Milosevic's trial is coming up

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Feb 4 07:05:03 MST 2002

On Mon, 4 Feb 2002, Mohammad J Alam wrote:
> populations. Was not Milosevic heading Serbia in the campaign in '94
> against Bosnians, when Serbrenica was shelled and hundreds were killed by
> Serbian artillery? Was it not NATO that allowed the Serbs to arm themselves
> and prevented the Bosnians from obtaining arms for months during the
> critical period of ethnic cleansing and fighting during the same period? Or
> have I got my murderers mixed up?

You have lots of things mixed up.


The Toronto Star, July 16, 1995

Fearsome Muslim warlord eludes Bosnian Serb forces

By Bill Schiller Toronto

Belgrade, Yugoslavia

When Bosnian Serb commander Gen. Ratko Mladic swept triumphantly into
Srebrenica last week, he not only wanted to sweep Srebrenica clean of
Muslims - he wanted Nasir Oric.

In Mladic's view, the powerfully built Muslim commander had made life
too difficult and too deadly for Serb communities nearby.

Even though the Serbs had Srebrenica surrounded, Oric was still
mounting commando raids by night against Serb targets.

Oric, as blood-thirsty a warrior as ever crossed a battlefield,
escaped Srebrenica before it fell.

Some believe he may be leading the Bosnian Muslim forces in the nearby
enclaves of Zepa and Gorazde. Last night these forces seized armored
personnel carriers and other weapons from U.N. peacekeepers in order
to better protect themselves.

Oric is a fearsome man, and proud of it.

I met him in January, 1994, in his own home in Serb-surrounded

On a cold and snowy night, I sat in his living room watching a
shocking video version of what might have been called Nasir Oric's
Greatest Hits.

There were burning houses, dead bodies, severed heads, and people

Oric grinned throughout, admiring his handiwork.

"We ambushed them," he said when a number of dead Serbs appeared on
the screen.

The next sequence of dead bodies had been done in by explosives: "We
launched those guys to the moon," he boasted.

When footage of a bullet-marked ghost town appeared without any
visible bodies, Oric hastened to announce: "We killed 114 Serbs

Later there were celebrations, with singers with wobbly voices
chanting his praises.

These video reminiscences, apparently, were from what Muslims regard
as Oric's glory days. That was before most of eastern Bosnia fell and
Srebrenica became a "safe zone" with U.N. peacekeepers inside - and
Serbs on the outside.

Lately, however, Oric increased his hit-and-run attacks at night. And
in Mladic's view, it was far too successful for a community that was
supposed to be suppressed.

The only songs they want sung of Nasir Oric are funeral dirges. . .


The Daily Telegraph, July 13, 1996, Saturday

Secret shame behind Srebrenica's fall  A year after the enclave fell,
Tim Judah asks if the Bosnian government colluded in its capture


THIS week the world's television stations will be making a solemn
pilgrimage. Their cameras will linger on the unburied bones of the men
of Srebrenica or the shoes that poke from its shallow mass graves. It
was a year ago this weekend that the single bloodiest battle of the
Bosnian war was joined; in its aftermath, up to 8,000 Muslim unarmed
prisoners or men attempting to flee Serbian forces were viciously
murdered. What the reports will not exhume is the real story of
Srebrenica. That is, how it was betrayed by everyone who said publicly
that the Muslim enclave must not fall; and how, through incompetence
or design, General Ratko Mladic, the commander of the Bosnian Serb
Army, was tacitly encouraged to take the town by Western governments
and the United Nations.

A year after the fall of Srebrenica it is possible to piece together
the sequence of hitherto secret or little-known events which led to
catastrophe for those involved but relief for Western diplomats
charged with finding a solution to the war. In May 1995, Nato air
raids against two Bosnian Serb ammunition dumps led to General Mladic
seizing 375 UN hostages. To secure their release, the UN gave Mladic a
promise that there would be no more air strikes. This meant that he
could now turn his hand to Srebrenica which the UN was duty-bound to
protest as a "safe area". For weeks, US "Predator" drones tracked the
military build-up around the enclave. The Dutch UN garrison also
monitored these preparations. According to Muhamed Sacirbey, then
Bosnia's foreign minister, Western diplomats told him what was
happening around Srebrenica but did nothing. "They believed its fall
was inevitable," he says.

