Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Srebrenica and the French Connection

Srebrenica and the French Connection

FIVE members of a Serb special police force unit have gone on trial in Belgrade, charged with murdering Bosniac civilians after the fall of Srebrenica. The 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre this year saw renewed efforts by various people to prove there was no massacre, or that it was exagerrated, or that the victims brought it upon themselves.

The several thousand women in Bosnia missing and mourning husbands, brothers and sons have apparently been deluded by Western propaganda, or else they, being Muslims, are not to be trusted; having boarded their coaches on a shopping trip to Tuzla, then like "bogus asylum seekers" they invented their losses and suffering to prey on people's sympathies and the "sosh".

Remains being dug up from the killing fields were planted to delude us, rather as the Almighty sowed fossils to make ye of little Faith believe in evolution and so forth. Anyway, Serb forces having bulldozed, ploughed and harrowed your husbands' remains several times, they are scatterd beyond recognition, so where is your proof whose they are? .

What you thought was a siege was illusion, the town was wageing war all around. Besides, the Americans were flying in planeloads of arms to Tuzla, even if the skies were silent and the airport under UN control, it's just that the Bosnian army decided not to use them, they wanted to lose their towns to get the world's sympathy that's all. So what if it did them no good?

Oddly enough. while the revisionist chorus was trying to get in tune, a different note entirely was sounded by, of all people, Serb Radical Party leader (or vojvod, that is Duce), Vojtslav Seselj, from the Hague. Appearing in defence of former president Slobodan Milosevic, his far-Right coalition partner announced that the Srebrenica massacre had been committed by a group of "foreign mercenaries close to the French secret service".

This startling allegation brought welcome light relief to a Hague tribunal audience desperate for a laugh. It was particularly surprising considering that Seselj's biggest buddy on the European scene was France's Jean-Marie Le Pen. Besides, France, or at any rate, the French military and political establishment, frequently showed a soft spot for Serb nationalism during and after the Bosnian conflict.

Reminding us of the way the UN forces handed Patrice Lumumba over to his enemies, French troops under UN command, escorting Bosnian Deputy Prime Minister Hakija Turajlic opened the doors of their armoured pesonnel carrier at a Serb nationalist roadblock, near Sarajevo airport, allowing the Serbs to kill minister Turajlic, on January 8, 1993. A British armoured unit that had arrived at the roadblock was ordered away by the French commander, and French reinforcements remained 400 yards away, before the shooting took place. The UN "protection" force (UNPROFOR) command would not allow Bosnian authorities to investigate the incident.
At the end of November 1994 French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe went with Britain's Douglas Hurd to negotiate with Milosevic, and according to some press reports, offered the Serb leader a free hand in eastern Bosnia, including besieged towns like Gorazde and Srebrenica.

After the war, the Hague war crimes tribunal was set up. Its head, justice Louise Arbour, told le Monde (15 December, 1997) : "Most of the war criminals in Bosnia can be found in the French sector, that's where they feel safe. We are facing total inertia on the part of the French authorities. This is a concerted policy". Foreign Minister Hubert Vodrine denied this, but as concerned French organisations pointed out, two figures facing the most serious charges, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, resided in the Pale area under French occupation.

French Defence Minister Alain Richard dismissed the Hague tribunal as a "show trial", and advised French officers who had served with UNPROFOR not to atend as witnesses.
In 1994, a retired general, Pierre-Marie Gallois had written to Karadzic regretting his "incapacity to stand beside you in the battle". In 1998 it was reported that French officers arriving in Bosnia were being encouraged to liaise with Bosnian Serb nationalists, and that a colonel had told them the Serbs were "sacrificed" in the Dayton peace agreement, and a "a rising Muslim tide" was threatening to engulf Europe. A Major Herve Goumelon was recalled from Bosnia after complaints that his frequent meetings with Karadzic helped the war criminal evade arrest.

In October 1998 a French officer attached to NATO headquarters in Brussels, Major Pierre-Henri Bunel, was arrested, accused of passing classified information on planned NATO air strikes and other information to Colonel Jovan Mihailovic of Serbian military intelligence, during the Kosova intervention. Fellow officers demonstrated outside military headquarters, not because they thought he was innocent, but because they agreed with him. They bore a banner reading "THE ARMY WITH THE SERBS - FREE MAJOR BUNEL!"

There was more than just the prejudices of the officer caste at work in Bosnia. The end of the Cold War against the Soviet Union had released underlying conflicts and rivalries among imperialist powers, from the new "scramble for Africa" to the rough geopolitical alignment that led up to the First World War. Then Germany's drang nach osten, in alliance with Austro-Hungary and the Ottoman Turkish Empire, was confronted by an alliance of Britain, France, Serbia and Russia. Cast your mind back to fifth form history, and you might remember the Baghdad Railway, as well as a little shooting incident in a city called Sarajevo.

