Part I and II: By Selim Ibraimi- Center for Security Studies and Development- Macedonia (CSSD)
Global, regional and the local context of phenomena
Violent extremism has no religion. The 21 century and decade ahead is changing and international system from bipolarity goes towards multipolarity motion. Extremism and terrorism now is in first pages of the media. 1
The crisis in the Middle East brought a different international and regional order even in the Balkans. 2
Based on reports hundreds citizens from Bosnia, Sandzak, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania during past three years have been part of self-proclaimed army of Islamic State (IS) 4
The Law approved by the Parliaments of certain states: harsh measures, sanctions and punishments that the governments have in consideration for citizens who are deciding to participate in military operations of the Islamic State on the Syrian territory, were not enough or adjustable in accordance with growing flow of the fighters to stop them to join the IS by the citizens of the Western Balkans.
Another phenomenon is facing the European Union (EU), as starting point for next soldiers that participate in IS- Syrian and Iraq territory.
Those volunteering soldiers are permanent residents of EU and some with origin from the Balkan countries. In this case a hundred citizens from the Balkans are part of the IS and did not return to the residing state. In other side, some groups of people were returned back to their resident country after participating in IS.
Reconciliation of citizens is challenging work for the local communities with various side effects, which reflect a bad reputation for societies and state’s.
Anyway, what is the motivation that makes pressures to those individuals on joining the foreign armies as Islamic States (IS) on its proclaimed territory? 3
Are those religious factors, political or even social?
With this research paper we tend to get into the point of why they go or moved to IS infrastructure and what else as country includes here the government, local institutions’, media and civil society, have done to prevent the trends of going in foreign wars, which on number of individuals in certain time was big from the Balkans.
As “Soufan Groups” reports there are thousands of individuals from the Balkans in IS 5.
Based on reports of Ministry of Interior Affairs of Macedonia there are over 132 individuals who had joint the IS. Information published in media says that dozen are dead but some of them are back. No details have been reported on this matter due to the complexity of the phenomena. In other side we have the crisis with emigrants-refugees on the border. The Islamic Community of Macedonia had an interesting program to engage on this sensitive issue, titled with the name ”Stop Radicalization of Terrorists” (Stop-Rad-Terr). In addition the reconciliation is challenging and time for awareness on this case may wrap up positively or reduce the trend.
Generally are some steps to prevent all sides of violent extremism regardless of ethnicity, social status or religion?
Prevention, socialization and integration
In just two years from fall 2013 to fall 2015, IS established a global presence in at least 19 countries. With a slick and sophisticated internet based and social media campaign, and by capitalizing on the civil war in Syria and sectarian divisions in Iraq, IS has been able to attract more than 25,000 fighters from outside the Islamic State’s territory to join its ranks in Iraq and Syria.
These foreign fighters include over 4,500 citizens from Western Hemisphere, including around 250 U.S. citizens who have either traveled to the Middle East to fight with extremist organizations or attempted to do so. The civil war in Syria has been the main catalyst for young people to leave their home countries and join IS. 6
As we have entered in the second decade of the XXI century, ideology and other social and physiological factors plays a vital role on extremists to take the form and re- enter in the Western Balkans.
The refugee’s crisis may convince all of us that it is the time to strengthen the regional diplomatic position, reaffirming once again the support and with concert actions by all relevant factors.
In Macedonia political parties, civil society, community organization, and religious institutions should begin a campaign of stabilization of regions affected by conflicts, integrating population with programs and socialization of the individuals that have participated in foreign wars.
The state and international funds are the crucial bodies that will help the status of the people as: opening of work position, restoring confidence on national and local institutions.
International community in recent years has been concerned about the development of democracy in the Balkans. All sides should take violent extremism and migration seriously.
Preventing the violent extremism and radicalization in the Balkans: Empowering local partners
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) is hard work for local agencies and national governments. But with some preventive steps can be manageable. In the Balkans the important role-plays the religious communities and state social agencies.
Empowering local partners must be the targets of phenomena. As a supplement to intelligence and traditional counterterrorism tools, Countering Violent Extremism programs are aimed at preventing and reversing the radicalization of individuals, groups and communities to violent ideologies. 7
CVE efforts must be driven primarily by local governments, the private sector, and civil society in order to address the specific local circumstances. Environment should to be viewed as authentic and authoritative by all-important institutions.
Only local partners have information’s what their community needs and how to prevent radicalizing individuals from acting on a national or global radical ideology.
The 2016 is the year of increasing of the nationalism, economic decline migration and social unrest. Taking in consideration all these factors, we should prepare for unthinkable adversaries that may come by land, air or sea.
- Project for better socialization by the local and state agencies. Develop a constant policy on CVE.
- Religious Communities should detect and prevent the flow of the future fighters with strategies of engaging with individuals, which have depositions to move in other country.
- Do not avoid communications with persons. Try to convince them or families for consequences on decisions.
- National governments should increase the intelligence and security on the borders.
- Programs by states and local communities on employing the social poor class must be the primary force to stop the radicalization of people.
- National campaigns against CVE’s. Rise the funding for local state agencies and private sector as think tanks, security centers or Ngo-s.
- Develop and cross-interlink between national agencies, academics, analysts and professionals for CVE.
- Understand the complexity of CVE.A diversity of cultural approaches.
- Develop an empirical research base center.
- Education on local and national scale as base to stop the radicalization.
- Klare.T, (2002) Resources Wars. Henry Holt and Company
- https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/foreign-fighters-from-the-western-balkans-in-syria.Retrieved on October 18, 2015
- http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/12/7/foreign-fighters-in-syria-iraq-have-doubled-since-anti-isil-intervention.html.Retrieved on October 18, 2015
- http://www.loc.gov/law/help/foreign-fighters/country-surveys.php#Macedonia.Retrieved on February 28, 2016
- http://soufangroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/TSG_ForeignFightersUpdate3.pdf. Retrieved on February 5, 2016.
- http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2016/01/combatting-the-isis-foreign-fighter-pipeline-a-global-approach. Retrieved on February 28, 2016
- Southeres. E, (2013) Homegrown violent extremism. Anderson Publishing.
NOTE: The research paper is product of the Center for Security Studies and Development-Macedonia (CSSD) 2016
Read the full research paper on PDF: CSSD-MACEDONIA, VE ,2016