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tv   Inside Story  LINKTV  November 5, 2021 5:30am-6:01am PDT

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prevailing in the world. ♪ >> time for a quick check of the headlines here. sudan's military leader spoke to the u.s. secretary of state to speed up the formation of a new government. he ordered the release of cabinet ministers detained in last month's military takeover. >> since the military takeover, we've made clear that we stand with the people of sudan, the people of sudan who themselves have stood in the streets, take into the streets peacefully, to make very clear that their aspirations for
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democracy remain and they remain strong. we join the sudanese people in calling for justice and accountability for the abuses of human rights. and we urge the military to end the internet shut and state of emergency. >> the un security council will meet on friday to discuss the fighting in the ethiopia. international calls are growing for an immediate cease-fire. the u.s. special envoy for the region is pushing for de-escalation. two days of national mourning for people killed in an attack on a remote village. the envoy was ambushed near the borders of mali and burkina faso. the region is at the center of a conflict with groups linked to isil and al qaeda. the who is warning that europe is once again the epicenter of
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the pandemic. infections are up by 55% in the last month. hospitalization rates have doubled in the past week. the biden administration has set a date for covid-19 vaccination rules for businesses from general every fourth. companies with 100 or more employees must have employees fully vaccinated or must be tested weekly. there is no opt out. and carbon levels not seen since before the pandemic. emissions are on track to rise by 4.9% this year. the new report was released hours after a deal to end the use of coal, announced that the cop 26 summit. those are the headlines. the news continues here in al jazeera after "inside story." thanks for watching. bye for now. ♪
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adrian: the peace deal that ended the war in bosnia-herzegovina 26 years ago is in danger of unraveling. threats from bosnian serb leaders are calling for the withdrawal of support from state-level institutions in republika srpska, an entity with around 1.2 million people that makes up roughly half of bosnia-herzegovina. could such a separatist push see a return to the conflict in the region? this is "inside story." ♪ hello. welcome to the program. i'm adrian finighan. a u.s. brokered deal brought an end to the bosnian war, among bosnian serbs, croats, and bosniaks in 1995, but some of the ethnic divisions and
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tensions that sparked that three-year conflict have continued to simmer for the past 26 years. so much so, that they're now threatening the unity of the balkan nation. the bosnian serb leader, milorad dodik, is threatening to pull out of state-level institutions, including the national army, built up with international assistance over the past quarter century, and to reconstitute a serb force. the international community's envoy, christian schmidt, says that such threats pose an existential threat to the nation. all of this, as the un announced an extension to the mandate of the european union military force, a yearly practice to help maintain peacekeeping operations in bosnia-herzegovina. we'll get to our guests in just a few moments, but first, a report from al jazeera's jonah hull. reporter: plans by the bosnian serb leadership to exit some of the country's tripartite institutions, including the military, are described by the international community's high representative, christian schmidt, as tantamount to secession.
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they constitute, he says, the greatest existential threat of the post-war period. he's talking about bosnian serb leader milorad dodik, who says a new army will be set up in the serb-run entity of republika srpska, with the bosnian army forced to withdraw. if necessary, he says the serbs will call on their friends for help, a presumed reference to serbia proper and russia. >> the republika srpska will control its own affairs in a legal, constitutional manner, including by having its own army, judiciary, fiscal administration, as well as intelligence and security agencies. we will re-establish all these institutions. reporter: last month, a training exercise by bosnian serb police was denounced by muslim bosniak and croat leaders, the other members of a three-way power sharing government formed by the 1995 dayton peace agreement. they took place on the mountain
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overlooking sarajevo, from where serb snipers and artillery laid siege to the capital beginning in 1992. thousands of civilians died in a war that culminated in what international judges have called genocide, when more than 8,000 muslim men and boys were massacred by serb troops in the eastern enclave of srebrenica. the high representatives' report to the un this week says there is a very real prospect of a return to conflict in bosnia, but there is no obvious appetite on the part of western powers to increase their security presence there. >> political tensions are part of daily life in a country such as bosnia-herzegovina, where you have different groups competing for political power. but you did never see threats of the violence, or be it secession or be it parallel institutions, come this far as they have now, at least not in a very long time. reporter: mirrorad dodik has for years called for the separation of the serb run part of bosnia from the rest of the country.
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♪ just weeks ago, dodik shared these scenes on social media, he and colleagues singing serb nationalist folk songs in their sarajevo headquarters. it was a reminder that the u.s. sponsored peace in bosnia did not bring ethnic harmony, nor did it come with any long-term guarantee. jonah hull, al jazeera. ♪ adrian: all right, let's bring in our guests for today. from sarajevo, we're joined by hamza karcic, associate professor of political science at the university of sarajevo. from berlin, bodo weber, who's a senior associate at the democratization policy council. and from belgrade, we're joined by aleksander brezar, a journalist usually based in sarajevo. gentlemen, welcome to the program. hamza, if we can start with you, christian schmidt says there's a very real prospect of a return to conflict in bosnia. is he right?
