Countering Violent Extremism in Georgia

Last month Stratfor published my latest piece on radicalization in Georgia and what needs to be done in order to prevent and counter it. Since becoming involved in this sphere from 2013 on, it’s become an increasingly active area of interest of mine and not least because while other countries have been quick to introduce national strategies to combat the phenomenon, Georgia has not. Indeed, the same is true for civil society.

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OSCE Leaders against Intolerance and Violent Extremism (LIVE)

Things have been a bit quiet on this blog for quite a few months and not least because since last December I’ve been on contract as an external media and communications consultant for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Transnational Threats Department / Action against Terrorism Unit (ATU). The project has been to draw up a training program that will eventually be rolled out across the OSCE-wide region to equip youth leaders in member states with the tools and skills necessary to prevent and counter violent extremism. The project touches upon all forms of violent extremism including that by the far right and not just ISIL/Da’esh.

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#UnitedCVE: The Media and Civil Society in Countering Violent Extremism in Central Asia

A little late in posting because of other work, but now details of last month's conference and workshop in Bishkek organised by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Kyrgyzstan, OSCE Academy, American University of Central Asia, Internews, Soros, and the PromoTank Research Institute. The event, Cooperation between Media and Civil Society for Countering Information Threats and Promoting Transparency and Accountability, was held on 28-30 and I was a panelist and also held a workshop for the OSCE on the media and counter-narratives.

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Some Positive News from Pankisi, Georgia

It’s not often there’s some positive news coming out of Pankisi, better known these days as the birth place of Tarkhan Batirashvili, aka ISIS’ Abu Omar al-Shishani, but some does exist. In addition to being a tranquil and scenic part of Georgia, and perhaps contrary to popular opinion, local civil society is clued up to the problems facing the region and there are individuals and organisations trying to make a difference. One of those is Gela Mtivlishvili, a Georgian journalist who I first encountered at a closed round table on radicalisation in Pankisi we both spoke at late last year.

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#UnitedCVE: Q & A With Anne Azza Aly and Bennett Clifford

The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) recently published another of my pieces on radicalisation in Georgia and once again, the research work of Bennett Clifford proved invaluable to support general observations I’ve also made as it pertains to the problem of radicalisation in Georgia. My recent Q & A with Bennett also proved interesting enough to merit posting it in full on this blog. But first up, however, is Anne Azza Aly, a Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) practitioner from Australia who I’ve met before at a Hedayah and Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) event I spoke at in December 2014.

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Towards Effective Policies to Tackle Youth Radicalization in the Pankisi Gorge

Immediately after returning from Istanbul, where I held a workshop for Georgian, Abkhazian, and Ossetian journalists for the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) and Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), I spoke at a closed meeting on youth radicalisation in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge.

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IWPR, EurasiaNet, and BBC Azeri publish my pieces on radicalisation in the South Caucasus

Following on from my work with various international bodies responsible for countering radicalisation and the recruitment of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF), EurasiaNet and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) have published my pieces calling for Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) measures in Georgia while my recent BBC Azeri piece includes Azerbaijan.

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Media Freedom and Responsibilities in the Context of Counter-Terrorism Policies

Following February’s Expert Workshop on Regional Co-operation and Effective Responses to the Phenomenon of Foreign Terrorist Fighters organised by the OSCE Office in Tajikistan I’ve been at a few other related meetings. In June I participated in the OSCE-wide Counter-Terrorism Expert Conference on Countering the Incitement and Recruitment of Foreign Terrorist Fighters in Vienna, and from 7-8 October spoke on a panel at an expert workshop on Media Freedom and Responsibilities in the Context of Counter-Terrorism Policies organised by the OSCE Transnational Threat Department and OSCE Representative of the Freedom of the Media.

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Tajikistan and Foreign Terrorist Fighters

In February I was invited to moderate one of two working groups at a Regional Co-operation and Effective Responses to the Phenomenon of Foreign Terrorist Fighters workshop organised by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Tajikistan alongside the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (UNCTED) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The meeting was financially supported by the British Embassy in Tajikistan and involved Ambassadors, Counter-Terrorism Officials, Civil Society representatives and others.

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