Is Syria starting to resemble Bosnia?
Nearly one year after the uprising began in Syria, observers and analysts fear that the situation may lead to the country becoming the new Bosnia.
In 1992, Sarajevo was subject to the most violent bloody attack waged by Serbians wanting to impose their control over Muslims.
A similar scenario is occurring in Homs which has been the scene of a fierce battle for more than a month where live bullets, tanks and heavy artillery have been used.
The siege of Sarajevo lasted three years with daily bombardments using heavy weapons and mortar fire from surrounding hills. More than 10,000 people were killed under that siege including children.
In Syria, the army is using similar military tactics in its attempt to destroy the opposition. We do not know the precise number of people killed since the beginning of the uprising but according to several international organizations, their number has surpassed 10,000, including more than 400 children.
Fears of the crisis in Syria taking a sectarian turn echo similar fears expressed in Bosnia 20 years ago.
In Bosnia, a sectarian war started in 1992 between Serbians on one hand, and Bosnia Muslims and Croats on the other. Serbians committed most of the atrocities against civilians; in Srebrenica, more than 8,000 Muslims were killed in the summer of 1995.
In Syria, it is impossible to deny that the country’s security apparatus is dominated by the Alawites, a sect to which the president belongs whereas the majority of the opposition belongs to the Sunni sect.
There are also strange similarities in how the international community responded to both the crisis in Bosnia and today’s events in Syria, namely the urgent need to protect citizens.
In Bosnia, a resolution number 761 was adopted in 1992 in a bid to send U.N. troops with light weapons to the country, but few weeks later, those forces needed to be particularly protected from Serbian attacks.
The international community failed to bring Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic to the negotiating table before NATO raids in 1995. It took 100 resolutions issued by the Security Council before any concrete result could be achieved.
These facts should send a chilling message to any government intending to interfere in Syria especially after the first Security Council resolution was blocked by Russian and Chinese opposition, American vigilance and a weak but unified Arab support.
In Bosnia, holding the perpetrators responsible took a long time and the process didn’t start until after the eruption of another conflict in Kosovo in 1999.
The International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia was founded by the United States in 1993 and took around a decade to start its trials after having arrested a number of political and military leaders, while Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Krazadech, arrested in 2008, is still undergoing a trial.
As for Syria, especially in Homs, observers unanimously agree that the regime’s forces have perpetrated war crimes including crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide which bring to mind the tragedy of Hama in 1982 at the hands of the same forces.
In light of the available data on President Bashar al-Assad and his close aides’ involvement in these serious violations and after the end of Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, many believe that the Syrian regime will not stop its brutal crackdown because there is no other way out. And if the West intervenes as it did in Libya, then too the Syrian regime’s fate is a dark one.
Translation by: Stanela Khalil
Voice: Nadia Idriss Mayen