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UN Military Officer asks, “Was Srebrenica a Hoax?”
Article by Carlos Martins Branco

With minor text editing and comments by
Jared Israel and Petar Makara

[16 June 2005]

Editors' Note: Our take on the Bosnia war is that it represented a continuation of a US/European establishment strategy of using Muslim extremist terror, developed in part by Brzezinski and employed by his protégé, Zalmay Khalilzad, in Afghanistan in the 1980s. See
http://emperors-clothes.com/archive/khalilzad-facts.htm

In "How the U.S. & Iran have Cooperated to Sponsor Muslim Terror (and this while loudly denouncing one another in public..." we discuss the use of this Muslim extremist strategy against the Bosnian Serbs. See
http://emperors-clothes.com/analysis/deja.htm

==============================================

Below we have posted an analysis of what happened in Srebrenica, written by Carlos Martins Branco, a Portuguese military officer who served in Bosnia as a UNMO (UN Military Observers) Deputy Chief Operations Officer in the UNPF (UN Peace Forces) at theatre level. Meaning he knew a whole lot about what was happening on the ground.

Branco argues that the extremist Bosnian Muslim leadership made it easy for Serbian forces to re-take Srebrenica in 1995, setting the stage to sell the world a false massacre story, with the purpose of isolating the Bosnian Serbs, internationally.  He argues that it was a big mistake for the Serbs to go in, but it was not an act of genocide.  That, he says, is a fabrication, and he adds that he debriefed UN Military Observers who were involved, and has read UN reports that were never shown to the public.

A few points.

First regarding credibility, this being the internet, how do we know Carlos Martins Branco is who he says he is?  Well, for one thing, here's a 2003 link to a Portuguese Defense Ministry website with the  summary of an article he wrote for the official Defense Ministry magazine, “Nation and Defense”:
http://tinyurl.com/cgmf3

It’s in Portuguese, but it is easy to see that the article deals with UN peacekeeping operations.

Second, some websites have mistakenly described Mr. Branco as Italian. He’s not. He taught at the European University Institute in San Domenico di Fiesole, Italy, but he’s Portuguese.

Branco's article, “Was Srebrenica a Hoax?” was apparently written in 1997.  A year later he published it on a discussion group called T-Watch, the scene of arguments about Yugoslavia. The arguments got pretty hot, hence his ironic comment that some people might not like what he has to say.

Mr. Branco translated the article into English, which isn’t his first language, and there's some confusing syntax and a few other errors. We’ve corrected these. (For a link to the uncorrected version, see footnote [1].) We’ve also added some comments and clarifications in [brackets].

Carlos Martins Branco, like most everyone else, refers to the people fighting the Bosnian Serbs as ‘Muslims.’  In fact, the Bosnian Muslims were sharply divided. One faction, led by Fikret Abdic, was allied with the Serbs. The key force opposing the Serbs was Alija Izetbegovic’s SDA, an extremist party, despite the Western media’s unfortunate practice of describing it and Izetbegovic as moderate. Anyway, Branco uses ‘Muslim,’ and because it’s awkward to keep writing ‘Muslim extremist’ or ‘Muslim fundamentalist,’ we sometimes do too, but please keep in mind that Alija Izetbegovic was not supported by all Bosnian Muslims.  

Jared Israel and Petar Makara
Emperors Clothes

=========================================================

Was Srebrenica a Hoax?
By Carlos Martins Branco
4 March 1998

* Note from Carlos Martins Branco to T-Watch discussion list

* Mr. Branco's article on Srebrenica

=========================================================

Hi everybody,

I would like to express my views on the events of Srebrenica. I am sending one article I wrote some time ago, which reflects a very different approach from the one conveyed by the Western media and CNN in particular. I was UNMO Deputy Chief Operations Officers of UNPF (at theatre level) and my information is based upon debriefings of UNMOs [UN Military Observers -EC] who where posted to Srebrenica during those days and some UN reports not disclosed to public opinion. My sources are not Ruder & Finn Global Public Affairs, which has not my name included in its database. [Ruder Finn is a Public Relations agency that did high level work for the Croatian and Bosnian Muslim secessionists. - EC]

I don't want to discuss numbers and similar matters. Those subjects do not interest me at all. There is not reliable information, and figures have been used and manipulated for propaganda purposes which are not oriented to a serious understanding of the Yugoslavian conflict.

