Refugee Crisis In Europe

by Anna Brogan

The current refugee crisis in Europe cannot be separated from the political crisis and  is a direct result of  Western Imperialist machinations and interventions for Regime Change in the Middle East and elsewhere. The US, (a nation born and built on violence with its endless war policy) and its allies had specific plans for the Middle East. Their primary interest was of course  (1) control and steal the oil reserves in the area. (2) Prior to 1991, during the Cold War -their aim was to contain the Soviet Union and wage hybrid war against it, then post 1991 in order to secure their own economic and political interests to  create chaos (3) To Support and sustain Israel (an outpost of Western Imperialism.)

Evidence of the plans to destabilize certain countries can be found in the Memoir of  former US General Wesley Clarke, who wrote in  September 2007 that less than 2 weeks after the September11th 2001 attacks, he visited the Pentagon where a “Senior General” told him “We are going to attack Iraq. The decision has been made”  Six weeks later Clarke went back to visit the same general to see if the plan on Iraq was still being considered. Clarke says the general told him “It’s worse than that..”  holding up a memo on his desk…”here’s the paper from the office of the Secretary of Defense ( then Donald Rumsfeld) outlining the strategy. “We are going to take out seven countries in five years” And he named them, starting with Iraq and Syria and ending with Iran.

In interviews since 2007, Clarke has mentioned that the list included Lebanon, Libya, Somalia and Sudan.   

Clarke quotes a conversation he had in May 1991 with Paul  Wolfowitz (Deputy Secretary of Defense under Rumsfeld) “ We screwed up and left Saddam Hussain in power. The president, (then George H.W. Bush) believes he’ll be overthrown by his own people, but I rather doubt it. But we did learn one thing, with the end of the Cold War, we can now use our Military with impunity. The Soviets won’t come in to block us. And we’ve got  five perhaps ten years to clean up these old surrogate regimes before the next superpower emerges to challenge us”   

To confirm that America’s European Allies were also plotting mayhem in the region there is  an interview  with the former French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Roland Dumas on the French TV station LCP,  in which he said, “I was in England 2 years before the Arab Spring violence in Syria… I met with top British Officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing ‘something’ in Syria. Britain was organising  an invasion of ‘rebels’  into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister for Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate. Naturally I refused…The operation goes way back,  it was prepared, preconceived and planned.. in the region it is important to know that this Syrian regime  has a very anti-Israeli stance…. the former Israeli PM told me ” We’ll try to get on with our neighbours, but those who don’t agree with us will be destroyed” Tel Aviv’s role in the “revolution” had to be kept secret, ”to conceal the fact that the Jihadists didn’t realise that they were actually fighting for Israel”

The method is always the same. Imperialism backs “rebels’  wherever its interests are threatened by regimes which refuse to do Imperialism’s  bidding.

The US doctrine of regime change has been a total disaster and leaves people in a worse situation than they were previously. e.g. Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria

 Let us not forget British colonialism and repression in Iraq during the 1920s. In 2003 the US with the UK, Australian and Poland invaded Iraq on the lying pretext  that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The Iraq war began on March 20th 2003

Much of the world was able to ignore the Refugee Crisis prior to 2015, as the refugees were hosted by much poorer countries nearby, but then the war refugees started coming to Europe….

The UN defines  refugees as “Persons fleeing armed conflict and persecution. These are people for whom the denial of asylum has potentially deadly consequences” (UNHCR)  Migrants on the other hand are people who chose to leave their home country. and under International Law, they can be returned home.

The 1951 Refugee Commission  says ” Refugees have certain rights under International Law. These include (1) the right not to be returned to their country of origin if  their safety cannot be assured (2) the right not to be penalised for entering a country illegally if they request asylum. International Law requires that countries  protect and house  refugees regardless of their  religious beliefs.” However the President of Hungary has said that they must keep Muslims out of Europe to “ keep Europe Christian”

Half of the people seeking asylum are from Syria, 12% from Afghanistan, which had most asylum seekers for 30 years  prior to 2015, then Syria took first place. 8% are from Eritrea.

There is a lot of misinformation and disinformation being churned out and used ruthlessly against refugees. There is a widely held idea that Refugees/immigrants are disproportionately likely to commit crimes, but all the studies show that Refugees and first generation immigrants are likely to commit crimes at a much lower rate than members of the host community. There is also a lot of racism and anti-foreign-national politics  on the rise in Europe. Fear is easy to sell, and recent elections have shown that Nationalist and Populist parties rely on misinformation to gain support. Most Europeans have  real fears of direct competition from the refugees in the labour market and of these people being a burden on the welfare system, schools, hospitals and pensions.

The refugees have lost their homes, family members, friends, jobs and  community. There are 65 million displaced people worldwide, 40 million of which have not crossed international borders. Most displaced people are hosted by much poorer countries nearby

The US and its allies created this crisis. Modern Syria is one of the most  ancient inhabited regions on this planet. Syria was ruled by many empires including the Persians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Phoenicians and Greeks and Byzantines. In 637AD Muslim armies defeated the Byzantine Empire and took over Syria. A thousand years later Syria fell into the hands of the Ottoman Empire which ruled Syria for 400 years until 1946 when Syria became independent

 Due to the ancient History and famous historical sights and the pleasant weather, Syria became a popular Tourist site, visited by 8.5 million people from around the world in 2010, earning 8 billion dollars in revenue.

