Srebrenica: «War in the Balkans» – the Memoirs of a Portugese Peacekeeper I&II By Stephen Karganovic

July 16, 2017

 

The the tragic events in Srebrenica in July of 1995 are actual and in headlines today and probably during coming years too. The cause from my perspective may be related to four aspects

1st the ICTY process is focusing now to main political figures – Karadzig and Mladic – of Bosnian War and evidences from sides of prosecutor and defence are the core content of trial

2nd every year Srebrenica will be remaind as theatrical funerals of Bosnian Muslims – presumable victims – are taking place.

3rd Bosnia-Herzegovina as an artifical creature is searching some national identity, however ethnic tensions are rather increasing than opposite and politics is more going towards dissolution than unity.

4th Srebrenica is an example of intervention, or R2P context as well modern media war used more or less successfully in conflicts around the world during last decades.

Below is in-depth two-part review of a recently published book on the Balkan conflict by Portuguese General Carlos Martins Branco.  The review is created by Stephen Karganovic, the President of the Srebrenica Historical Project.  According Karganovic General Martins Branco is a major actor in the Srebrenica story, but thus far has been rather less familiar to the general public than he deserves to be. The general’s belated but frank memoirs and reflections on Srebrenica remove all doubt about his integrity, but we are all human after all. It is a well known phenomenon that many officials have felt more comfortable speaking out openly only after their retirement.

Karganovic concludes following:

Suffice it to say that as Deputy Head of the UN Observer Mission in the Balkans, General Martins Branco was ideally positioned to see many things that were hidden from public view and, more importantly, to receive field intelligence of a confidential nature on the most delicate matters. His extensive out-of-the-box analysis of Srebrenica is the result and it is also testimony to his personal integrity.

 

Srebrenica Historical Project

( http://www.srebrenica-project.com/ )

An excerpt from project’s mission statement:

Our broad purpose is to collect information on Srebrenica during the last conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, defined not as July 1995, but more broadly as 1992 to 1995. That means that we shall be creating a comprehensive and contextual, as opposed to a selective, record of the violence between the communities in that area during the conflict. We shall focus also on crimes committed against the Serb civilians not because we favor them but because so far they have been ignored. We wish to redress that balance, but we will not work under any ideological limitations. A corollary goal will be to launch something along the lines of the South African Truth and Reconciliation commission, with emphasis on truth as logically coming before and as a precondition to reconciliation. That is another reason we wish to do a great deal of empirical work on the neglected crimes against the Serbian population. We shall then proceed to explore reconciliations strategies. The fundamental objective of our project is to rise above politics and propaganda and to create a contextual record of the Srebrenica tragedy of July 1995 which can serve as a corrective to the distortions of the last decade and a half and as a genuine contribution to future peace.

Stephen Karganovic is the President of the Srebrenica Historical Project


«War in the Balkans» – the Memoirs of a Portugese Peacekeeper (I) by Stephen Karganovic

General Carlos Martins Branco is one of the most fascinating (and until quite recently also inaccessible) actors in the Srebrenica controversy. From his Zagreb vantage point as deputy head of the U.N. Protection Force (UNPROFOR) between 1994 and 1996, during the latter phase of the 1990s Yugoslav conflict as it unfolded in Croatia and Bosnian and Herzegovina, this Portuguese officer had privileged access to significant information. Confidential reports about the goings on in the field were crossing his desk. With first-hand information and further enlightened by discrete conversations with colleagues from various intelligence structures, Martins Branco was positioned ideally to learn facts which many officials would have preferred to cover up, and the media frequently ignored.

With a typically Latin emotional flair, refusing to remain silent as the «Srebrenica genocide narrative» was taking shape in the second half of the 1990s, Martins Branco published in 1998 an article provocatively entitled «Was Srebrenica a Hoax? Eyewitness Account of a Former UN Military Observer in Bosnia» In that early plunge into the toxic Srebrenica debate, Martins Branco ventured a number of critical questions concerning the notorious events in July 1995:

«One may agree or disagree with my political analysis, but one really ought to read the account of how Srebrenica fell, who are the victims whose bodies have been found so far, and why the author believes that the Serbs wanted to conquer Srebrenica and make the Bosnian Muslims flee, rather than having any intentions of butchering them. The comparison Srebrenica vs. Krajina, as well as the related media reaction by the ‘free press’ in the West, is also rather instructive».

Shortly after that expression of skepticism about the nature of the disputed events in Srebrenica, Martins Branco practically disappeared from view. Not physically, of course. He spent several years in Florence teaching at the European University Institute and preparing his doctoral dissertation. After that, in 2007 and 2008 he was attached by his government to NATO forces in Afghanistan in the capacity of media spokesperson for the Commander. From 2008 until recently, when he retired, General Martins Branco served as deputy director of the National Defense Institute of the Portuguese armed forces.

This impressive background, to which we may add the duty of head of the Intelligence Affairs Section of EUROFOR for Bosnia, Albania, and Kosovo from 1996 to 1999, bespeaks an elite and highly trained staff officer, with first-class intelligence capabilities and powers of observation.

Intrigued by Martins Branco’s out-of-the-box analysis of Srebrenica events, shortly after the founding of our NGO «Srebrenica Historical Project» we attempted to establish communication with him to see if he would share with us some of his exceptional information and insights. Our efforts were fruitless and correspondence with the general over the years came down mostly to an exchange of non-committal courtesies. Defense teams at the ICTY in the Hague, which endeavored to obtain him as a witness on their clients’ behalf, had no better luck. However, not very long ago General Martins Branco wrote to us seeking answers to some questions concerning Srebrenica. He mentioned that in November 2016 his memoirs were published in Portugal. That volume, which he kindly made available to us, encompassed the period of his service in the Balkans. It was entitled «A Guerra nos Balcãs, jihadismo, geopolítica e desinformação» [War in the Balkans, Jihadism, Geopolitics, and Disinformation], published by Edições Colibri in Lisbon.

As already seen numerous times with high-level officials, in this case as well open expression of intimate views and public disclosure of facts regarded of a delicate nature had to wait for retirement. In General Martins  Branco’s case, the wait was worthwhile. These fascinating recollections from the Balkan war theater consist of the insights of a Portuguese officer attached to UN forces into such episodes as the merciless expulsion, accompanied by mass killing, of the Serbian population of Krajina by Croatian forces. These outrages were orchestrated with the discrete backing of the NATO alliance, for which the author indirectly happened to be working at the time. Events surrounding Srebrenica in July 0f 1995 encompass another portion of his recollections. For the moment, we will focus on the latter and Martins Branco’s perception of the background and impact of the Srebrenica situation.

Already in his introduction to the chapters of his memoirs that deal with Srebrenica, Martins Branco questions the coherence of the prevalent view that it constituted genocide:

«General Ratko Mladic had made it known that he was leaving open a corridor for withdrawal toward Tuzla. With Mladic’s approval, about 6.000 persons took advantage of that opportunity. In a report by the Dutch Foreign Ministry it is noted that, according to UN sources, by August 4 a total of 35.632 displaced persons had made it to Tuzla, of whom between 800 and 1.000 were members of Bosnia and Herzegovina armed forces. Out of that total, 17.500 had been evacuated by bus». (Page 195)

The Portuguese general then continues:

«Srebrenica was portrayed – and continues to be – as a premeditated massacre of innocent Muslim civilians. As a genocide! But was it really so? A more careful and informed assessment of those events leads me to doubt it». (Page 196)

Martins Branco goes on to raise some pointed questions, and he does so purely in the capacity of a professional soldier:

«There are various estimates of the relative strength of forces involved in the Srebrenica battle. On the Serbian side, at most 3.000 fighters could have taken part. The number of armored vehicles is more difficult to determine, as stated at the beginning of this chapter. According to field reports, however, not more than six such vehicles were in motion at any given time. Though we lack reliable information about troop strength on the Muslim side, it is entirely probable that they numbered a minimum of 4.000 armed men, counting together Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina soldiers and members of the paramilitaries. According to some sources, they numbered up to 6.000. But for the purposes of this analysis, we will consider the 4.000 figure as credible». (Page 196)

The general then goes on:

«The topographical features of the terrain around Srebrenica, and Eastern Bosnia as a whole, are extremely rugged and hilly.  Crags, thickly forested areas, and deep ravines impede the movement of military vehicles while facilitating infantry operations. In relation to ground features, which beyond any doubt favor defenders, the numerical relationship of forces on the opposing sides suggests that Bosnian army troops had at their disposal more than sufficient manpower to put up a defense. They, however, failed to do that. Taking into account the numerical ratio of attackers to defenders, as we were taught at the military academy, for the attack to have any chance of success the number of attackers would have to exceed that of the defenders by a factor of at least three. In the case at hand, that ratio was more than advantageous to the defenders (4.000 defenders versus 3.000 attackers). In addition, the defenders had the additional benefit of knowing the landscape». (Page 196)

Martins Branco than asks one of the key Srebrenica questions:

«Given that military advantage favored the defense, why did the Bosnian army fail to put up any resistance to Serbian forces? Why did the command of the 28th Division of the Bosnian army – acting apparently contrary to its interest – fail to establish a defense line, as at other times it knew well how to do, as for instance during the April 1993 crisis? Why did Muslim forces in the enclave fail to act to regain control over their heavy weapons, which had been deposited in a local warehouse under UN’s lock and key? Was it no more than an oversight?» (Page 197)

As a supplement to these well-formulated questions, we may note that already on July 6, as the Serbian attack was commencing, the Dutch battalion command in Srebrenica let it be known to the 28th Division that it was free to retrieve its warehoused heavy armaments, if it so wished. That fact was revealed in the Dutch battalion «Debriefing», which came out in October of 1995. However, Muslim forces in Srebrenica inexplicably ignored this invitation, thus reinforcing the impression that – for political or other reasons – they lacked the purpose of militarily resisting the Serbian attack.

