Operation Storm 1995

Brioni Transcript
Minutes, dated 31 July 1995


of the meeting held by the President of the Republic of Croatia, Dr. Franjo
TUĐMAN, with military officials, on 31 July 1995 at Brioni

The meeting commenced at 1050 hours

of the people in Europe, partly in Europe, of those who are inclined to resolve that crisis to Croatia's benefit where we have a friend, Germany, which consistently supports us in political discussions, and in NATO as well where there is also understanding for our views. We enjoy the sympathy of the United States, but to a certain extent. If, gentlemen, you will carry out /the operation/ professionally, as you did in Western Slavonia within a few days, and that means three to four days, or a maximum of eight days, then we can count on the fact that will we not sustain any political damage, but will instead have scored political points in such a world.
We must inflict total defeat upon the enemy in the south and north, just so we understand each other, leaving the east aside for the time being.
Why should we leave the east aside? Because even those who are our friends are afraid that all of Yugoslavia will become embroiled in the war, Yugoslavia and Russia, and there might be an all-out war.
Because it is important that those civilians set out, and then the army will follow them, and when the columns set out, they will have a psychological impact on each other.
But before then they should provide us with a pretext, and provoke us.

Zvonimir ČERVENKO:
We should ask sMARKAČ to do that.

Mladen MARKAČ:
... and we accuse them of having launched a sabotage attack against us and of intending to head towards Maslenica, of intending to go over Mt. Velebit to the road from Karlobag to Starigrad, that they want to cut it off, and that's why we were forced to intervene.

I think it would be best to do it in the following way. They are using Udbina airport, we can organise an explosion as if they had struck with their airforce and in this manner we can disguise all our axes, while opening up for ourselves ...
Kinkel has promised that Germany will support us, but we have to inform them ahead of time.
Hold on, I'm going to Geneva to hide this, and not to talk. I won't send a Minister but the Assistant Foreign Minister. That's on Thursday.
So, I /want/ to hide what we are preparing for the day after. And we can rebut any argument in the world about how we didn't want to talk, but that we only wanted what ...


The New American
Vol. 13, No. 21
October 13, 1997

Selective "Justice" Turns
Blind Eye to Croatian Atrocities
by William Norman Grigg

The preferred refrain of partisans of the UN's war crimes tribunal in The Hague is that "there can be no lasting peace without justice." However, the Tribunal's equanimity regarding a large-scale Croat atrocity in southwestern Bosnia illustrates that both "justice" and "peace" can be sacrificed in the name of political expediency when pursuing them might expose the covert machinations of the very political elite that created the Dayton agreement.

"In March 1996 I took a Bosnian Serb prosecutor and a camera crew from Court TV to the site of a mass grave containing the bodies of at least 185 Serb civilians," Nick Kostich recalled to THE NEW AMERICAN. The site of that atrocity was Mrkonjic Grad, a small town in southwestern Bosnia near Croatia's Krajina region. "I was present when the site was exhumed," Kostich continues. "The bodies were not those of military personnel. They were civilians, including people as much as 80 years old." However, the gruesome discovery had little impact in the media: "There are videotapes of the exhumation of that site, and the New York Times published one photograph of the site with a caption identifying it as the scene of an atrocity, but there was no story to accompany the photo." Furthermore, the discovery "has led to no indictments yet, despite the fact that an investigator from the UN Tribunal's office of the prosecutor has visited the site."

One reason for the apparent indifference to the atrocity in Mrkonjic Grad is the fact that the Croatian army unit implicated in it may have been trained and equipped by Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI), a private military and intelligence consulting firm based in Virginia. MPRI literature describes the firm as "a professional services company engaged primarily in military-related contracting in the U.S. and international defense markets." MPRI's roster of founders, executives, and directors includes 14 retired U.S. generals, three of whom -- Richard D. Lawrence, Jack Merritt, and Carl Vuono -- are members of the Council on Foreign Relations, the focal point of America's foreign policy elite.

MPRI information officer Joseph Allred, a professor at Brigham Young University, explains that through his firm "the U.S. can have influence as part of its national strategy on other nations without employing its own army." In accordance with the Clinton Administration's Balkan strategy -- which reduced the complex and tragic Bosnian civil war into a war of "Serbian aggression" -- MPRI was hired by the Croatian regime of "ex"-communist President Franjo Tudjman in 1995 to refine his Soviet-created Ministry of Defense into a modern fighting force.

The February 18th Boston Globe reported that several months after MPRI signed its contract with Tudjman's regime, "the Croatian army mounted a summer offensive into the Serb-controlled region of Krajina, forcing more than 150,000 Croatian Serbs from their homeland."

Villages were sacked and burned, civilians were slaughtered, and women were raped. Estimates of total casualties in the four-day blitzkrieg in August 1995 run as high as 15,000 on the Serbian side, compared with a mere 118 Croat casualties (according to Croatian sources) -- a disproportion suggesting a slaughter of civilians rather than a military engagement.

In short, the Croat assault presented all of the horrors associated with "ethnic cleansing." The four-day assault, as investigative journalist Ken Silverstein observes, was conducted by an army that a few months earlier had been regarded as "bumbling and inept." Although British and French observers on the scene accused MPRI of planning and directing the assault on Krajina, the firm's spokesmen insisted that MPRI's role had been limited to instilling "democratic values" in the "ex"-communist army. Some qualified observers have greeted that account skeptically.

"No country moves from having a ragtag militia to carrying out a professional military offensive without some help," observes Roger Charles, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel who monitored MPRI's activities in Croatia. "The Croats did a good job of coordinating armor, artillery, and infantry. That's not something you learn while being instructed about democratic values." The Croatian army's "democratic" handiwork in Mrkonjic Grad suggests that respect for the canons of civilized combat was not part of the MPRI training curriculum.

Was the mass grave at Mrkonjic Grad a sample of MPRI's handiwork? If so, the same political elite responsible for creating the "framework for peace" in the Balkans is creating the conditions for another round of genocidal violence. The July 15, 1996 Financial Times of London reported that a delegation of retired generals representing MPRI had arrived in Bosnia "to start a programme of instruction for the Bosnian Army, part of an effort by Washington and several Moslem states to counterbalance Serb military strength." MPRI's renewable 13-month, $140 million contract in Bosnia is underwritten by a consortium of Islamic states from Asia and the Persian Gulf. Coupled with the $100 million worth of weapons pledged to Bosnia by the Clinton Administration (including tanks and artillery), the MPRI-trained Bosnian army will have the capacity to sow numerous new killing fields in the Balkans.


The Invasion of Serbian Krajina
by Gregory Elich in "NATO in the Balkans", 1998


The previous month, Secretary of State Warren Christopher and German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel met with Croatian diplomat Miomir Zuzul in London. During this meeting, Christopher gave his approval for Croatian military action against Serbs in Bosnia and Krajina. Two days later, the U.S. ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith, also approved Croatia's invasion plan. Stipe Mesic, a prominent Croatian politician, stated that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman "received the go-ahead from the United States. Tudjman can do only what the Americans allow him to do. Krajina is the reward for having accepted, under Washington's pressure, the federation between Croats and Muslims in Bosnia." Croatian assembly deputy Mate Mestrovic also claimed that the "United States gave us the green light to do whatever had to be done." (1)

As Croatian troops launched their assault on August 4, U.S. NATO aircraft destroyed Serbian radar and anti-aircraft defenses. American EA-6B electronic warfare aircraft patrolled the air in support of the invasion. Krajina foreign affairs advisor Slobodan Jarcevic stated that NATO "completely led and coordinated the entire Croat offensive by first destroying radar and anti-aircraft batteries. What NATO did most for the Croatian Army was to jam communications between [Serb] military commands...." (2)

Following the elimination of Serbian anti-aircraft defenses, Croatian planes carried out extensive attacks on Serbian towns and positions. The roads were clogged with refugees, and Croatian aircraft bombed and strafed refugee columns. Serbian refugees passing through the town of Sisak were met by a mob of Croatian extremists, who hurled rocks and concrete at them. A UN spokesman said, "The windows of almost every vehicle were smashed and almost every person was bleeding from being hit by some object." Serbian refugees were pulled from their vehicles and beaten. As fleeing Serbian civilians poured into Bosnia, a Red Cross representative in Banja Luka said, "I've never seen anything like it. People are arriving at a terrifying rate." Bosnian Muslim troops crossed the border and cut off Serbian escape routes. Trapped refugees were massacred as they were pounded by Croatian and Muslim artillery. Nearly 1,700 refugees simply vanished. While Croatian and Muslim troops burned Serbian villages, President Clinton expressed his understanding for the invasion, and Christopher said events "could work to our advantage." (3)

The Croatian rampage through the region left a trail of devastation. Croatian special police units, operating under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, systematically looted abandoned Serbian villages. Everything of value - cars, stereos, televisions, furniture, farm animals - was plundered, and homes set afire. (4) A confidential European Union report stated that 73 percent of Serbian homes were destroyed. (5) Troops of the Croatian army also took part, and pro-Nazi graffiti could be seen on the walls of several burnt-out Serb buildings.(6)

Massacres continued for several weeks after the fall of Krajina, and UN patrols discovered numerous fresh unmarked graves and bodies of murdered civilians. (7) The European Union report states, "Evidence of atrocities, an average of six corpses per day, continues to emerge. The corpses, some fresh, some decomposed, are mainly of old men. Many have been shot in the back of the head or had throats slit, others have been mutilated... Serb lands continue to be torched and looted." (8)

Following a visit in the region a member of the Zagreb Helsinki Committee reported, "Virtually all Serb villages had been destroyed.... In a village near Knin, eleven bodies were found, some of them were massacred in such a way that it was not easy to see whether the body was male or female." (9)

