U.S. Report Forecasts More Strife in Bosnia

Article excerpt

Bosnian factions are likely to continue to pursue nationalistic goals, possibly through renewed fighting, after U.S. forces depart later this year, says a U.S. intelligence report.

"The former combatants share a deep, mutual distrust and will continue to seek achievement of their fundamental goals, rather than accommodation, even as the Dayton agreement proceeds," the document adds.

"They will see compromise as a zero-sum game and attempt to divide and manipulate the international community in the way the accords are implemented."

The report, which is labeled "secret," also says the Islamic volunteers who must leave Bosnia-Herzegovina under the peace accords will not "go quietly." European governments will continue to provide troops after U.S. forces leave, although they will look for ways to get them out "after a decent interval."

The intelligence document, obtained by The Washington Times, was prepared for a meeting Friday of U.S. intelligence agency officials as part of a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), a major interagency study prepared as a basis for U.S. policy.

The document, a "terms of reference" and detailed outline of the forthcoming NIE, provides an inside look at how the administration views the fragile Dayton peace agreement and what is likely to happen after U.S. and NATO forces withdraw.

Joseph Nye, a former assistant defense secretary and former chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which is producing the NIE, said in an interview that the future in Bosnia is "a tough one to call."

"Looking back on the history of the region, I would not be terribly optimistic," said Mr. Nye, now dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. "On the other hand . . . the year that Ifor [NATO's Implementation Force] is there is an opportunity that is the best hope they have."

According to the document, the key "working premises" of the intelligence assessment are:

* Parties will "generally hold" to the accord and "minor violations are expected while the NATO force is in place," but not "major outbreaks of violence that threaten the renewal of hostilities."

* All international players will abide by the accord and neither Russia nor Islamic nations will break the consensus, "although these and other states will back one side or another in disputes over interpreting the agreement."

"The policies and activities of a number of external actors will greatly influence long-term stability in Bosnia," the document says.

The Russians are expected to tilt toward Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs, and Turkey, Iran, and other Islamic countries will help Bosnia's Muslim government, according to the document.

Turkey seeks a prominent role in postwar political and economic affairs and "Ankara can help offset Iranian influence" but its activities will upset Greece, Serbia and Russia, the report says. …