The article I am sending is based upon true information and includes my analysis of the events. To tell the full story would take longer than this article; however, I tried to concentrate my account of what happened into as small a text as possible. I hope it contributes to a further clarification of what really happened in Srebrenica and what was behind it, especially as concerns the Bosnian Muslim attitude.

I do believe that Srebrenica shows a pattern of behaviour of the warring factions in the conflict: on the one hand, the Bosnian Muslims provoking the Serbs and trying hard to convince the international community to intervene by force against the Serbs in order to solve the military question; on the other hand, the Serb leadership's lack of intelligence giving Muslims the justifications and arguments they were looking for. I know that some of you won't enjoy the contents of the article. For those, sorry.

Carlos Martins Branco
 

Was Srebrenica a Hoax?
Carlos Martins Branco

It is now two years since the Muslim enclave, Srebrenica, fell into the hands of the Serbian army in Bosnia. Much has been written about the matter. Nonetheless the majority of reports have been limited to a broad media exposure of the event, with very little analytic rigour. Discussion of Srebrenica cannot be limited to genocide and mass graves, which has been almost a banal occurrence throughout ex-Yugoslavia. A rigorous analysis of the events must take into consideration the background circumstances, in order to understand the real motives which led to the fall of the enclave.

The zone of Srebrenica, like almost all of Eastern Bosnia, is characterized by very rugged terrain. Steep valleys with dense forests and deep ravines make it impossible for combat vehicles to pass, and offers a clear advantage to defensive forces. Given the resources available to both parties, and the characteristics of the terrain, it would seem that the Bosnian army (ABiH) had the necessary force to defend itself, if it had used full advantage of the terrain. This, however, did not occur.

Given the military advantage of the [Muslim] defensive forces it is very difficult to explain the absence of military resistance. The Muslim forces did not establish an effective defensive system and did not even try to take advantage of their heavy artillery, under control of the United Nations (UN) forces, at a time in which they had every reason to do so.

The lack of [Muslim] military response stands in clear contrast to the offensive attitude which characterized the actions of the [Muslim] defensive forces in previous siege situations, which typically launched violent raids against the Serbian villages surrounding the enclave, thus producing heavy casualties amongst the Serbian civilian population.

But in this instance, with the attention of the media focused upon the area, military defence of the enclave would have revealed the true situation in security zones, and demonstrated that these had never been genuinely demilitarized zones as was claimed, but harboured highly-armed [Muslim] military units. Military resistance would jeopardize the image of [Muslims as] victims, which had been so carefully constructed, and which the Muslims considered it was vital to maintain.

Throughout the entire operation it was clear that there were profound disagreements among the leaders of the enclave. From a military viewpoint, there was total confusion. [Nasir] ORIC, the charismatic commander of Srebrenica, was absent. [2]

The Sarajevo government did not authorize his return in order to lead the resistance. Military power fell into the hands of his lieutenants, who had a long history of incompatibility. The absence of Oric's clear leadership led to a situation of total ineptitude. The contradictory orders of his successors completely paralysed the forces under siege.

The behaviour of the political leaders is also interesting. The local SDP president, Zlatko Dukic, in an interview with European Union observers, explained that Srebrenica formed part of a business transaction which involved a logistical support route to Sarajevo, via [the Sarajevo suburb of] VOGOSCA. He also claimed that the fall of the enclave formed part of an orchestrated campaign to discredit the West and win the support of Islamic countries. This was the reason for [Nasir] Oric to maintain distance from his troops. This thesis was also defended by the local supporters of the SDA [the Party of Democratic Action party of Alija Izetbegovic [3].] There were also many rumours of a trade within the local population of the enclave.

