Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Ganic Affair

The arrest of Ejup Ganic in London the other day was as surprising to me as I imagine it must have been to him. Namely, I never thought the Brits would actually honor an Interpol warrant originating in Serbia. There is an established precedent for ignoring or overriding Serbian warrants in the cases of Agim Ceku, Hashim Taqi and other "freedom fighters" of the "Independent state of Kosovia". In every case, the Empire insured their prompt release.

Then againk, Ganic is not a current client of the Empire, but a former one. Perhaps that is what makes all the difference.

Reports of his arrest commonly mis-identify him as "former President of Bosnia." He was nothing of the sort. He was, however, a loyal associate of Alija Izetbegovic, an Islamic revolutionary who schemed, lied and forced his way into becoming the leader of Bosnia's Muslims in the early 1990s. Ganic ran for the then-Yugoslav republic's presidency as an "other", declaring himself an ethnic "Yugoslav", thus exploiting a loophole in electoral rules and giving Izetbegovic an extra vote in the seven-member collective. One of the reasons the current Bosnian constitution has strict and even discriminatory rules governing presidential elections is to prevent just such a scenario from being repeated. When Izetbegovic moved to declare independence in March 1992, most other members of the presidency took exception. Only two remained loyal to Izetbegovic - Stjepan Kljuic, a Croat who was quickly marginalized, and Ganic.

On April 27, 1992, the government in Belgrade established the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, de facto recognizing the secession of the republics of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia. The Yugoslav Army was in full retreat from the latter two, under an agreement negotiated with Izetbegovic and the Macedonian president Gligorov. It is worth noting that the YA retreated from Macedonia (aka FYROM) without incident. But in Bosnia, Izetbegovic's militia (organized by the paramilitary wing of his party, the Patriotic League) would have none of it. They set up blockades of Army facilities and demanded their surrender.

On May 2, 1992, Izetbegovic returned to Sarajevo from another failed attempt to head off a full-scale war (he had declared back in 1991 that he would "sacrifice peace for an independent Bosnia" and so he would) and found himself detained by the Army detachment stationed at the Sarajevo Airport. The Army decided to use him as a hostage, demanding the release of its blockaded troops at the 2nd Army HQ in the Bistrik neighborhood, and other units trapped in the city. Ganic, who declared himself acting president (with or without Izetbegovic's consent, it was never revealed), negotiated a deal to exchange Izetbegovic for the trapped HQ personnel with the Canadian UNPROFOR commander, Gen. Lewis MacKenzie.

What happened next is well-documented. There is a detailed account in MacKenzie's memoir "Peacekeeper" but also a video recording made by a Sarajevo TV crew. Muslim militiamen stopped the UN vehicle with Izetbegovic, MacKenzie and the Army commander Gen. Kukanjac, and staged a little drama for the cameras, with Ganic talking to Izetbegovic over walkie-talkies while further down the street the Army convoy was being massacred. This event is at the heart of the Serbian indictment against Ganic.

This was not the last attack on the Army, either. On May 15, an Army column evacuating Tuzla was ambushed and massacred on Brcko Road. This, too, was caught on camera. One might rightly assume that this may have had something to do with the decision of most Bosnian-born Army personnel to join the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) against Izetbegovic's regime.

Throughout the war, Ganic served Izetbegovic loyally, but the word on the street was that he dreamed of replacing Izetbegovic eventually. He was also known to be the go-to person when Washington needed something done in Sarajevo. Perhaps because of this, Izetbegovic eventually moved to sideline him, just as he had done with all his previous lieutenants. After the war, Ganic became President of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Muslim-Croat half of the country, but after falling out of Izetbegovic's graces retired from politics and opened a private university - right across the street from the former 2nd Army HQ building. For years he had stayed out of the limelight, until on a trip to London his past finally caught up.

As someone who was there, who lived in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War and experienced firsthand the "multicultural tolerance" and "democratic diversity" practiced by Izetbegovic and Ganic, I am disgusted by the way the Economist (for example) excuses their crimes. So, arresting a Muslim is "dragging up the past" and impeding peace and reconciliation, while putting the entire Serbian nation on trial and smearing it with the ludicrous charge of "genocide" is somehow conducive to both? Putting Ganic on trial would "fuel nationalist flames" but the trial of Radovan Karadzic is all about truth and justice (not)? Such cynicism. Such hypocrisy.

I would be very surprised if Ganic is actually extradited to Serbia. The media and political leaders that have considerable political capital in the Bank of Collective Serbian Guilt are already raising hell to have him released. The government in Belgrade is too obsessed with sucking up to Brussels and Washington and passing a parliamentary resolution blaming Serbia for the Srebrenica "genocide"; they have no interest in actually pursuing Ganic, and would probably be relieved if the whole affair subsided like the one with Agim Ceku last summer.

The cruel irony of this is that such a result would only further the myth of Muslim victimhood and Serb villainy. Then again, it would not be the first time that the Serbian authorities were actively working to harm their own country and people. I wonder if it will be the last.


Suvorov said...

