British Psychological Warfare Threatens Balkan Conflict
Ever since the war in Ukraine began, speculation has swirled about a “second front” opening in the Balkans - in particular, Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the country’s internal Republika Srpska at the centre of these concerns. In response, NATO member states have preemptively flooded Sarajevo with troops, and Britain has led the influx.
Oddly, two “experts in counter-disinformation” are part of London’s deployment - they purportedly “work with the Bosnian Armed Forces and NATO to uphold peace and security in the country.” It’s unclear how, although in recent years, British intelligence has used the spectre of battling Russian-borne “disinformation” as a Trojan Horse to further London’s political, military and financial objectives throughout Central and Eastern Europe, in particular the former Yugoslavia, and “weaken the Russian state’s influence.”
Along the way, London has secretly bankrolled and created media outlets to disseminate slick pro-British, pro-NATO, anti-Russian propaganda, and financed ‘fact checkers’ to malign and censor independent journalists and alternative information sources. A remarkably revealing passage in a leaked document related to these efforts acknowledges a key “barrier to combating disinformation” is that “certain Kremlin-backed narratives are factually true.”
Balkan experts strongly caution against the idea Russia would have any desire to start a new conflict in the region, let alone the means, but their entreaties have fallen on deaf ears. Western and domestic media ramp up the threat daily, while elite British military think tank RUSI has branded Bosnia and Herzegovina the inevitable frontline of new fracas between the West and Moscow.
Given London not long ago undertook clandestine efforts on behalf of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s government to terrify its population into submission, and influence their perspectives and behaviour accordingly, it can only be considered deeply concerning that such perceptions are widespread.
‘Agents of Change’
There were strict limits on which hours citizens could be outside, with many prohibited from leaving their homes at all under any circumstances, mask-wearing was made obligatory in and outdoors, and more. Countless fines - punitive penalties far exceeding the country’s average monthly pension payment - were issued for non-compliance.
However, most residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina obeyed. Their acquiescence was in part assured by a clandestine British intelligence-orchestrated psychological warfare campaign, which aggressively marketed “COVID-19 prevention measures” to the sceptical public.
In service of this connivance, which has never before been publicly revealed, London enlisted Albany Associates, a veteran British intelligence cutout. Throughout the West’s dirty war in Syria, Albany was one of a constellation of contractors managing psychological warfare projects designed to destabilise the government of Bashar Assad, convince Syrians and international bodies CIA and MI6-backed jihadist groups were a “moderate” alternative, and flood media the world over with pro-opposition propaganda.
In the process, its staff frequently rubbed shoulders with members of murderous militias, guilty of hideous human rights abuses. A scathing internal British government review of these operations, not intended for public consumption, judged they were “poorly planned, probably illegal, and cost lives.” There is no indication anyone faced repercussions for these grave failings, or that London’s psychological warfare approaches were reformed in light of the review’s findings.
Albany was also embroiled in lavishly-funded British intelligence initiatives to “weaken the Russian state’s influence.” It achieved this by, among other things, exploiting young Russophones in the Baltic states as “agents of change,” without their knowledge or consent. When deluged with anti-Russian, pro-Western propaganda through an assortment of mediums, it was hoped these youths would unwittingly disseminate this agitprop to their wider families, and duly convert them to the NATO cause.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albany was instructed to “assist in developing communication plans to support agreed government approach; identify target audiences and assess through analysis the most appropriate communications approach; establish required messaging and draft proposals for potential campaigns.”
To make Bosnian citizens “understand and maintain compliance” with pandemic restrictions, “several campaigns targeting different audiences (ie business owners, the general public, schools, the most vulnerable)” were envisaged.
“Use messages as basis for public information campaign to maintain compliance with necessary measures. Provide support for government communicators to ensure professional co-ordination of messages,” a leaked document orders. “Craft messages that meet the government’s ambitions and are easily understood and acted on by citizens…Develop and implement informational campaigns to deliver those messages to the public and specific target audiences where necessary.”
This informational assault, conducted in coordination with the World Health Organization, was supported by two local public relations firms. Rent-a-PR led “coordination with government communicators, message consistency, planning, press conference support, communication grids, general coordination and campaign planning,” while ZIPR handled slogans, straplines, design and branding for the campaign.
‘Threat Needs to Be Increased’
Albany’s deplorable background raises very serious concerns about its management of any government communications campaign, let alone a public health propaganda blitz. So too should the core foundation of London’s approach to coercing its citizens into complying with pandemic restrictions, which informed Sarajevo’s own.
