Greater Serbia shrinks

Serbs flee Krajina by the thousand

LAST WEEKEND the Croatian army overran the Krajina, a mainly Serb area which broke away from Croatia in 1991. The Croatian onslaught was not unexpected, but its speed and scale took most commentators by surprise.

The Croatians have built themselves up into a major regional military power, in spite of the arms embargo supposedly in force.

They, no less than the Serbs, are committed to ethnic cleansing. A UN spokesman said as much to Austrian radio on August 7, when he pointed to the way the Croatian attack started. At five in the morning, a very heavy artillery barrage struck various population centres in Krajina.

The spokesperson said that when civilians are jerked out of sleep like that, it is virtually an engraved invitation to flee for dear life and not come back. The number of Serb refugees is unknown, but almost certainly in six figures.

It is possible that Croatia is being built up as a counterweight to Serbia. The most likely forces lurking in the background are the US and German governments. Their connivance is indicated by their feeble condemnation of the Croatian attack. However, the Croatians have their own fish to fry and are no mere puppets.

The impact on Bosnia-Herzegovina is highly uncertain. The Serb collapse in Krajina weakened their compatriots in north-western Bosnia: the siege of Bihac has effectively been broken; Sarajevo radio on August 7 reported that the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina had taken 26 villages and five hills in the Bosnian north-west; and the Bosnian Serb leadership has been plunged into disarray.

But the Bosnia government has been at war with Croatians in the past, and a resurgent and powerful Croatia might seek to annex part of Bosnia, perhaps as part of a deal with the Serbs.

I think I have seen the future, and it is bleak. While I am not sure ‘what is to be done’, I am not happy with Phil Kent’s dismissal of southern Slavs as “non-historic peoples”, even if it is sealed with the mighty authority of Frederick Engels.

Nor am I sure that all sides are equally reactionary in this war.

Steve Kay