UN spokesman Chris Gunness noted that UN personnel continued to discover bodies, many of whom had been decapitated. (10) British journalist Robert Fisk reported the murder of elderly Serbs, many of whom were burned alive in their homes. He adds, "At Golubic, UN officers have found the decomposing remains of five people... the head of one of the victims was found 150 feet from his body. Another UN team, meanwhile is investigating the killing of a man and a woman in the same area after villagers described how the man's ears and nose had been mutilated." (11)

After the fall of Krajina, Croatian chief of staff General Zvonimir Cervenko characterized Serbs as "medieval shepherds, troglodytes, destroyers of anything the culture of man has created." During a triumphalist train journey through Croatia and Krajina, Tudjman spoke at each railway station. To great applause, he announced, "There can be no return to the past, to the times when [Serbs] were spreading cancer in the heart of Croatia, a cancer that was destroying the Croatian national being." He then went on to speak of the "ignominious disappearance" of the Serbs from Krajina "so it is as if they have never lived here... They didn't even have time to take with them their filthy money or their filthy underwear!" American ambassador Peter Galbraith dismissed claims that Croatia had engaged in "ethnic cleansing," since he defined this term as something Serbs do. (12)

U.S. representatives blocked Russian attempts to pass a UN Security Council resolution condemning the invasion. According to Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic, American officials gave advice on the conduct of the operation, and European and military experts and humanitarian aid workers reported shipments of U.S weapons to Croatia over the two months preceding the invasion. A French mercenary also witnessed the arrival of American and German weapons at a Croatian port, adding, "The best of the Croats' armaments were German- and American-made." The U.S. "directly or indirectly," says French intelligence analyst Pierre Hassner, "rearmed the Croats." Analysts at Jane's Information Group say that Croatian troops were seen wearing American uniforms and carrying U S. communications equipment. (13)

The invasion of Krajina was preceded by a thorough CIA and DIA analysis of the region. (14) According to Balkan specialist Ivo Banac, this "tactical and intelligence support" was furnished to the Croatian Army at the beginning of its offensive. (15)

In November 1994, the United States and Croatia signed a military agreement. Immediately afterward, U.S. intelligence agents set up an operations center on the Adriatic island of Brac, from which reconnaissance aircraft were launched. Two months earlier, the Pentagon contracted Military Professional Resources, Inc (MPRI) to train the Croatian military.(16) According to a Croatian officer, MPRI advisors "lecture us on tactics and big war operations on the level of brigades, which is why we needed them for Operation Storm when we took the Krajina." Croatian sources claim that U.S. satellite intelligence was furnished to the Croatian military. (17) Following the invasion of Krajina, the U.S. rewarded Croatia with an agreement "broadening existing cooperation" between MPRI and the Croatian military. (18) U.S. advisors assisted in the reorganization of the Croatian Army. Referring to this reorganization in an interview with the newspaper Vecernji List, Croatian General Tihomir Blaskic said, "We are building the foundations of our organization on the traditions of the Croatian home guard" - pro-Nazi troops in World War II. (19)

It is worth examining the nature of what one UN official terms "America's newest ally." During World War II, Croatia was a Nazi puppet state in which the Croatian fascist Ustashe murdered as many as one million Serbs, Jews, and Roman (Gypsies). Disturbing signs emerged with the election of Franjo Tudjman to the Croatian presidency in 1990 Tudjman said, "I am glad my wife is neither Serb nor Jew," and wrote that accounts of the Holocaust were "exaggerated" and "one-sided." (20)


Charles E. Waterman

Charles Waterman is the Chief Executive Officer and founding member of Jefferson Waterman International. Mr. Waterman’s decades of experience in the international arena translate into an exceptional ability to forge favorable political environments for clients’ political and commercial ventures. At JWI, Mr. Waterman both oversees firm-wide operations and directly manages client representation, particularly those related to his areas of special expertise. These include Africa and the Middle East, as well as petroleum and mineral resources.

Before founding JWI, Charles Waterman held several leading positions within the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. As Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, he oversaw production of intelligence estimates on global issues to support Cabinet-level economic, political and military deliberations. As National Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, Mr. Waterman coordinated the intelligence input to policy deliberations in the Near East and South Asia. As a member of the Foreign Service, Mr. Waterman spent many years living and working overseas in Kuwait, Cairo, Beirut, Amman and Jiddah.

Mr. Waterman was awarded the CIA Intelligence Star and Medal and the CIA Meritorious Officer award. A recognized expert in the Middle East, Mr. Waterman has functional expertise in defense and petroleum industries, and has published extensively in foreign affairs journals.

Mr. Waterman holds degrees from Brown University in Rhode Island and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., where he specialized in the Middle East and was awarded the Christian Herter Fellowship for outstanding academic performance. He speaks Arabic and French.

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JWI is proud to include the following organizations as current and former clients:
Alliance for a New Kosovo
Republic of Croatia


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