Bebel Without a Clause

Bebel Without a Clause

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dalam diam: BREAKING THE EMBARGO: Why Malaysia organised military aid to Bosnia

Janganlah kita sebuk hendak memperkecilkan sumbangan UMNO dalam memperjuangkan hak negara2 Islam yang dizalimi Negara Barat. Walhal PAS agak diam dalam memperjuangkan Islam merentasi sempadan.
PAS sinonim dalam Islam NO ACTION TALK ONLY
AMONG the most dismal failures of diplomacy was the United Nations' arms embargo upon the former Yugoslavia, which most of the Western powers, especially Britain and France, insisted be applied to the breakaway states of Bosnia and Croatia.
This left almost all the military equipment of the former Yugoslavia in the hands of Serbia -- and Croatia and Bosnia with almost nothing with which to defend themselves. The British and French, using the form of twisted logic prevalent throughout the crisis, insisted that lifting the embargo would unleash a bloodbath and prolong the war, in spite of the fact that there was already a bloodbath with no end in sight.
Malaysia's rejection of this breach of the rules of fairness and respect for the sovereignty -- and very survival -- of this new nation was at the heart of our involvement in helping the Bosnians, much more than just the religious factor.
I was called, some time towards the end of 1992, by Prime Minister Datuk Seri (now Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad to say that Malaysia had to move quickly to assist the Bosnians.
Former foreign minister Tan Sri Ghazali Shafie undertook to travel as a special envoy of the prime minister to Egypt and a couple of other countries in the Middle East.
To our disappointment, he failed to get a meeting with then president Hosni Mubarak, and his discussions in Cairo were less than encouraging. My visit took me to the recently re-established Central Asian republics, which were unable to assist or support our effort in any form, even diplomatically.
We had to rethink our strategy. I travelled to New York and met some top media people. In Washington, I met a handful of senators and staffers, and before we left, our permanent representative to the UN, (now Tan Sri) Razali Ismail, and I conducted a televised press conference.
All this was part of our efforts to drive home the glaring military imbalance, which left the victims, the Bosnians, at the mercy of the aggressors, the Serbs. We had hoped that our efforts would stir their conscience into action.
I also managed to get the prime minister's approval to organise two international forums, one in Bonn and the other in London, to which some European parliamentarians and United States senators were invited.
When I met Prime Minister Dr Haris Silajdzic and President Alija Izetbegovic at one of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC, now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) contact group meetings in Geneva, they pleaded for assistance, either in cash or material, and asked me if Malaysia could also provide the leadership to persuade some Muslim countries to come to their assistance.
I subsequently discussed this new development with the prime minister, who gave me his strong and unreserved support. We moved quickly to implement the plan.
Our first shipment of light weapons was held up in Cyprus for almost a week, sometime in July/August 1993, creating great anxiety among us. Finally the ship set sail for Istanbul.
Gun-running was not a job I was ever trained for, but it became part of my many-sided responsibilities as Wisma Putra (Foreign Ministry) secretary-general. I made my first visit to Sarajevo in the early years of the war.
I met and had discussions with Silajdzic about continued material support and also how we could involve more OIC countries. As the war continued and escalated, I became increasingly disenchanted, and even angry, at the OIC contact group.
They issued ineffectual communiques, which neither helped the Bosnians on the ground nor had any impact on the international community.
Before the January 1994 foreign ministers meeting of the contact group, I spoke to the foreign minister, who was already in Geneva to attend the contact group meeting, to call for an expanded meeting of the group that would include the defence ministers and defence chiefs.
Malaysia's proposal as put forward by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri (now Tun) Abdullah Badawi was accepted at a meeting held in Geneva in January 1994.
The following year, on Friday, July 21, 1995, the OIC declared in Geneva that it no longer recognised the UN arms embargo.
Proclaiming it to be "invalid" the group announced it was ready to send military aid to help the Bosnian government against the Serbs. The expanded contact group meeting was then held in Kuala Lumpur from Sept 11 to 14, 1995.
It charted a common position on the question of future military aid to its government.
Analysts were then all too aware of our substantial military presence in Bosnia as well as the fact that our standpoint was shared by many of the other Muslim-majority governments.
We do believe that our actions created an impact because by early September there was a concerted effort by the West to find a solution to the war.
In September 1995, for the first time since the beginning of the war, the foreign ministers of Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia met to lay the foundation for future peace talks.
They agreed to recognise each other's borders, something they had not done since the former Yugoslavia fell apart. Indeed, Serbia and Croatia had earlier conspired to dismember Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The help that was offered by Malaysia and others in the contact group was critical to enable the Bosnian forces to finally stand their ground against Serb forces. And that gave them at least the minimal ability to meaningfully negotiate a peaceful settlement.
Coupled with the change of attitude of one or two members of the international community, and the more even-handed role by the United States towards the later phase of the conflict as an arbiter to the peace process, Bosnia-Herzegovina finally secured the peace accord on Nov 21, 1995.
The Dayton Peace Agreement brought an end to the slaughter of the Bosnians by the Serbs.
The above is the second in a series of three excerpts from "Growing up with the Nation" by Tan Sri Ahmad Kamil Jaafar. The former Wisma Putra secretary-general's memoirs are published by Marshall Cavendish Editions

Read more: Gun-runner for a good cause - Columnist - New Straits Times

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