Monday, September 18, 2017

Europe's Syria problem

From After the Ebbing of Warfare in Syria, the Refugee Problem in Europe Will Only Get Worse by Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar* (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Misled by the smokescreen of the war against ISIS, the world failed to notice that Tehran was taking over considerable parts of Syria. The tide turned in Syria in 2015 when the Russians forced Turkey to stop supporting the rebels and ISIS.
  • The Kurds in northeastern Syria will never again agree to be at the mercy of the Arabs, having lived as grade-D citizens until 2011. Hence, it can be assumed that the Kurds will keep their enclave autonomous to a large extent, or be forced to fight the regime for their rights.
  • About half the citizens of Syria - ten million people - have become refugees; half are inside Syria and half outside. It is difficult to foresee a massive return of Syrian refugees from outside. During six years of savage war, large parts of Syrian cities have been reduced to rubble. In most of Syria's cities and towns, the electricity, water, sewage, and communications infrastructure has been partially or completely destroyed. Entire neighborhoods require leveling and rebuilding. Refugees will not agree to exchange their tent in Jordan for a ruin with no infrastructure in devastated Syria.
  • There is another reason the refugees will not return: the Sunni refugees' fear of the country's new landlords, the Shiites. Iran has been transferring Shiite citizens from Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan to Syria with the clear intention to change the country's demographic composition from a Sunni to a Shiite majority.
  • The ruling Alawites want to prevent a future uprising, and the sure way to do so is to alter the population's makeup. Hence, they will not allow Sunnis to return to their homes.
  • The new demographic situation in Syria will convince the Sunni refugees that they no longer have anything to return to. They will therefore do all they can to move from Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey to any country in the world that will agree to accept them, preferably in Europe or North America. Instead of a return of refugees after the Syrian "peace," there will likely be a mass flight of more refugees and Sunni citizens.

    *The writer, a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center, served for 25 years in IDF military intelligence.
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