It's said that when thieves fall out, honest people prosper. But too many on the Left - even those who liked to dub the old Soviet Union "state capitalism" or worse - have reverted to an obsolete Cold War model which attempts to explain imperialism not as the "highest stage of capitalism" (q.v Lenin), with all the contradictions and conflicts that entails, but a united, monolithic and wickedly conspiratorial force. The imperialists plan, and wage wars "for oil" (treated merely as a strategic commodity, not a profitable lever for commercial advantage) , we can but protest.

In the case of ex-Yugoslavia, they were supposedly inventing atrocities just for an excuse to destroy "socialism" -as though Milosevic and his fascist allies were defending it, rather than grabbing the lot, robbing the exchequer and privatising.

Anything which complicated the picture, such as intra-imperialist conflict, was rejected. Please don't trouble our poor flock with anything that requires them to think. The outburst from Milosevic and his ally Seselj blaming "French mercenaries" for Srebrenica shows how desperate they must be. Fantastic or not, it ought to make people think. But as one SWP academic asked some years back, when confronted over the presence of Seselj's emigre supporters on a London peace march, where they threatened and attacked socialists, "who is Seselj?" Only most don't even ask. And some of the "Morning Star-linists" ' Srebrenica revisionists, true to the Red-Brown tradition, probably don't even care.

French Connection II

NOW to the real events which Seselj seized on for his allegations. On September 1 this year the Sarajevo newspaper Slobodna Bosna carried a feature length interview with a former member of the 10th commando detachment, attached to the Army of Republika Srpska, commanded by General Ratko Mladic. A member of the same unit, Drazen Erdemovic, was convicted by the Hague court for his part in the Srebrenica massacre.

The man who was interviewed testified that the unit was originally formed under Yugoslav command, as a specialist detachment trained in commando operations and sabotage. They were not Serb nationalists - in fact most were not even Serbs to begin with - but professionals, proud of their skills, and like pirates, they expected rewards.

"We had carried out a raid to destroy a bridge on the Buk, you see, that was 40km from Vezuca towards Zenica, and we were suposed to get 20,000 dollars for the raid. The money arrived in Doboj, in the hands of the military security officer, Mirko Slavuljica. But of that money we only got 100 dollars apiece, the rest was probably shared out by Slavuljica and the other top brass."

The interviewee claimed his group had been sent on an unsuccessful mission to mine a dam on 16 July 1995 when Drazen Erdemovic led another group from the same detachment to Srebrenica.
"When we came back to Bijeljina and met the other group, they told me what they'd done at Srebrenica. They came with money and gold that they'd collected from the people they'd shot, it was worth about 4,000 marks, mainly rings and chains. We went for a drink together."
(interview article translated in the September-November 2005 Bosnia Report, published by the Bosnian Institute, see their site ).

From Bosnia, the commando went off in 1998 to more remunerative operations in Zaire, Kosova and Macedonia. Everything was organised by a Serb called Jugo Petrusic and a Russian called Sergej. "I spent three months in Zaire and earned about 16,000 dollars. ..." There were 80 of them, drawn from the 10th commando and from Serbian special units. "We fought for President Mobutu. We were fools. If we'd fought for the rebels, we'd have stayed longer and earned more."

In 1999, after actions from Kosova against Albanian targets - the Pauk(Spider) battalion, still subsidised with French money, perhaps from the Foreign Legion, was accused of involvement in a plot to assassinate Milosevic. This led to more being learned about Jugo Petrusic. Born in Serbia, he had served in the French Foreign Legion, and claims to have served in Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon and Zaire, before coming back to Yugoslavia in 1992 with the French UNPROFOR contingent.

Reputed to have four passports, three wives, millions in foreign bank accounts and property in Paris, he worked for the French secret service DST, supposedly combatting "Muslim extremists". As soon as the fighting in Bosnia ended he began recruiting men like the veterans of the 10th detachment for mercenary service in Zaire.

When people are lamenting the wars and atrocities in Africa, few apart from people like the African Liberation Solidarity Campaign(ALISC) get around to asking where the weapons come from, or recognising that these are imperialism's proxy wars. Death and misery for Africans, profits and power for Western companies, and careers for mercenaries, even if some like our Yugoslav commando complain that they were cheated of earnings by their bosses. But the row and recriminations from Serbian nationalists have flashed a light on the continued responsibility of the old colonial powers for fostering barbarism in Africa, and in parts of Europe too. .

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At 12:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's in English, by Norway journalist.


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