Another curious aspect was the absence of a military reaction from the 2nd Corps of the Muslim army [outside of the enclave], which did nothing to relieve the military pressure on the enclave. It was common knowledge that the [Bosnian] Serb unit in the region, the Drina Corps, was exhausted and that the attack on Srebrenica was only possible with the aid of units from other regions. Despite this fact, Sarajevo did not lift a finger in order to launch an attack which would have divided the Serbian forces and exposed the vulnerabilities created by the concentration of [Bosnian Serb] resources around Srebrenica. Such an attack would have reduced the military pressure on the enclave.

It is also important to register the pathetic appeal of the president of Opstina [which means ‘county,’ in Serbo-Croatian], Osman Suljic, on July 9, [1995] which implored military observers to say to the world that the Serbians were using chemical weapons. The same gentleman later accused the media of transmitting false news items on the resistance of troops in the enclave, requiring a denial from the UN. According to Suljic, the Muslim troops did not respond, and would never respond with heavy artillery fire. Simultaneously, he complained of the lack of food supplies and of the humanitarian situation. Curiously, [the U.N.] observers were never allowed to inspect the [Srebrenica Muslim] food reserve deposits. The emphasis given by political leaders on the lack of military response and the absence of food provisions loosely suggests an official policy which began to be discernible.

[Note from TENC:  What Branco writes above about chemical weapons is not entirely clear. In a discussion of this text on the T-Watch list, Branco was clearer, stating that one of the crucial questions about Srebrenica was, “Why did they [the Muslim leadership inside Srebrenica] pressure us to pass the lie of Serbs attacking with chemical gas?” For his full list of crucial questions about Srebrenica, see footnote [4].]

In mid 1995, the prolongation of the war had dampened public interest. There had been a substantial reduction in the pressure of public opinion [against the Serbs] in the western democracies. An incident of this importance would nonetheless provide hot news material for the media during several weeks, could awaken public opinion and incite new passions. In this manner it would be possible to kill two birds with one stone: pressure could be laid to bear in order to lift the embargo [i.e., the much-ignored international ban on arming the Bosnian Muslim extremists - EC] and simultaneously the occupying countries would find it difficult to withdraw their forces, a [possiblity] which had been advanced by leading UN figures such as Akashi and Boutros-Boutros Ghali.

The Muslims always harboured a secret hope that the embargo would be [officially] lifted. This had become the prime objective of the Sarajevo [Muslim] government, and had been fueled by the vote in the US Senate and Congress in favour of such a measure. President Clinton, however, vetoed the decision and required a two thirds majority in both houses. The enclaves collapse gave the decisive push that the campaign needed. After its fall, the US Senate voted with over a two thirds majority in favour of lifting the embargo. [5]

It was the clear that sooner or later the enclaves would fall into the hands of the Serbians, it was an inevitability. There was a consensus amongst the negotiators (the US administration, the UN and European governments) that it was impossible to maintain the three Muslim enclaves, [6] and that they should be exchanged for territories in Central Bosnia. Madeleine Albright suggested this exchange on numerous occasions to Izetbegovic, based on the proposals of the contact group.

As early as 1993, at the time of the first crisis of the enclave, [President of Republika Srpska Dr. Radovan] Karadzic had proposed to Izetbegovic to exchange Srebrenica for the [Sarajevo] suburb of Vogosca. This exchange included the movement of populations in both directions. This was the purpose of secret negotiations in order to avoid undesirable publicity. This implied that the western countries accepted and encouraged ethnic separation.

The truth is that both the Americans and President Izetbegovic had tacitly agreed that it made no sense to insist in maintaining these isolated enclaves in a divided Bosnia. In 1995 nobody believed any longer in the inevitability of ethnic division of the territory. In the month of June 1995, before the military operation in Srebrenica, Alexander Vershbow, Special Assistant to President Clinton stated that "America should encourage the Bosnians to think in terms of territories with greater territorial coherence and compactness." In other words this meant that the enclaves should be forgotten. The attack on Srebrenica, with no help from Belgrade, was completely unnecessary and proved to be one of the most significant examples of the political failure of the Serbian leadership.

