The Centre for Peace in the Balkans
The Second Coming of Alija Izetbegovic
Bosnia-Herzegovina prepares for "election" challenge.
"In our land with our faith" was the slogan of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) during the multi-party elections in so-called multi-ethnic Bosnia-Herzegovina. At least, that was the Bosnia envisioned by Alija Izetbegovic, leader of the Bosnian Muslims and political head of the SDA.
There is nothing surprising about Izetbegovic´s politics. He has been an ardent Muslim fundamentalist since his youth and authored The Islamic Declaration in 1985. What is surprising is the unconditional support he has received from the United States. It is "carrots" for Izetbegovic and "sticks" for everyone else, to paraphrase U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. This one-sided strategy is supposed to ensure that the Dayton Accords survive.
Nowhere have Clinton´s politics been so duplicitous, backstabbing and treacherous as they have been in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Clinton Administration has waged undeclared and illegal wars for "human rights" and "multi-ethnic existence" in support of those most committed to America´s ideals, like the leader of the Bosnian Muslims, Alija Izetbegovic.
The "ideals" of Izetbegovic are clearly stated in his book The Islamic Declaration in which he wrote: "There can be neither peace nor coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic social and political institutions," and "The Islamic movement must and can take over political power as soon as it is morally and numerically so strong that it can not only destroy the existing non-Islamic power, but build up a new Islamic one."
With this exclusionary and discriminatory thinking at the helm of the country, there is no hope for multi-ethnicity in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Nonetheless, Alija Izetbegovic´s Bosnia has been the key recipient of political and financial aid from the democratic West during the past ten years.
However, the duplicity and chicanery does not end there. Why is Izetbegovic, the supreme Muslim commander, not accountable for war crimes committed by the notorious 7th Muslim Brigade? It is extremely disturbing that Izetbegovic has avoided the scrutiny and judgement of The Hague Tribunal as supreme commander of the Bosnian Muslim army which committed many war crimes in Sarajevo, Kozani, Konjic, Grabovica, Uzdol, Miletici, Dusina, and other places. (For more information see http://www.balkanpeace.org/wcs/wct/wctb/index.shtml)
And what about the war cimes committed by the 10th Mountain Brigade led by the convicted criminal Musan Topalovic-Caco? Izetbegovic must have known about the activities of Caco´s units and the murder of Serbian civilians in Sarajevo. As a reward for successfully carrying out assigned missions, Timur Numic, who handled the logistics for the 10th Mountain Brigade and indirectly involved in execution of Sarajevo Serbs by Caco´s units, is now a high functionary in the SDA and an Izetbegovic confidant. (For more information see http://www.balkanpeace.org/wcs/wct/wctb/wctb01.html)
Izetbegovic´s Resignation Takes his Party to Extreme Right
Many believe that Izetbegovic´s "pensioning off" is a tactical move with sinister overtones. Unbound by the constraints of office and the pesky rules of the occupying powers, Izetbegovic would be free to speak his mind and revive the Islamic fundamentalist rhetoric he is so noted for. This could give a boost to the sagging fortunes of the SDA and once again make it the favored Muslim party in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
It is expected Izetbegovic and the SDA will openly support militant Bosnian Muslim organizations like the Active Islamic Youth (AIO) which could be used to settle scores with political opponents like the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Also on the political hit list are media not disposed to the SDA party line. SDA´s actions against the Sarajevo daily "Dnevni Avaz" were so outrageous they elicited Izetbegovic´s condemnation by his staunchest supporters, the Clinton Administration. (For more information see http://www.balkanpeace.org/cib/bos/bos28.shtml)
It is difficult to predict the "international community´s" reaction if SDA turns more to right. We should remember that the same international community "aided" the Serb Democratic Side (SDS) during the latest local elections by arresting Momcilo Krajisnik.
With this arrest, Krajisnik, one of the SDS founders, was turned into a martyr and thus facilitated an election victory for the SDS.
If the "international community" wants democrats in the Muslim-Croat Federation, what are its options? The strongest candidate is Haris Silajdzic and his Party for Bosnia-Herzegovina. Unfortunately, Silajdzic is everything except a proponent of the Dayton Accords, which he continually mentions. His inclination towards an "integrated" Bosnia-Herzegovina automatically raises suspicions within the ranks of the two other significant nationalities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Serbs and Croats, who fear being outvoted by the numerically superior Muslims. It is unlikely that Silajdzic can count on the support of Serbs and Croats, or their political representatives. According to the National Democratic Institute in Washington (NDI), Silajdzic enjoys the support of 5% of Bosnian Croats while his support among Bosnian Serbs is less than 1%.
However, Bosnia-Herzegovina´s elections are full of surprises. In 1992 a strong precedent was set when the Constitution was contravened in order to achieve certain political goals. That´s how Croat and Muslim representatives voted for an "independent Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina" even though the Bosnian Constitution forbade such a move without the expressed consent of all three constituent nationalities. That precedent set the stage for war.