Which leads the author to the following reflections:

«Twenty years later, we still lack satisfactory answers to questions that seem crucial, assuming that we are seeking to find out what exactly happened. The passivity and absence of a military reaction on the part of Muslim forces in the enclave is in stark contrast to their offensive behavior during the preceding two years, which was manifested in the form of systematic slaughter of Serbian civilians in the villages surrounding Srebrenica». (Page 197)

The author then discloses an intriguing detail that was previously unknown even to this reviewer:

«Ramiz Becirevic [in command of the 28th Division in Naser Oric’s absence] initially issued an order for the heavy weapons to be collected. However, he cancelled it shortly thereafter, explaining that he had received a countermanding order. Who was the source of that order, and for what reason was it given? For the record, let it be noted that in the morning of July 6, as the Serbian attack was starting, acting on his own responsibility, the Dutchbat commander informed the leadership of the Bosnian army that the Serbs had ‘trespassed’ the enclave’s boundaries and that the UN would not be object should they come to retrieve their heavy weaponry that had been deposited in a local warehouse». (Page 197)

Pressing further his point about the enigmatic dissipation within the Srebrenica enclave of the will to resist, Martins Branco points out that Naser Oric, «the charismaticleader who very likely would have acted differently», was withdrawn from the enclave in April of 1995, never to return. He therefore goes on to ask some common sense questions:

«Was [Oric’s] return prevented by the Second Corps of the Bosnian army, of which 28th Division was part? What could have been the reasons for that? We still lack convincing answers to these questions». (Page 198)

«On the other hand», the Portuguese author continues with his detailed analysis of the suspicious train of events, «officials of the local SDA, the Party of Democratic Action that was in charge in Sarajevo, not only refused, citing strange reasons, to assist UN forces in evacuating Srebrenica, which is to say their own population and refugees from the surrounding villages who had taken shelter in the town, but they went even further by preventing them from fleeing in the direction of Potocari. Instead, they submitted to the commander of B Company [of the Dutchbat] a long list of demands, the fullment of which was insisted upon as the condition for their cooperation. The nature of these demands suggested the existence of a carefully elaborated advance plan which, however, did not mesh with the conditions that actually prevailed on the ground at that particular moment. At that point, there were only two issues which were of significance to the municipal president: one, the demand to the Military Observers on July 10 to disseminate to the outside world a report alleging the use of chemical weapons by Serbian forces, although that was not true; secondly, to publicly accuse the international media of spreading misinformation that Muslim forces were offering armed resistance, with an additional demand to the UN to also issue an official denial to that effect. According to him, Bosnian soldiers neither used heavy weapons, nor were they prepared to ever do so. At the same time, he complained about the lack of foodstuffs and the dismal humanitarian situation. The outline of an official narrative was becoming perceptible and it consisted of two messages: the absence of any military resistance and lack of food». (Page 198)

To put it in plain English, this elite NATO officer with excellent powers of observation and acumen for critical analysis «smelled a rat,» and he did so right from the beginning of the game. He does not say it outright in his memoirs, but it is strongly suggested that these doubts about the authenticity of the official Srebrenica narrative were proliferating in his mind in real time, as field reports accumulated on his desk in Zagreb.

Martins Branco then pops the logical question or, rather, he points his finger at one of the key incoherencies of the official account of Srebrenica events:

«A question mark could also be put over the complete absence of a military response of any kind by the Second Corps of the Bosnian army, whose zone of responsibility encompassed northeastern Bosnia, including Tuzla (where its headquarters was located), as well as Doboj, Bijeljina, Srebrenica, Zepa, and Zvornik. Bosnian army intelligence agencies, whose ear was constantly fixed on Serbian signal communications, were perfectly aware of the impending offensive operation. In spite of not at all being in the dark concerning the Serbs’ intention to attack, the Second Corps of the Bosnian army did not make the slightest move to weaken the Serbs’ pressure upon the enclave. It was a known fact that the Drina Corps, the Serbian army unit in whose zone of responsibility Srebrenica was located, was exhausted and that the attack on Srebrenica was made feasible only by scraping together forces withdrawn from other segments of the front, which naturally left in its wake many vulnerable points. Why didn’t the Second Corps undertake an attack along the entire front line with the Drina Corps, not merely in order to relieve the pressure on Srebrenica but also to exploit the Serbian forces’ temporary vulnerabilities in order to seize territory in areas that were left unprotected? Following the passage of twenty years, we still do not have the answer to this more than coherent and reasonable question». (Pages 198-199)

These are just some of the more important reasons leading a professional soldier to be skeptical of the general framework of the accepted Srebrenica narrative. As we will see in the next installment of this review, his more detailed analysis raises even more troubling questions.

«War in the Balkans» – the Memoirs of a Portugese Peacekeeper (II) by Stephen Karganovic

See Part I

In his memoir, «War in the Balkans», (1) retired Portuguese general Carlos Martins Branco, who was during the conflict in the Former Yugoslavia in the strategically important post of Deputy Head of Mission of UN Military Observers in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (1994-1996), recounts his knowledge of events that took place around Srebrenica in July of 1995.

In contrast to the fanciful tales of a bevy of dubious «experts», false witnesses, and outright propagandists, General Martins Branco reports facts as they were observed or collected by intelligence and other sources in the field. That information made its way through official channels to his desk in Zagreb, where the headquarters of the UN Observer Mission was located. Martins Branco’s facts and conclusions are hardly susceptible to off-hand dismissal. Excerpts cited below are on pages 201 – 206 of his memoir.

We will begin with the general’s conclusion challenging the received wisdom that Srebrenica was genocide and then work our way back from there:

«Had they entertained the specific intent to commit genocide, the Serbs would have blocked the enclave from all sides so that nobody could have managed to escape. Instead, they attacked from two directions, southeast and east, where they concentrated their assault forces, leaving open corridors for withdrawal toward the north and west (…) nor would they have planned the transportation of seventeen thousand women, children, and elderly, as occurred on July 12 and 13, which made it possible for about half the displaced persons to reach Federation territory. A great number of Srebrenica residents, who did manage to flee, found refuge in Serbia where they spent several years without being bothered by anyone. For the assertion of genocide to hold, it was necessary to conceal some inconvenient facts which were liable to compromise it».

Martins Branco does not deny that «the attack on Srebrenica resulted in many deaths». He notes, however, that «even after twenty years no one has managed to determine their number». (Actually, the Hague Tribunal has been attempting to make that determination but as a result of its lackadaisical efforts we now have, in various verdicts, five drastically varying figures the highest and the lowest separated by a gap of 4.000, all presumably reflecting the judicially ascertained number of executed victims.)

As «Srebrenica Historical Project» has been arguing for years, Martins Branco points out also a very important fact, namely the heterogeneity of the causes of death among the exhumed Srebrenica-related human remains. The author describes the forensic situation in the following terms:

«The causes of the deaths which occurred during and after military operations were various: combat between the two armies facing each other; combat between the Serbian forces and militants taking flight, who were joined by civilians; internecine warfare among fighters of the Bosnian army; and lastly executions of war prisoners».

As for the antecedents of the «magic figure of 8.000 missing (that was an initial Red Cross estimate) which ultimately morphed into an unchallengeable truth», the author says that at a certain point it became a «fact which it was forbidden to question, even before any proof was forthcoming». And he continues: «Woe unto him who would dare to challenge that incontrovertible truth. He will immediately be excommunicated and labeled a ‘genocide denier.’ The fact that 3.000 persons who had been declared missing found their way onto the voting rolls in the September 1996 elections had no impact whatsoever on the incessant repetition of the narrative about 8.000 dead. The media never expressed the slightest curiosity in the face of this and a number of other obvious incoherencies. It was easier to keep relentlessly repeating the genocide theory, which the mass media eagerly promoted. But regardless of the stubborn reassertion of that ‘truth’ it is worth recalling that between a media sound bite and a historical fact there continues to be a huge gap».

