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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss