Terrorism and human rights abuses in the Balkans Essay
Terrorism and human rights abuses in the Balkans
Abstract This essay aims to explain the history of and the reasons for the existence of terrorism in the Balkans. It also compared the similarity between human rights abuses in Persian gulf nations and Islamic fundamentalist-themed terrorist attacks on the United States. Lastly, this essay will also answer why the fall of the Soviet Union will lead to an increase in terrorism in Eastern Europe. Terrorism and Human Rights Abuses in the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Persian Gulf The Balkans, despite being a relatively small area, is home to an expansive assortment of nationalities, cultures and religions (Popescu, 2008).
Hence, it is inevitable that any changes in the balance between them will have important political, social and economic consequences that will affect the entire region (Popescu, 2008). Terrorist groups took advantage of the instability brought about by the distrust of Balkan societies in their respective governments (Popescu, 2008). As a result, they easily turned the region into a breeding ground for extremist and fundamentalist groups, as well as a “transit corridor” for missions in third countries (Popescu, 2008).
The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s, for instance, originated from the desire of the Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) to establish an Islamic state (Popescu, 2008). They used Islam as a “nationalistic rhetoric,” equating the survival of their country with the restoration of Muslim national identity (Popescu, 2008). The Bosniaks were supported by Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Libya and Iran, providing them with weapons and soldiers (Popescu, 2008).
From 1992 to 1995, 6,000 “Arab-Afghan” rebels came to the country to fight in the hostility (Popescu, 2008). After 9/11, majority of the charitable institutions in Bosnia-Herzegovina were investigated and closed down due to their alleged ties with terrorist organizations like the Al-Qaeda (Popescu, 2008). In March 2002, police raided the Bosanska Idealna Futura-BIF, a Sarajevo-based humanitarian organization (Popescu, 2008). They found military manuals, forged passports, weapons and personal correspondence between Osama bin Laden and BIF founder Enaam Mahmud Arnaout (Popescu, 2008).
Human rights abuses by Persian Gulf nations (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, UAE, Kuwait, etc. ) and terrorist attacks against US interests were both intended to supress political opposition. Despite publicly denouncing “American imperialism,” the aforementioned countries are notorious for grossly violating the human rights of their citizens (Simbulan, 2002). Majority of political prisoners in the Persian gulf nations were detained for speaking out against corruption and totalitarianism in their respective countries (Simbulan, 2002).
Prominent Omani playwright and human rights activist Abdullah Ryami was imprisoned on July 2005 for vocally criticizing the Omani government’s arrest and trial of 31 Omanis belonging to the Ibadi sect for allegedly plotting a coup (Human Rights Watch, 2005). At the time of his incarceration, he had no contact with his family or a legal counsel (Human Rights Watch, 2005). He was also banned from writing in newspapers and producing plays for television (Human Rights Watch, 2005).
On December 2007, activists in Bahrain staged a series of demonstrations to “mark abuses by security forces during political unrest in the 1990s” (Human Rights Watch, 2008). Dozens of people were arrested in the violent dispersals that ensued, including opposition political activists who protested the Bahraini government’s repression of civil liberties (Human Rights Watch, 2008). In January 2008, detainees complained of being subjected to physical and sexual abuse by interrogators and jailers (Human Rights Watch, 2008).
The prisoners’ request for independent physicians to examine the extent of their injuries was also denied (Human Rights Watch, 2008). The collapse of the Soviet Union contributed to terrorist activities in Eastern Europe by making its newly-formed republics more vulnerable to American military intervention (Howstuffworks, 2008). After the Soviet bloc fell, the US emerged as the world’s remaining superpower (Howstuffworks, 2008). The breakup of the Soviet Union granted the US easy access to its natural resources, particularly oil (Howstuffworks, 2008). The paragraph below summarized the region’s potential:
Afghanistan occupies the central position in the U. S. strategy for the economic control of the oil and gas resources in the entire Middle East. The U. S. currently imports 51 per cent of its crude oil – 19. 5 million barrels daily. The Energy Information Administration estimates that by 2020, the U. S. will import 64 per cent of its crude – 25. 8 million barrels a day. Caspian region oil reserves might be the third largest in the world (after Western Siberia and the Persian Gulf) and, within the next 15 to 20 years, may be large enough to offset Persian Gulf oil.
Caspian Sea oil and gas are not the only hydrocarbon deposits in the region. Turkmenistan’s Karakum Desert holds the world’s third largest gas reserves – three trillion cubic meters – and has six billion barrels of estimated oil reserves. Current estimates indicate that, in addition to huge gas deposits, the Caspian basin may hold as much as 200 billion barrels of oil – 33 times the estimated holdings of Alaska’s North Slope and a current value of $4 trillion. It is enough to meet the U. S. ‘ energy needs for 30 years or more (Yechury, 2001).
Hence, it was no longer surprising if the US declared war against the Taliban regime of Afghanistan. But majority of the extremist and terrorist groups in the former Soviet Bloc and in Eastern Europe are allied with the Taliban, as the Taliban provided them with weapons, training and manpower (Godoy, 2001). Therefore, the US will have to face a bigger threat of terrorism in Eastern Europe.
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