The penultimate paragraph of the article from The Economist does contain an important thought. It states that as long as Serbia pursues criminals, its place in the EU is anything but guaranteed. It is understandable. For how could the EU leadership, which mostly consists of criminals, tolerate such a behavior?
As to Lewis MacKenzie, it turns out that he is a paid lobbyist working for SerbNet, if you read Whore's, excuse me, Hoare's post on the same subject.
The most sickening of all is the pro-EU propaganda within Serbia itself. How Serbia is made to act like a circus animal, performing tricks and standing on the hind legs, only to fulfill the false dream. And every time it acts in a semi-dignified fashion, the "civilized community" says: "Hm, I don't think you can enter the EU behaving that way". Lets hope that the Great Serb Awakening isn't far away.

Aleks said...

One should never take The Economist too seriously with Balkans/Russian affairs as it has always been Russo/Serbophobe, its current balkans correspondent being that notoriously unbiased journalist/historian(!) Tim Judah who also write propaganda puff pieces for the empire friendly Balkan Insite website.

I do wonder though if this EU or Kosovo choice that is being shoved down Serbia's throat in all ways but official may force an echo of 1389 when Lazar chose an heavenly kingdom rather than an earthly one?

A Serbian 'Inat' would surely throw a very large spanner into the EU's balkan stability pact, not to mention all sorts of other EU plans that rely on Serbian agreement, though the Tadic government appears to be doing its best not to appear spineless. They must know that betrayal leavies a heavy price.

Gray Falcon said...

I take their Serbophobia very seriously, though. Besides, the tone in the rest of the British press is virtually identical. Combine that with the coverage of the Karadzic trial (which I've also been following), and a disturbing picture emerges.
I don't think Tadic knows the price of treason. He's been getting away with it for years. And as the famous saying goes, "if it prospers, none dare call it treason."

Suvorov said...

The British press has been the most hawkish about the Balkans. It is a home for such virulent distortionists as Noel Malcolm. At the same time, John Laughland is perhaps the world's most outspoken critic of the Balkan policy that became prevalent in the West two decades ago. Peter Hitchens is not bad, unlike his degenerate brother, who recommended Malcolm's book about Kosovo in one of his articles. The journalists working for the British establishment became even more aggressive as Britain turned from a lion into an obnoxious cub yelping from behind America's back.

Suvorov said...

As to Tadic's servitude, perhaps John Laughland should continue his sequel with a book titled "The History of American Clientelle from Saddam Hussein to Mikhail Saakashvili". Who knows, maybe Boris II will luck out. After all, some of America's servants are released from prison, as Biljana Plavsic was while approaching her 80th birthday; and some, like Eduard Shevarnadze, are so lucky that they never go to prison at all!

Steven said...


Am I right in thinking that Ganic was instrumental in bringing the mujahedin into Bosnia?

I am not surprised the senile Margaret Thatcher is upset over his arrest. This is the woman for whom the war was between "Serbian communism" and freedom-loving Bosnians.

As usual, Silly Bugger Hoare’s analysis is totally garbled (the man simply cannot write to save his life). There is a half-arsed smear attempt against Lewis Makenzie. Of course, he dare not expose Makenzie’s blood-curdling eyewtness account of the slaughter that took place that day preferring to leave the impression that the JNA victims died in some sort of gunbattle when they were in fact butchered in their vehicles.

But when it comes to crimes against the Serbs, it is always time to “move on”.

Gray Falcon said...

I don't remember hearing that Ganic had any particular role in bringing in the mujahedin. No doubt he was involved in some way, though; all decisions eventually rested with Izetbegovic, and Ganic was his right hand for a long time.

It is sort of amusing to see all the usual suspects clamor for Ganic's release. Apparently, even inquiring about possible culpability of any Bosnian Muslim is a cause for panic. Why would they act that way, unless they feared what might emerge from such inquiry?

Aleks said...

I just had an idea which I won't be surprised Belgrade not using (or may just be ignoring).

I recently read that 'Pristina' has relaunched a tender for new power stations and that six companies are interested (RWE of Germany(?) etc.). I wonder if any of these companies have business interests directly or via affiliates in the non albanian controlled parts of Serbia? If they do, Belgrade could charge them with tax evasion if monies go to Pristina. This means rather than saying directly "You have choose either dealing only with Belgrade or nothing, the argument is that "As we do not recognize 'Kosova', any business you are doing there is illegitimate and patently illegal and you are thus banned from business on any of the territory of Serbia.

It is the old Al Capone trick. They could never get him for his crimes, but they got him on tax evasion. Serbia can't (won't) go against the Quint directly, but their companies would be de facto commiting a criminal act... A bit tricky to for those governments to condone such crimes...

I wonder how many companies from countries that have recognized 'Kosova' are active in both? This could be quite a useful way to increase pressure on Pristina et al and strengthen Belgrade's position (if they are serious about it), no? Even if Tadic et al have turned a blind eye to this so far, maybe it is something the opposition could bring into the public eye and force Tadic's hand...

re: Ganic, if I recall correctly the ICTY secretly investigated Izetbegovic and close and sealed the files when he died. I wonder if Belgrade has demanded access to these files as they might help to further indict Ganic, as you pointed out him being Izetbegovic's right hand man???

Gray Falcon said...

It's a good idea, but I doubt Belgrade will do anything about it. Remember, these are quislings who turn into quivering goo whenever the lowliest imperial paper-pusher looks their way.

Gray Falcon said...

Suvorov, I checked out the link you sent - interesting article, thanks.