How Alija Izetbegovic's regime held the civilian population of Srebrenica hostage, goaded the Bosnain-Serbs into attacking the enclave, and then abandoned the civilian population to the mercy of the attacking enemy. by Andy Wilcoxson
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
In the wake of the July 1995 fall of the Srebrenica enclave, thousands of Muslim soldiers and draft eligible men were killed or went missing. Some were captured and summarily executed by Bosnian-Serb forces, and others died in combat.
Western governments, news media, and the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague have assiduously misled the public about the nature of the massacre, at the same time they have remained conspicuously silent about the role U.N. officials and the Muslim regime in Sarajevo played in orchestrating the massacre.
Srebrenica's Fall Could Have Been Prevented
Yasushi Akashi, who at the time was the special envoy of the U.N. Secretary General in the former Yugoslavia, said the U.N. had "limited capabilities" and could not prevent the fall of Srebrenica. He told the Associated Press, "There was a hundred of U.N. troops versus thousands of Serb troops. What could we have done?"
According to the Dutch battalion of U.N. peacekeepers who were deployed in Srebrenica, quite a bit could have been done. They were authorized to call in air strikes if the enclave was attacked, and when it was attacked they did indeed call in air strikes, but they were blocked by the U.N. until it was too late.
According to the debriefing of Dutch Battalion personnel, "The battalion was counting on massive air support … air support was requested around 10.30 hrs. [on July 11, 1995] Then, despite all of its promises, the U.N. still failed to release air power."
The Dutch Battalion's report states that, "Both the battalion staff and the rest of Dutchbat are convinced that the fall of the enclave can be attributed to a distinct lack of support from the air; the limited close air support did not arrive until the battle was actually over."
Even without the U.N.'s help, Bosnian-Muslim president Alija Izetbegovic's regime could have intervened to stop the fall of the enclave and subsequent massacre, but they chose not to act either.
Sefer Halilovic was the commanding officer of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina during the war. He was the most senior officer in Izetbegovic's military and he testified under oath at the UN war crimes Tribunal in The Hague that "the command of the 2nd Corps and the General Staff knew when the operation on Srebrenica started, but from a series of testimonies, the people who were in Srebrenica, both from military and political structures, we can clearly see that they asked for help, both of the command of the 2nd Corps and the command of the General Staff and President Izetbegovic, but that they did not receive that assistance. To answer your question whether they had the power and materiel to help, to come to the help of Srebrenica, I think that they did."
Even though Srebrenica was abandoned by its supposed protectors at the U.N. and by its own government in Sarajevo, the Muslim forces based in Srebrenica should have been able to defend the enclave themselves. Instead, on July 12, 1995, they fled the enclave with the rest of the able-bodied men and abandoned Srebrenica's women, children, and elderly to the mercy of the attacking Bosnian-Serb forces.
Although UN Military Observers (UNMOs) were uncertain of the exact number of Muslim military personnel in Srebrenica, they believed "that at least half had side arms as well as heavy machine guns, light mortars, and anti-tank weapons including rocket propelled grenades and more modern ones."
The Command of the 2nd Corps of the Army of Bosnia Herzegovina (ABiH) prepared a report detailing the operation Srebrenica's men undertook to flee Srebrenica across Bosnian-Serb territory to Tuzla. Their report said, "Numbers were not established when the column was formed, but some estimates put the number in the column at 10,000 to 15,000 people, including approximately 6,000 armed soldiers, not counting soldiers from Zepa."
According to UN Military Observers, at the time of the attack the Bosnian-Serb Army's "Drina Corps was known to be stretched in terms of resources" and the strength of the Bosnian-Serb units surrounding Srebrenica was "1,000 to 3,000 infantry with up to 20 tanks as well as artillery and multiple launch rocket systems." When Srebrenica fell, the UNMOs estimated that the local Bosnian-Serb brigades "probably have around 1,500 infantry in total" and together with reinforcements from units stationed in adjacent areas, the total strength of the Bosnian-Serb forces around Srebrenica was "probably no less than 2,000 infantry."
Even if they hadn't been abandoned by the UN and by their own government, 6,000 armed Muslim soldiers should have been able to fight off 1,000 to 3,000 Serb infantry men.
