February 26, 2011

The hostilities of the Bosnian War were three sided but had a changing scenario of weird logic in the alliances formed, which were not always readily understandable by an outsider. Part of the wider conflict, was a lesser-known conflagration, known as the Croat-Bosniak War, which took place from mid ’92 through to the beginning of ’94.
In this action, the Croat nationalists, within the confines of Bosnia-Hercegovina and supported by Croatia, attempted, as did their Serb counterparts, to expand the reaches of their parent nation.
Most of these hostilities took place in the Neretva valley, in the southern part of the former Yugoslavia, and in and around Bihac, on the northern border of Bosnia with Croatia. Initially, there were divisions, which descended into violence, amongst the Croats themselves, as the HVO and the HOS, supported in part by Muslims, held differing views on how the expansion should be accomplished.
Despite being repulsed in their attack on Gornji Vakuf, where they inflicted heavy damage and many civilian casualties, the Croats were soon in control of most of Central Bosnia and were subsequently accused of ethnic cleansing. The case against them was substantial.
In the south, the city of Mostar was besieged for nine months by the Croats, during which the world famous Stari Most (old bridge), a construction of great beauty, built by the Ottomans of the 16th century, was totally, and wantonly, destroyed. Paradoxically, the same forces that wrecked the bridge had helped to defend it earlier against Serbian forces.
In the north western part of Bosnia-Hercegovina, in Bihać, another anomaly was taking place. A Muslim entrepreneur, Fikret Abdić, with a chequered background had formed an army, aligned it with the Serbs, to fight against the Muslim Bosniak, and worse still established concentration camps for Bosnian civilians where beatings, rape, torture and killings took place. As an added twist, when the whole enterprise collapsed, Abdić fled and was granted asylum, not in Serb held territory, but in Croatia.

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