«How many prisoners were shot, and how many were killed in battle?», General Martins Branco raises one of the key questions. «We are quite far from having the answers, and I would say that we will have a difficult time ever finding them. It is much easier – and simpler – to talk about genocide».

The Portuguese officer nevertheless ventures to make some estimates of the possible number of war crime victims in Srebrenica in July of 1995:

«The execution by Serbian forces in Srebrenica and the environs of a considerable number of Muslim males – well informed sources cite the figure of 2.000 – among whom the majority were soldiers, was undoubtedly a war crime».

The number mentioned by Martins Branco is significant for a number of independent reasons. Firstly, because the same number of execution victims – 2.000 – is cited by another, no less respectable intelligence source, John Schindler, a high-ranking US intelligence officer who was stationed in Sarajevo contemporaneously with the Srebrenica events. Schindler’s assessment, made from his Sarajevo vantage point, is completely congruent with Martins Branco’s coming out of Zagreb. It was articulated in Ole Flyum’s documentary «Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed». (2) Both assessments match available forensic data to a T. And it should be borne in mind that when things happen to be rather muddled, as they are with Srebrenica, a synthesis of intelligence data deriving from various trustworthy sources should always be paid close attention. It often presents an overall picture that is far more reliable than the reports of isolated individuals, whose field of vision is often limited and who frequently are not even objective.

Finally, the figure jointly suggested by Martins Branco and Schindler, which the available material evidence fully supports, is of interest also for an additional reason. Within the various intelligence communities a rumor has persistently been making rounds alleging the existence of a document – a mysterious letter sent by Alija Izetbegovic to Naser Oric in the Spring of 1995, not long before the commencement of the Srebrenica operation – where it is supposedly reaffirmed that the offer of foreign intervention still stood, as well as the condition that the Bosnian Serb takeover of Srebrenica ought to be accompanied by mass slaughter. The key point in that alleged letter is that the number of victims that would satisfy the interventionist criterion of the interested foreign party would be the already familiar figure of – 2.000.

«However», our author continues, «that was not an act of genocide, as is asserted in many places, mainly by the Tribunal at The Hague, in the form of a political argument». As a civilized person he, of course, entirely agrees that «taking justice into one’s own hands, which is culturally characteristic not just of Serbs but of other communities of the Former Yugoslavia as well, does not justify or mitigate the gravity of the committed act. That was, beyond doubt, a violation of the Geneva Convention».

His main point, nevertheless, would seem to be that things definitively ought to be called by their proper name:

«Terrible war crimes must be punished. Yet these criminal acts cannot and should not be confused with genocide. When war crimes, such as the execution of hundreds of military age males, are conflated with genocide, where it is necessary to establish the intent to systematically eradicate members of an ethnic community, that sends a very frivolous signal. That is particularly evident if we bear in mind the fact that the party committing the crime had made available the means to transport seventeen thousand displaced persons, which is about fifty percent of the entire displaced population».

Martins Branco then turns his attention to another notable «incoherence» in the Srebrenica affair, which is that the «Tribunal has so far condemned but a single direct perpetrator» (in a footnote he clarifies that the reference is to Drazen Erdemovic, a perpetrator defendant-turned-prosecution-witness who was initially rewarded with a laughably insignificant three year sentence for signing a plea bargain agreement, followed by numerous benefits in return for his mechanically repeated and highly disputed testimony).  (3) The Portuguese author stresses that «no one else was ever put in the dock for executing prisoners of war but, rather, based on ‘command responsibility’ or participation in a Joint Criminal Enterprise, which is the Tribunal’s favored doctrine but the application of which in such a conflict situation is highly dubious. How is it possible to claim genocide if, after twenty years, the Tribunal is incapable of determining the number of victims, the cause of death, and who killed them?»

All eminently logical questions. Martins Branco should perhaps also be given credit for this equally astute observation:

«The Tribunal has forgotten to concern itself with crimes committed around Srebrenica between 1992 and 1995 where the victims were Serbs, resulting in the murder of almost two thousand persons (males, females, children, and elderly), in some cases after acts of torture and other atrocities. For the most part this has been carefully documented, and the identity of the perpetrators is known (…) As Richard Holbrooke admitted in his book, ‘the Tribunal had always been a valuable political instrument of US policy». (4) Quite so, indeed.

And when talking about genocide, Martins Branco is not shy to draw a sharp contrast between the situation in Srebrenica in July of 1995 and what transpired in relatively close proximity barely a month later, in August, as Croatian armed forces went into attack mode:

«What happened in Srebrenica cannot and should not be equated to what happened a month later in the Krajina, where the Croatian army conducted an operation of systematic murder of the Serbian population which did not manage to find any shelter, sparing no one. Men, women, children, the elderly – all without distinction were subjected to the same atrocities, and things even worse. That operation was planned down to the last detail and was amply documented. The orders were issued by Tudjman to his generals, at a meeting in Brioni on July 31, 1995, on the eve of Operation Storm. The Tribunal never considered the events in Krajina as a possible genocide. Western media kept a careful distance from those events. Their silence was complicit and deafening».

Concluding his reminiscences, Martins Branco seems to harbor no doubt that Srebrenica was the perfidious fruit of long-term planning and parallel activity of various interested parties. In support of that, he cites evidence from Ibran Mustafic’s book «Planned Chaos», statements of local politician Zlatko Dukic, and revelations by Srebrenica enclave police chief during the conflict, Hakija Meholjic. The author singles out  in particular the intriguing claim of the then chief of staff of the Bosnian army, Sefer Halilovic, that in fact Izetbegovic had made the decision to «discard» Srebrenica rather early in the game but was determined «to extract from it maximum political profit».

Incidentally, while considering what Meholjic and Halilovic had to say on the subject and the evidence that the event may have been conceived some time in advance, it is worth recalling Meholjic’s famous claim of Izetbegovic’s offer to allow the slaughter of Srebrenica’s residents in return for foreign intervention, Srebrenica later to be traded with the Serbs for the Sarajevo suburb of Vogosca. The episode, be it recalled, is alleged to have taken place in the Fall of 1993, when a Bosniak National Congress was being convened in Sarajevo. However, in his book «The Cunning Strategy» (5) Sefer Halilovic set forth some additional information on the subject that may be of possible significance. He claims that the idea of staging a Srebrenica massacre, in return for harvesting its political dividends, was most likely entertained in the minds of Alija Izetbegovic and the Bosnian leadership even before the Congress. It so happens that at the time of the book’s publication Halilovic was politically on the outs with Izetbegovic so perhaps his assertions should for that reason be taken with a grain of salt. The fact remains, however, for all it is worth, that according to Halilovic (who is alive and may be questioned concerning his statements) Izetbegovic had mentioned to him in the Spring of 1993 the supposed offer which several months later, towards the end of the year, was to shock Meholjic and the other members of the Srebrenica delegation in attendance at the Bosniak meeting.

General Carlos Martins Branco’s reflections about Srebrenica are a valuable piece of the mosaic, supplementing and improving our understanding of events. His book is not simply the notes of a strategically positioned foreign observer, but much more than that. It is, in a certain sense, a coming to terms with the politically obscured reality of the matter by institutions which the author – willingly and consciously, or not – nevertheless personifies. In considerable measure, it furnishes answers to such important questions as «what did they know and when did they find out». The clear subtext of Martins Branco’s memoir is that the author and the instances above and below him had the capability of following events in real time, that they pretty much knew who was doing what and to whom, and that on a deeper analytical level they have no illusions – not to speak of dilemmas – about the real nature and background of Srebrenica. After reading «War in the Balkans – Jihadism, Geopolitics, and Disinformation», it is difficult to imagine that the proverbial «powers that be» were in the dark about the cynical political agenda which Srebrenica has come to serve.

(1) A Guerra nos Balcãs, jihadismo, geopolítica e desinformação [War in the Balkans, Jihadism, Geopolitics, and Disinformation]  Edições Colibri 2016.
(2) «Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed», 50:50 to 51:10 minutes
(3) Erdemovic’s account was meticulously picked apart by Bulgarian journalist Zerminal Civikov in «Srebrenica. Der Kronzeuge», Edition Brennpunkt, Osteuropa, 2009.
(4) Holbrooke, Richard. To End a War, p. 190.
(5) Halilovic, Sefer: «The Cunning Strategy» (Lukava strategija), Sarajevo 1997, pp. 130-132.

«War in the Balkans» – the Memoirs of a Portugese Peacekeeper (I)

«War in the Balkans» – the Memoirs of a Portugese Peacekeeper (II)


Sources and further reading:

My previous articles:

Biased ICTY Sentenced Karadzig 40 Years Based On Srebrenica [Hoax]

Srebrenica – The guide for the perplexed

Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed” – Finally a Critical Documentary about Srebrenica Tragedy

Media War of Yugoslav Secession continues

NIOD Report on Srebrenica

Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre?