When the Bosnian-Serbs attacked the enclave, UN Military Observers were stunned that the Muslim army didn't attempt to defend it. In their report they state: "The ABiH had the force ratios to defend the enclave particularly considering its hilly, wooded nature." They went on to write, "The advantages militarily seem to have been with the [Muslim] defenders to at least hold out for longer and have inflicted greater losses on the Bosnian-Serb Army than believed. However, the ABiH leadership seems to have actually acted against their own interests to carryout a successful defense." 
Dutch Battalion personnel in Srebrenica were surprised when Muslim troops in the enclave did not avail themselves of the weapons they were offered. On the morning of July 6th 1995 battalion personnel "Informed the Bosnian government forces that, if the Bosnian-Serb Army crossed the enclave boundary, the arms in the weapon collection point in Srebrenica would be released. Later, when this situation did indeed occur, the Bosnian government forces did not avail themselves of this opportunity."
Foreknowledge of the Massacre
Izetbegovic's decision to refuse Srebrenica's pleas for help and to abandon it to the mercy of the Bosnian-Serb Army is all the more shocking in light of the fact that his regime knew what would happen if Srebrenica fell. They were fully aware of what was at stake. Two years before the massacre, Bosnian vice-premiere Zlatko Lagumdjija told reporters from the London Times that "We shall be witnesses of a big massacre if Srebrenica falls."
The U.N. also had foreknowledge of what would happen. The U.N. chose not to act in 1995 even though it knew as far back as 1993 what kind of massacre would ensue if Srebrenica fell.
Testifying at the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, the former commander of the UN Protection Force in Bosnia, French General Philippe Morillon told the court that "Naser Oric [the commander of the Bosnian-Muslim military forces in Srebrenica] engaged in attacks during Orthodox [Christian] holidays and destroyed villages, massacring all the inhabitants. This created a degree of hatred that was quite extraordinary in the region."
He said, "Naser Oric was a warlord who reigned by terror in his area and over the population itself. I think that he realized that those were the rules of this horrific war, that he could not allow himself to take prisoners. According to my recollection, he didn't even look for an excuse. It was simply a statement: One can't be bothered with prisoners."
Morillon testified, "I wasn't surprised when the Serbs took me to a village to show me the evacuation of the bodies of the inhabitants that had been thrown into a hole, a village close to Bratunac. And this made me understand the degree to which this infernal situation of blood and vengeance led to a situation when I personally feared that the worst would happen if the Serbs of Bosnia managed to enter the enclaves and Srebrenica." He said, "I saw, a degree of absolute misery with a real risk of tens of thousands being killed.
"I feared that the Serbs, the local Serbs, the Serbs of Bratunac, these militiamen, they wanted to take their revenge for everything that they attributed to Naser Oric. It wasn't just Naser Oric that they wanted to revenge, take their revenge on, they wanted to revenge their dead on Orthodox Christmas. They were in this hellish circle of revenge. Not only the men. The women, the entire population was imbued with this. It wasn't the sickness of fear that had infected the entire population of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the fear of being dominated, of being eliminated, it was pure hatred."
After listening to his testimony the Presiding judge asked Morillon, "Are you saying, then, General, that what happened in 1995 was a direct reaction to what Naser Oric did to the Serbs two years before?" And the witness answered, "Yes. Yes, Your Honour. I am convinced of that."
According to the Dutch Battalion's report, the Bosnian-Serb military units surrounding Srebrenica in 1995 "were manned chiefly by Bosnian-Serb refugees who had formerly lived in the enclave."
The soldiers who ultimately perpetrated the July 1995 massacre had been victimized themselves beforehand.
Because Gen. Morillon knew what would happen if the Bosnian-Serbs entered Srebrenica, he tried to have the civilian population evacuated to safety, but he was prevented from doing that by the Bosnian-Muslim authorities.
On April 19, 1993– two years before the massacre – Reuters and the New York Times reported that:
"Authorities in Srebrenica refused today to allow civilians to be evacuated from the besieged Muslim town, a United Nations official said.
"'We have just received confirmation that the Bosnian authorities in Srebrenica will not permit any evacuation', a UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokeswoman said in Belgrade.
"She said the Muslim authorities didn't give a reason for blocking the operation."
During his testimony Morillon noted that "Had I been able to evacuate all those who had wanted me to do so at the time that I intervened in Srebrenica, we could certainly have saved a number of human lives."