In 2011 peaceful anti-regime protests turned into a civil war  (see Roland Dumas’s comment above) where the government was fighting the “”Free Syrian Army” the situation became more complex as the war progressed with new forces joining the war. The US gave financial aid and weapons to “moderate” rebels to fight the regime. Cities, towns and villages were destroyed, causing millions of people to flee from their homes, this caused the largest refugee crisis since World War 2. This impacted the tourist industry, no foreign-national could visit so the tourist industry and the economy collapsed. The Government arrested protesters and the US ordered sanctions against Syria. Syria was accused of chemical attacks against their own people although the UN inspectors said they  had seen no evidence of the Syrian army using chemical weapons, and said  that further investigation was necessary

The US invested 20 years in Afghanistan because of its geostrategic position but even more because of opium. The Taliban destroyed the crops, so the US had to invade, now the CIA (Cocaine Import Agency) has moved cultivation to  South and central America to continue the income stream for regime change and bribes to corrupt officials abroad.

People are  willing  to risk their lives to come to Europe because of the ongoing armed conflict in these countries.

2001 –    2021   ?             Afghanistan

2010 –     “    ? “            Somalia Civil war

2010 –    2012                Arab Spring

2011 –     Present           Iraq

2011  –    Present           Syria

2013  –    Present           South Sudan

Some refugees come to Europe via the Western Mediterranean Route, entering Europe through Spain, this is also the route used by drug smugglers to smuggle drugs into the European Union. Criminals smuggle refugees and drugs from Morocco to Spain. As  a result crime is now a huge part of the refugee debate….

The disproportionate burden on the gateway EU countries (Spain, Greece, Italy, Hungary) created political fallout among various governments. Compassion fatigue set in and and terrorist attacks in 2016 in a Berlin market and sexual assault in Cologne in Germany gave rise to strong anti refugee sentiment across Europe.

Thousands of refugees have died trying to get to Europe and until legal opportunities are available, the smuggling and deaths will continue. A large number of  refugees take the eastern Mediterranean route , people fleeing Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, took this route and travelled to Turkey.

These refugees entry-point to Europe would be through Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria. Refugees try to get to Hungary which is a member of Schengen.( twenty-six European countries which had abolished their internal borders for the free movement of people and goods)

 They believe that their chances to apply for asylum and gain citizenship is higher in a country in the Schengen Area. The EU has now stopped the movement of undocumented migrants  within the Union. Turkey has 3.6 million refugees from Syria, only 31,000 of whom have work permits, representing 1.5% of those of working age. Those without work permits are working in the black-market economy often, being exploited often below the minimum wage, and with poor working conditions. The EU paid Turkey 6 billion Euros to stem the tide of refugees into Europe in 2016.but has expanded sanctions on Belarus. The EU should pay Belarus. Less than half the population of Syria still live in their homes, 7. 6 million are internally displaced. Millions more are refugees,  Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt each have a million refugees. Twenty five percent  of Jordan’s population are refugees. Germany has received 6000 refugees via Poland in the last six months. The UN says 10,000 children have disappeared from the moment they entered the EU.  Saudi Arabia, and the UAE  have done nothing to help. Qatar, the richest Arab country in the world, has not taken a single refugee. The US spends hundreds of billions of dollars on its Military but is unwilling to spend on humanitarian causes such as this

 Thousands of refugees are stranded on the Poland and Belarus border in freezing weather. Poland  has deployed 12,000 troops  at the border with Belarus.  Polish police fire tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons at women and children at the border. People are dying in the freezing winter weather. The Poles have accused Belarus of facilitating the transport of refugees to their border,  Belarus rejects these allegations. The EU supports Poland and has imposed additional sanctions on Belarus  as at 15th November 2021. ( It is worth noting that the EU had imposed sanctions on Belarus  due to concerns about their 2020 elections not being fair or free. There had been many violent demonstrations against the government and it  responded with force, and many people were arrested.)  There is  a stand off at the Polish/Belarus border for some months now.

Polish forces mass to block refugees at Belarus border, December 2021
 

The solution to this crisis is obviously to end these US sponsored wars throughout the world and in the Middle East in particular.  This is unlikely just now because Imperialism needs war to continue to exist. The US dollar is on life support and the only thing keeping it afloat is their Military. Industrial Complex. The Capitalist economic system is incapable of solving the problems of inequality, poverty, unemployment. More and more people are sinking into poverty. Greed is an incurable mental disease endemic in the ruling classes in all countries.  Advanced commodity production means that there is no planning of the economy for the benefit of the majority. The economy lurches from crisis to crisis, while the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

The US and the EU must provide financial help for those countries which are bearing the brunt of the crisis, countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt.and Kenya These countries do not have enough resources to effect local integration They should also invest in the countries near to these war zones so people can stay close to home and be reunited with their families. And it ought to go without saying, that socialists and the labour movement must stand up for migrants and refugees in general, and oppose all restrictions and controls by imperialist states on all refugees and other migrants.

 Only the end of the barbaric  economic system of capitalism can guarantee  a peaceful life for all on this planet,    Indeed the very survival of the planet demands an end to this economic system.

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