And here is a small selection of articles, documents and analysis, which are also telling the other side of story:

Media War: The Use and Mis-Use of the Visual Image in News Coverage and Propaganda . A study of the visual media war against the Serbs.

Demonizing the Serbs by Marjaleena Repo June 15, 1999 in Counterpunch

One view about issue in video Bosnia and Media Manipulation

Srebrenica: The Star Witness by Prof Edward S. Herman

The Star Witness by Germinal Civikov (translated from German by John Lauchland),Belgrade 2010,

Srebrenica: Deconstruction of a Virtual Genocide” by Stephen Karganovic and Ljubica Simic (Belgrade 2010)

 Analysis of Muslim Column Losses Due to Minefields and Combat Activity” by Stephen Karganovic: .Proceedings of the International Symposium on ICTY and Srebrenica (Belgrade-Moscow 2010)

 Was Srebrenica a Hoax? Eye-Witness Account of a Former United Nations Military Observer in Bosnia by Carlos Martins Branco

Media Disinformation Frenzy on Srebrenica: The Lynching of Ratko Mladic by Nebojsa Malic

Media Fabrications: The “Srebrenica Massacre” is a Western Myth

What Happened at Srebrenica? Examination of the Forensic Evidence by Stephen Karganovic

Using War as an Excuse for More War: Srebrenica Revisited by Diana Johnstone

The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics by Edward S. Herman and Phillip Corwin

NIOD (Netherlands Institute for War Documentation)/Srebrenica investigationreport

INTELWIRE.com has published over 2.000 pages of of declassified U.S. State Dept. Cables about Srebrenica

UN Report:The Fall of Srebrenica

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Serbia Towards EU – Why?

June 29, 2017

Ana Brnabic, Serbia’s prime minister designate, says her future government’s goal is membership in the EU along with modernization of the troubled Balkan country. Brnabic told Serbian lawmakers on Wednesday [28th Jun.2017] that the government will lead a “balanced” foreign policy, seeking good relations with Russia, China and the US. Serbia’s parliament is expected to vote her government into office later this week.

 Yesterday I gave an interview to Sputnik UK radionews about this Serbia topic and here are my core comments:

 

Serbia’s EU process?

To join EU is a long process. There is over 30 chapters to negotiate and some 80 000 pages EU regulations should be applied Serbia’s legislation. However I think that it is good idea to continue EU process but not only to fill EU’s needs but especially Serbia’s internal needs for example how EU could help Serbia’s modernization activities.

 

Balanced foreign policy?

Balanced foreign policy from my perspective is an ambivalent expression – it can be only short term goal while EU membership is long term aim/utopia. Even during membership process there might be needs to take [biased] positions. And if one is EU memberstate so you are EU’s side. For example Greece, Hungary and Finland have traditionel good relations with Russia but all are implementing sanctionpolicy against Russia probably due common pressure from EU. So in my opinion Serbia’s balanced foreign policy does not live long during membership process.

 

According to a poll carried out by the Serbian European Integration Office at the end of last year, only 47% were in favour of EU membership, how much public appetite is there for joining the EU?

In my opinion this apetite will go more down in future. People might think that ok, we recognize Kosovo, door to EU opens and there will be free trade and movement etc soon. As I mentioned chapters and regulations so that’s heavy and long job which can take decade(s). Many Serbs might start think if joining to EU is worth of time, money and bureaucrazy it demands. Besides there is also other alternatives like for example ”third way”.

 

Third way?

In my opinion the main benefits of EU membership can be achieved without being EU member. With ”third way” I mean

  • Non-aligned foreign policy
  • Free trade agreements with EU and others
  • Being part of customs union with EU but outside the framework of the EU treaties and institutes

So my recommendation in short: Serbia should join EU economically but not politically.

Serbias options, EU, EAU, 3rd way


Kosovo’s Radical Islam

April 6, 2017

Muslims in Kosovo and Albania have historically been liberal; most Kosovans have been decades relatively secular and follow moderate Islam that allows bars on the same street as mosques. Muslims in Kosovo, which was a part of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years, follow the Hanafi school of Islam, traditionally a liberal version that is accepting of other religions. However poverty has made Kosovo fertile ground for Islamic charities from the likes of Saudi Arabia, which offer education and welfare programs but also peddle a hardline vision. Also Turkey’s Islamist government has funded networks of mosques across its Ottoman-era provinces of Kosovo, Bosnia and Albania.

Since the late 1990s, incidents involving Wahhabi groups have extended beyond the borders of Bosnia-Herzegovina, increasing in frequency in neighbouring states such as Serbia (including Kosovo and Serbian Sandžak), Montenegro (Montenegrin Sandžak), and Macedonia.

 

kosovo bombing

American bombing of Serbian positions in Kosovo in 1999 during the air campaign by NATO. Credit Jerome Delay/Associated Press

From Croatia via Bosnia to Kosovo

Osama bin Laden had offices in Croatia and training camps for the muslims in Bosnia. Osama bin Laden was a CIA ally and the U.S. was fine with him until 1998 when the bombing of the African Embassy happened. During the Bosnian War, Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) received financial aid from Iran and Saudi Arabia, and foreign fighters numbering up to 4,000 waged jihad in the war. The Bosnian mujahideen (El Mujahid) was made up of foreign fighters and radical Bosniaks.

After Al-Qaeda and Bosnian mujahideen the focus moved to Kosovo, the training process dates back to 1999, when al-Qaeda terrorists were involved in training the KLA militants in Kosovo. After Nato bombings, Saudi money and influence transformed this once-tolerant Muslim society at the hem of Europe into a front of Islamic extremism and a pipeline for jihadists. Wahhabism began to spread.

Islamist volunteers in the Kosovo Liberation Army from Western Europe of ethnic Albanian, Turkish, and North African origin, were organized by Islamist leaders in Western Europe allied to Bin Laden and Zawahiri. Some 175 Yemeni mujahideen arrived in early May 1998. There were also a dozen of Saudi and Egyptian mujahideen. Since the Kosovo War, there has been an increasing radicalization of Islam in Kosovo. Wahhabism, which is dominant in Saudi Arabia, has gained a foothold in Kosovo through Saudi diplomacy. Saudi money has paid for new mosques, while Saudi-educated imams have arrived since the end of the war in 1999. During UN administration, Saudi Arabian organizations sought to establish a cultural foothold in Kosovo. 98 Wahhabist schools were set up by Saudi organizations during UN administration. Hundreds of Kosovo Albanians have joined jihad in the Middle East. The Kosovo Police arrested some 40 suspected Islamist militants on 11th August 2014. ( Source and more: WikipediA )

mujahedeen army, Bosnia

 

Radical Islamism in the Balkans

There is an increase in incidents involving radical Islamism in the Balkans since the 1990s.

Saber Lahman, was arrested under suspicion that he planned to carry out an attack on the USA Embassy in Sarajevo. He was convicted, but was pardoned later after he served two thirds of punishment in prison. He was arrested again in 2002 for participation in al Qaeda’s plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina and was sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. On Christmas Eve 2002, Muamer Topalović, a Wahhabist, killed three Bosnian Croat returnees in their home.

On April 24, 2012, Mevlid Jašarević, a Wahhabi Islamist, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on charges of attempted murder and other violations in connection with his alleged machine gun attack on the United States Embassy, Sarajevo, on 28th October 2011.

Other incidents in Bosnia were e.g. Zvornik police station shooting , Operation Ruben and 2015 Sarajevo shooting, more about these one can find from WikipediA.

Between 4th and 16th November 2016 Kosovo Police arrested 19 men suspected of links to Islamic State and of planning to carry out attacks in Kosovo and in Albania against Israeli footballers playing a World Cup qualifying match with Albania in Elbasan, central Albania. Unconfirmed media reports have mentioned Kosovo institutions and Serbian Orthodox Church sites as possible Islamist targets. During the arrests, substantial explosives, including 281 grams of TATP, 2.5 kg of other explosive substance, as well as personal weapons and radio-communication devices were found. The people who were arrested were divided into several groups and were being coordinated by two Kosovar ISIS members, Lavdim Muhaxheri and Ridvan Haqifi, the police said. (Source: BalkanInsight )

The Kosovo Albanian terrorism spills over borders, especially to Macedonia. Nearly two years ago was a massive terrorist attack in the quest to create a Greater Albania as over 40 armed individuals fought with police for control of the city of Kumanovo close to the country’s capital. The attackers were from the so-called “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA), a former terrorist group that was thought to have been disbanded after NATO occupied the Serbian province, and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said that some of them had received their militant training in the Mideast. The combined carnage wounded 37 police officers and killed 8 of them, while ultimately eliminating 14 terrorists and leading to the capture of 30 others. (Source:   Sputniknews )

 

 Kosovo, Camp bondsteel

Kosovar jihadists abroad: Some examples

According DEBKAfile four Kosovar jihadists who planned to blow up iconic Venice bridge arrested. Italian counterterror police forces raided several locations 28.-29.3.2017 and arrested four Islamic radicals who planned to blow up Venice’s Rialto Bridge, one of the city’s most visited sites, and kill hundreds of tourists. Venice’s chief prosecutor also disclosed on 30th Mar. 2017 that the authorities had been secretly monitoring the communications of the terror cell members, all citizens of Kosovo linked to ISIS. The radicals were heard expressing joy regarding the March 22 terrorist attack in London, the prosecutor said.

