ICTY). In 2001, he stated for B92 he even had evidence that indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic (who on numerous occasions threatened the total destruction of Bosniak Muslim population of Bosnia-Herzegovina) obeyed Geneva Convention. It would not be surprising to learn that Darko Trifunovic forged and submitted those kinds of documents for defense teams of many indicted Serb war criminals.

Here is an archived press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, quote:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted the decision on suspension of Darko Trifunović, who has worked at the MFA BiH since 2 April 2001, performing diplomatic function - the First Secretary at BiH Mission to UN. In accordance with the rules of service, Trifunović will be deprived from BiH diplomatic passport and he will be unable to obtain a travel document for his return to BiH, since it is about the man who falsified BiH citizenship.

Following the conclusion of BiH Council of Ministers to review citizenship of all employees in state service bodies, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of BiH asked from the Ministry of Civil Affairs and Communications of BiH to review the way in which Trifunović gained BiH citizenship in 1996.

By the review, it was established that Trifunović cancelled his registration on 27 March 1996 from the register of residence in Belgrade, where he was born, and on the same date he registered in Brčko. According to the fictive residence, he obtained ID card of BiH on the same date.

Since the procedure of the issuance of ID card was illegal, Police Service in Brčko District cancelled residence and BiH ID card, Decision dated 25 February 2002.

On the basis of these facts, Ministry of Civil Affairs and Communications of BiH, in accordance with legal procedure deprived Trifunović from BiH citizenship. Results of several months' investigation as well as documentation that prove the conclusions will be submitted to the competent prosecutor's office that will adopt decision on possible criminal charge and judicial prosecution against Darko Trifunović.

After a multi-ethnic and multi-religious group of Muslim, Christian and Jewish journalists from Magazine criticized Darko Trifunovic for Srebrenica Genocide denial, he sent them threatening messages and labeled them as terrorists. For Srebrenica genocide victims, he stated: "I wish Mladic killed them all." Soon after, was brought down due to hack attack (known as Denial of Service attack) from sympathizers of Darko Trifunovic's extremist ideology. Darko Trifunovic blamed Muslim, Christian and Jewish reporters for fabricating E-mail against him, however, as influential Srebrenica Genocide Blog reported, quote:

Contrary to Darko Trifunovic's claims published at "Serbian Unity Congress" website in which he alleges that information against him was "fabricated," the fact of the matter is that he was the author of an E-mail in which he stated: "I wish Mladic killed them all." We got in touch with contributing authors Haris Djapic and Alan Jusufovic and asked them to provide "Full Header" copy of Darko Trifunovic's E-mail. Then we compared IP# of that E-mail with IP# of several other E-mails in which Darko Trifunovic threatened to the New York based magazine. The IP# was the same. Due to confidentiality reasons, we will not release IP#; however, we have forwarded this information to and requested inclusion of this information into FBI investigation of recent threatening E-mails coming from Darko Trifunovic (his E-mail is publicly listed at the Serbian Unity Congress web site).

The public should exercise caution in dealing with Darko Trifunovic, his extremist supporters and his published writings. Darko Trifunovic has been discredited by respected journalistic agencies in the past. According to the "Freedom of Speech in South East Europe: Media Independence and Self-Regulation" (ISBN 978-954-9396-05-8) published by the South East European Network for Professionalization of Media, quote:

An exemplary manipulation article can also be found on p. 2 on March 9 entitled ‘Abuse of religion and faith’ by D. Majstorovic. It reports that Darko Trifunovic, portrayed as “leading Serb expert for international terrorism” from the Belgrade Security Faculty, in one of his recent “lectures beforemembers of the US Congress” stated that radical Islamists from all over the world, who have been assigned in all almost all European states upon order of the terrorist network Al Q’Aida, abuse religious facilities and use them for spreading their fundamentalist-like ideas. Reportedly, Trifunovic also “warned that Kosovo and Metohija and BiH are unfortunately brimming with persons likeTalovic (Sulejman, 19-year old from BiH who killed 5 people at Salt Lake City recently) and Bektasevic (Mirsad, sentenced to 20 years prison term for planning terrorist attacks in BiH), mostly thanks to people from the top authority, who at some point inthe past brought the most brutal terrorists of the present timeto these regions. Hereby he refers to “Haris Silajdzic”, aprominent Bosniak politician.

Although attributed to an “expert” thus fulfilling the formal requirements of the Press Code, these absolutely wild speculations presented as “serious” information are an insult to logic first, Bosniaks second. (Sulejman Talovic was Bosnian American, but his crime was much the same as earlier Columbine crimes, or a subsequent massacre by a Korean American – work of teen angst. Confounding him, a wannabe terrorist Bektasevic, and bringing them in context with a legaland legitimate political representative is a sign of uttermalevolence and lack of elementary ethics).

Thank You!

Richard Johnstone

Kirk Johnson said...

I need to write a post of my own on the Trifunovic case. Thank you, Richard.

And Daniel, thanks as always for your kind words and your knowledgable insights.