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The cubs of the Caliphate: challenge vs threatThe cubs of the Caliphate: challenge vs threat

Rabie W. Sedrak


The Cubs of the Caliphate are the children who were exploited by ISIS during the armed conflicts in its quasi-state within Iraq and Syria. Created to serve one purpose, which is to ensure the continuity of the Caliphate and to convey ISIS ideology and message to future generations all over the world. Even though the Islamic State was militarily defeated, the number of children indoctrinated by the Islamic State’s ideology is still increasing, and if not treated properly, those children will represent a threat to world peace and security.

Returning foreign terrorist fighters (RFTF) experience in Europe and particularly in Balkans is very unique since the involvement of adult fighters with ISIS was a voluntary-based involvement and not a recruitment-based one. Despite the global interest in fighting violent extremism in the past two decades, only few efforts focused on the deradicalization process itself. Ultimately, the available reintegration programs are likely to be inadequate for those children since they were originally developed to address adult soldiers and not minors.


Truth is the best medicine – Countering Russian propaganda in MacedoniaTruth is the best medicine – Countering Russian propaganda in Macedonia

Aleksandar Nacev

Since 1989, one of the constant goals of Russian foreign policy has been to abolish — or at least weaken — the inner cohesion of existing trans-Atlantic and European institutions, such as NATO and the European Union, as well as the influence of the United States in Europe. In recent years, the Western Balkans have emerged as a front in Russia’s geopolitical confrontation with the West. Building on close historical ties, Moscow is taking advantage of political and economic difficulties to expand its influence, potentially undermining the region’s stability

Since the 1990s, the Western Balkan countries have dealt with internal vulnerabilities and experienced external influence from state and nonstate actors. These sources of instability have made the region more vulnerable and susceptible to external influence from Russia. Internal vulnerabilities such as the rise of nationalism, historical grievances, corruption, weakened state institutions and media, and unemployment have left these countries unstable, enabling state and nonstate actors to influence them. The Western Balkans are likely to become a significant playing field for the competition between Russia and the West. Russia has played a spoiler role by using information and political, economic and military tools to discredit Western institutions — including NATO and the EU — and the foundations of Western democracy, and to strategically project and alter elements of power in Western Balkan countries. Russia has chosen to intervene in the region by aligning with different elements and interfering in these countries’ internal affairs. Over the past decade, Russia has sought to play a larger role. The tools used are not new, but the extent of the involvement certainly is. Russia’s tools include not only instruments of soft power, such as cultural, religious and media campaigns, but increasingly, economic intervention. Slowly but surely, Russian state-owned and state-affiliated businesses are taking possession of key sectors of Balkan economies, transforming Russia into a significant power in the region.