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Following the media coverage of the migrant crisis is a strange experience. A month ago there seemed to be universal condemnation and dehumanisation of those fleeing the Middle East. Now, in light of the images of Alan Kurdi’s lifeless three year old body washed up on a beach in Turkey, humanity seems to have prevailed. But is it enough?
While the whole of Europe now seems to be turning its attention to dealing with the influx of refugees from the war torn middle east – with support even from The Sun – there are still three issues that need to be addressed alongside our humanitarian effort; the United States’ share of the burden, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States’ share of the burden and finally the defeat of IS.
It’s interesting to follow the US side of the debate, with every major news outlet in America peeking their heads round the corner to have a look at what’s unfolding on the continent. And there is a mixed bag of opinions coming from the US, just as there is here in the UK. However unlike us in Europe, there is a far larger ocean separating the Americans from the middle east and therefore a lot less of an urgency to deal with the crisis. The United States has reportedly taken in only 1’500 Syrians since the crisis began and moves to increase the number to 70’000 have been received with controversy.
The United States defends its track record as the largest contributor of humanitarian aid to Syria at around $4 billion. And one of the reasons it is reluctant to increase the number of refugees into America, is because of its fear of terrorist infiltration.
However the United States must take its share of refugees; its proposed 70,000 pales in comparison to Germany’s 800,000 pledge. The United States, as the senior partner, devastated the region during the second Gulf War and the years that followed. The refugee crisis is simply another mutation of the United States ill fated campaign to find those elusive WMDs over 12 years ago. And now it feels it can simply pay its way out of responsibility to the detriment of Europe.
Arguably the biggest let down has been the lack of cooperation by the Gulf States. Amnesty International has stated that the Gulf States have offered zero resettlement placements to Syrian refugees. One of the reasons for this, much like the United States, is that they fear terrorist infiltration. Yet again the Gulf States have betrayed their position as a liability to the West. Ever since the first Gulf War in 1990, the West has been fighting to secure the Gulf States’ security, and time and time again they fail to meet us half way.
However with the ongoing tussle between the US and Saudi Arabia over the current shale oil revolution, we might one day be free of our unbalanced relationship with states like Saudi Arabia. Until then it is hard to imagine that diplomatic arm twisting will change the Gulf States’ stance on refugees.
Defeating IS and bringing stability to the region truly go hand in hand. It is all well and good housing refugees from the war torn region but we cannot reasonably suppose to transport the 50+ million people from Syria and Iraq into Europe. It is like wiping up the blood pouring from an open wound; we need to stitch the limb or we’ll never stop the bleeding. An article on Yahoo News went into detail about the failures of the US air campaign so far, and the lack of committed strategy that has plagued the West ever since we invaded Iraq in 2003.
To put it simply, the situation concerning IS is not likely to be solved by dropping bombs. And with the West weary of committing boots on the ground we may be stuck in this quagmire for many years to come. While sending more soldiers to die in the middle east is not particularly appealing, the longer IS remain the longer we will face a humanitarian crisis.
So while these past weeks have seen Europe rise to the challenge and in some cases show enormous care and compassion, accepting refugees into our countries is not and cannot be the sole solution. We need to take long term action to achieve long term goals, or suffer long term consequence of short term fixes.