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>> i think he is, and this is the most serious political crisis that bosnia is currently facing, since the end of the war in 1995. we are not sure how this will move forward and what the outcome will be, but i would agree with mr. schmidt. what should the international community be doing right now? are the eu and the u.s. taking this situation seriously enough? >> there's rising awareness, fortunately, that there is a serious situation, and i agree with my predecessor, that this is the most serious crisis we've seen since the end of the war. unfortunately, this crisis is one of the west's, the eu's and the u.s.'s own making, it's a self-inflicted wound, including what we've seen at the union security council yesterday. so the west not only has not prevented this crisis to emerge, its officials are directly responsible for the emergence of this crisis, so they need to urgently make a u-turn and take
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this crisis serious and pull the plug and make this a top priority. adrian: but do you say a self-inflicted wound, what is it that they haven't done, that they should have been doing? >> well, i mean for 15 years, we don't -- since the west has put over responsibility for leading the country to the domestic elites, we are lacking any policy, western long-term strategic policy towards the region. that's what was missing. we created a vacuum where nationalists could thrive and in which russia could jump in as a no-cost spoiler. on the other end, for the last three, four years, in that lack -- that vacuum, political will to deal with the country and deal with a wider western balkan region, we have seen mid-level officials who have been tasked with mission impossible to fix situations in the balkan, without higher level support,
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that they for careerist reasons have started to collude with domestic nationalist leaders and their agendas, making an opening, and this crisis, what we currently see, is one that has started with eu-u.s. negotiations on the landscape of kosovo, serbia four years ago and then moved over to bosnia on a dirty deal, ethno territorial division one below the public radar and capitalist radar in the town last year and the follow-up in so-called election law reform negotiations, eu and u.s. officials have been leading since february this year. adrian: aleksander, do you agree with what you've heard so far, is the peace deal that ended the war 26 years ago in danger of unraveling? >> i think this is going to be one of those shows where all of the guests agree in absolute principle, when it comes to the fact that this is the biggest crisis that bosnia-herzegovina has experienced since since 1995 and the signing of the dayton peace accord.
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however, maybe, i'm a born optimist, but i still do think that there are some checks and balances within the very dayton peace accord, but also in the country itself, as complicated as it might be, as complex as it might be, that might prevent any kind of, you know, everything that we're seeing so far escalate into some kind of open conflict the size of a war. adrian: hamza, what is the mood like there in sarajevo at the moment, are people genuinely fearful? >> yes, i think many people are concerned. much of this reminds them of the fall in 1991, when radon -- of 1991, when radon karadzic and his ilk began undertaking this months-long process that led to secession and genocide, so many people are drawing parallels, you know, this fall, 2021, to 1991, so i think many people are genuinely concerned. adrian: okay. what do you think milorad dodik is up to right now? why is he doing what he's doing, and with who's backing?
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-- whose backing? >> well, he is now undertaking the most decisive and the most substantial steps towards secession. now, previously, he used to talk about an independence for the republika srpska, but now he has fine-tuned his tactics, and now he's talking about peace, while doing everything to undermine it. and he obviously has the backing of serbia, and i think he hopes to get the backing of illiberal democracies in central europe. adrian: dodik says that if the west tries to intervene militarily to uphold the peace plan, he has friends who have promised to support the serb cause. who are those friends? how seriously should we take his threats? >> well, i would say, we have seen in the past few weeks that he definitely has a few friends among eu member states, but this is not the biggest danger for mr. dodik, really implementing his plan.
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the danger here is that we are in a free-fall, and i think we have passed a line where political calculation drives this crisis. let me remind you that mr. dodik, who is not the product, his autocratic regime in 15 years in the irs is not the product of support by citizens, who also don't support this dangerous adventure, it's a product of western weakness. he has maybe 30 times, in the last 15 years, threatened with referendum, secession, testing the west's red lines, experiencing that these red lines are not there, and moving those red lines. currently, because of that background, i mentioned previously, he has been pulled by the accelerating weakness of the west and by our officials, mid-level officials, really playing into the hands of nationalist agendas. and i think he was hoping to get
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something in return for this threat, but he is, it seems to me, pulled by the lack of a serious resolve and response into the direction for the first time, maybe now not seeing how to make a u-turn and stop this path to secession, but having to implement it. so, i mean, we are in a very dangerous era of miscalculation, political miscalculations, where really, because of this power vacuum, everything can happen. whatever the support is, i'm pretty sure that belgrade, which itself is playing this game with western weakness between east and west, and on the russian end, even the russian end playing on the western weakness, that nobody wants conflict, but as i said, we are beyond political calculation, and the west is only slowly starting to wake up, so this is a very dangerous dynamic. adrian: aleksander, do you agree with that, that dodik is politically miscalculating? he says he wants peaceful dissolution, unraveling institutions like the intelligence and security
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agencies, the state court, the constitutional court, what does that mean for bosnia-herzegovina, the state, given what happened there? how can there be -- how can he think there could be peaceful dissolution, when one half of the country doesn't get a say in it? >> i think that's that's a really good point to make. i think there cannot be such a thing as peaceful resolution, because the dayton and peace -- because the dayton peace accord itself does not allow or have a provision that would allow one ethnic group, or several, or a couple of ethnic groups to, as you said, peacefully secede. i think the only way to secede or split up the country would be through another war. when we talk about dodik and his capabilities as a politician, i think that he, you know, he represents the the kind of populist at its most simple form, let me put it that way. so, for instance, when he brought in an accordion player to the presidency of bosnia-herzegovina, to his
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office, and sang songs and had hard liquor mid-day and called his mother, he wasn't just signaling, you know, this kind of confidence that you would see in your average politician. what he was also trying to signal is, you know, that he is in charge, that he is making the right decisions for his people in this very sort of folksy way, and that's the problem, i think this does speak to a lot of people in the republika srpska, but also throughout the region. also, at the same time, i do want to say one more thing regarding an earlier question, you asked whether people are fearful, and i think a lot of that fear comes from, you know, previous experiences. the country has gone through a very bloody war, as we all know, some 30 years ago, and you know, you have up to half of the population who suffers from some form of ptsd, people are very easily triggered, and they're even more easily triggered -- and this is where i don't think
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dodik is miscalculation. -- is miscalculating. i think he's calculating, you know, to his advantage. they're even more easily triggered if you mention that you're forming or re-forming an army that was active during the 1992-1995 war and was responsible for, you know, a genocide against bosniaks, all sorts of atrocities, and an earlier attempt at dividing the country. so, you know, if there's an answer to your question, i think we can find it probably there. adrian: hamza, do you want to come in on that? >> well, i think that dodik is now -- many people think here that he is not bluffing, that he's actually going to strip the state-level institutions of their prerogatives and competences, and then take those and empower republika srpska. so what he is doing basically is politics 101. he is establishing new facts on
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the ground. he has also built closer relations with russia, close relations with serbia, so now, he has, you know, reframed his policies as bringing the country closer to what he refers to as original, which is basically a euphemism for dismantling and undermining state institutions. his strategy is very clear. he wants to undermine and dismantle state institutions to prove that bosnia is incapable of functioning, while at the same time, trying to build up republika srpska, as it would be a state-like entity. adrian: so what will the high representative do next? will he make further use of the bond powers of 1997, which which grant him powers to prevent the dayton agreement being delayed or obstructed by local politicians? i mean, they've already been used extensively, but they're not without controversy. >> the office of the high representative is a shadow of its former self, and it's actually presiding over its own decline into irrelevance.
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so now, the new high representative, mr. schmidt, who is not being recognized as a high rep by the serbian side, even if he were to impose sanctions or try to select -- try to sack elected officials, it's not clear that they would actually obey this. so i think the what was left of it is a shadow of their former self, so they're not relevant, as much as they were some ten years ago. adrian: do you agree with that? how is this this solved? does schmidt, as he is, have u.s. and eu support for more vigorous action against those who oppose the unity and and territorial integrity of bosnia-herzegovina? >> well, i would agree with my predecessor, that the ohr is not the one it was until 2006. let me remind you, when we had this policy shift on bosnia, the western one, and the shift of
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leadership from the u.s. to the eu in the double shift in 2006, which created mr. dodik, that shift towards so-called ownership, that means pouring over responsibility to local elites, this was a policy where it was announced that the west would close ohr, and they declared basically success that bosnia is a stable country. but as we had not transformed the dayton constitutional order, which was and has remained an order for a dysfunctional state that only works for the ruling elites, this did not work out, but the west, because it never had a political will, never adjusted the policy and was left without any strategic policy in return. it was the west itself that neutralized the office of the higher representatives. so, i mean, the situation we see currently is we still have the instruments to stop this madness, both on the civilian side with the ohio -- with the high representative