He said, "the Bosniaks used the presence of their population to keep the attention of the world focused on their situation, they prevented the evacuation from Srebrenica ...the authorities of Izetbegovic were the ones who stood up against the evacuation of those towards Tuzla for all those who wanted to, and there were many of them who wanted to."
Concurrent with Morillon's failed efforts to evacuate the civilian population from Srebrenica, the Security Council designated it a "UN Safe Area" in April 1993.
As a so-called "Safe area", Srebrenica was supposed to be demilitarized. On May 8th 1993 Ratko Mladic on behalf of the Serbs, and Sefer Halilovic on behalf of the Muslims, signed an agreement on the demilitarization of Srebrenica in the presence of Gen. Morillon.
Under the terms of the agreement, all of the weapons in the enclave were to be placed under the control of the UN; in turn the UN was responsible for the security of the enclave. That was how things were on paper, but real life was different.
The Muslims did not demilitarize Srebrenica; instead they used the so-called "safe area" as a base from which to attack the Bosnian-Serb army and the surrounding Serbian villages.
Two weeks before the enclave fell, Muslim troops from Srebrenica attacked an undefended Serbian village. At 4:30 AM on June 26, 1995 they attacked the hamlet of Visnjica near Srebrenica, burning houses, killing livestock, and sending Serb civilians fleeing for their lives.
Conspiracies seldom remain secret, and Srebrenica is no exception. Although the Western news media refuses to discuss the role played by anyone other than the Serbs, some Bosnian-Muslim officials have spoken out.
Ibran Mustafic was a founding member of Alija Izetbegovic's political party, a member of the Bosnian parliament, and a resident of Srebrenica. In 1996 he told Sarajevo's Slobodna Bosna newspaper that "The betrayal of Srebrenica was consciously prepared. Unfortunately, the Bosnian presidency and the Army command were involved in this business; if you want the names, figure it out yourself. I understood the situation in Srebrenica and, you can trust me on this, had I not been prevented by a group of criminals, many more inhabitants of Srebrenica would be alive today. Had I received an order to attack the Serb army from the demilitarized zone, I would have rejected to carry out that order without thinking and would have asked the person who had issued that order to bring his family to Srebrenica so that I can give him a gun and let him stage attacks from the demilitarized zone. I knew that such shameful, calculated moves were leading my people to a catastrophe."
The Motive to Betray One's Own People
In 1998, Srebrenica's wartime chief of police, Hakija Meholjic told the Sarajevo newspaper Dani that in September 1993 Izetbegovic told him: "You know, I was offered by [Bill] Clinton in April that the [Serbian] Chetnik forces enter Srebrenica, carry out a slaughter of 5,000 Muslims, and then there will be a [NATO] military intervention."
Meholjic's statement is corroborated by the UN Secretary General's report on the fall of Srebrenica, which says "Representatives of the Bosniac community gathered in Sarajevoon 28 and 29 September  to vote on the [Invincible] peace package. A delegation of Bosniacs from Srebrenica was transported to Sarajevoby UNPROFOR helicopter to participate in the debate. Prior to the meeting, the delegation met in private with President Izetbegovic, who told them that there were Serb proposals to exchange Srebrenica and Zepa for territories around Sarajevo. The delegation opposed the idea, and the subject was not discussed further. Some surviving members of the Srebrenica delegation have stated that President Izetbegovic also told them he had learned that a NATO intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovinawas possible, but could only occur if the Serbs were to break into Srebrenica, killing at least 5,000 of its people. President Izetbegovic has flatly denied making such a statement."
It certainly appears that Alija Izetbegovic incited a massacre against his own people in Srebrenica because he wanted NATO to intervene in the Bosnian war on his behalf.
Izetbegovic's regime provoked the Serbs by perpetrating massacres against them, blocked the evacuation of the civilian population, staged attacks from the safe area, and when the anticipated Serb retaliation finally came, his regime abandoned Srebrenica with full knowledge of what the consequences would be.
The truth is ugly. The Serbs executed enemy POWs in violation of the Geneva Conventions, the Muslims deliberately goaded them into it for propaganda purposes, the U.N. allowed all of it to happen even though they had the means to stop it, NATO got conned into being the Muslim air force, and Western governments and news media lied about the whole thing. The end result of all of it is that thousands of people died needlessly.
In 2004, the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal inThe Hague convicted Bosnian-Serb general Radislav Krstic of aiding and abetting "genocide" (sic) in Srebrenica and sentenced him to 35 years in prison.