Meanwhile the western media exacerbated the situation by transforming the enclaves into a powerful mass-media icon; a situation which Izetbegovic was quick to exploit. CNN had daily broadcasts of the [supposed] images of "mass graves for thousands of corpses," [supposedly] obtained from spy satellites. Despite the [supposed] microscopic precision in the localization of these "graves," it is certain that no discovery to date has confirmed such suspicions. Since there are no longer restrictions on [NATO troops] movement [throughout Bosnia], we inevitably speculate on why they have still not been shown to the world.

[Note from EC: Mr. Branco is using irony to convey his belief that the supposed mass graves do not exist. However, given the effect of media repetition of the supposed massacre story, irony is easily missed; hence our repeated insert of "supposed."]

If there had been a premeditated [Serbian] plan of genocide, instead of attacking in only one direction, from the south to the north - which left the possibility of escape to the north and west, the Serbs would have established a siege in order to ensure that no one escaped. The UN observation posts to the north of the enclave were never disturbed and remained in activity after the cessation of military operations. There are obviously mass graves in the outskirts of Srebrenica as in the rest of ex-Yugoslavia where combat has occurred, but there are no grounds for the campaign which was mounted, nor the numbers advanced by CNN. [Large graves are often dug after a battle in order to dispose of bodies as part of battlefield clean-up. - EC]

The mass graves are filled by a limited number of corpses from both sides, the consequence of heated battle and combat and not the result of a premeditated plan of genocide, as occurred against the Serbian populations in Krajina, [7] in the Summer of 1995, when the Croatian army implemented the mass murder of all Serbians found there. In this instance, [in the instance of the fall of Krajina] the media maintained an absolute silence, despite the fact that the genocide occurred over a three month period. The objective of Srebrenica was ethnic cleansing and not genocide, unlike what happened in Krajina, in which although there was no military resistance, the Croatian army decimated villages.

Despite knowledge of the fact that the enclaves were already a lost cause, Sarajevo insisted in drawing political dividends from the fact. The receptivity which had been created in the eyes of public opinion made it easier to sell the thesis of genocide.

But of even greater importance than the genocide thesis and the political isolation of the Serbs, was blackmailing of the UN: either the UN joined forces with the Sarajevo government in the conflict (which subsequently happened) or the UN would be completely discredited in the eyes of the public, leading in turn to support for Bosnia [i.e., Bosnian Muslim extremists]. Srebrenica was the last straw which led western governments to reach agreement on the need to cease their "neutrality" and commence [an open] military action against one side in the conflict [i.e., the Bosnian Serbs]. It was the last straw which united the West in their desire to break "Serbian bestiality". Sarajevo [the Muslim extremist’s so-called 'government'] was conscious of the fact that it lacked the military capacity to defeat the [Bosnian] Serbs. It was necessary to create conditions via which the international community [i.e. the West] could do this for them. Srebrenica played a vital role in this process.

Srebrenica represents one of a series of acts by the Serbian leaders intended to provoke the UN, in order to demonstrate their impotence. This was a serious strategic error which would cost them dear. The side which had everything to win by demonstrating the impotence of the UN was the Sarajevo leadership and not that of Pale [capital of Republika Srpska]. In 1995 it was clear that the change in the status quo required a powerful intervention which would overthrow the Serbian military power. Srebrenica was one of the pretexts, resulting from the short-sightedness of the Bosnian Serbian leaders.

The besieged [Muslim] forces could have easily defended the enclave, at least for much longer, if they had been well led. It proved convenient to let the enclave fall in this manner. Since the enclave was doomed to fall, it was preferable to let this happen in the most beneficial manner possible. But this would only have been viable if Sarajevo had political initiative and freedom of movement, which would never occur at the negotiating table. The deliberate fall of the enclave might appear to be an act of terrible Machiavellian orchestration, [obviously designed in the minds of the Bosnian Muslims' US advisers - EC] but the truth is that the Sarajevo government had much to gain, as proved to be the case. Srebrenica was not a zero-sum game. The Serbians won a military victory but with highly negative political side-effects, which helped result in their definitive ostracization.

