LIKE a miniature model lying at his feet, the shell-battered
buildings and streets of Sarajevo sprawl beneath Zoran Divcic's
With bone-chilling clarity, one can see through a gauzy haze of
snow and mist the burned-out hulks of skyscrapers, needle-like
minarets and steeples, the old Turkish marketplace, and the homes
and apartments of the 380,000 residents who have been trapped in
the city for nearly two years.
And, directly below, the stick-like figures of French United
Nations soldiers bustle about their base in the Skenderija shopping
mall, an easy 500-yard shot from Mr. Divcic's post on the Bosnian
Serb siege lines.
If NATO warplanes attempt to break those lines, warns the former
postal worker, the UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) base will be his
"UNPROFOR will become our enemy. This would be war," vows
Divcic, his resolute eyes framed by a grimy beard. "We would start
a great fight. We will hit every enemy plane. None will return to
base. That is guaranteed.
"We hold the city in our palm," he adds, as comrades nod in
agreement. "They know we can destroy the whole city in 24 hours.
But we don't want to."
Such warnings have fueled the hesitancy among Western
governments to take military action. But last Saturday's mortar
blast that killed 68 people and wounded nearly 200 others
galvanized public opinion and diplomatic action.
NATO overcame internal divisions on Wednesday and gave the
Bosnian Serbs 10 days to either move their tanks, cannon, and other
heavy weapons 13 miles from central Sarajevo or place them under UN
control. The Bosnian government must also place its artillery under
If they do not, they will be attacked by the dozens of United
States, British, and Dutch jets based in Italy and on carriers in
the Adriatic Sea that have been practicing daily over Sarajevo for
No matter what may be the outcome of Geneva peace talks, which
began again yesterday, Bosnian Serb officers on the ground say they
will never pull all the big guns back. To do so, they argue, would
open their territories to assault by more numerous Bosnian troops
seeking to avenge the destruction of their city.
In Geneva, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, furious at the
threat of NATO airstrikes, said yesterday the new round of peace
talks were deadlocked because Muslims had rejected a Serb proposal
to set up an international inquiry into last weekend's Sarajevo
"We cannot agree to removing our artillery without being able
to protect our front lines," says Col. Komljen Zarkovic, a senior
official of the Bosnian Serbs' self-styled defense ministry.
Indeed, he admits, "We have already pulled some of our
artillery back and hidden it in the forests. I think we will
intensify our preparations."
He repeats the apocalyptic forecast of a wider war that Bosnian
Serb leaders warn would erupt as a consequence of airstrikes. "The
Serbs will ... quickly get support from our friends. Europe is
getting involved without any reason in a civil war that could
quickly escalate into the center of Europe."
The Bosnian Serb and rump Yugoslav media seem to be readying
their publics for a showdown with the West. News programs show
confidence-boosting scenes of smiling soldiers hefting Strela
antiaircraft missiles, the Yugoslav-built version of the
Soviet-made shoulder-fired SAM-7, or manning antiaircraft cannon. …