The danger of arming the Serbs
The Globe and Mail (Canada)
Will Bosnia-Herzegovina once again collapse into civil war? asked Mark MacKinnon. The 1992–95 war, a horror that killed more than 100,000 people and introduced the world to the term “ethnic cleansing,” was ignited by Bosnian Serbs’ attempts to carve out an ethnically pure homeland. The uneasy peace that followed, in a country now split into a Serb portion and a Muslim-Croat alliance, has been maintained through the carrot of eventual European Union membership and “the stick of U.S. military might.” But now the carrot is gone, because the EU has made clear it must mend fraying internal ties rather than expand, and U.S. President Donald Trump has removed the stick by ignoring the Balkans and disparaging NATO. Milorad Dodik, the president of the Bosnian Serb republic, is now promising to hold an independence referendum and is arming his police force with machine guns bought from neighboring Serbia. “They’re not even trying to hide it,” says Valentin Inzko, the U.N. viceroy for the country. “Dodik is openly speaking about an army for the Republic of Srpska.” With Bosnian Serbs looking to Russia as a patron, and the Bosnian Muslims to Turkey, Bosnia could easily split apart—and ignite a wider war.