Islamic Extremism in the Balkans as a Geopolitical Instrument

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This paper aims to explore the connection between religious extremism (especially Islamic extremism and Islamic terrorism) and traditional geopolitical theories of the last century. It is our assumption that religious extremism (especially Islamic terrorism) has shown clear geopolitical elements, since it has been used by countries of the region to promote their political and strategic objectives, as it has also been used by non-state actors to promote a geopolitical agenda that serves their goals. With our special focus on Islamic extremism, as one of the main threats for the security of the Balkan region, our goal is to study this phenomenon in the framework of security architecture and challenges for the Balkan geopolitical space after the Cold War. The methodology used will be comparative and empirical (a middle ground between qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches). It will compare different geopolitical approaches developed by countries of the region, while giving a special place also to empirical analyses of religious extremism. One of the results of our research is that the influence of political Islam in the Balkan region is not a product of the generalist idea of Islamic terrorism after September 11, 2001, but much more a historical product of long evolutional social and cultural processes within especially the Western Balkan countries. Secondly, the increased sensibility and level of threats from international terrorism has impacted not only in the security strategies of Balkan countries, but also on their geopolitical adaptation vis-à-vis terrorist groups. The geopolitical impact of Islamic extremism in the Balkans cannot be seen isolated by other phenomena threatening its security and democratic stability, such as organized crime and corruption.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n6p375

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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