The assassin who shot two American soldiers at Frankfurt Airport in 2011 was an Albanian immigrant. Serbian terrorism expert, Darko Trifunovc, says that the Kosovo Albanian who killed 2 US soldiers in Germany is part of the “white” al-Qaeda being recruited in the Balkans with its center being in Kosovo. The Albanian terrorist, Arif Uka, hails from the town of Kosovska Mitrovica which also happens to be the recruitment center for “white” al-Qaeda that is managed by former Kosovo Albanian KLA gunmen and financed by the Saudis. says another expert, Zoran Dragisic. (Source: Pakistan Christian Post )

Deutsche Welle reports that since 2012, 316 people – including women and children – have left the country to join the so-called “Islamic State” terrorist militia. Of those 316 people, 58 have been killed and 117 have returned to Kosovo, said Baki Kelani, spokesman for Kosovo’s ministry of the interior. According to Kelani, 237 people are being investigated for planning and taking part in terrorist attacks outside Kosovo and also for recruiting, supporting and funding terrorists. Since 2013, 127 of the suspects have been arrested, including an alleged ringleader. According to figures from security experts, 50,000 Kosovars are now members of conservative Islamic groups.

On 20th Jan. 2017 an Albanian man suspected of planning a bomb attack in Vienna was arrested by special forces, Austrian media has reported. The Austrian authorities had been warned about a possible attack by foreign intelligence services. A report from the Kronen-Zeitung newspaper that the suspect had built explosives in Germany. The newspaper also claimed the man belonged to an Islamist group which originated in Albania, and which held sympathies with Islamic State (ISIS). (Source: Foxnews )

On 27 Apr 2008 Foxnews reported that the six foreign-born Muslims accused of planning a shooting attack at the U.S. military base included four Kosovo Albanian Muslims affiliated with the KLA, or the Kosovo Liberation Army, a Terrorist Jihad Wahhabi group. The U.S. officials say their arrests highlight how Islamist groups are using the Balkans region to help in recruiting and financing terrorism.

 

The Telegraph reported that in southern Kosovo the town of Kacanik during 2012-2015 some 24 local menfolk have gone to fight for jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, giving the town of just 30,000 people an unwanted reputation as the jihadist capital of the Balkans. For a nation of just 1.8 million people, it now punches well above its weight in terms of the number of citizens joining Isil. Altogether some 300 Kosovans have joined ISIS, making Kosovo Europe’s biggest contributor per capita. Along with neighbouring Albania, which has fielded around 200, and nearby Bosnia, which around 160, it is now seen as a potential launch pad for ISIS in its bid to establish a new front against Europe in the Balkans.

Sure there has been a lot of murders and violence in Balkans, Western Europe and North America committed by (Kosovo)Albanian mafia but motivation has been mostly money so there is no direct link to Wahhabism/Jihadism/ISIS/Al Qaeda, for example in March 2017 sc Düsseldorf axe terrorist, a Kosovo-born muslim, probably was only mentally ill without terrorism connections. 

Two aspects

When the US State Department listed the KLA as a terrorist organization in 1998, the reason wasn’t radical Islam but its links to the heroin trade. By 1999, Western intelligence agencies estimated that over $250m of narcotics money had found its way into KLA coffers. After the NATO bombing of 1999, KLA-linked heroin traffickers again began using Kosovo as a major supply route; in 2000, an estimated 80% of Europe’s heroin supply was controlled by Kosovar Albanians.

In the summer of 2016, the Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development (KIPRED) published a study about the influence of religion on Kosovar identity. According to Lulzim Peci, author of the study, 57 percent of Muslim Albanians feel Albanian and 32 percent defined themselves as Muslims first and then as Albanians. “We see a great shift in identity from ethnicity, the so-called language nation, to a religious-ethnic society,” said Peci in an interview with DW.

Payback?

 

 

Quadruple Helix Model

In my earlier article Quadruple Helix – Capturing Kosovo I described how (Kosovo) Albanian organized crime organizations gained remarkable role in Europe. It is estimated that they are the chief perpetrator of drug and people smuggling, trafficking, organ sales etc. Past estimates suggested that ethnic Albanian traffickers controlled 70% or more of the heroin entering a number of key destination markets, and they have been described as a “threat to the EU” by the Council of Europe at least as recently as 2005. In fact, ethnic Albanian heroin trafficking is arguably the single most prominent organized crime problem in Europe today. Kosovo is serving as a junction for heroin trafficking from Afghanistan to West Europe through famous Balkan route. Now Columbian drug dealers are setting up cocaine supply bases in Albania and Balkans to penetrate into Europe. Already earlier ethnic Albanians organized the transportation of cocaine from the Netherlands and Belgium towards Italy.

Links between drug trafficking and the supply of arms to the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) were established mid-90s. In West KLA was described as terrorist organization but when US selected them as their ally it transformed organization officially to “freedom” fighters. After bombing Serbia 1999 KLA leaders again changed their crime clans officially to political parties. This public image however can not hide the origins of money and power, old channels and connections are still in place in conservative tribe society.

Already 2005 Europol stated that the Albanian organized crime is related to the Islamic terrorism e.g.  where the Brussells based “Bureau also cooperated in other operations, investigating the dismantling of OC (Organized Crime, note AR)  groups that are known for suspicious financial transactions, Albanian organised crime, producing synthetic drugs and related to Islamic terrorism.” (Report here and more e.g. in Balkan route-Business as usual.)

Above I shortly hinted to financial connection between Wahhabi organizations in Kosovo and international terrorism and Wahhabis as potential pool for operations. Then I pointed historical and social link between organized crime groups and Kosovo’s political leaders. All this has also its international dimensions. The last and maybe the most dangerous connection is link between organized crime and Islamic terrorism because its thread to the rest of Europe.

Today’s trend with economical development policy and projects is called a “Triple Helix Model or Approach”. A triple helix regime typically begins as university, industry and government enter into a reciprocal relationship in which each attempts to enhance the performance of the other. It seems that in Kosovo triple helix model has applied and further developed to “Quadruple or Fourfold Helix Model” where government, underworld, Wahhabbi schools and international terrorism have win-win symbiosis.

 

quadruple helix model by Ari Rusila

 

More reading:

My articles: Kosovo: Two years of Pseudo-state , Balkan route-Business as usual   and Captured Pseudo-State Kosovo .

More about link between organized crime and Kosovo political leaders one can find e.g. from Albanian Terrorism and Oraganized Crime in Kosovo and Metohija (K&M) , which also can be found from my document library. Related background information can be found also from “leaked” German Intelligence reports BND report 2005 and BND-IEP report Kosovo 2007 which can be found from my document library under Kosovo headline.

The report, “Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo”,  prepared by Swiss prosecutor-turned-politician Dick Marty. Investigations conducted by the Swiss diplomat, Dick Marty on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have revealed the true picture of Kosovo’s prime minister Hashim Thaci. In his report to the PACE’s Commission, Thaci is presented as the leader of a criminal gang engaged in the smuggling of weapons, the distribution of illegal drugs throughout Europe and the selling of human organs for unlawful transplantation. The Swiss senator conducted a two-year inquiry into organised crime in Kosovo after the Council of Europe mandated him to investigate claims of organ harvesting by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) after the war with Serbia ended in 1999.

An exellent article in New York Times – How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground for ISIS by Carlotta Gall – gives in deep background info about Kosovo’s transformation from liberal Islam to ground of Islamic extremism

Testimony on the Genesis of Evil – White Book on Albanian terrorism in Kosovo The book addresses the continuity of terrorist activities by Albanian extremists, beginning with the constituting of the parallel system of Albanian government in Kosovo and Metohija and the pretensions of the so-called Government of the Republic of Kosovo headed by Bujar Bukoshi, covering the founding of FARK and the armed forces of “the Republic of Kosovo”, which united separation-oriented former officers of the former Yugoslav People’s Army, to the founding of the “Kosovo Liberation Army” /KLA/, which at the time of the NATO bombing had more than 20,000 armed members, and the KLA’s transformation and engagement of the former terrorists in the Kosovo Protection Corps.

Kosvovo by Ari Rusila


Biased ICTY Sentenced Karadzig 40 Years Based On Srebrenica [Hoax]

March 25, 2016

imagesA former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was found guilty of genocide and other charges for his role during the Bosnian war in the 1990s, including the massacres of 8,000 Muslim men and boys outside the Srebrenica enclave.

