The people fleeing Syria in the recent days, weeks and months has reached a flash point in the European Union, but what does the European Migration Crisis have to do with the United States and should we get involved? From a humanitarian perspective, we have performed our courtesy gesture of accepting 10,000 Syrian refugees into the US with the Dems wanting more and Obama pushing for the increase to 10,000, but this is not the real issue and is yet another deflection by the US government in our abysmal foreign policy tactics and efforts worldwide.
Why Are Syrians migrating to Europe?
Under our current administration, few can argue that we have been weak and reactionary. Once again we are dealing with fallout rather than being proactive and doing what is necessary to protect our interests around the globe.
A Brief Timeline of the Syrian conflict and what is happening in Syria;
- 1979 – List created and Syria added as a State Sponsor of Terrorists. US creates a list of state sponsors of terrorism and Syria is characterized as providing safe haven to multiple terrorist groups as well as providing political and tactical support such as arming Hezbollah force with SCUD missiles.
- 1990 to 2000 – Syria improved relations with the US by securing the release of hostages in Lebanon and by opening bilateral negotiations with Israel. President Hafez al-Assad sought accord with Israel, the US and the multi-national community.
- 2000 – President Bashar al-Assad takes power and reverses progress made by Syria. As a Shia, al-Assad operates as a dictator to enforce his regime including torture, abduction and murder.
- 2010 – Obama appoints Ambassador and resumes political relations with Syria.
- 2011 – Arab Spring protests. Sunni’s begin to protest on a large scale against the al-Assad regime. Conflict escalates and force is used in violent crackdowns against protestors.
- 2012 – Protests turn into civil war and government begins military assault on civilians focusing on the Sunni population.
- 2013 – Sunni states Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others back Sunni fighters in Syria. Iran, as a Shia country, backs al-Assad in his war on the Sunni population.
The Syrian government, under Assad, has targeted its own civilians and estimates are between 200,000 to 300,000 innocents have been killed while an estimated 3.5 to 4.5 million have fled the country. This is the source of the refugee exodus into Europe.
So where is the risk for the US?
Flashback to the Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula where Russia invades utilizing military disguised in plain clothes and with equipment and weapons that they don’t even bother to hide. The purpose? To acquire and maintain a strategic foothold in a port that is critical to supply lines for both Europe and Russia. This is an overt land grab with little resistance other than lip service by the US and the United Nations. What were the consequences to Putin and the Russians? Nothing.
With little challenge from the West, Putin is now more emboldened to reach out and lay claim where other opportunities exist. The primary deterrent in the past has been the US and threat of military action to keep aggressionist tactics in check, but now there is no counter balance and these acts will become more and more aggressive.
Fast-forward and we have the Arctic Circle land grab with zero challenge and we now have the Syrian push by Putin with the political and military backing pledge from Russia to Assad. Make no mistake, Russia has zero interest in the Sunni / Shia conflict. Russia is after Syria for strategic purposes and if you examine all of their movements into external sovereignty, you will see that their targets are highly tactical. Their focus appears to be strategic points should the need arise to control points of entry or have access to resource rich environments in times of conflict.
This is most likely on the radar screen of the intelligence agencies and, if it is not already, should be a priority for the intelligence community. Is there a risk for the US with the most recent events in Syria? Absolutely there is, but we also need to keep focus on the European migration crisis at the same time.
How do we resolve this? There is no magical answer, but when the Syrian citizens feel safe in returning to their homeland, then the migration crisis will be over. If that is not the primary focus of the international community, then it should be. We have to deal with the immediate needs at hand, but we have to look beyond that into the longer-term resolution of replacing the dictatorial regime in Syria. The alternative is that both Iran and Russia will have a strategic foothold in the Middle East that will be nearly impossible to retake in the future.
Finally, while there are implications for the US, including our foreign policy and strategic footprint in areas around the world, this is not just a US problem. Left unchecked, these incursions have the potential to become more aggressive and will impact other nationalities directly. Examples so far include the countries of Ukraine and Syria with a severe indirect economic impact on many of the European countries.