Bosnian Serb leader accuses Milosevic of treason

POWER STRUGGLE : KRAJINA AFTERMATH

Sarajevo - The essential ingredients of Balkan political life - paranoia, the pursuit of power, propaganda, cold cash and a heady mix of self-delusion and deceit - are on display in the quarrel between the military and civilian leaders in Pale, "capital" of the Bosnian Serb statelet, writes Emma Daly.

Radovan Karadzic fired the latest shot in his fight to oust General Ratko Mladic by issuing a bizarre letter to the only Serb politician who counts.

In it, he accused the President of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, of treason in allowing the Croatian army to overrun the Krajina Serbs, but then begged for Belgrade's help to retake the region.

"If it is true that politics is the art of the possible, so far you have not shown much skill," Mr Karadzic wrote, according to a copy of the letter released by his news agency.

"I urge you, before it is too late, to use your influence so that the Yugoslav army will fulfil its obligations toward Krajina."

His plea seems likely fall on deaf ears. Mr Milosevic has shown no inclination to help Krajina's Serbs, preferring instead to pull the strings through General Mladic, a career soldier, with no interest in politics, seen as loyal to Belgrade.

Mr Karadzic's position has faltered since the imposition of a blockade last summer by Belgrade, accompanied by apropaganda barrage - most of it probably true - in the Serbian media, accusing him of war-profiteering. He is unpopular among ordinary Bosnian Serbs outside his stronghold of Pale, is resented in Banja Luka, the largest city in the self-declared "Srpska Republic", and is the subject of an indictment by the UN war crimes tribunal.

General Mladic has also earned the attentions of the tribunal in The Hague, but at home he enjoys the adulation of the troops and the masses, who see him as hard but honest. The failure of the peace process and the upsurge in fighting has sidelined Mr Karadzic. His military commander is recognised as the leader by Mr Milosevic, by Moscow and, rumour has it, by the international mediators.

Last Friday Mr Karadzic sacked General Mladic as commander-in-chief, blaming him for losses in western Bosnia, and assumed the mantle of command himself. However, the general then declared the order "illegal" and all 21 Bosnian Serb generals have declared their support for General Mladic.

But the "parliament" supported Mr Karadzic and "the rule of law" - a dubious concept in the "Srpska Republic".

The struggle, which has rumbled for months, turns on two factors: who controls the purse strings of the army; and who represents the "Serb nation".

"The crux will be the amount of resources that Karadzic - if there is a split - is able to divert or withhold from Mladic," said one UN official who knows both men.

The general has complained of lacking the resources needed to win the war, implying that the civilian leadership has pocketed vast sums from smuggling and "taxing" expatriate Serbs. The civilians have criticised General Mladic for recent battlefield defeats.

Mr Milosevic has lambasted both groups for refusing to accept the international Contact Group's peace plan, and has tried in vain to persuade General Mladic to launch a coup.

It is hard to predict a civilian victory in a society at war, particularly in one as militaristic as the "Srpska Republic". Mr Karadzic might find himself bundled out of Serb territory and into the jurisdiction of the UN tribunal.

But, despite the hostile rhetoric, convenient amnesia may set in for the sake of "Serb unity". It would be characteristic of both men to allow the dust to settle, deny that anything came between them but a tiny misunderstanding, and then get on with the business of waging war and making money.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?