An international tribunal announced a long-awaited reckoning in Europe’s bloodiest chapter since World War II on 24th March 2016. Karadzic, 70, was sentenced to 40 years in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

In my post “Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre?”  I tried to highlight the other side of Srebrenica story which differs from the picture of (western) mainstream media. I have never denied that brutalities happened in Srebrenica, but would like to get more information

a) About the context of Srebrenica events

b) Who was massacred (civilians/soldiers/members of different ethnic groups)

c) How many died in Srebrenica July 1995

d) What was the role of media as part of political game

What I claimed then and now is that the reality is much more complex than the existing myth. To have wider picture about events I have picked some alternative versions about Srebrenica case and mostly from western sources because many readers would see Serbian versions too biased.

Some alternative views:

From The Globe and Mail (Canada), July 14, 2005 “The real story behind Srebrenica” by the former UNPROFOR commander, Gen. Lewis MacKenzie, The Globe and Mail, 14 July 2005:

Evidence given at The Hague war crimes tribunal casts serious doubt on the figure of “up to” 8,000 Bosnian Muslims massacred. That figure includes “up to” 5,000 who have been classified as missing. More than 2,000 bodies have been recovered in and around Srebrenica, and they include victims of the three years of intense fighting in the area. The math just doesn’t support the scale of 8,000 killed.

 

Former chief NSA analyst: Most of killed in Srebrenica were soldiers who refused to surrender:

The Politics of the Srebrenica Massacre” -article argues that only some Bosniaks were executed, most died in battle, and some of the bodies in mass graves are actually Serbs, by Edward S. Herman, 7 July 2005

There have been a great many bodies gathered at Tuzla, some 7,500 or more, many in poor condition or parts only, their collection and handling incompatible with professional forensic standards, their provenance unclear and link to the July 1995 events in Srebrenica unproven and often unlikely, (The web site of the International Commission on Missing Persons in the Former Yugoslavia acknowledges that the bodies “have been exhumed from various gravesites in northeast HiH,” not just in the Srebrenica region; quoted in a 2003 Statement by ICMP Chief of Staff Concerning Persons Reported Missing from Srebrenica in July 1995, Gordon Bacon.) and the manner of their death usually uncertain. Interestingly, although the Serbs were regularly accused of trying to hide bodies, there has never been any suggestion that the Bosnian Muslims, long in charge of the body search, might shift bodies around and otherwise manipulate evidence, despite their substantial record of dissembling. A systematic attempt to use DNA to trace connections to Srebrenica is underway, but entails many problems, apart from that of the integrity of the material studied and process of investigation, and will not resolve the question of differentiating executions from deaths in combat. There are also lists of missing, but these lists are badly flawed, with duplications, individuals listed who had died before July 1995, who fled to avoid BSA service, or who registered to vote in 1997, and they include individuals who died in battle or reached safety or were captured and assumed a new existence elsewhere.

Report of International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) says that the “alleged casualty number of 7,000 victims is vastly inflated and unsupported by evidence”

Phillip Corwin, former UN Civilian Affairs Coordinator in Bosnia during the 1990s, said: “What happened in Srebrenica was not a single large massacre of Muslims by Serbs, but rather a series of very bloody attacks and counterattacks over a three year period which reached a crescendo in July of 1995.”

Former BBC journalist Jonathan Rooper, who has researched the events in Srebrenica since 1995, says that the region was a graveyard for Serbs as well as Muslims and that a monument to inflated casualties on one side “serves neither truth nor the goal of reconciliation”. Around 3,000 names on a list of Srebrenica victims compiled by the Red Cross matched voters in the Bosnian election in 1996. “I pointed out to the OSCE that there had either been massive election fraud or almost half the people on the ICRC missing list were still alive,” says Rooper. “The OSCE finally responded that the voting lists had been locked away in warehouses and it would not be possible for them to investigate.”

Report of Srebrenica Research Group concludes that “the contention that as many as 8,000 Muslims were killed has no basis in available evidence and is essentially a political construct.

The ICMP now (June 2005) states on its website: “One month before the 10th anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica in 1995, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has completed identifications of more than 2,000 of the Srebrenica victims.”

Srebrenica-suicide-1995

An article “Using War as an Excuse for More War: Srebrenica Revisited” by Diana Johnstone describes e.g. following

In short, Srebrenica, whose Serb population had been chased out by Muslim troops at the start of the civil war in 1992, was both a gathering point for civilian Muslim refugees and a Muslim army base. The enclave lived from international humanitarian aid. The Muslim military did not allow civilians to leave, since their presence was what ensured the arrival of humanitarian aid provisions which the military controlled…

srebrenicaMuch has been made of the fact that Serb forces separated the population, providing buses for women, children and the infirm to take them to Tuzla, while detaining the men. In light of all that preceded, the reason for this separation is obvious: the Bosnian Serbs were looking for the perpetrators of raids on Serb villages, in order to take revenge…

When the Serb forces entered the town from the south, thousands of Muslim soldiers, in disarray because of the absence of commanding officers, fled northwards, through wild wooded hills toward Tuzla. It is clear enough that they fled because they feared exactly what everyone aware of the situation dreaded: that Serb soldiers would take vengeance on the men they considered guilty of murdering Serb civilians and prisoners. Thousands of those men did in fact reach Tuzla, and were quietly redeployed. This was confirmed by international observers. However, Muslim authorities never provided information about these men, preferring to let them be counted among the missing, that is, among the massacred. Another large, unspecified number of these men were ambushed and killed as they fled in scenes of terrible panic. This was, then, a “massacre”, such as occurs in war when fleeing troops are ambushed by superior forces.

Who Gets Justice From ICTY?

Finnish leading daily newspaper – Helsingin Sanomat – published on 14th Apr. 2013 an investigative feature story Winners Justice related to recent release of Croatian war criminal Ante Gotovina. Gotovina was responsible about biggest ethnic cleansing during Balkan wars. The article clearly proves the political and biased nature of International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

 

Bosniacs have got most justice from Hague, Albanians and Serbs least Lines from top to bottom: Croats, Bosniacs, Serbs, Albanians, Other Column 1: Civilian deaths, Column 2: Refugees, Column 3: ICTY sentences (years) about crimes against nations on line, Column 4: ICTY sentences against nations on line/days/civilian death Column 5: ICTY sentences against nations on line/ratio of deaths + 50% of refugee amount Free translation AR///Source: Helsingin Sanomat

Bosniacs have got most justice from Hague, Albanians and Serbs least
Lines from top to bottom: Croats, Bosniacs, Serbs, Albanians, Other
Column 1: Civilian deaths, Column 2: Refugees, Column 3: ICTY sentences (years) about crimes against nations on line, Column 4: ICTY sentences against nations on line/days/civilian death
Column 5: ICTY sentences against nations on line/ratio of deaths + 50% of refugee amount
Free translation AR///Source: Helsingin Sanomat

 

My conclusion: Selective Justice

In my earlier article I asked: Srebrenica – a hoax or massacre? and summarized following:

Srebrenica – a hoax or massacre?I would say both; a hoax due the well planned and implemented PR maneuver , a massacre when the Serbs went to trap and used brutal force also against civilians. When the Serbs got a tactical win in warfare the Muslims got US as their strategic ally with Serb demonization. In addition to human sacrifice – victims from all ethnic groups, civilians and soldiers/mercenaries – one loser was the investigative journalism and media on the whole by accepting one-sided truth in Bosnia and since then also in future conflicts.

The Al-Quada-linked 'El-Mujahedeen' brigade of the Bosnian Muslim Army parading in downtown Zenica in central Bosnia in 1995, carrying the black flag of Islamic jihad

The Al-Quada-linked ‘El-Mujahedeen’ brigade of the Bosnian Muslim Army parading in downtown Zenica in central Bosnia in 1995, carrying the black flag of Islamic jihad

In Wilson Center publication 191. Biased Justice: “Humanrightsism” and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Robert M. Hayden gives from my piint of view an excellent description about ICTY – a quote:

The ICTY, however, delivers a “justice” that is biased, with prosecutorial decisions based on the personal and national characteristics of the accused rather than on what available evidence indicates that he has done. This bias is seen in the failure to prosecute NATO personnel for acts that are comparable to those of people already indicted, and in the failure to prosecute NATO personnel for prima facie war crimes. This pattern of politically driven prosecution is accompanied by the use of the Tribunal as a tool for those Western countries that support it, and especially the United States, to pursue political goals in the Balkans. Further, the Tribunal’s rules (some of which resemble those of the Spanish Inquisition) and procedural decisions make it difficult for defendants to receive a fair trial.

From its part international tribunal whitewashes the activities of Western powers and their Muslim allies during Bosnian war as well during Kosovo conflict [1999]. While focusing to Karadzic and later Karadzic’s military chief, Gen. Ratko Mladic [still awaiting trial] ICTY ignores ethnic-cleansing policies and atrocities made by Croatian and Bosnian nationalists as well Kosovo Albanian crime clans because they all were US allies.

