News Release

Regime Change Refugees

The New York Times reports: “President Obama, under increasing pressure to demonstrate that the United States is joining European nations in the effort to resettle Syrian refugees, has told his administration to take in at least 10,000 displaced Syrians over the next year.”

The Canadian paper the Globe and Mail reports: “Western concerns over the flood of refugees from Syria is obscuring the real problem in that country, says a former senior United Nations official — the conflict itself that has killed a quarter of a million people and forced half the country’s population to flee their homes.

“‘Let me tell you,’ said Mokhtar Lamani, the UN and Arab League representative in Damascus from 2012 to 2014, ‘if the war continues, another eight million displaced people will also flee Syria and head for the West.'”

JAMES PAUL, james.paul.nyc at gmail.com
Author of Syria Unmasked, Paul was executive director of Global Policy Forum, a think tank that monitors the UN, for nearly 20 years. He was also a longtime editor of the Oxford Companion to Politics of the World and executive director of the Middle East Research and Information Project.

He said today: “The huge flow of refugees into Europe has created a political crisis in the European Union, especially in Germany, where neo-nazi thugs battle police almost daily and fire-bombings of refugee housing have alarmed the political establishment. There is also the wider crisis in the EU over which countries will take in refuges and how many. The public has been horrified by refugee drownings in the Mediterranean, deaths in trucks and railway tunnels, thousands of children and families, caught in the open, facing border fences and violence from security forces. Religious leaders call for tolerance, while EU politicians wring their hands and wonder how they can solve the issue with new rules and more money.

“Meanwhile, the refugee flow has been increasing rapidly, with no end in sight. The German government has estimated that it will take in 800,000 asylum-seekers during 2015. The overall flow into Europe for the year will probably be well above a million. Germany and Sweden are the main destinations.

“Fences cannot contain the desperate multitudes. A few billion euros in economic assistance to the countries of origin, recently proposed by the Germans, are unlikely to buy away the problem. Only a clear understanding of the origins of the crisis can lead to an answer, but European leaders do not want to touch this hot wire and expose their own culpability. In the U.S., there is little sensible analysis either.

“The migrants coming to Europe are mostly fleeing conflicts. The data on origins make that clear. The migrants are coming primarily from Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Pakistan in the Middle East, and to a lesser extent from Eritrea, Somalia and Nigeria in Africa. These are all countries with vicious conflicts — conflicts that (with the exception of Nigeria) began with Western military intervention, direct or indirect and continued to be fueled by intervention. In Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia the intervention was very direct. In Syria, Pakistan and Eritrea, it has been less direct but very clear nonetheless.

“The term ‘regime change refugees’ helps focus on where the primary responsibility lies. It changes an empty conversation in the direction of reality. Official discourse in Europe and the United States frames the civil wars and economic turmoil in terms of fanaticism, corruption, dictatorship, economic failures and other causes for which Western governments and publics believe they have no responsibility. The Western leaders and media stay silent about the military intervention and regime change, interventions that have torn the refugees’ homelands apart and resulted in civil war, state collapse and extremely violent conditions lasting for long periods.

“Some European leaders, the French in particular, are arguing in favor of further military intervention in these war-torn lands on their periphery as a way to ‘do something’ and (ironically) ‘end the violence.’ Overthrowing Assad appears to be popular among the policy classes in Paris, who choose to ignore how counter-productive their overthrow of Gaddafi was just a short time ago and how counter-productive has been their clandestine support in Syria for the Islamist rebels. The intensive Western bombing campaign in Syria (now joined by France), aimed in theory at the forces of the Islamic State, are killing many civilians and further destabilizing the war-ravaged country.

“The aggressive nationalist beast in the heart of the political class of Europe and the United States is ready to engage in more military adventures. These leaders are not ready to learn the lesson, or to beware the ‘blowback’ from future interventions. This is why we need to look closely at the ‘regime change’ angle, to beware upcoming proposals for more intervention, and to increase public resistance to further war. It is clear enough that the crisis of migration and war has been ‘Made in Europe’ and ‘Made in USA.'”