The Honorable [NAME]
I’m writing to you as a constituent with deep concern over recent developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) which may easily push the country back into armed conflict in the coming months unless the United States leads a united international response.
On December 10th, secessionist authorities in the Bosnian-Serb entity Republika Srpska (RS) laid out a framework for the dissolution of BiH. To achieve this, they have said they will use force if necessary. They also intend to rob the Bosnian state of its vital assets and to re-establish a breakaway paramilitary – The Army of Republika Srpska – which was originally responsible for genocide against Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995.
The architect of this secessionist putsch, Milorad Dodik, is committed to separation whatever the cost, and is supported by powerful allies, particularly Russia and Serbia, but also increasingly China.
I’ve been disappointed in the United States response so far, and I really believe we can and must do better. The risk of a return to mass atrocities is very high. We cannot let BiH be broken apart again, especially because the country’s post-war peace agreement was the direct product of American diplomacy: the Dayton Peace Accords. As pointed out by Emir Suljagić - director of the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial Center – the survivors of the Bosnian Genocide are terrified by these recent developments and are reliving their trauma all over again. This also reflects the views of many in the Bosnian-American community.
Apart from the strong moral reasons for standing with BiH, we must not cave in to expansionist Serb nationalism, which is destabilising the whole region and we must not secede our hard-won influence over the Western Balkans to our adversaries in Moscow and Beijing.
I urge you to please ask for the White House and the State and Treasury Departments to take the following actions as swiftly as possible. These recommendations are based on the work of experts from BiH, Europe, and the U.S. and were made in a recent podcast from Aegis Trust, ‘Peace at risk in Bosnia’ (which I recommend as an excellent primer see: championhumanity.buzzsprout.com). They are easy to achieve and have little political or financial cost.
The U.S. has already imposed sanctions on Milorad Dodik, leader of the Bosnian Serbs. This is a great first step, but we need to target his enablers and helpers across the Bosnian Serb political elite. Please ask the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to work with the American Embassy and the Office of the High Representative in Sarajevo to establish a list of individuals from the political leadership of Republika Srpksa, and the entities they use, to be designated for sanctions.
Once the targets have been identified, please ask that the Treasury Department and all other relevant bodies impose a full range of sanctions – which can be surgically targeted, not hurting the people of Republika Srpska - on these individuals/entities on the basis of Executive Order 13219 (2001). This allows for sanctions to be imposed for “acts obstructing the implementation of the Dayton Accords”. Not only is Dodik obstructing their implementation, he is intent on breaking them.
Please call for all available measures to be applied fully, including asset freezes, travel bans and most importantly a ban on making available any financial or economic resources to the individuals designated, or to people connected to them.
As you well know, sanctions work best when imposed as a joint effort. Please ask for the U.S. State Department to work with our NATO allies to impose the most robust possible sanctions regime on the secessionist authorities in the RS entity.
2) Implement SWIFT Ban.
SWIFT is a Belgium-based financial network paid by almost all banks around the world to facilitate international cash transfers. The company’s board consists of members of the G10 Central Banks, including the United States. Please ask the Federal Reserve to ensure that Milorad Dodik, and the other sanctions targets, are excluded from the SWIFT system, rendering them unable to make international transfers.
3) Re-deploy U.S. troops.
The U.S. provided staunch support to BiH after the war, and is currently helping lead Bosnia towards NATO (something the Serb nationalists and the Russians are desperate to avoid). Our cooperation with the Bosnian army has been very productive and recently, we gifted the Bosnian army four Huey-II helicopters.
Bosnia’s peace is currently overseen by a weak EU force. A single battalion or, indeed, a single company of U.S. troops - such as those we deployed during the recent DEFENDER-Europe 21 exercises conducted jointly with the Bosnian Armed Forces – situated in the critical Tuzla-Brcko corridor would serve as a sufficient deterrent versus Dodik’s dangerous adventurism.
American soldiers can participate alongside the EU as part of EUFOR’s Sarajevo-based “Multinational Battalion”, a rapid-response force created to allow EUFOR to be re-enforced by fellow NATO armies. Returning a small, symbolic force to Bosnia would be simple, and very low risk.
Speed is of the essence. Dodik hopes to separate Republika Srpska from BiH possibly as early as summer 2022. Imposing measures after the fact would be too late. Conflict will have already started.
To quote Emir Suljagić, who survived the genocide at Srebrenica as a 17-year-old translator for UN peacekeepers, “This is the time to act… Mark my words, if this gentleman[Dodik] is allowed to continue doing this, without consequences, this country is going to be at war six months from now.”
I would also be very grateful if you could take a moment on social media to share the podcast and show your support for survivors. You could use or adapt something like the following:
Powerful warnings from @suljagicemir1 @JasminMuj @hikmet_karcic @tmilovanovic94 @DrJMSmith @SrebrenicaMC @PCRCBiH re #PeaceAtRiskInBosnia in new @Aegis_Trust podcast championhumanity.buzzsprout.com. The US must stand with survivors, deploy peacekeepers & sanction Bosnian Serb leadership now
The world let Bosnians down badly in 1995. This time, we know the present path leads to bloodshed - and we have a chance to stop it. So please do all you can to ensure the U.S. helps prevent this conflict. Such life-saving action is surely the highest calling of anyone in politics.
[YOUR NAME HERE]
[Please add your full postal address, as your Senator / Congressperson will only respond if they can see you live in their district]