In my opinion the decision of ICTY reflects more old realpolitik than justice. Hopefully, the Mladić trial will seriously examine the entire context that led to the massacre of Srebrenica and how a vulgar “tit-for-tat” between two armies was transformed by rhetoric into genocide.

Figting-ISIL-_-Ratko-Mladic

[Article first appeared in Conflicts by Ari Rusila]


Newsflash: First time asylum applicants in the EU-28 by citizenship, Q2 2014 – Q2 2015

September 24, 2015

From official Eurostat pages I found a fresh file – First time asylum applicants in the EU-28 By citizenship, Q2 2014 – Q2 2015 – which might surprise many who think that the question is only about Syria.

First_time_asylum_applicants_in_the_EU-28_by_citizenship,_Q2_2014_–_Q2_2015

One interesting detail: Last 12 months there was four times more asylum seekers from Kosovo than from Ukraine – where same time has been some kind of civil war ongoing anyway.  However Eurostat does not include Ukrainians fled to Russia – some one million, including 90,500 Ukrainian orphans in Russia at this moment.

infografik-fluechtlinge-aus (3)Many EU countries have blamed Hungary for its hard policy and actions related to ongoing refugee crisis in EU.  However Hungary started its actions already early 2015 when Kosovo Albanians started their mass exodus to EU although their southern fence and increased staff on border materialized now when the most refugees are coming from MidEast.  More about this early stage in  The Mass Exodus of Kosovo Albanians  . 

Related to Syria Russia’s Federal Migration Service says that there are now 12,000 refugees from Syria in the Russian Federation, of whom 2,000 have received residence permits. There are far more people in Syria who would like to come Russia, including most prominently, the 100,000 Circassians, whose ancestors Russian officials expelled 150 years ago.

One more note:  EU likes to blame Russia about everything.  However  refugees are consequence of Western attack to Afganistan and Iraq and Western support to Syrian terrorist groups – Daesh (ISIS) as the most brutal example. 


Comeback of South Stream?

August 29, 2015

grafik In my article Turkish, Greek And Tesla Streams Re-routing Energy Supply In Eastern Europe how new Turk(ish) Stream pipeline is re-routing the energy supply in whole Eastern Europe with Greek and Tesla [Balkan] Stream gas pipelines. South Stream, was cancelled last December (2014) after Bulgaria (influenced by the EU acting on behalf of the US) made it impossible to construct the pipeline through its territory. South Stream project was replaced with ‘Turkish Stream’, the Russian pipeline to Turkey’s Eastern Thrace region and from there with ‘Greek’, ‘Tesla’ (or ‘Balkan’) Streams intended to South Stream’s Serbian, Hungarian, and Austrian partners, but detouring through Greece and Macedonia to compensate for the exclusion of Bulgaria.

At the same time, several observers say that South Stream has a good chance of being revived. Since there’s been no official cancellation of the South Stream cooperation from Moscow, Bulgaria assumes that the project can still be saved. Speculation about a revival appears to have come from a source in Moscow. Russia needs the pipelines as a tool to assert political pressure. And Bulgaria could play a role in these plans. (Source: DW ).

European nations could buy gas from a terminal at the Greco-Turkish border, in what was interpreted as a vague hint that such purchases could either be LNG or possibly even the start of a brand new pipeline. Anyway with these plans Turk(ish) Stream and its follow-ups are according EU regulations. The obstacle of South Stream was the EU’s Third Energy Package (TEP). Under these rules, a single company cannot own the pipeline through which it also supplies gas.

Comeback of South Stream

Now though, according Deutsche Welle there’s a different tone between Moscow and Sofia. Earlier this week, Putin acknowledged that Bulgaria’s NATO membership is a done deal. “We have to respect the choice of the Bulgarian people and continue to work with Bulgaria, independently of all the difficult questions in connection with different projects, including South Stream,” he said. Putin added that Russia and Bulgaria have historically enjoyed close ties. In Bulgaria, his words have been taken as a “clear signal of reconciliation” and “a completely new tone in bilateral relations.”

According Natural Gas Europe Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova has announced new efforts to push forward with South Stream, recently telling local media the project still remains a major goal for the country. She also said that the country’s has never walked out of the South Stream project. Kiril Domuschiev, head of the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria, noted that pipework for South Stream could also be used for Turkish Stream or any other project involving both Bulgaria and Gazprom. He added that no one would stop Bulgaria from doing business with Russia.

No other country lying on the proposed route of the pipeline from Russia to central Europe is better prepared than Bulgaria in technical and organizational terms to start the construction works immediately, said Bulgaria’s former Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev who is deputy chairman of opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP).  Another big advantage for Bulgaria is the availability of an agreed funding mechanism for the project which doesn’t involve budget spending and only needs to be activated, Stoynev said in comments after Putin’s earlier statement that Moscow will work closely with Bulgaria on the implementation of joint projects including those in the energy sector such as the South Stream gas pipeline. (Source: Novinite.com )

Energy expert Professor Atanas Tasev said in an interview for FOCUS News Agency , that “Both countries [Bulgaria, Russia] seem to have the intention. It remains Brussels to come out with a stance on the matter. Perhaps we will witness favourable processes in resolving the conflict in Ukraine,” “Many steps should follow from now on,” he added and stressed that the first official reaction from the Bulgaria came from Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova, who said that our country is ready.

“A problem can be solved only in the environment where it was created. Since it was the Russian President who created the problem, it is he who can solve it,” Prof Tasev, who has worked as a financial analyst for a number of deals in the Bulgarian energy sector, believes. He maintains that the route previously designated for South Stream is not “a result of some sentiments for the Bulgarian-Soviet fellowship” but is the most economically and technically viable solution. At the same time the professor notes that it is highly unlikely that South Stream is “reborn” with all of the four lines. He foresees that one of the pipes, with a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas, might reach Europe via Turkey, while the others could be “redirected” to Bulgaria. (Source and more at Novinite.com )

Nine months after Russia loudly announced that it repeals the South Stream project, the Bulgarian government continues to carry out activities on construction of the pipeline. In addition the joint Bulgarian-Russian company South Stream Bulgaria, which had to build the pipeline on Bulgarian territory, continues to exist and accumulate costs. (Source: Radio Bulgaria )
turkish-stream-south-stream-karte

Nonetheless Greece, FYROM, Serbia, and Hungary are on the verge of signing a joint memorandum of cooperation on Turkish Stream and its Balkan route. Serbian media have already named part of the route as the “Tesla Pipeline” in an obvious attempt to “nationalize” the section that will pass through Serbia. Insiders suggest the Greek, Serbian, and Hungarian foreign ministers will meet in Belgrade in September to announce an agreement that will see the exact route formalized. It should be noted the foreign ministers, not energy ministers, have taken the lead on this file. (Source: Natural Gas Europe ) Latest developments with Tesla Stream wouldn’t have been possible had Macedonia not beaten back the Color Revolution attempt that aimed to sabotage the entire thing. (More in Terrorism in Macedonia Wasn’t An Isolated Act! ).

Eastring?

For Eastern Europe there is also a project called Eastring will bring gas from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, Cyprus and Russia and will provide reverse deliveries from the gas hubs in Western Europe. This is actually a step towards the creation of a vertical gas corridor which is particularly valuable to Bulgaria.

Eastring would connect infrastructure in Slovakia to Romania and Bulgaria. Slovakia has taken the lead on the project and even suggested connecting to Turk Stream. Bratislava wants to be part of Gazprom’s plans to diversify transit options away from Ukraine because Slovakia is the critical link between pipelines in Ukraine and central Europe. The Slovakian company Eustream’s gas pipeline, expected to deliver gas to countries in the Balkans, and Gazprom’s Turkish Stream will be complementary projects, Eustream’s international development and public affairs head told RIA Novosti [on Feb. 2015]. Eustream’s Eastring pipeline will run from Bulgaria to Romania and then, via Hungary or Ukraine, to Slovakia. Its planned capacity will be from 20 billion to 40 billion cubic meters per year and project partners are Eustream, Transgaz and Bulgartransgaz.

Wider picture

Aside from production, the transportation of crude oil, natural gas and petroleum products is of paramount concern for oil-producing nations. For energy consumers, transit routes are necessary lifelines. A huge amount of the world’s energy is transited through pipelines, across the Eurasian landmass in particular. Natural gas has limited and expensive transport options. As a result, natural gas pipelines are constantly used as tool of the political pressure and bargaining. One of the most notable battlefields is the European continent, where Russia has exerted its influence through an intricate network of pipelines.

There is a strategic cooperation in the energy sector between EU and Russia as Russia is still the primary supplier of the EU’s hydrocarbon resources, providing 42% of its imported gas and 33% of its imported oil (2013). In addition due global warming the EU want to increase the share of renewable resources and natural gas in their consumption patterns. Russia’s bad relations with the West and Ukraine have created the need to Russia to rearrange its energy policy. From the Russia’s point of view Turkey, as a regional power with its independent policies, e.g. when deciding not to partake in the Western sanctions against Russia due to the Ukraine Crisis, is a more reliable partner than other alternatives. Cooperation between these two regional powers on issues related to Caucasia and Central Asia would generate mutual benefits so indeed the Ukraine Crisis may have paved the way for a new form of cooperation in Russian-Turkish relations.

