As the war in Libya reaches its conclusion around Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, rather embarrassing questions are starting to be asked about the role of mercenaries. Until now the focus has been on Gadhafi importing so-called “African” mercenaries from the Central African Republic and Chad, but now a Bosnian-Croat has come forward to say that he had been brought in by Gadhafi as an advisor and over the course of the six month conflict observed the gradual but inevitable collapse of the regime. “Mario” the Croat may not be the only one, as Croatian news sites are reporting that as many as 17 Croats or Bosnian-Croats might have been arrested in Tripoli. There had been rumors in February at the start of the rebellion that Gadhafi had hired Serbs to fight for him.
If any of these stories are true, it would hardly be surprising. The break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s left a legacy of a young and disaffected male population with basic military training and experience in the irregular warfare which has become the norm in today’s myriad conflicts. These Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs are now featuring more and more in mercenary markets such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
The gloves are officially off between former BFFs Israel and Turkey as the Mavi Mavara fiasco continues to strain relations. Turkey last week expelled the Israeli ambassador after the country refused to apologize for the deaths of Turkish nationals during a botched raid on a flotilla attempting to break a blockade on the Gaza Strip. A U.N. report said that while Israeli forces used “excessive force,” the blockade was legal.
Now things are starting to get serious as Turkey is mirroring the same highly stringent immigration procedures used in Israel, but for Israeli nationals only. The measures include deliberately separating Israeli nationals and questioning them for hours before conducting other humiliating procedures such as strip searches. Other measures have also been announced including trade sanctions and a full suspension of defense ties between the two countries.
Another week and another war crimes conviction. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has found former Yugoslav army general Momcilo Perisic guilty of war crimes and sentenced him to 27 years in prison.
Perisic was found guilty of aiding and abetting murders, inhumane acts, persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, and attacks on civilians in Sarajevo and Sebrenica and also for allowing subordinates to launch rocket attacks on the Croatian city of Zagreb. He was acquitted, however, of aiding and abetting extermination in Srebrenica.
Perisic surrendered and was transferred to The Hague in March 2005, and his trial began in October 2008. He had pleaded not guilty to the charges.