Middle East Crisis And Europe Migrant Challenge

By Kamal Tayo Oropo   |   13 September 2015   |   5:13 am  
Migrants begin walking towards the Austrian border in Bicske, near Budapest, Hungary, on. PHOTO: stuff

Migrants begin walking towards the Austrian border in Bicske, near Budapest, Hungary, on.<br />PHOTO: stuff

THE world is up to a new challenge of migration from Arab States. Enmeshed in disastrous conflicts for most part of the last decade, these Arab nations have unleashed desperate migrants such that experts believe the world did not pay adequate attention to Arab crisis. If the world sincerely helped in resolving the crisis in the Middle East, they argue, the agony and challenge of desperate migrants to Europe would have been averted.

Prior to the Arab spring, the Middle East had been in perpetual vicious cycle of war. The flashpoints remain: Palestinians-Israeli conflict; Iran and Saudi Arabia struggle for regional supremacy; insurgent excision of swats of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and pockets of other countries. All these produced the catastrophic suffering in the region added to the unending political instability in Lebanon among other scary developments.

Somehow, these developments derive from interference by Western forces especially covert push for regime change and invasion and what international relations experts described as “pushing democracy at the barrel of a gun.” Thus the prevailing migrant crisis seems man-made, or “western government-made.”

It would be recalled that though France and Britain were enthusiastic supporters of the attack on Libya, they were also early backers of the “Assad must go” policy. Other European nations could share in the blame as well. Without doubt, Col Moammar Gaddafi, maybe far from ideal leader, but throughout his 40-year reign, the country’s restless clans and religious fundamentalists were largely reined in. And as Hosni Mubarak was forced to step aside, the Egyptian Army eventually had to overthrow democratically elected Mohammed Morsi barely a year in office. The leader of the putsch, General Abdelfatah el-Sisi, has since transmuted into civilian leader, quite unlike Egypt under Mubarak. Thus it seems Egypt is back to square one.

If Egypt could be said to be relatively calm in the mean time, Bashar al-Assad’s Syria continues to give the world sleepless nights. The forces unleashed to overthrow Assad seem to be much worse and far more brutal. This has resulted in the desperation of most Syrians to leave the country.

The gruesome fact is that even where the West succeeded in regime change as in Iraq, what is left behind is an almost uninhabitable country. Saddam Hussein may have had his excesses as Iraqi leader, but just like Gaddafi, he managed to keep his country united and reasonably prosperous, despite a costly eight-year war with neighbouring Iran. Curiously, it was later discovered that Saddam had no weapon of mass destruction, which was the basis of the West’s invasion of Iraq. Even so, there was no evidence that he had a hand in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the US or existence of ISIS in either Iraq or Syria before the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

As often happens in the face of bad foreign policy blowback, the challenge is now for those remotely responsible for the instability in the Arab world, have to fix it as well as the resultant refuges crisis. Securing peace in these countries holds the key.

But following the fallout of regime changes in Iraq, Libya and the rest, could pursing another regime change in Syria present a durable panacea to the country’s hydra-headed conflict? What are the options? Alternatively, would keeping Assad in office bring about enduring peace? In the long run would the resolution of the Syrian conflict positively influence situations in other countries where the ISIS and its affiliates have dug in?

How far could the recent option from disgraced General David Petraeus work? Petraeus had called for “an alliance with al-Qaeda against ISIS.” As head of the CIA when the US launched its covert regime-change policy in Syria, General Petraeus was in charge of the “surge” in Iraq, which allegedly created al-Qaeda and ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Suggesting that the US can salvage its disastrous Syria policy through an alliance with al-Qaeda is horrific. Think, would not the refugee problem in Syria not be worse under either al-Qaeda or ISIS?

Alternatively, should the West “stop meddling in the affairs of other countries; embrace the prosperity that comes with a peaceful foreign policy, not the poverty that goes with running an empire”?

Speaking with The Guardian, Prof Chibuzo of the Oduduwa University, Ife-Ife, said there must be a balance of all options, including the seemingly bizarre offer from General Petraeus. “But beyond this, the Arab world must have to make up their minds on the option of peace. There is little any foreign power can do, if there is no serious attempt at embracing peace at the local level. In the international system, there is limitation to border closure to foreign influence. Every nation is dependent on one another. But no other nation can successfully impose its wish on another without significant internal connivance,” he said.

Similarly, the West cannot afford to close its borders to refugees from these countries. Head of governing council, Leads City University, Prof Jide Owoeye, said; “Europe cannot in all good conscience run away from the crisis. It is beyond just humanitarian concerns. Of course, that is a very genuine reason, but the moral aspect is also pertinent. The West is central to the crisis in the Middle East and they are central to its resolution… It is now obvious that restlessness in one part of the world is restlessness in all parts of the globe.”

Meanwhile, Europe has started showing signs of frictions and saying they are not willing to welcome more refugee and may turn out those already in, despite the current crisis. The resistance has been loudest in Central Europe.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban prefers to see refugees and asylum seekers bypass his country in their journey west. He built a barbed-wire fence along Hungary’s entire border with Serbia and recently introduced a new law criminalising fence crossings.

The prime minister has even invoked religious fears about the rising presence of Muslims in Europe to defend his anti-immigration stance. “Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian?” he stressed.

His Czech counterpart, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka is “convinced that Europe does not need new plans” for resolving the crisis. He wants any cooperation on refugees to be voluntary.

For the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, “migrants arriving in Europe do not want to stay in Slovakia. They don’t have a base for their religion here, their relatives, they would run away anyway.”

Both Fico and Sobotka have pushed for the Schengen Area’s outer borders to be strengthened to keep people out.



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