What Was The Bosnian War?

Bosnian Serb tank passes through Modrica, Bosnia on January 8, 1993.  Editorial credit: Northfoto / Shutterstock.com
Bosnian Serb tank passes through Modrica, Bosnia on January 8, 1993. Editorial credit: Northfoto / Shutterstock.com

The Bosnian War was an international war that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995. The war was part of the breakup of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia.

Lead-Up to the Bosnian War

Bosnia and Herzegovina had merged with other states to form the Socialists Republic of Yugoslavia. In order to match communist Yugoslavia, the social, economic, and political aspects of Bosnia and Herzegovina underwent tremendous changes. In the 1980s, the Yugoslav economy experienced challenges. The gradual economic decline led to widespread political unrest in the country. By 1989, independent political parties had begun to emerge. An election was held in 1990 in Croatia and Slovenia, with the emerging political parties taking part in the election. In December 1990, an election was held in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The new parties won several seats, leading to a formation of a tripartite coalition government. The situation caused even more tension in the republic.

Makeup of the Forces

There were three major factions in the Bosnian war, namely Bosnians, Croats, and Serbs. The three ethnic groups supported their respective armies with the Bosnian organized into the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Croats and the Serbs were organized into Croatian Defence Council and Army of Republika Srpska.

In the first two months of the war, the Yugoslav Army collaborated with paramilitary groups and the Bosnian Serb Army. Serbs and Croats were among primary perpetrators. The armies of Bosnia and Herzegovina were taken over by a new commander, Ratko Mladic. Mladic was a Bosnian Serb. The Bosniaks were the first ethnic group to be hit by the negative effects of the war just six weeks into the war.

Description of the Engagement

It was realized that the Yugoslav Army was being used to secretly make deliveries to Bosnian Serbs. The Serbian Democratic Party decided that its members would boycott any Bosnian presidential meetings. In October 1990, the Serbian Democratic Party members asked its members to withdraw from the Bosnian Assembly. They decided to set up their own Serb National Assembly. It was around this time that Yugoslavia breakup was underway. The tension continued building up and a full-blown war broke out on April 6, 1992.

After the independence Bosnia and Herzegovina was recognized by the EU, the Bosnian Serb paramilitary forces began firing at Sarajevo on April 7, 1992. In the same month, the cities of Zvornik, Foca, and Visegrad were attacked by the paramilitary forces and the Yugoslav Army. Bosniak locals were ordered to leave the cities. This process was referred to as ethnic cleansing.

Outcome of the War

A large number of people lost their lives in the Bosnian War. The UN estimated that 200,000 people were directly killed in the war. The statistics do not include those who were killed by cold, hunger, or any conditions as a result of the war. Approximately 15,000 women were sexually molested. The Bosniak women were the majority of the rape victims. There was also widespread vandalism of property as a lot of structures and buildings were deconstructed or burnt down.

Historical Significance and Legacy

The Bosnian War is one of the most talked about wars in the history of Bosnia and Herzegovanoa. The war led the famous Bosnian Genocide, which had approximately 100,000 people killed. 80% of the people who died in the Genocide were Bosniaks. Other notable historical events associated with the war include the Markle Massacre, the Washington Agreement and involvement of NATO in the war.


More in Society