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and its office, on the military side with the eu military mission. to guarantee a safe and secure environment and to protect the constitutional order of the country and the dayton peace accord that he is threatening to unravel here. but as we have 15 years of policy weakness and negligence and ignorance, including in the last year, we have a very serious question of whether the west is aware of what's going on and whether it's ready to use its instrument. and if i just point to you choose yesterday's u.n security council vote, which was a historical break to me on the annual extension of you for a minute, in which russia stepped up with a blackmail, threatening with a video, and the western standing members of the security council, france, the uk, and the u.s. out of a lack of political
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will to fight back on that video and not accept that video basically signed off russia on their blackmailing. adrian: aleksander, what's the role of croatia and serbia in in all of this? >> well, it's a really interesting question. i think, you know, the role of serbia is quite obvious, as someone who is quite interested and at the very least supporting the bosnian serb, the bosnian serb regime in the republika srpska, and at least, you know, in some sort of form, whether it's through financial means, as meager as that is, or through, you know, just general verbal support. but what i think is indicative, something you can glean from the last meeting that zodiac had in belgrade with aleksander, which is the president of serbia, where after the meeting, dottie came out and said and he was in
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full support of the continuation of the mission in bosnia, which was very interesting. at the same time, mr. wujit said that dodik and his cohorts should go for finally solving the issue of, you know, land, state property, or state owned land that has not been resolved, which is another thing that the military's been trying to do over the years, which is transfer all the state owned -- so state, you know, owned by the state level agencies of government, or what have you, property onto the entity, and that has failed miserably several times in the past. that also, i think, can indicate that i at least believe that he does not have the full support and he is actually quite interested in possibly finding an alternative leader for bosnian serbs in bosnia who he could work with much more closely, and probably get more from. as far as croatia is concerned, i think, you know, obviously, since we haven't heard much from the bosnian crowds on this entire issue, their tacit
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support has laid as of many, many years been with dodik. so i think, you know, then again, politics and croatia, they're more interested in pushing for the electoral law reform that was mentioned earlier, which is a completely different problem. it's something that we would have to, you know, have another entire other show to talk about. adrian: we're rapidly running out of time here. before the renewal of the un peacekeeping mandate this week, russia had threatened to block a resolution unless all references to the u.n. high representative were removed, potentially undermining further christian schmidt's authority, as the overseer of the dayton accord, and that was after schmidt had said that more international peacekeepers would have to be sent to stop any slide back towards war. if the serb separatists carried out their threat to create their
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own army. what are the implications for bosnia, of russia's threats at the u.n.? >> well, i would just like to refer back to something that was said. i think the european union force in bosnia, eufor, is woefully inadequate to deal with any security challenge here. so i think that the extension of their mandate in bosnia isn't as important as we would have it, or as we tend to think, you know, at first. but i think russia is also, you know, has stepped up its support for and closer links with dodik, so i think he counts on russian support in what he does. adrian: bodo, what happens if dayton fails? >> well, if dayton fails, we're going to have conflict, we're going to have violent disintegration, i mean, the madness of, i mean, you see, this is a gambling by mr. dodik, but aleksander mentioned about the signaling of mr. dodik in this meeting with the president from belgrade as a clear indicator that he wants -- this is a gambling of threats.
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he is threatening disintegration of bosnia to the west and he wants the eu to stop it. but that return, unlike his bosnian partner mr. chavich, on the election law is following something very similar. it's a face disintegration of the country. once he wants, basically an arrangement or an approval from the eu or the u.s., because what he wants is to turn bosnia into a kind of union of entities. ethno-territorial division, which would ultimately lead to disintegration. this still can be stopped. i don't agree with my predecessor. the west has the instruments to stop this. if they have the political world, they are understaffed, but they can call in over the
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horizon forces to stop any conflict. it is a question of political will. and that political will was not there when when the west was threatened with the russian veto on it. so, they accepted this blackmailing. stripping the resolution of any language reference to hr and that by itself does not have legal consequences but it sends a dangerous political signal that it is not clear that in a case of a threat, a security threat, which these announced step toward secession would mean, that the west is ready to grant authority to the high rep to use the bond powers on the political side, and on the other end, to act on the military ends, and that is a very dangerous situation.
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adrian: gentlemen, we're going to have to end it. many thanks indeed to you all, hamza karcic, bodo weber, and aleksander brezar. as always, thank you for watching. don't forget, you can see the program again at any time by going to the website, for further discussion, join us on our facebook page. you'll find that at and you can join the conversation on twitter, handle @ajinsidestory. from me, adrian finighan, and the whole team here in doha, thanks for watching. ♪ ñ.=.ñóóó■■■■■■■
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man: for me, "sweet land" is a dream. [singers vocalizing] in dreams, you don't actually move. you're in one ple, and the wod bends and shifts around you and comes at you. [orchestra playing] there's ideas that creatmore questions than answers. woman: ♪ what is this place? ♪ second woman: ♪ the lord bless you ♪ third woman: ♪ and to keep you ♪ fourth woman: most people wouldn't think that you can have these kinds of conversations in an opera. chorus: ♪ we'll always make a place for you


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