The alternatives are Zlatko Lagumdzija, leader of the Social Democratic Party, or Mostar mayor Safet Orucevic. Lagumdzija is one politician from the Muslim ranks who can win support from the two other nationalities and coalition partners in a future Bosnia-Herzegovina government. According to NDI, his support is 23% among Bosnian Croats, 15% among Bosnian Serbs, and 66% among Bosnian Muslims.
Safet Orucevic, who has leadership pretensions, is examining his options. The main factor in his decision to run as an independent or on the SDA ticket will be determined by what inducements or guarantees the U.S. puts on the table for him. Orucevic is talented, creative and calculating. That he is a U.S. "star on the rise" can be seen in the number of USAID projects in Mostar designed to create an electorate committed to Mayor Orucevic. At best, Orucevic should be looked at as a future candidate as his national profile is too low for the current elections.
For Bosnian Croats the situation is perfectly clear: the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) of "Herceg-Bosna" is choosing between current leader Ante Jelavic and challenger Jadranko Prlic. The deciding factor will be the support each candidate receives from the Bosnian Croat armed forces and General Stanko Sopta-Baja. This former member of the notorious "Kaznjenicka Bojna " is considered one of the authors of the current HDZ political platform in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
With only three months to the elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina, everything is possible. One of the pressures already exerted on the Bosnian Serb entity is the question of a "united army" which Wolfgang Petrich, current international administrator of Bosnia-Herzegovina, is attempting to institute regardless of the fact that it would contravene the Dayton Accords.
According to a local saying, the best fishing is in murky waters, while in clear waters everything is easily seen. In retrospect, perhaps that is why Alija Izetbegovic has made it so far with U.S. support. By exacerbating tensions among the Muslim populace in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Alija Izetbegovic eliminates the smallest of opportunities for a long-term political and ethnic solution. Continuing tensions will only worsen until another spark blows the powder keg. Naturally, another problem in Europe is yet another opportunity for U.S. interests and intervention, as is the case in other geo-strategically important areas around the world.
Republic of Srpska Elections
When discussing politics in Bosnia-Herzegovina one must take into consideration the nationalities as well. In this case, Serbs and Muslims will decide the leadership in the Republic of Srpska. The elections in Republic of Srpska can either be simple or complex.
Following the ban on the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) by the international administrator of Bosnia-Herzegovina - a move which contravenes the principles of democracy propagated by the West - there are a few options for the Bosnian Serb voters: current premier Milorad Dodik, SDS challengers Mirko Sarovic and Dragan Covic, or Party of Democratic Prosperity (PDP) leader Mladen Ivanjic.
The biggest question is voter support for current Republic of Srpska premier Milorad Dodik who has maintained his position strictly due to international pressure. Considered the only "democrat" among the Bosnian Serbs and Washington´s "fair haired boy" (Albright called him a "breath of fresh air"), Dodik will need large amounts of Western interference to stay in office.
Among the Serbian candidates, the wildcard for the West is PDP leader Mladen Ivanjic, the surprise in the recent municipal elections. He has the support of a large number of voters who, instead of casting protest votes against the SDS, voted for real political change. The RS voters, disappointed by both Biljana Plavsic and Milorad Dodik, cast their ballots for the young economics expert in the hope of a better future.
The "international community" will undoubtedly play a large role in Ivanjic´s political future. More than likely he will be forced to support Dodik´s candidacy for RS president and in return for the prime minister´s position. If he rejects such an offer, Ivanjic risks the same fate as Biljana Plavsic: first supported, then used, then discarded to a growing political scrap heap.
The other election wildcard is the number of Muslim votes in the RS which could reach 100,000. In the last election the Muslim voters cast their ballots for an outsider who had no chance of winning instead of supporting Biljana Plavsic against Nikola Poplasen. Consequently, the West´s then favourite Biljana Plavsic lost to anti-West oriented Nikola Poplasen. Eventually, Poplasen´s victory was declared null and void by the West - another move in contravention of diplomatic principles - and Dodik retained the premiership even though he had lost in the elections.
Another distinct possibility is for the SDS to receive another electoral gift, like the capture of Momcilo Krajisnik, which would lead to yet another sympathy vote for that party. The SDS is fully aware of that and is no hurry to name its candidate. As a result of a number of discriminatory policies against the Bosnian Serbs, the SDS is assured of good results at the polling booth. What is needed is a defining incident that will show discrimination against the Serbs as a whole.
All three nationalities are being manipulated at will by the occupying powers. The entire matter of administration for the people of the Balkans is reminiscent of the Stalinist Cheka, the notorious secret police who were judge, jury and executioner at the same time, another tragedy for the Balkan peoples who have once again become currency in the affairs of international "elites" instead of masters of their own destinies. The only question that remains unanswered is: What is the end game?
The Centre for Peace in the Balkans