Bosnia seen as acid test of Clinton presidency

Peace in the Balkans: Britain agrees 13,000 troops will join US force as fears grow that Sarajevan Serbs will vote with their feet

RUPERT CORNWELL, CHRISTOPHER BELLAMY and TONY BARBER

Hours after a crucial television address, President Bill Clinton will today begin consultations with Congressional leaders to convince them of his case that national credibility, the stability of Europe and simple moral duty all dictate that the US must send 20,000 troops to help Nato keep the peace in a post-war Bosnia.

Last night's speech was one of the most important of his Presidency, as Mr Clinton assumed the role in which, by common consent, he is least comfortable - that of commander-in-chief. Barring renewed fighting in the next few days or weeks, American soldiers undoubtedly will go to the Balkans. But without Congressional and public backing, he would be left perilously exposed if the mission went wrong.

The message, in the words of Warren Christopher, the Secretary of State, yesterday, was that Bosnia had become an "acid test" of US leadership, that without American leadership there would have been no peace deal, and "without our troops, an agreement that serves our interests will not be carried out".

Although polls still show a majority against putting the lives of US servicemen at risk, the mood seems to be shifting cautiously the President's way.

In London, the Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Portillo, yesterday confirmed that Britain would provide about 13,000 troops as part of the Implementation Force (IFOR). The enabling force, including signals and movements staff to prepare for the main body, will start moving in the next few days, before the final signature of the ceasefire agreement.

In Sarajevo UN relief workers expressed concern that tens of thousands of Bosnian Serbs would leave Serb-held districts of Sarajevo rather than live in a Muslim-Croat federation, as envisaged under the Dayton peace settlement. "There has been so much propaganda, so much hostility and hatred that I don't think they will be taking chances. They will simply leave," said Kris Janowski, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Sarajevo.

Their departure would undermine hopes of restoring Sarajevo to its pre- war tradition of tolerant co-existence among Muslims, Croats and Serbs and would consolidate Bosnia's de facto partition into separate Muslim- Croat and Serb zones.

Thousands of Sarajevo Serbs staged demonstrations last weekend against the Dayton agreement, and their leader, Radovan Karadzic, predicted the city would become "the Beirut of Europe".

Mr Karadzic seems determined to undermine the Sarajevo part of the settlement because the handover of Serb city districts to the Muslim-Croat federation would threaten his base at Pale, the rebel headquarters outside the capital. It would simultaneously enhance the importance of the largest Bosnian Serb city, Banja Luka, where Serb rivals to Mr Karadzic have accepted the deal.

The EU's mediator for former Yugoslavia, Carl Bildt, rejected Mr Karadzic's complaints.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor