The Bosnian War, 1991-95, was essentially a struggle between Bosnian Muslims, who made up just over 40% of the population, Bosnian Serbs, just over 30% and Bosnian Croatians, just under 20%.
After the bloodshed of WWII the different groups within Bosnia had lived together in relative harmony until the 1990s conflicts. The final slide into violence was precipitated by US and German pressure for Bosnia to declare itself independent, even though it was only the Muslim community (less than 50% of the population) that had taken part in the vote for independence. It was in any case abundantly clear that Bosnia met none of the legal criteria for statehood set down in international law.
Croatia’s leaders made no secret of the fact that they hoped to absorb Bosnia’s Croatian communities into Croatia. Bosnian Muslim communities were generally behind Izetbegovic’s plan that their parts of Bosnia should become a Muslim state. Bosnian Serbs were determined to retain the land that had been theirs for many hundreds of years.
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