Saturday, November 1, 2014

Islamization trends in the Balkans, by Ioannis Michaletos

The current snapshot of the Islamization process in the Balkans is of interesting nature nowadays, by taking into account the aftermath of the Arab Spring and the vicious war ignited by the "ISIS-Islamic State" in the Middle East. 

In that respect both the connection between ISIS and Balkan Jihadists and the efforts by Sunni powers such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia to "Islamize" the region, gains a new momentum, since already countries such as Bosnia are the epicenter of terrorism -transit activities within Europe and a significant segment of the population is turning into supporters of the global “Jihad campaign". 

The perils for the EU's security architecture certainly increase, given the fact that hubs of terrorist preparation can already be found in most European urban centers.

Snapshot-October 2014

The largest Mosque in the Balkans is due to be constructed in Tirana-Albania by Turkish financing. The architectural design will be identical to the Ottoman designs and should be opened to the public by early 2016, being able to accommodate more than 4,500 worshippers. Four minarets will be erected, along with a supplementary 400-seat conference center, an Islamic studies library, a halal restaurant and a two-story Islamic history museum of Albania. It will be close to the center of the city in a 10,000 Square meters yard, and within eyesight of the Albanian parliament. 

The symbolic nature of this mosque illustrates the long-standing effort by both Turkey and the AKP ruling party, as well as, the Muslim Brotherhood network in which Turkey plays a vital role in its expansion; to hold a firm grip in the Western Balkans (Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania, FYROM, Montenegro), so as when these states access the EU, they will already become an entrance hall by which the aforementioned Sunni power centers will be able to exert influence in the whole of Europe. 

The above will be coupled with an extraordinary networking and of myriads of Islamic groups across all EU states, plus the ongoing, steady and long-term inclusion of illegal immigrants from Islamic states into Europe. Already the Muslim population in most Western and Northern European urban metropolises exceeds 10% in all accounts, described of higher birth rates, continuous flow of new immigrants and quite interestingly radicalization trends amongst 2nd and 3rd generation individuals. 

Thus the Western Balkan Islamization trends run in a supplementary form and in a well-designed strategy to make inroads into Europe by vast Sunni powers that currently do possess the capital needed, the human resources required and most importantly the political will to implement their aims.

In FYROM, the vice president of Turkey, Numan Kurtulmuş, paid an official visit and requested to evaluate the main Ottoman sites of the country and specifically the old bazaar of Skopje, the Mustafa Pasha mosque, the Arabati Baba Teke, the Pasha mosque in Tetovo, the Mustafa Qebor mosque in Struga.

In his speech during these visits he referred to the assistance the state "Turkish Cooperation & Coordination Agency (TIKA)" provides in restoring every type of Ottoman heritage in FYROM and in the Balkans and quite interestingly provided the excuse for this "charity effort". According to Kurtulmus: “The world needs 'Pax Ottomana', and modern Turkey is committed to that aim".

In the meantime the Italian security authorities have leaked to the local press that they estimate the airport of Tirana in Albania is being used as an intermediate hub for the travel of "EU Jihadists" to the Syrian and Iraqi battlefield. From Tirana they embark in flights to the Istanbul international airport where ISIS figures under the tacit or explicit tolerance by the authorities let them continue their journey into the Middle East and deliver their campaign of committing genocide against any minority that stands in their way to create an "Islamic state". 

The Albanian prosecutor's office has already confirmed that information from Rome, and local sources point out that the Italian intelligence is very active in Albania in order to uncover the leads concerning Italian citizens that are using this route. 

Concurrently, in Skopje the local press, relays that around  150 "Mujahedeen" are present in the country, most of them have already fought in the Middle East and are teaming up with local Albanian extremists that took part in the 2001 uprising. The central group is under the influence of Imri Elezi, Ishmet Yasari, Dresaj Maliki, Chejair Tsakiri, and Jakup Hasipi who is also a political consultant of the DUI party and has studied Islamic theology in Syria. 

In late October, projectiles were shot at the FYROM Parliament building, by unknown assailants, further raising fears of a brewing instability in that country, in close connection to the trends described previously, as well as, the ongoing process by radical-hyper nationalistic Albanian groups to create the "great Albania", by declaring war of unconventional nature to all of their Balkan neighbors. 

The above snapshot of several key trends of October 2014, illustrates the risks involved of Middle Eastern fallout in the Western Balkans. From a macro-historical point of view, the situation as it has unfolded over the past generation in the region can only be a cause for worry and alertness.