Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Europe Will Close Its Borders: Not a Matter of "If" but "When"

The refugee flow from the Syrian war zone is increasing. The last three paragraphs of "Violence in Syria Spurs a Huge Surge in Civilian Flight" by Kareem Fahim and Maher Samaan tell us that
If the current hostilities continue, Turkey could face more pressure to open the border, opening the door for a new wave of refugees to make the dangerous voyage toward Europe, relief workers said. Approximately 48,000 migrants arrived in Greece over five days last week, the highest rate this year, according to the International Organization for Migration. 
In northern Homs, for now, fleeing villagers sheltered under trees or in destroyed houses or slept in the open on the side of the road. To leave the province meant risking the government’s checkpoints. “There are no safe roads for them,” said Hassan Abou Nouh, an activist in the area. 
“You can see people everywhere, scattered around the roads,” he said. “The situation is disastrous.”
Turkey is making the situation worse by attacking the People's Protection Units of Syrian Kurdistan, a proven anti-ISIS fighting force. Turkey, purportedly a NATO ally of the U.S., is time after time exposed in the mainstream press as being a principal backer of the jihadists invading Syria and a spur to the crisis of displaced persons but to no consequence. The "indispensable nation" does nothing. The war continues, and now it is continuing at an accelerated pace.

Turkey is another Pakistan: a purportedly close ally who is simultaneously a main prop to an enemy on the battlefield. In Pakistan's case it is openly reported in the "newspaper of record" that the Taliban answers to Pakistan's Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Yet the U.S. is preparing to send additional F-16s to Pakistan.

The only conclusion one can draw is that the U.S. foments war, The United States will provision its enemy in order to fight that enemy. War is its preferred state.

But with war you end up with death, mayhem, dislocation. The Middle East is cracked and its contents are spilling onto European soil.

Andrew Higgins' piece from the other day, "European Leaders Look Again for a Unified Response to Migrant Crisis," does a good job showing what a pickle EU leaders are in:
The gathering was the fifth consecutive meeting of leaders focused on how to deal with a crisis that has led to acrimonious divisions among European nations and helped bolster the political fortunes of anti-European populist forces across the Continent. In Poland on Sunday, the right-wing Law and Justice party trounced a more Europe-friendly governing party in parliamentary elections. 
Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Union’s top executive, who convened Sunday’s meeting at the behest of Ms. Merkel, said reception centers would be established along the so-called “Balkan route” taken by most migrants that could hold and process 50,000 people, with facilities for 50,000 more to be set up in Greece. He said leaders had also agreed to stop “waving through” migrants who cross their countries as they rush north toward Germany and Scandinavia. [What happened to the have-Turkey-stockpile-the-refugees plan?]
“The only way to restore order is to slow down the uncontrolled flows of people,” Mr. Juncker told reporters. 
Voicing dismay that previous promises of action had not been put into effect, he said countries must now follow through on their commitments so that order can be reached in a flow of migrants that keeps increasing.
The European Commission, the union’s executive arm, of which Mr. Juncker is the president, has proposed numerous plans and programs since the early summer to deal with the issue, but a wide chasm has opened between talk in Brussels and real action on the ground. 
In the five months since the commission first announced a plan to relocate 40,000 refugees from Greece and Italy to other European countries, for example, only 87 people have so far been moved. At the current pace, it would take more than 750 years to relocate the 160,000 asylum seekers covered by a now-expanded resettlement plan.
Adding to a growing sense of urgency in recent days has been fear that Germany, the final destination of many of the newcomers, might decide to close its borders.

Asked early Sunday whether this was a possibility, Ms. Merkel did not answer directly. She faces growing pressure over her handling of the crisis from within her conservative bloc, which has suffered in opinion polls because of a flood of what are expected to be at least 800,000 asylum seekers into Germany this year. Support for the chancellor’s Christian Democratic Union has dropped to its lowest point in three years, according to one prominent German polling firm.
Recent weeks have seen a rise in the number of far-right attacks in Germany, and the tone of the political discourse has become increasingly raw, worrying security officials and raising questions over whether Ms. Merkel will stick to her insistence that Germany’s borders stay open.
The only way to slow down the influx of refugees is to have an immediate ceasefire in Syria and a start to negotiations without preconditions, such as the U.S.-Saudi demand that Assad go. Whether explicitly or implicitly, I think most voters in the West understand that their leaders are fiddling about in the Middle East with their despotic sheikh buddies and have created a huge mess. It is clear to me that U.S. and EU honchos agreed to a quid pro quo to get buy-in from the GCC on the nuclear deal with Iran: you agree to this deal with Iran and we will swear to Assad's elimination. Then Russia stepped in. Now the hell that was breaking loose over the last four years is really gushing heavy.

Western voters are swinging and will continue to swing to the right to try to address the situation. Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban has captured the mood. As Higgins says,
Mr. Hahn’s comments signaled growing alarm in Brussels over efforts by some countries in Eastern Europe, notably Hungary, to keep asylum seekers out. A fence built by Hungary along its southern border has pushed the flow toward Croatia and Slovenia. 
Viktor Orban, Hungary’s pugnacious prime minister, sounded a characteristically defiant tone upon his arrival Sunday in Brussels, saying that he was attending as only an “observer,” as Hungary was no longer part of the migrant trail. Mr. Orban repeated his longstanding position that the only realistic solution to the crisis is for the European Union to take control of Greece’s eastern border with Turkey, the main corridor for those seeking entry to Europe. 
"We should go down south and defend the borders of Greece if they are not able to do that,” Mr. Orban said, complaining that he had proposed this many times, “but no one accepted.” 
The cornerstone of the commission’s migration policy, the slow-moving relocation plan, has been stalled by bitter resistance from Hungary and other Eastern and Central European countries that object to taking in migrants for resettlement. But even a sharp acceleration of a plan to relocate 160,000 people would barely make a dent in the number who continue to flood into Europe. 
According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 537,000 migrants and refugees have crossed into Greece alone so far this year. Instead of slowing after a series of summit meetings in Brussels focused those numbers, the flow of migrants through Greece has only increased, with around 9,600 people arriving there from Turkey each day last week, the highest number so far this year.
There will not be a ceasefire. The refugee influx will increase. Merkel will eventually close Germany's borders or Germans will elect politicians who will close them. And the dream of an open-bordered Europe will end.


  1. Presumably, at some level, Europeans have been sold America's oil wars because they need energy. At some point the people in the boardrooms will agree with the people in the streets that America is actually trying to eliminate Europe's choices in energy exporters, and that the refugee crisis is a direct result of this. You don't have to be xenophobic to recognize that the miserable reality of Syrians is a direct result of the US war for domination of the world's energy.

    1. I hope you're right, Bob. But my sense is that the Saudis got the European members of the P5+1 (France, Britain & Germany) to agree to regime change in Syria in exchange for going along with the Iranian nuclear deal. That is why the Saudi-U.S. position of "Assad Must Go" is still paramount as Europe prepares internment camps in Greece and the Balkans. Then there is also the issue of how servile to the U.S. Europe is in steering its own foreign policy. Look at Ukraine. Europe's economic interests were sacrificed for the U.S. fantasy of full-spectrum dominance.