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Iran Offers Military Support to Bosniaks If Needed
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katonai támogatás Iran offers military support to Bosnia
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The Iranian Ambassador to Sarajevo gave a lengthy interview to Klix.ba, considered the most-read Bosnian news portal. In the interview, the ambassador analyzed the relationship between the two countries and took a stance on potential  in the future if justified. He also presented the Iranian perspective on the events in Gaza.

Support for Palestinians

The outbreak of the Ukrainian war about a year and a half ago already raised serious concerns across wide segments of Bosnian society. The Russian-Ukrainian conflict brought to the surface the enduring ethnic tensions in the central Western Balkans since the peace agreement of 1995.

This ethnic and religious division was further intensified by the interpretation of the Hamas attack on Israeli territories. Bosniak conservatives are unified in portraying Israel as the aggressor in the Gaza conflicts, considering the international community’s division on Gaza operations as a warning sign.

Support for the Palestinian cause has stirred the Bosnian Muslim religious communities in recent weeks.

The level of commitment to the Palestinian cause is well illustrated by the fact that in the fifth poorest country on the European continent, the local Palestinian community association collected 125,000 convertible marks, equivalent to 25 million forints, by walking the streets of Sarajevo.

Apart from civil organizations, the majority Bosniak territories’ municipalities are contributing to public donations. The leadership of Sarajevo Canton, the country’s most developed region, decided on an extraordinary aid of the equivalent of sixty million forints.

Despite the upcoming winter and the deteriorating utility networks, this received significant societal support.

Iran extends military aid

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s unofficial status as a buffer zone often leads foreign ambassadors to make statements in the media that exacerbate tensions between local communities if it serves the sending country’s interests.

Previously, the Russian Ambassador to Sarajevo, Igor Kalabuhov, indirectly threatened the entire Bosnian society in an interview with Face TV if the Balkan state joined the countries imposing sanctions against Russia. This did not happen due to a strong Bosnian-Serb veto.

Recently, Abuvar Ebrahimi Tarkaman, the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran who arrived in Sarajevo a month ago, gave a comprehensive interview to the Klix.ba news portal.

In addition to revisiting historical elements of the two countries’ relationship, the Persian diplomat took the opportunity to draw parallels between military actions against the Palestinian people and the aggression against the Muslim population during the Bosnian war.

He continued by stating that “just like thirty years ago, Iran will help Bosnia and Herzegovina if necessary in the future.”

To specify the form of assistance and to address the pressure from Serbian and Croatian nationalist groups, the journalist preparing the report did not hesitate to inquire whether the Bosniak people can expect Iranian military assistance similar to that provided during the Bosnian War in the future.

Tarkaman, instead of giving a diplomatic response, referred to the relationship between the two states as grounded in “brotherly ties and moral obligations,” which justifies military support.

Iran accuses Israel

The interview also provided an opportunity for the Iranian ambassador to present Iran’s perspective on the Gaza events. Iran holds Israel responsible for the actions, considering the military actions against Gaza’s population as war crimes and describing the Israeli military action as genocide.

He emphasized that Iran was not involved in the Gaza events in any way, and Iranian forces did not participate in planning or executing the Hamas attacks.

Tarkaman highlighted that Iran would continue to support the Palestinian people, especially in maintaining their presence in the areas they currently inhabit.

Bosnian mujahideen

Bosnian mujahideen (Source: VOA)

The secret supporter

Tarkaman recalled in the mentioned report that diplomatic relations between the two states were established 30 years ago this year.

In connection with this, it is worth mentioning that Iran was among the first to recognize the independence of Bosnia in 1992, when the legislation of the Yugoslav republic declared the independence of the member state before the outbreak of the Bosnian conflicts.

With rapid state recognition, Iran’s undisclosed goal was to gain an ally with a predominantly Muslim population in the Western Balkans.

Ali Hamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, commented on the conflicts beginning in the former Yugoslavia, stating that the events in Bosnia, especially in Goražde, are painful and cause concern. Regarding the Bosniaks, he asserted that their only crime is being Muslims, making them subject to persecution, and thus Iran and other Muslim nations must support them.

It is noteworthy, however, that the Bosniak political elite was divided on the issue of cooperation with the Persian state when diplomatic relations were established. This division ceased later, as Iran emerged as one of the most significant supporters in the battle against the forces of the Yugoslav People’s Army and Serbian paramilitary units.

Details about the military assistance recalled by Tarkaman are gradually being documented in extensive retrospectives. These accounts provide a detailed overview of how the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Iranian intelligence service ensured the supply of weapons and ammunition to the Bosnian Army (Armija Bosne i Hercegovine, ArBiH) forces and the channels through which Middle Eastern mujahideen reached the Balkan theater of war.

Concerning the Iranian support, which was not commented on by the Iranian side previously, Saed Hasemi, a retired commander of the Revolutionary Guard, spoke out in 2019, provoking the displeasure of the Tehran leadership.

Hasemi stirred a minor diplomatic controversy by stating that he reached Bosnia in 1992 as a member of the Iranian Red Crescent aid organization.

In his recollections, Hasemi highlighted his involvement in training members of the Bosnian mujahideen unit, collaborating closely with the Islamist terrorist organization al-Qaeda. He claimed they fought shoulder to shoulder for an independent Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The extent of Iranian military support is underscored by the approximately ten thousand tons of weapons and ammunition sent to Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Iranian state.

More than twenty thousand copies of the AK-47 assault rifle were smuggled into the country through Adriatic ports controlled by Croatian forces on cargo ships arriving from the sea.

As for the issue of smuggling from maritime areas, the Croatian side has remained silent to this day. However, it is difficult to imagine that such a quantity of equipment could be transported unnoticed to Travnik in Central Bosnia.

The quality of Iranian assistance is evident in the modern Russian and Chinese anti-tank guided missiles that the Bosnian army acquired, in addition to the Soviet-licensed assault rifles widely used by Bosniak troops.

America has Superman and Iran has Tarkaman in Bosnia: the Iranian ambassador gave an interview to the Bosnian news portal Klix.ba (Source: Klix.ba)

Iran could be the Trojan horse

Over the past half-decade, Iran’s diplomatic and economic presence has undergone significant development in Bosnia and Herzegovina. While high-level diplomatic interactions are rare, substantial progress has been observed in trade relations, educational cooperation, and tourism.

The more active role of Iran in the heart of the Western Balkans is viewed by Bosnian political groups supporting NATO and EU orientation as a Trojan horse. Formally, this designates a third-way solution for Balkan Muslim communities amidst the increasingly challenging EU accession and the looming Russian-Serbian hegemony.

However, it should not be overlooked that the threads of the alternative alliance offered by the Iranian regime, burdened with international sanctions, ultimately lead to Moscow and Beijing. Thus, Tehran could become a key player for Moscow and Beijing in winning over the Balkan Muslim population and expanding their regional influence in the future.

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