There is, however, an even darker shadow which lies across the bones
of Srebrenica - one that implicates the Bosnian government. A month
before the attack, Nasir Oric, Srebrenica's much-feared Muslim
military commander was withdrawn with most of his HQ staff. Today,
Bosnian officials say that Oric was pulled out because he was being
investigated for war crimes. If Oric had been replaced, then this
explanation would be more credible. As he was not and the town was
left without military leadership the question remains open: did the
Bosnian government collude in the fall of Srebrenica? The cynical
conclusion - and in Bosnia, cynicism often proves true - is that the
leadership in Sarajevo decided to sacrifice the town for broader war

In a recent interview Anthony Lake, President Clinton's National
Security Adviser, said that before the fall of Srebrenica a decision
had been made, "rather than draw lines [in Bosnia] in a kind of
higgledy-piggledy way" that might make sense in terms of where people
actually lived, the peacemakers sought to "do what we could to have a
territory that was as simplified as possible". With the fall of
Srebrenica, the map duly became simpler. Encouraged by their American
military advisers, the Croats reconquered the Serb-held Krajina region
of Croatia and then large parts of traditionally Serb land in Western
Bosnia fell to the Croats and Muslims. As if by magic, the land held
by the warring sides in Bosnia reached the 49-51 per cent split
desired by diplomats and the fighting stopped.

With Krajina and Srebrenica wiped off the political maps of Europe,
the diplomats moved on to Dayton, Ohio, where a final peace deal was
struck. Over the past week, the International Tribunal in The Hague
has heard the evidence against Mladic from survivors of the Srebrenica
massacres. Despite the clamour from the international community to see
Radovan Karadzic, his political boss, come to trial, there is a
curious silence over Mladic. It seems that the West requires Mladic
for one more task. As long as Nato troops are on the ground in Bosnia,
then Mladic is needed to keep his men in barracks and the Dayton Plan


The Economist, July 15, 1995, U.S. Edition

Call that safe?


IT IS not the first time that the Serbs have "liberated" Srebrenica.
In 1992, during the first weeks of the Bosnian war, they also took the
town but were driven out. Later, in blazing sunshine, Muslims and
Serbs sat down in the middle of the road to hammer out a peace deal.
The Serbs offered Srebrenica's Muslims autonomy within the Bosnian
Serb republic, but that was rejected. Since then the war in eastern
Bosnia has seen the most vicious fighting in the benighted republic.

The reasons are partly strategic (Srebrenica is on the river Drina
which, at the town, forms the frontier with Serbia), partly
demographic (before the war, 73% of the population was Muslim and 25%
Serb)--and partly personal. Srebrenica is the headquarters of Nasir
Oric. . .

In April 1993, with the town besieged by Serbs, Srebrenica was
declared the first Bosnian "safe area" under UN protection (the other
five followed three weeks later). Thousands of women, children and old
men were packed into UN trucks and taken to Tuzla--until Mr Oric put a
stop to it.

"Safe" Srebrenica was supposed to be demilitarised but this did not
stop Mr Oric's soldiers raiding nearby Serb villages. A recent raid,
occuring soon after the collapse of the heavy-weapons exclusion zone
around Sarajevo, plus the slow gathering of the West's reaction force,
gave General Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb commander, the reasons he
needed for extracting the thorn of Srebrenica from the Bosnian Serbs'
eastern side. But Mr Oric escaped.

If, as seems likely, the town's 40,000 other Muslims are carted off to
Tuzla, General Mladic will have restored his battered credibility with
Bosnian Serb politicians. He can now claim an eye for an eye: roughly
40,000 Serbs have lost their homes recently, driven from central
Bosnia by the Bosnian army and from western Slavonia by the Croats.
The UN has lost something different: Srebrenica will be remembered as
the town where the policy of "safe areas" was born and died.


The New York Times, April 5, 1993, Monday, Late Edition - Final

Muslim Officer Stops U.N. Evacuation of Srebrenica

By JOHN F. BURNS,  Special to The New York Times

The plight of the besieged Muslim town of Srebrenica deepened today
when a Bosnian commander ordered a United Nations convoy to leave the
enclave without the Muslim civilians the trucks had come to evacuate.

United Nations officials said the Muslim officer commanding the
Bosnian garrison in Srebrenica, Nasir Oric, surrounded the United
Nations trucks with armed soldiers and announced that he would not
permit the evacuation to continue because it threatened to empty
Srebrenica and leave the town and outlying villages to be occupied by
the besieging Serbian forces.

As the 16 empty trucks left the enclave, the officials said, thousands
of angry Muslims milled in the streets, protesting that they had been
denied their last chance for survival.

The Bosnian officer's action voided an operation that could have
carried another 2,000 Muslims to the relative safety of Bosnian
Government-held territory at Tuzla, 50 miles northwest of Srebrenica...

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