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War in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Transcript of War in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Background to Conflict-
The Breakup of Yugoslavia
Josip Broz Tito was a hero of the Second World War, and a totalitarian dictator of Yugoslavia from 1945 until his death in 1980. Tito, who had direct family members from every major ethnic group in Yugoslavia, was seen by Yugoslavs as a unifying figure, and his death brought a tide of nationalism and conflict to Yugoslavia's constituent nations. A popular saying about Yugoslavia was that it had eight distinct peoples in six republics, with five languages, three religions, and two alphabets, but only one Yugoslav — Tito
Background to Conflict-
History of the Region
Situation Report- 1992-1995
Following the death of Tito and Bosnia's declaration of independence from Yugoslav rule, fighting broke out between varied factions, eventually becoming known as the Bosnian War. The conflict, which took place in the Balkans, the doorstep of the EU/NATO/United Nations, spanned from 1 March 1992 to 14 December 1995, was marked by repeated flagrant human rights violations by all factions involved, including mistreatment of civilians, ethnic cleansing, periodic massacres, and systematic rape as a weapon of warfare. 3 main factions vied for control of territory in Bosnia for years, trading human rights violations even after the UN began an ineffective peacekeeping mission. In response to the disregard given by the belligerents to UN peacekeeping efforts in the area, NATO initiated a bombing campaign to cripple the military capacity of the Serbian faction, eventually leading to peace talks and a gradual settling of hostilities.
Yugoslavia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina in particular, are racially and nationally diverse due to the existence of the Balkan Peninsula on historic fault lines of religious and cultural conflicts. Throughout history, the Balkans have been a crucible of conflict between religions. The split of the Roman Empire in the 4th century divided the Balkans between Roman Catholicism and Byzantine Orthodox christianity, and the invasion of the Ottomans brought Islam in the 14th century. Thus, the 3 major factions that fought in Bosnia in the 1990s are based on these 3 different religious ideas- Catholic Croats, Orthodox Serbs, and Muslim Bosniaks.
Tito- The Only Yugoslav
Focal Nation- Bosnia and Herzegovina
The demographics of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina are the most diverse of any nation to come out of the breakup of Yugoslavia. The breakdown of major ethnic groups in B&H is as follows-
44% Muslim Bosniaks
31% Orthodox Serbs
17% Catholic Croats
However, these ethnicities were not divided into separate regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. While Bosniaks tended to be centered in cities and Serbs tended towards the countryside, diversity in cities, villages, and even families in Bosnia was commonplace. When conflict broke out, it pitted neighbors and brothers, fathers and sons, and former friends against each other.
Republic of Bosnia in Herzegovina (RBiH)
RBiH is the primary Bosniak faction in Bosnia, and is lead by the President Alija Izetbegović, a Sunni Muslim leader with experience in politics. Itzbegović supported the local SS forces in Yugoslavia during WWII. The armed forces are known as the Army of the Republic of Bosnia in Herzegovina, or ARBiH.
Catholic Croats in Bosnia gained support from the government of the Croatian President Franjo Tudman.
Tudman supported Communist partisans in WWII, and was the youngest general to serve Yugoslavia during the second world war. Croatians in Bosnia fought for power for the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia
Serbian forces in Bosnia operated in the interests of the Republika Srpska, the Serbian national organization. With help from Serbian president Slobodan Milošević and several paramilitary groups, Republika Srpska conducted some of the more notable ethnic cleansing operations of the war.
Following declarations of independence from Slovenia and Croatia from the failed state of Yugoslavia, Bosnia follows suit, holding multi-party democratic elections which see a rise to power by nationalist governments. A coalition is formed with Bosniak, Serbian, and Croatian members despite discrepancies in the goals of these nations.
Croatian and Bosnian parliament members form a voting alliance, infuriating Serb nationalists. Following government walkouts by Serb officials, war breaks out, and Serbian forces rapidly gain control of half of Bosnia.
Ethnic cleansing efforts are carried out by all 3 ethnic groups.
Serb forces lay siege to Sarajevo, a Bosniak city. Unable to claim the city outright, a campaign of artillery strikes and sniper fire aimed at civilians is put into place.
After Bosniak and Croat forces work together to evict the Yugoslav Peoples' Army from the city of Mostar, fighting breaks out between Croats and Bosniaks, splitting the city. Historic monuments from the 16th Century are destroyed, which will later result in Croat forces being tried for war crimes.
Elsewhere, the war grows increasingly complex, as Muslims and Serbs ally to fight Croats, rivalries begin between factions within the Bosniak military, and elsewhere Croats and Serbs ally to fight Muslims.
Amidst this chaos, the UN begins a mission to create safe zones for Bosniak civilians in the cities of Sarajevo, Gorazde and Srebrenica.
The UN safe haven at Srebrenica, home to thousands of Bosniak refugees, is overrun by Serbian forces under the command of General Ratko Mladic. In defiance of the UN's attempts at preventing genocide, Mladic's forces and Serbian paramilitary groups execute thousands of Bosniak men and boys, and systematically rape women. The massacres at Srebrenica and other UN safe zones in Bosnia are considered to be the worst cases of genocide since the end of the second world war.
In response to the genocides carried out by Serbian military groups, NATO launches a brutal bombing campaign against Serbian military targets. Codenamed "Operation Deliberate Force", the bombing campaign lasted less than a month, after which Serb forces agreed to sign the Dayton Peace Agreement, ending official hostilities in Bosnia. NATO dispatched a 60,000-man ground force to enforce the terms of the Dayton Agreement.
Operation Deliberate Force was the first time that NATO forces employed airstrikes in peacekeeping efforts.
"In the view of the US Defense Department, Operation DELIBERATE FORCE proved that airpower can have a decisive role when serving achievable, clear policy objectives. Airpower's efforts in... Sarejevo saved lives and helped pave the way for a negotiated settlement. Deliberate Force was the crucial step in (establishing negotiations) at Dayton, leading to the peace agreement."
Not only was Deliberate Force a successful display of NATO military force, but the Dayton Peace Agreement that followed it has been regarded by political scientist Dr. Charles-Philippe David as one of "the most impressive examples of conflict resolution" in the history of US foreign policy.
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Charles-Philippe David, "Alice in Wonderland meets Frankenstein: Constructivism, Realism and Peacebuilding in Bosnia", Contemporary Security Policy 22, No.1, 2001
Ahmetasevic, Nidzara. "Witness Describes Markale Massacre at Karadzic Trial." :: Balkan Insight. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2013. <http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/witness-describes-markale-massacre-at-karadzic-trial>.
"Operation Deliberate Force: Fact Sheet." GlobalSecurity.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2013. <http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/deliberate_force.htm>.