The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.60/No.9           March 4, 1996 
NATO Flexes Military Muscles In Yugoslavia  


The imperialist occupation force in Yugoslavia once again flexed its military muscles when U.S. Col. Andy Batiste threatened to use A-10 anti-tank planes and Kiowa attack helicopters in a provocation with Belgrade-backed Serb forces February 18. The incident occurred as NATO troops tried to gain access to an arms depot in eastern Bosnia.

"I have above me air support.... I have artillery targeted right here where we are standing and we can use it if we have to," Batiste said to a Serb officer who blocked his entry to the depot in Han Pijesak. "I want you to know that I am going in with or without your permission," he declared with imperial arrogance.

Under the Dayton agreement rammed down the throats of the warring parties in Yugoslavia, imperialist invaders claim the right to inspect any weapons site in Bosnia. The NATO occupation forces - twice barred from entering arms depots in the towns of Han Pijesak and Han Kram - met no resistance after the confrontation.

NATO forces raid Bosnian center
In another well-publicized military assault, hundreds of NATO troops raided a house February 15 that NATO officials claimed was a "terrorist training" camp. Eleven men were arrested, including two said to be Iranian military instructors working for the Bosnian government.

A third Iranian detained at the scene was released after showing his diplomatic passport from the Iranian mission in Sarajevo.

"This is a terrorist training activity," said U.S. Adm. Leighton Smith, the commander of the NATO military operation in Yugoslavia, during a walk through the house February 16. "We found something here that is an abomination."

Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic said the camp was an intelligence training center. "We have more places like that in Bosnia for training people to hunt war criminals," Izetbegovic stated in a February 16 television interview. "We will continue that activity."

NATO officials earlier cried about possible attacks against U.S. troops and asserted that the house was a threat to their security. U.S. Col. John Kirkwood told the New York Times that no evidence was found pointing to plans for blowing up NATO buildings or harming NATO soldiers. The only "complaint" was that at the intelligence school all the "instructors were Iranians."

Mirza Hajric, a spokesman for the Bosnian foreign ministry, added that the camp existed before the war. "This is very damaging," he said of the NATO slander campaign. "There was a clear political intention to make a political stir."

The raid, rehearsed for weeks according to Newsweek, came just before Washington called an emergency meeting in Rome to chastise the rival regimes for not complying with imperialist dictates.

London's Financial Times said that the attack "appeared to be part of a western strategy of countering Serb complaints of bias."

Serb general Ratko Mladic cut off communications with NATO officials after 11 military men, including two of his officers, were arrested by Bosnian government authorities. The two officers were later extradited in a U.S. cargo plane to The Hague, the Netherlands, to be investigated for so-called war crimes.

`Dayton II' meeting in Rome
U.S. assistant secretary of state Richard Holbrooke, concerned that the imperialist-imposed plan was unraveling, presided over the meeting in Rome February 17-18 to squeeze presidents Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, Izetbegovic of Bosnia, and Franjo Tudjman of Croatia. U.S. Gen. George Joulwan, supreme commander of the NATO force, and U.S. Adm. Smith attended the conference, which also included officials from France, Britain, Germany, and Russia.

At the Rome meeting, dubbed "Dayton II," some of the key points supposedly agreed upon were to reunify the divided city of Mostar, establish on schedule a unified administration in Sarajevo, and restore contact with NATO military commanders.

The agreement also stipulates prosecuting those accused of alleged war crimes, moving to suspend UN economic sanctions against Serb forces in Bosnia, and placing no restrictions on movements of the imperialist occupying force.

Mostar, ripped apart by war in 1993, was officially reunified February 20. The Washington Post reported however, "barriers fell, allowing freedom of movement between both sides, but only for one hour....By nightfall, checkpoints between the divided city had been restored."

Washington continues to encounter "bumps in the road," as Admiral Smith put it, while trying to impose aspects of the Dayton accords. The latest crisis prompted a former UN official, Michael Williams, to remark, "It would seem... that there are far greater problems than we've been led to believe."

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