Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Understanding the Refugee Crisis

Turkey's Human Wave Assault on the West
- Gregg Roman & Gary Gambill

For months, Western policymakers have agonized over what to do with the masses of Sunni Muslim migrants flooding Europe by the boatload, particularly Syrians. Largely missing from this discussion is the question of why this flood is happening.

[I]t doesn’t have much to do directly with the civil war in Syria or the rise of ISIS. The vast majority of the 886,662 migrants who illegally entered Europe this year embarked from Turkey, a little over half of them Syrians who took shelter in the country over the past four years. “EU officials have said … Ankara was very effective in previous years in preventing the outflow of refugees from the country,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
What caused the spike in migration is that Ankara stopped containing it. Over the past year or so, the Turkish government has allowed human traffickers to vastly expand their operations, bringing prices down tenfold (from $10,000-$12,000 per person last year to around $1,250 today, according to one report. This spawned what the New York Times calls a “multimillion-dollar shadow economy” profiting from the traffic, ranging from the smugglers to manufacturers of cheap rafts, life vests, and other equipment.

By the spring of this year it had become easier and cheaper than ever before to illegally enter Europe through Turkey, and more people have taken advantage of the opportunity Ankara has created.

So why did Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan open the spigot? Put simply, to extract financial, political, and strategic concessions from European governments in exchange for closing it.

[T]he first step in doing anything about it is to call Erdogan out for what he is – dangerous and manipulative – no partner for Western leaders. Still, after meeting with the Erdogan in Paris on Tuesday, President Obama praised Turkey for being “extraordinarily generous when it comes to its support of refugees.”
Western material support to Turkey should be cut off entirely unless Ankara puts an end to the refugee crisis it is manufacturing and begins to play a constructive role in bringing stability to the region.
[The Hill]

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