Puppets on Invisible Strings: Arkan's Tigers, the Effect of Paramilitaries and Plausible Deniability in the Yugoslav Wars, 1991 - 1999

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Pace, Matthew Ryan
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Middle Tennessee State University
Paramilitary organizations have served as a means for governments across the world to avoid blame for atrocities committed during times of war, with Arkan’s Tigers in the former Yugoslavia serving as a perfect example of this attempt to achieve plausible deniability. During their operations which ranged from 1991 to 1996, as well as their organized crime activities which lasted up until Arkan’s death, Arkan and his soldiers regularly worked alongside Yugoslav government and military officials to engage in ethnic cleansing. This study will observe the acts committed by Arkan’s Tigers against the ethnic and religious minorities of the former Yugoslavia, Arkan’s connections with members of the Yugoslav state, as well as the Belgrade regime’s awareness of and complicity in the actions committed by Arkan. The evidence which has been acquired and analyzed for this study shows that on all levels of the Yugoslav state, from government to military, Arkan’s Tigers were supported in their acts which violated the Geneva and Hague Conventions. This evidence, alongside records which show a public denial of complicity in Arkan’s actions by politicians such as Slobodan Milosevic, shows that plausible deniability for their actions was a key reason behind the deployment of paramilitaries such as Arkan’s Tigers in the Yugoslav Wars.
Arkan, Bosnia, Genocide, Paramilitary, War, Yugoslavia, History, Military history, International law