The Continent has also taken steps to build a regulatory environment conducive to the new energy market it envisions. The Third Energy Package has played a key role in coordinating the European energy market and eroding monopolistic tendencies plaguing the natural gas networks. Among other things, the package’s regulations prevent pipeline operators from supplying natural gas and prevent suppliers from operating the pipelines. These rules have blocked Gazprom from owning or heavily investing in any European pipelines, with a few notable exceptions, such as the Ostsee-Pipeline-Anbindungsleitung pipeline. Europe has applied equal scrutiny to deals involving non-Russian companies, including Azerbaijani national oil company SOCAR’s proposed purchase of Greek pipeline operator DESFA.

Interactive: Veins of Influence

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Interactive: Veins of Influence is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

 

Turk Stream update

The Gapzrom-led Turk(ish) Stream pipeline project has stalled as negotiations between Russia and Turkey on gas pricing have broken down. On July 2015 the Russian Energy Ministry sent to Ankara two versions of an intergovernmental agreement on the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, proposing to construct either one or all four planned strings.

The technical director of South Stream Transport B.V. Andrey Fick has been appointed as general director of the company in charge of construction of the Russia-owned Turkish Stream gas pipeline, Russian energy giant Gazprom announced in its statement, April 2015.

Related to The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the Project benefits from the data available from the extensive surveying and approved EIA, and Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) in accordance with international financing standards, conducted for the South Stream Offshore Pipeline project. The EIA and permitting process for the Turkish portion of the offshore pipeline is divided into two parts. South Stream Transport is conducting an EIA for the portion of the pipeline from the border of the Turkish and Bulgarian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to the Turkish coastline, with a length of approximately 275 km. For the remainder of the offshore route, the EIA was already approved in 2014 in the context of the South Stream Offshore Project.

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Bottom line

Gazprom has asserted several times that it will cut off gas transits through Ukraine by the end of the decade. The current alternative routes (Nord Stream + Belarus), however, only present a capacity of 86.5 bcm per year. To maintain the current level of Russia’s exports (119 bcm in 2014) at least 35 bcm of additional pipeline capacity would be needed.

Turk Stream as well South Stream, would enhance the Continent’s energy security because it would enable natural gas flows to Europe to continue uninterrupted in the event of a fallout between Ukraine and Russia. The pipeline project would also incentivize European Union-based companies to invest in infrastructure in Southeastern Europe, integrating countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, into the more mature natural gas markets in Central Europe. New infrastructure for Turk Stream could also eventually carry Iranian or Central Asian natural gas to Europe. Due political reasons USA and EU probably are not very pleased nor active with Turk Stream, they maybe are tolerating the project so long as Russia adheres to the Third Energy Package and finalized Energy Union Package rules restricting Russian control over the Turk Stream project.

turkishstream (2)

 


Peace Index 2015: BRIC, Balkans And Eastwards

June 18, 2015

 

The Global Peace Index (GPI) is implemented by organization called Vision of Humanity, which groups together a number of interrelated initiatives focused on global peace. As its mission Visions of Humanity brings a strategic approach to raising the world’s attention and awareness around the importance of peacefulness to humanity’s survival in the 21st century. Now on May Vision of Humanity published its new edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI). It has been expanded to rank 162 independent states and updated with the latest-available figures and information for 2013-14.

Indicators

The index is composed of 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from respected sources, which combine internal and external factors, such as violent crime, political stability and military expenditure, correlated against a number of social development indicators such as corruption, freedom of the press, respect for human rights and school enrolment rates and relations with neighbouring countries. These indicators were selected by an international panel of academics, business people, philanthropists and members of peace institutions.

Global%20Peace%20Index%20Results%20Map

Some reservations

  • Vision of humanity, its expert panel and GPI are representing mainly western methodology, approach and values
  • GPI is based to data available of different indicators and as such a compromise
  • The 2015 scores are based information collected mainly information for 2013-2014 so there is some delay

With these reservations I however find GPI both interesting and useful and anyway I haven’t seen any better global survey.

 

The Rank

To the table below I have collected the GPI rankings from the Balkans and Eastwards on countries analysed in 2015 report. In addition I have included to table also top-3 and worst-3 countries, the BRIC countries and USA. Besides 2015 ranking I show also rankings and score in 2010 [when available]  to see trend during last years as this may help to track when and how some countries become more or less peaceful. Countries most at peace are ranked first. My source – Vision of Humanity Org, GPI results, full list of 149 countries, methodology and other explanations and scores per country/indicator can be found from here! Besides my table one can also explore the data on the interactive Global Peace Index map.

 

Country 2015 2010
Rank Score Rank Score
Iceland Iceland 1 1.148 2 1.212
Denmark 2 1.150    
Austria 3 1.198    
Slovenia Slovenia 15 1.378 11 1.358
Romania Romania 26 1.542 45 1.749
Croatia Croatia 27 1.550 41 1.707
Bulgaria Bulgaria 32 1.607 50 1.785
Serbia Serbia 46 1.768 90 2.071
Albania Albania 52 1.821 65 1.925
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina 53 1.839 60 1.873
The image “https://i0.wp.com/europeandcis.undp.org/uploads/public1/images/Montenegro_Flag-RESIZE-s925-s450-fit.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Montenegro 57 1.854 88 2.060
gr Greece 61 1.878
Kosovo 69 1.938    
Moldova Moldova 70 1.942 66 1.938
Republic of MacedoniaMacedonia (FYR) 71 1.944 83 2.048
Georgia (country) Georgia 79 1.973 142 2.970
Armenia Armenia 91 2.028  113  2.266
United StatesUSA 94 2.038 85 2.056
BrazilBrazil 103 2.122 83 2.048
People's Republic of China China 124 2.267 80 2.034
AzerbaijanAzerbaijan 132 2.325 119 2.367
TurkeyTurkey 135 2.363 126 2.420
IndiaIndia 143 2.504 128 2.516
Ukraine Ukraine 150 2.845 97 2.115
Russia Russia 152 2.954 143 3.013
AfghanistanAfghanistan 160 3.427 147 3.252
Iraq Iraq 161 3.444 149 3.406
Syria 162 3.645    

Highlights

  • Since last year, 81 countries have become more peaceful, while 78 have deteriorated.
  • Many countries in Europe, the world’s most peaceful region, have reached historically high levels of peace. 15 of the 20 most peaceful countries are in Europe.
  • Also Balkans has bacome more peaceful as all countries of this region made better ranks between positions Slovenia – 15 to Macedonia (FYROM) -71.
  • All ranks of BIRC countries as well USA went down. 
  • In general the world is less peaceful today than it was in 2008. The indicators that have deteriorated the most are the number of refugees and IDPs, the number of deaths from internal conflict and the impact of terrorism. Last year alone it is estimated that 20,000 people were killed in terrorist attacks up from an average of 2,000 a year only 10 years ago.
  • Due to an increase in civil unrest and terrorist activity, the Middle East and North Africa is now the world’s least peaceful region for the first time since the Index began.  The best in Mideast ranks was Jordan -71 following Saudi Arabia -95, Egypt -137, Iran -138, Lebanon -145, Israel -150 and on the bottom Iraq -161 and Syria -162.
  • The country that suffered the most severe deterioration in peace was Libya, which now ranks 149th of 162 countries. Ukraine suffered the second largest deterioration, from 97 to 150: following a revolution which brought down the administration of Viktor Yanukovych, Russia supported regions of East Ukraine agains Kiev regime, meaning it scored poorly on organised conflict indicators.
  • Globally the intensity of internal armed conflict has increased dramatically, with the number of people killed in conflicts rising over 3.5 times from 49,000 in 2010 to 180,000 in 2014.
  • The economic impact of violence reached a total of US$14.3 trillion or 13.4% of global GDP last year.

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Peace and global challenge

“The world is over-armed and peace is under-funded” (Ban Ki-moon )

Related to the economic impact of violence one esily can see that peace has also its monetary value in terms of business growth and economic development.  However also war has its monetary value and in short term business – especially inside military-industrial-complex – world the profits from war can be more attracting than those from peace. In my previous articles Arms Trade: The Crux Of The MIC“, BTW MIC Still Rules and   “Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too?”.

Global challenges, such as climate change, decreasing biodiversity, lack of fresh water and overpopulation, call for global solutions and these solutions will require co-operation on a global scale unparalleled in history. Peace is the essential prerequisite because without it the level of needed co-operation, inclusiveness and social equity necessary to solve these challenges will not be achieved. The big challenge at global, regional and state level is to strengthen factors – or “drivers” of peace in social structures and attitudes.

 

 

 

 


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