A February 2020 paper produced by British state behavioural science advisors outlined assorted mechanisms for ensuring the public acted in accordance with lockdown measures. Inducing intense and cohering fear among the general population ranked first out of all considerations.
“A substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened,” the paper bitterly recorded. “The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased [emphasis added] among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging.”
This recommendation was eagerly leaped upon by the British government, with drastic effects. One of the behavioural psychologists responsible for the perverse push has since lamented that “the level of fear willingly conveyed” to British citizens was “the most egregious and far-reaching mistake made in responding to the pandemic” - which is saying something. These malign tactics are now being scrutinised in a wider parliamentary probe into London’s handling of the crisis.
There is no comparable investigation in Bosnia and Herzegovina as yet, although Britain’s hidden assistance during this period would be vital to examine - particularly given it could have enormous relevance to cloak-and-dagger information warfare operations in Sarajevo now.
A leaked file related to London’s covert COVID19 communications effort in the country notes that, “considerable work has been undertaken” in recent years by British intelligence to “strengthen the strategic communications capabilities of government communicators across Bosnia and Herzegovina,” and “the fruits of this work are starting to be seen.” Nonetheless, “more work” in this field was said to be required, in advance of a then-forthcoming project dubbed “BH50”.
It is unknown what BH50 entailed, although it’s reasonable to ask whether the British government’s clandestine control of Sarajevo’s communications has been engaged to inflate other panics in the public mind - such as Russian aggression. If so, this may account for why contemporary polling indicates 60 percent of Bosniaks consider Moscow their country’s biggest overseas “political threat.”
Such anxiety only benefits London - after all, a frightened public is much more amenable to external offers of “help”. The ease with which this state of affairs could be weaponised and exploited is obvious. An unchallenged, permanent British military presence on the streets of Sarajevo, for instance.
In August 2022, British Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Julian Reilly formally met with Osman Mehmedagic, General Director of Sarajevo’s Intelligence and Security Agency, for the first time. He declared London to be a “longstanding friend” of the country and “all its citizens.”
In reality, far from being a “longstanding friend” of Bosniaks, the British deliberately abandoned Sarajevo at the height of its civil war in the 1990s, despite knowing massacres of the country’s Muslim population were impending, as officials in London willed a “painful but realistic restoration of Christian Europe.”
Nonetheless, in response Mehmedagic thanked Britain “for its continuous support…especially in the security sector” - “cooperation” which would be “intensified through several joint projects in the coming period,” due to “current security circumstances in the region.” He added that British security and intelligence services “always have a good and reliable partner” in their Bosnian counterparts.
Clearly, it’s not merely the government’s strategic communications apparatus that has been overrun by a hostile foreign actor. The full dimensions of Britain’s “continuous” assistance to Sarajevo’s spies, police, and soldiers aren’t public, but if these efforts resemble London’s “support” programs to comparable agencies elsewhere, they will amount to grand, insidious connivances to infiltrate and secretly direct Bosnia and Herzegovina’s security and intelligence services at every level, while surreptitiously implanting British personnel and technology at their respective cores.
It may be that stoking fears of Russian invasion is simply a foot-in-the-door ruse, which productively facilitates London’s penetration of these agencies. Mehmedagic’s reference to “current circumstances in the region” necessitating Britain’s supporting role being “intensified” is a palpable demonstration of how Perfidious Albion profits from heightened fears of Russian aggression in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Even then, in the Balkan context, such cynical manoeuvring could easily have extremely dangerous real-world ramifications. Since February 24th 2022, an already tense political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina has become ever-further inflamed. Just three months earlier, Bosnian Serb leaders announced Republika Srpska would withdraw from the state’s armed forces, judiciary and tax system, in advance of outright secession.
The move led to London and Washington imposing sanctions on Republika Srpska’s President Milorad Dodik, a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. While secession was put on a backburner following the invasion of Ukraine, his refusal to back EU and US sanctions against Russia, maintenance of a neutral stance on the conflict, and active pursuit of deeper economic ties with Moscow, have all further antagonised Western powers.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s October 2022 general election was highly controversial. Within minutes of polls closing, and before votes had been counted, internationally-appointed High Representative Christian Schmidt, Sarajevo’s highest political authority, changed the country’s electoral system to fudge the results in favour of nationalist parties. The widely unpopular move - coincidentally backed by Britain - ignited mass protests, which in turn prompted renewed calls for secession within Republika Srpska.
Resultantly, Bosnia and Herzegovina could now be en route to breakup. Yet it is British, not Russian, troops who await that fateful day on the frontline in Sarajevo, with bated breath. Which begs the question, who is truly the aggressor here, and who has been stirring up trouble all along?
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