Krstic did not participate in, order, or even know the massacre was happening. In fact, Krstic specifically ordered that no harm was to befall the Bosnian Muslim civilians.
The Tribunal ruled that "It was unnecessary for the Trial Chamber to conclude that Radislav Krstic was actually aware that those other criminal acts were being committed; it was sufficient that their occurrence was foreseeable to him and that those other crimes did in fact occur."
The Srebrenica massacre was foreseeable to the Bosnian-Muslim authorities and to the U.N. as well. They too had the ability and the obligation to prevent the massacre, and they didn't do it either. One has to wonder about the integrity of the judicial process surrounding Srebrenica, when someone like Krstic is held responsible and they're not.
One also has to wonder whether a conflict of interest arises when a UN Tribunal conducts the investigations, makes factual findings, and determines criminal liability with regard to events where the UN was as deeply involved as it was in Srebrenica. The UN's failure to demilitarize the enclave or prevent its collapse and subsequent massacre, when it had the ability to do so, certainly begs the question of whether those failures were deliberate or not.
Associated Press Worldstream, "U.N. diplomat says Srebrenica massacres could not have been prevented," November 22, 1999
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this is a pretty abhorrent attempt to blame the victims. And the bias is revealed not just in the headline but in the very first sentence. The awful euphemism "soldiers draft eligible men were killed or went missing" as if this was somehow OK. In fact, as the UN Secretary-General's extraordinary report of 1999 spelled out in painstaking detail, every boy of 12 years old and above in Srebrenica who fell into the hands of the people Wilcoxson is seeking to whitewash was systematically murdered, many beaten to death with iron bars, one after the other over a 3-day period. And the reason why they "went missing" is that the killers tried to conceal their actions by mixing up the bones and spreading the remains over dozens of different sites, though they are being slowly found and identified. "Draft eligible men went missing" indeed.
Posted By: AndyWilcoxson
Date: June 16, 2011 01:23:44 PM
Peter: 12 year olds weren't targeted. The group that was targeted were men between 16 and 60, and they were targeted because the ABiH drafted the men between the ages of 16 and 60.
Using DNA analysis, The ICMP has found remains for most of the victims and they've only identified 9 out of thousands of identified victims who were under the age of 14. Children were not being targeted. Over 70% of the identified victims were soldiers who's military records have been located, and 90% of the victims are men between the ages of 16 and 60 who would have been eligable for the draft if they weren't already soldiers. When 90% of the identified victims are soldiers and draft eligable men it's not misleading at all to call them that.
In 1999 the vast majority of forensic work had not been done yet. Most of the victim's remains had not been located. The UN was not in a position to give "painstaking details" about the massacre because they hadn't gathered the evidence. The evidence is still being gathered, and we have a lot more of it today than the UN had then.
Secondly, I'm not blaming the victims. I'm blaming the victims' government and that's a huge distinction. The victims are dead, but their government benefited politically from the massacre. Their government isn't the victim at all, the people are the victim.
This is no different than if George W Bush had had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attack and purposefully let it happen, when he could have stopped it, just so he would have a pretext to invade Afghanistan. In fact this is like if George Bush would have known about the attack, and then to ensure the maximum death toll blocked an evacuation of people from the WTC ahead of the attack. If that had happened, and if the information came out, would it be blaming the people who died in the World Trade Center if you pointed it out? Of course not, that's stupid. If that had happened, it would be perfectly correct to say "9/11 was an inside job."
Srebrenica seems to be a phenomenon of some kind. A dogma, I'd say. Any kind of discussion or analysis is immediately labeled as revisionist, biased, etc. I suppose more people would like to research the "dogma" and voice their opinion but they're afraid they'll be discredited, excommunicated or something.
I know that sides in the Bosnian war, some Western governments and some prominent media figures are stakeholders in all this and have their interests in one or the other interpretation, but the phenomenon is global. Everyone is just parroting about Srebrenica and totally disregarding whole three years of the Bosnian war that were equally bloody...
I understand that most people don't really care about the intricacies of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, but why are they then so extremely opinionated and passionate about Srebrenica? Is it because it's presented so clean-cut and easy to digest, good ol' good vs. evil? Can the media that easily form our opinion just by abusing our emotions and empathy. I thought we were all smart, well-informed and free thinking ;)