We might add a final curious note. As the UN observation posts were attacked, and proved impossible to maintain, the [UN] forces withdrew. The barricades set up by the Muslim army did not let the troops pass. These [UN] troops were not treated as soldiers fleeing from the front line, but rather with a sordid differentiation.

The Muslims not only refused to fight to defend themselves, they forced others [i.e., the Dutch/UN force] to fight on their behalf. In one instance, the commander of a Dutch vehicle decided after conversations with ABiH [Bosnian Muslim force] to pass [their] barrier. [Dutch positions were in front of the Muslim positions - i.e. between the Muslims forces and the attacking Serbs.] A Muslim soldier threw a hand grenade whose fragments mortally wounded him. The only UN soldier to die in the Srebrenica offensive was killed by the Muslims.

Carlos Martins Branco
European University Institute
Department of Social and Political Sciences
Badia Fiesolana
Italy

========================================================

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Footnotes and Further Reading

========================================================

[1] To read the text as it appeared on T-Watch, please go to
http://tinyurl.com/cdf6m

Note added Sept. 8, 2008: The original T-watch link no longer works.  T-Watch currently has it archived in unformatted text form at
http://listserv.buffalo.edu/...text%2Fplain;%20charset=iso-8859-1
The same link can be accessed from http://snipurl.com/3ocrc    
In case this link should be taken down, TENC has the T-Watch archived text backed up at http://tenc.net/a/arch/wa

[2] A Toronto Star reporter recounted an evening spent with Mr. Oric, during which the latter boasted of killing Serbian peasants living in villages near Srebrenica. Go to
http://emperors-clothes.com/analysis/oric.htm

[3] To understand the political character of Alija Izetbegovic and therefore of his SDA, see “Who was Alija Izetbegovic?
Moderate 'George Washington' of Bosnia or Islamist Murderer?” at
http://emperors-clothes.com/bosnia/izet.htm

[4] On the T-Watch discussion list Carlos Martins Branco raised eight questions about the official Srebrenica massacre story. We have posted them below with a little editing, mainly grammatical, to clarify the intended meaning. The original is posted at
http://listserv.acsu.buffalo.edu/...twatch-l&D=1&O=D&F=P&S=&P=20911
[This link no longer works as of Sept. 8, 2008. - J.I.]

[Branco's questions begin here]

Those questions are as follows

A - Why was Naser Oric not in Srebrenica to defend the enclave?

B -Why did the local [Muslim] leadership try to sell us (UNMOs) the idea that the enclave was not organising  defence?

C - Why did they pressure us to pass the lie that Serbs were attacking with chemical gas?

D - Why didn't the ABiH [Muslim extremist army] take one single weapon from the weapon collection sites?

E - Why did they not defend themselves, in contrast to their previous, offensive stance of attacking Serbian villages around Srebrenica?

F - Why did the BSA [Bosnian Serb Army] attack in only one direction, from the north to the south, leaving the possibility of escape [by Muslim forces] to the north and west?

G - Why did the ABiH 2 Corps not lift a single finger to defend their Muslim brothers in Srebrenica?

H - A final question. Consider, the [supposedly] accurate CNN satellite photos. Let's suppose they were taken in the region. Why has their exact position so far not been disclosed? Consider the grids, for instance. Before [the signing of the] Dayton [Accords] there was the excuse of restriction of movement (ROM), but ROM finished on 19 December 95. Where are the corps[es] supposed contained in the CNN mass graves? The type and quantity of mass graves discovered so far reinforces my "theory," and I quote again my article: There are obviously mass graves in the outskirts of Srebrenica ... where combat has occurred" but nothing that we can consider genocide. Some mass graves are normal, for the circumstances...[I.e., mass graves are a normal part of post-battle cleanup in combat situations- EC] Despite the [claimed] microscopic precision in localization of these [supposed] graves, it is certain that none has been discovered to date. We inevitably speculate on why they have still not been shown to the world. [Is it] reasonable and serious to defend the thesis of 8000 corpses missing when after 2 years of investigations only around 400 were identified? Did the remaining [corpses] evaporate?

