Monday, August 31, 2015

Europe's Refugee Crisis + Total War on Yemen

The newspaper is on the thin side this morning. The chief topic in the front section, in a continuation from Saturday, remains the migrant/refugee crisis confronting Europe. Suddenly, it is as if the West has awoke to the consequences of supporting a policy of regime change in North Africa and the Middle East. Never mind the obvious -- failed states in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan; it took scores of dead bodies packed in a box truck abandoned on a highway in Austria for the alarm bell finally to be heard,

Steven Erlanger, a longtime Europe reporter for the Gray Lady, has published two helpful stories since Friday: "Europe’s Halting Response to Migrant Crisis Draws Criticism as Toll Mounts" and "Growing Migrant Crisis Prompts Call for Urgent Meeting of E.U. Officials." The consensus opinion, as reported by Erlanger, is the failure of the Dublin Regulation, the convention that requires asylum seekers to apply for protection in the first European Union country they reach. An ignored Dublin Regulation coupled with freedom of movement allowed in the EU's Schengen area gives us the status quo -- migrants/refugees arriving in Greece, Italy or Hungary overland via Serbia and then pushing north and west to the wealthy social democracies.

The EU summit called for the middle of September (if it is an emergency, why wait two weeks or longer?) looks to create a "line of defense" at the main entry points. According to Erlanger in the second story listed above,
LONDON — With increasing public consternation about the flow of migrants and asylum seekers to Europe and the dangers of their passage, Germany, France and Britain made a joint call on Sunday for an urgent meeting of European Union interior and justice ministers to find “concrete” measures to cope with the escalating crisis. 
In a quick response, Luxembourg — which holds the revolving presidency of the European Union — called such a meeting for Sept. 14 in Brussels. 
What is most urgent, the interior ministers of the three countries said, is agreement on the establishment of welcome centers in Greece and Italy to house, feed and screen migrants and asylum seekers, and to decide who should be allowed to remain as a legal refugee and who should be sent back home.
Similarly, the ministers said, the European Union must agree on a list of “safe countries of origin,” from which people would be considered migrants, not refugees, and therefore allowed to be sent home. The ministers’ appeal included the prospect of an emergency summit meeting of bloc leaders to follow.
Certainly Yemen cannot be considered among the "safe countries of origin." As Saeed al-Batati makes clear in "At Least 13 Reported Dead in Yemen Strikes," the Saudi-UAE-U.S. blockade, terror bombing and invasion of Yemen has long ago dropped the pretense that it is anything but a total war against the civilian population.
MUKALLA, Yemen — Airstrikes by a Saudi-led military coalition killed at least 13 civilians working early Sunday at a water plant in northern Yemen, the plant’s owner said. 
The bombings appeared to be the latest in a series of airstrikes by Saudi Arabia or its Arab coalition partners that have hit civilian facilities with no apparent military target nearby. Houthi rebels, who have been the main target of Saudi Arabia’s five-month military campaign in Yemen, were not in the immediate area at the time, according to Ibrahim al-Razoom, the owner of the plant. 
The airstrikes transformed the factory in Hajja Province, in the north, into “ruins” and wounded at least 11 other people, he said. 
The Saudi-led coalition rarely acknowledges whether its airstrikes have hit civilian targets. A coalition spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asseri, told the Reuters news agency on Sunday that the plant had been used by the Houthis to make explosive devices and was not, in fact, a bottling factory.
The coalition has recently intensified its bombing of Hajja and other parts of Yemen bordering Saudi Arabia in response to more aggressive cross-border attacks by the Houthis. The airstrikes — including an intense barrage late Saturday and early Sunday in the city of Abs, in Hajja Province — are part of a broader escalation of fighting across the country that has prompted dire warnings from aid groups.
The charity group Save the Children issued a statement on Sunday warning that one of the main pediatric hospitals in the capital, Sana, faced imminent closure because of fuel shortages and a lack of medical supplies caused by fighting and the “de facto” blockade of Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition. The hospital, called Al-Sabeen, serves roughly three million people, the group said. 
Hospital staff members told Save the Children that Al-Sabeen had run out of critical supplies, including anesthetics, blood transfusion tests and food for severely malnourished children, and that it had enough fuel to run generators for only two days. 
“Should they be forced to close, hundreds of children currently admitted will stop receiving treatment,” the group said.
The Houthis are rightly taking the attack directly to Saudi territory; this, in combination with the stalled Saudi-UAE-U.S. offensive (see two recent posts at the Moon of Alabama: "How The Saudi/UAE Invasion Of Yemen Fails" and "Yemen: U.S. Doubles Down, Saudi-UAE Invasion Stuck"), leads one to believe that the Saudis might be losing their grip. And we know what to expect when this happens. Total destruction.

I haven't seen mention of Yemenis among the many nationalities arriving on Greek beaches or roaming the forests of Hungary. But I have read of Afghani citizens making the trek. Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, was in Islamabad over the weekend to hector the Pakistani government to do something about the Haqqani network, which, to cement its leadership of the Taliban in the wake of the revelation that Mullah Omar has been two-years gone, has staged a series of attacks in Afghanistan.

The refugee crisis will only grow worse. That is obvious. And the result at the very least will be a series of changes in governments in Europe.

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