Balkan Strategic Studies

October 24, 2003

Bosnian Islamist Leader, in Front of US Ambassador, Declares Intent to Change Dayton Accords, Destroy Republica Srpska

From GIS Station Sarajevo. Sulejman Tihic, the Bosnian Muslim representative on the collective Presidency of Bosnia & Herzegovina on October 23, 2003, gave a speech at which he said that former Bosnian Islamist leader Alija Izetbegovic had signed the 1995 Dayton Accords under duress, allowing the creation of a predominantly Serbian province, Republica Srpska. He then said that the Bosnian Muslims wanted to change the Dayton agreement and “change that fact”, in other words, destroy Republica Srpska.

This was a very public and confidant declaration of a renewed conflict against the Bosnian Serbs. Tihic was speaking at the funeral of Alija Izetbegovic in Sarajevo, and was in the presence of US Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Clifford Bond, and the High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina, the EU-appointed Paddy Ashdown. Neither the US officials present, nor Lord Ashdown, made any comment on the fact that Tihic wanted to overturn the Dayton Accords which govern not only the present state of Bosnia-Herzegovina and, indeed, Lord Ashdown’s own position, which is mandated by Dayton.

Tihic was Bosnian Ambassador to Bonn during the civil war and was responsible for recruiting many of the Islamist mujahedin guerillas and terrorists who flooded into Bosnia and elsewhere in the Balkans. Tihic took over the chairmanship of Alija Izetbegovic’s political party, the radical Islamist SDA (Party of Democratic Action [Stranka Demokratske Akcije]), but, as Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily reported on September 24, 2003:

Current SDA chairman Sulejman Tihic is regarded as a lightweight. He not so much succeeded Izetbegovic in 2002 as became the old master’s sock puppet. Other high-ranking SDA officials, such as Bosnian Prime Minister Adnan Terzic and Federation Prime Minister Hadzipasic, were also chosen for their obedience. While any one of these three may attempt to seize real control of the SDA, it is unclear whether any of them have a chance to succeed.

Iran and Turkey sent delegations to Izetbegovic’s funeral, with the Turkish delegation led by Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. Some tens of thousands of people were in Sarajevo for the funeral, but far less than the 150,000 which Islamist sources had predicted would attend. High Representative Paddy Ashdown, addressed the funeral crowd, describing Izetbegovic as the father of Bosnia’s people and praising him as an example of tolerance, saying that he did more than any other man to ensure the survival of the modern Bosnian state.

Ashdown’s comments came despite the fact that the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had, the day before, said that it was investigating Izetbegovic for war crimes, for which there was overwhelming evidence, including testimony from his former colleagues.

As a result, the Bosnian Serb province, Republica Srpska, refused to send an official delegation to Izetbegovic’s funeral. Indeed, Republica Srpska President Dragan Cavic has been the subject of an intense campaign by Ashdown and Deputy High Representative, US Amb. Donald Hays, to admit that the entire Bosnian Serb population was responsible for all the atrocities of the Bosnian civil war. This pressure comes, also, despite the fact that there has never been any suggestion that Pres. Cavic or his senior elected and appointed officials were in any way connected with any alleged war crimes.

GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs has amassed a significant volume of material which shows that Ashdown and Hays were working specifically to put pressure on Republica Srpska and its leadership solely to avert any focus, or emerging evidence, of support given to Izetbegovic and Islamist terrorists during the Balkan war, and linking them to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US, and to al-Qaida. Amb. Hays was professionally closely-involved with former Clinton Administration official Richard Holbrooke, who had, with Clinton, been visiting Bosnia recently, escorted by Hays.

In fact, as a result of the fact that Pres. Cavic was the only Bosnian leader who had complied absolutely and transparently with the Dayton Accord process, and was the only leader in the union working for reconciliation among the peoples of the state, the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA), in Washington, DC, on October 20, 2003, announced that the ISSA Gold Star Medal, the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Strategic Progress, had been awarded to Pres. Cavic. [See Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily, October 21, 2003: ISSA Recognizes Republica Srpska President Dragan Cavic for Achievements “In the Face of Enormous Obstacles”

Pres. Cavic on October 23, 2003, replied to ISSA, noting:

I am very grateful for the award you have announced. This award encourages me to continue my political work in the sense of democratic development, social values and freedom in society, all for the purpose of our development within the framework of the international stability standards,  peace and prosperity.”

Having awarded me with this great honor, you have provided a strong encouragement and support for my work and determination to implement the Dayton Peace Accord to the full, to establish reconciliation within Bosnia and Herzegovina, to rebuild the Republika Srpska abiding the rule of law, to prevent the international terrorism and all the forms of clerical-radicalism which is a dangerous threat to the region, and to integrate Bosnia and Herzegovina into Euro-Atlantic civil, safety and military associations.”