[Note from EC: The text above drips irony.  Unfortunately, given the massive propaganda about Srebrenica, people can easily miss irony.  We therefore added some text in brackets as well as making minor edits to (hopefully) render the intended irony obvious.  The original text can be read at the URL below, so that you may see we have not altered the Mr. Branco's intended meaning:
http://tinyurl.com/cgdwr

[Branco's questions end here]

[5] Carlos Martins Branco is referring to a Senate resolution that called for officially ending the supposed embargo on arms for Alija Izetbegovic's Muslim extremists. We say 'officially' because the Clinton and Bush administrations both violated the arms embargo by secretly arming Muslim extremists in Bosnia.

During the debate over the bill, members of the Clinton administration and proponents of the bill competed over who was more anti-Serb:

[Excerpt from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette starts here]

The Clinton administration battled yesterday to put off a Senate resolution that would lift the Bosnian arms embargo even as it groped for unity with its European allies on the worsening Balkan crises.

[…]

As the White House entreated Democratic loyalists to stall for time before a vote on the Dole resolution, senators supporting the arms transfers dominated the debate.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden, D-Del., a longtime advocate of arming the Bosnian Muslims, noted that both former President George Bush and Clinton have repeatedly insisted that the timing was wrong to end U.S. participation in the U.N.-sponsored arms embargo.

''Don't listen to the siren song of inaction one more time,'' Biden thundered. ''I challenge anyone to provide one shred of evidence that more waiting, or that [not] lifting the embargo, would enhance the prospect that fewer girls and women will be raped, that fewer young men will be murdered or that fewer elderly people will be 'ethnically cleansed.''

[Excerpt from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette starts here]

As revealed two years ago in the Dutch government's special report on Bosnia, far from withholding arms, Pentagon intelligence began coordinating Iranian and Saudi importation of both weapons and mujahideen to aid Bosnian Islamists during the first Bush administration; this continued under Clinton. 
http://emperors-clothes.com/analysis/used.htm

In 1994, a year *before* the mock battle over the Dole-Lieberman bill, a Senate committee revealed that the US "gave the green light" to illegal Iranian arms shipped into Bosnia. (This was what was publicly admitted; in reality it was just the tip of the iceberg.)

[Excerpt from Palm Beach Post starts here]

The Clinton administration came "perilously close" to engaging in an unauthorized covert action when it secretly gave a green light to Iranian arms shipments to Bosnia in 1994, a Senate committee said in a report Thursday.

[…]

The panel, known as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was investigating the administration's decision in April 1994 to signal to Croatia that the United States would not object to the creation of an Iranian arms pipeline through Croatia to supply the beleaguered Bosnian-Muslim government.

Also Thursday, the House Select Subcommittee on Iranian Arms Transfers said it is sending a 26-page letter to Attorney General Janet Reno detailing what it charges are "potential criminal violations" by senior administration officials stemming from the Iranian arms controversy. Those charges include perjury, obstruction of Congress and conspiracy.

[…]

[In addition]…there were other incidents…

One such incident occurred in September 1995, when the U.S. sent personnel to Croatia to inspect long-range rockets bound for Bosnia, but once it was determined that the rockets were not equipped with chemical warheads, American officials did not object to allowing them to continue on to Bosnia.
(Palm Beach Post, November 8, 1996, Friday,, Final Edition, Pg. 3a, Panel Raps Clinton's Ok Of Iranian Arms To Bosnia, James Risen, Washington)

[Excerpt from Palm Beach Post ends here]

No criminal charges were brought against Clinton. Instead, the demonization of the Serbs intensified, preparing Western opinion for the US-organized May 1995 Croatian invasion of the part of the Serbian Krajina known as Western Slavonia and then, in August, the invasion of the entire Krajina, followed soon after that by massive NATO bombing of the Bosnian Serbs. 

[6] The three enclaves were Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde.

[7] See  “The Media Suppressed the Truth about the Rebirth of Croatian Fascism,” at
http://www.emperors-clothes.com/analysis/toronto.htm 
and
“Three NY Times articles about the rebirth of Croatian fascism,” at
http://emperors-clothes.com/archive/dynamited.htm

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