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December 8, 2022

Syrian migration in Europe

Usually, it is considered that the “Arab Spring” has started by the end of the year 2010, and spread through Tunisia first of all, and afterwards in Egypt and Libya, continued with Yemen and Bahrain. In 2012, this phenomenon, of unclear genesis and contradictory evolution, yet still obviously ongoing, had not yet managed to overtake Syria completely, although there were already plenty of signs of internal tension. Many political observers wondered at that time what was the secret of the Assad regime in managing to stand up against this overwhelming turbulence of the Arab ethno-political space, that was sweeping authoritarian regimes in an instant, initiating democratic elections in certain cases while generating a state of chaos that is still unsolved in others, such as Libya’s case and ended up failing to grant the consistence of an exchange of regime towards a genuine democracy. Then, the turmoil also overturned this country, causing a civil war influenced by foreign interventions on one side or the other (there is a huge scale of political convictions among the enemies of the regime).

Today, we are witnessing consequences of this contradictory evolution of the Syrian civil war in Europe, revealed in the consolidated invasion of the last few weeks, as, besides Syrian immigrants that represent the majority, there also people from other states devastated by war or increasing instability (Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia, etc.). These consequences are still not defined entirely – therefore, it is possible that others might appear in the future, similarly dangerous and concerning for Europe, ones we are yet unable to imagine – while ongoing ones are still unsolved completely. Of the last perspective, there are still forecasts announcing the continuation and amplification of the present invasion in the near or farther future (some of them even predict massive successive waves of immigrants for a period of several years).

There are many people who wondered last year, as President Obama was making a hierarchy of the global threats and mentioned among them “the Islamic state”, as the threat to global security represented by it was only exceeded during the second half of the year 2014 by the deadly Ebola epidemic, which could be fortunately stopped and by Russia. In his speech held at the UNO Autumn General Assembly, President Obama shocked Russian Foreign Affairs Minister S. Lavrov by mentioning the following global threats: “deadly Ebola virus top, followed by so-called Russian aggression and ISIS in Syria and Iraq third”. What was ISIS? A self-proclaimed state / caliphate based on territories overtaken in Syria and Iran by a terrorist group descending from Al Qaeda, which soon subordinated most Sunnite Jihad organizations, not just in the mentioned countries, but also increasingly numerous ones in the Islamic communities of Algeria and Nigeria, going as far as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia and proclaimed the rebirth of the historical caliphate (a global unity of Muslim believers subordinated by a descendant of the prophet). It was soon proved that this organization, that applied verified terrorist methods of mass intimidation – beheadings posted on socializing networks and mass massacres of “non-believers”, was recruiting supporters amond European Jihad members and benefited of occult support in the Middle East, that is still to be accurately defined.

The present wave of immigrants represents no more than a small share of the over four million Syrians forced to run away in order to escape civil war during the five years of battle between the Assad regime and its enemies. These people sought refuge in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, and thus, Syria became the most important reservoir of refugees in the region, even at world level. The situation is even more dramatic inside Syria, and an exposition of it reveals the tragedy this nation is presently enduring.
In 2011, Syria was having 22.4 million inhabitants yet, after over four years of battle, approximately half of them were killed, displaced or forced to leave the country, initially seeking refuge in neighbour countries. According to the latest calculations by UNO specialized agencies, displaced persons (7.6 million) located in camps in Syria are accommodated by their friends or relatives, refugees (4 million) and murder victims (250,000 persons) reach a total of 10.7 million. The remaining 10.6 million continue, at least for the moment, to live in their own homes.
Figures, with all their harshness, reveal the unbelievable dimension of the tragedy of this nation, caught in the trap of a war; and the fact that this war is still continued is also a failure of international politics of Liberal interventionism.
Of the four million Syrians who have left Syria because of the war, joining the category of refugees, about 1.9 million sought shelter in Turkey, 1.1 million found it in Lebanon (a country of 4.4 million inhabitants), other 600,000 have run away to Jordan (that already hosts other 2.4 million refugees) and about 400,000 have sought refuge in Egypt, Iraq or states of Northern Africa. As one may easily understand, in certain states, these Iraqi refugees are major burden over resources (Lebanon, Jordan), but also a threat of the fragile political balance that exists between various local communities (Lebanon).

The present wave of immigrants to Europe, consistently defined during the last two years, consists especially of Syrians, therefore, yet the fact that these people sought refuge to Europe also determined other migrants of regions nearby to the conflict or not. It is easy that these people were among those who desired to move to Europe and afforded to pay traffickers the impressive amounts demanded in this case (USD 5 – 6,000 per person), and interviews with them revealed that people of a good financial status before the war began where the only ones who could do this step. In other words, the present wave of immigrants only includes representatives of the low and middle class, educated and endowed with entrepreneur spirit. An interesting mention must be made, regarding the width of this wave that targeted Germany and Northern Europe: most of them hurried to arrive to Hungary, before Hungary closed its wall at the border of Serbia, destined to prevent migration.

Obviously, the present wave of immigrants is not so much a threat to European stability, as to the institutional durability of the European Union. A few months have passed already after this wave formed (as early as March 2015) and the European Council has had numerous discussions related to the measures that needed to be adopted, without reaching a decision (where should they act to prevent the crossing of the Mediterranean Sea, in the ports of origin of transportation ships, in the crisis-devastated states of the Middle East – Libya, Syria, etc.) – amplifying efforts for political stability and support for displaced persons and their reintegration in society; how refugees that had already arrived to Europe should be distributed, based on volunteer or pre-established quota and so on. Basically, as mentioned by the well-known international relationships expert Anne Applebaum): – “This is, in essence, a security crisis. For years now, Europeans have chosen to pretend that wars taking place in Syria and Libya were somebody else’s problem. It’s also a foreign policy crisis: At different times and for different reasons, all of the large European states—the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany—have blocked attempts to create a common foreign and defense policy, and as a result they have no diplomatic or political clout.”
Similarly, the present European crisis caused by the Syrian “invasion” meets a counterpart in the incapacity shown by the entire international community to find a solution for the civil war in Syria which was finally the blasting cap of the entire Syrian tragedy. Identifying a solution by amplifying contacts between the main actors interested in this area and initiating the required cooperation for the elimination of ISIL are international emergencies, and the EU needs to amplify its contribution substantially.

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