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Europe and the refugee crisis: Don’t blame the Syrians

Europe should put aside its internal differences and work together to push forward the international community to act on Syria

Mohamed Chebarro

Published: Updated:

The Syrian refugees arriving en masse in Europe are just the tip of the iceberg - and a result of the international community’s human and ethical failure to deal with the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Those beginning to arrive will grow in number and clearly beg for a new way to look at the Syrian conflict and other fires burning in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond.

Whether rich or poor, Syrians inside the country or refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey or beyond seem to have lost hope and see no indication that the conflict in their country is likely to draw to a close soon.

This is what is finally pushing Syrians to emigrate.

For the flow to stop, the international community must be more proactive in finding solutions to Syria’s forgotten wars.

Russia, for example, can no longer supply Assad with hardware to kill his people. Recently the Kremlin seems to be bolstering Assad’s military again under the loose banner of fighting extremism.

Iran too must not fund, arm and supply Iranian advisers and militias from Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere to prop up its dream of a Shiite crescent led by the Islamic republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Old tactics

The Supreme Leader’s dream should be to export or import an economic solution to reboot its ailing economy and status of his nation. Iran is a country with limitless potential, but is still enveloped in yesterday’s power posturing and 36-year-old revolutionary values.

Europe should put aside its internal differences and work together to push forward the international community to act on Syria

Mohamed Chebarro

The U.S. under President Obama can no longer bury its head in the sand and ignore the fire of the Syrian crisis spreading.

It seems that only Obama forgot that the U.S. is still a super power. Yet the nation is still a symbolic world leader capable of upholding the ethos and values that echo with most people inside the U.S. and the wider world.

Yes oppressed people from around the world still look up to the Western world for salvation and not to Russia or China.

The Obama administration could no longer view the crisis from the prism of fighting extremists that spring out by design and default of letting the conflict simmer in Syria.

Closer to Syria, the Turks could not have a two-way tango: one with ISIS and another against the Kurds.

The Arab nations who opposed Assad and encouraged and funded the rebels should also be more proactive at supporting the Syrian diaspora and in playing all the diplomatic cards available to them. They should push the Syrian opposition to unite and present themselves as a viable option for leading a post-Assad Syria.

Hard solution

Europe should put aside its internal differences and work together to push forward the international community to act on Syria. European nations must round off or put aside differences between the Russians and the Americans and push them harder to solve the crisis for a more peaceful world that their people, economy, and values have long upheld.

It would not be fair to say that Europe has finally noticed that there was a conflict in Syria. They have been supporters of a speedy resolution of the crisis since day one - and they saw this would be made possible through a quick departure of Assad and his cronies.

Nor did Europe just realize that they must double their efforts to make sure that crisis around the world must be contained before spreading and going out of control.

European countries experienced a huge influx of refugees in the 1990s due to the Bosnian war and later the Kosovo conflict. To them that was a European problem on their continent. They never believed that the stalemate in Syria and the many proxy wars fought that far from Europe could spill to Europe’s shores.

Warm welcome

Today, towns and citizens in the heart of Europe who had never heard of Syria are expected to welcome Syrians in the tens of thousands and offer them asylum. They need to be praised regardless of how many refugees they welcome.

After nearly 5 years of war, with more than quarter of a million killed and another estimated one million injured, imprisoned, tortured and missing, half the Syrian population of over 23 million is on the run.

Even those who are not in the line of fire are packing up and heading out in search of a better future and one cannot blame them.

With millions scattered inside Syria, and millions of refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and elsewhere, Syrians are also human beings searching to line up a better future for their children. Increasingly the world seem to be failing them and their forced exile is likely to be both be extended and very long.


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Mohamed Chebarro is currently an Al Arabiya TV News program editor. He is also an award winning journalist, roving war reporter and commentator. He covered most regional conflicts in the 90s for MBC News and later headed Al Arabiya’s bureau in Beirut and London.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.