AS the West sits idly on the sidelines and watches the systemic
extermination of Bosnian Muslims, an outraged Muslim world, with
clenched fists and whispers of jihad (holy war), readies itself to
become involved in the Balkan war.
The Islamic Conference Organization (ICO), 50 Muslim countries
with more than 1 billion inhabitants, following the lead of its two
most outspoken members, Iran and Turkey, has been calling for
military intervention in Bosnia. Islamic countries view the
inaction of the United Nations as Western hypocrisy toward the
Muslim world, especially in light of the swift, decisive end
brought to Iraq's adventurism in Kuwait.
Anti-Serbian sentiments are boiling in these countries, and many
point a finger at the UN as a benign culprit in the Bosnian fiasco.
Hikmet Cetin, Turkey's foreign minister and usually a staunch
supporter of the West, could no longer restrain his criticism of
the UN and lashed out at Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
Mr. Cetin said the secretary-general "has failed to discharge his
duties with the required sense of responsibility and seriousness."
Ayatollah Emamikshani, a senior Iranian cleric, was equally
critical: "If the UN seeks to take things seriously and declare
itself to be the organization of nations ... and not an
organization of arrogant powers ... it must rush to the aid of
those being tyrannized." He proposed that "all the Islamic states
should form a united army for the liberation of
Bosnia-Herzegovina." Ali Akbar Velayati, Iran's foreign minister,
added weight to Emamikashani's proposal by stating that Tehran
could "act independently to protect the Muslims of Bosnia."
Such rhetoric is expected from fundamentalist Iran. But similar
threats coming from Turkey, perhaps the most westernized Islamic
country in the world, are cause for concern. Turkey is torn between
its patronage to the West and its moral obligation to fellow
Muslims next door. Many elements within the country see Turkey as
bending backwards to appease the West, while, as it is argued,
Turkish concerns continue to be put on the back burner by its
so-called European allies. The situation has reached a pointwhere
further Turkish inaction could threaten the current government.
Vocal elements within Turkey are increasing their call for active
engagement in Bosnia. Necmet Erbakan, leader of the Turkish
Prosperity Party, bluntly stated his party's intentions on Turkish
television: "If we come to power, we will do in Bosnia what we did
in Cyprus." This is not only a call for action but amounts to a
slap in the face for the UN, considering the UN's long-time
involvement in Cyprus.
Islamic countries, no longer able to restrain their feelings,
have been providing clandestine aid to the Bosnian Muslims. In
September 1992, an Iranian Boeing 747, which was supposed to be
carrying relief supplies to Bosnia, was intercepted by Croatian
authorities in Zagreb. Upon inspection, it was discovered that the
plane was loaded with 4,000 rifles and more than 1 million rounds
of ammunition. …