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The Arab States and the Refugees

Refugees arrive in some of Europe's poorest states, mainly Greece, Italy and Hungary, but insist that they have a right to head for more prosperous nations where welfare benefits are higher and healthcare freely available.

  • "Kuwait and the other Gulf Cooperation Council countries are too valuable to accept any refugees. ... It's too costly to relocate them here. Kuwait is too expensive for them anyway, as opposed to Lebanon and Turkey, which are cheap. They are better suited for the Syrian refugees. ... it is not right for us to accept a people that are different from us. We don't want people that suffer from internal stress and trauma in our country." -- Kuwaiti official, Fahad al-Shalami.

  • It may also be that the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and elsewhere see the movement of Muslim refugees to Europe as a golden opportunity to increase their work in da'wa (Islamic proselytization).

  • This crisis has exposed the abject failure of the EU, the UN, the OIC or anybody else to criticize the bloated nations of the Gulf with even a tiny fraction of the abuse they pour daily on the only democratic state in the Middle East, Israel. It is a repetition of the ongoing Palestinian refugee crisis, with the Arab states refusing to give jobs and citizenship to Palestinian Arabs over decades, keeping them in refugee camps and laying the blame on Israel. Is it surprising that the Arab world is still on the steady downward course it embarked on in 1948?

  • Europe, motivated by a politically correct obsession with multiculturalism, has used mass immigration to beef up its workforce and create a semblance of diversity, only to find that many of its immigrants -- above all Muslims from Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Somalia -- have remained averse to integration and assimilation into their host societies.

  • While the European Union and its member states totter under an overwhelming influx of refugees from Syria and other collapsing countries in the Middle East, the vastly wealthy Arab nations of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are sitting back and watching as Europe takes the toll.

    In a December 2014 report from Amnesty International, various facts and figures are set out to show that what is happening with respect to (mainly) Syrian refugees is thoroughly unbalanced internationally, and notably within the Arab world itself. 95% of the (then) 3.8 million refugees fleeing Syria are located in five countries (although since then many have crossed the Mediterranean or gone to Greece from Turkey). With the exception of Turkey, those five countries are among the poorest in the region: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Here is Amnesty's breakdown of the figures:

    • Lebanon hosts 1.1 million refugees registered with UNHCR, which amounts to around 26 per cent of the country's population.
    • Jordan hosts 618,615 registered refugees, which amounts to 9.8% of the population.
    • Turkey hosts 1.6 million refugees, which amounts to 2.4% of the population.
    • Iraq hosts 225,373 registered refugees, which amounts to 0.67% of the population.
    • Egypt hosts 142,543 registered refugees, which amounts to 0.17% of the population.

    Amnesty has called for at least 5% of the refugees to be resettled from the main host countries by the end of 2015, with a further 5% to follow by the end of 2016, giving a total of 380,000 people. And, no doubt, as more people flee the war there, as well as the violence in other Arab countries from Libya to Iraq to Yemen, these numbers will swell.

    The report ends on a depressing note: the six Arab Gulf countries (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain) have offered zero -- repeat: zero -- places for desperate refugees.

    Put another way, six countries that speak the same language (admittedly with strong regional variations); that belong to the same ethnic group; that share the same religion and much of the same culture; that are among the wealthiest countries in the world -- not just in the Arab world -- have no room at all for their fellow Arabs.

    They are perfectly happy, it seems, to let hundreds of thousands to squeeze into an already saturated Europe, into countries that have not, for the most part, succeeding in assimilating or integrating existing Arab, Turkish, Somali, and other mainly Muslim minorities. The flood of migrants heading not just for Europe but for specific states -- notably Germany and the UK -- has created a massive humanitarian crisis that European countries are finding it difficult to handle. Refugees arrive in some of Europe's poorest states, mainly Greece, Italy and Hungary, but insist that they have a right to head for more prosperous nations, where welfare benefits are higher and healthcare freely available.

    Criticism of the Gulf States is growing. Sarah Hashash, Middle East and North Africa press officer at Amnesty International, has "called the Gulf Arab states' behavior 'utterly shameful' and criticized Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for officially taking in zero refugees."

    Another NGO official, Oxfam's Syria country director, Daniel Gorevan, has likewise stated that "Gulf countries clearly can and should do an awful lot more." "I'm most indignant over the Arab countries who are rolling in money and who only take very few refugees," Danish Finance Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said in an interview at his office in Copenhagen. "Countries like Saudi Arabia. It's completely scandalous."

    Even commentators in the Gulf region have expressed dissatisfaction with the response. Sultan Sooud al Qassemi, a journalist in the UAE, has complained, saying that the Gulf States should open their doors: "The Gulf states often complain that the Arabic language is underused and that our culture is under threat due to the large number of foreign immigrants. Here is an opportunity to host a group of people who can help alleviate such concerns and are in need of refuge, fleeing a brutal war."

    But officialdom in the Gulf States remains unmoved and even petulant. Fahad al-Shalami, a Kuwaiti official, explained on September 2, 2015 why the states in his region have to turn back their fellow Arabs from their shores:

    Kuwait and the other Gulf Cooperation Council countries are too valuable to accept any refugees. Our countries are only fit for [migrant] workers. It's too costly to relocate them [the refugees] here. Kuwait is too expensive for them anyway, as opposed to Lebanon and Turkey, which are cheap. They are better suited for the Syrian refugees. In the end, it is not right for us to accept a people that are different from us. We don't want people that suffer from internal stress and trauma in our country.

    One has only to imagine the international outrage if Angela Merkel or David Cameron were to utter such ugly sentiments. Both the EU and individual European states are floundering as they try to cope with an avalanche of displaced refugees. The figures are disturbing.

    According to the Financial Times of September 4, 2015, pending asylum applications for the European Union amount to 568,000. Here is a partial breakdown:

    • Germany – 306,000
    • UK – 30,000
    • France – 36,000
    • Italy – 48,000
    • Greece – 29,000
    • Hungary – 24,000

    But even these high figures are growing rapidly out of date. A separate report, also in the Financial Times bears the headline, "Germany braced to receive 800,000 asylum seekers." The newspaper also points out that this upgraded figure is for this year alone -- and more than for the entire EU combined. But on September 8, Sigmar Gabriel, the German vice chancellor, said he had "no doubt" that Germany could cope with an annual intake of more than 500,000 over the next few years. By that time -- say, five years -- the numbers of refugees could well have grown to double or more current figures.

    These figures are for official asylum applicants only, with many thousands more illegal incomers across Europe. Most refugees, arriving in Greece, Italy, or Hungary protest loudly, demanding to be allowed to go to Germany or the UK. In the past few weeks, there has been an outpouring of sympathy -- a natural and very human response at the sight of so much misery on our doorsteps, personified in the now classic photograph of a dead Syrian Kurdish toddler, Aylan Kurdi, washed up on a Turkish beach, held aloft in the arms of a coastguard, with his brother and mother also drowned. Offers to take in more refugees have mounted since then.

    Kuwaiti official Fahad al-Shalami recently explained that Gulf Arab countries do not accept Syrian refugees because "Kuwait and the other Gulf Cooperation Council countries are too valuable to accept any refugees. ... We don't want people that suffer from internal stress and trauma in our country."

    Greek islands such as Kos and Lesbos are experiencing deep disruption from the sheer scale of the refugees washing up on their beaches, from the repeated clashes between migrants and police, and by the inability of an indebted Greek government to provide the aid they need. Over 7,000 refugees have arrived in Kos, whose population numbers only 32,000. Between 15,000 and 17,000 mainly Syrian refugees are currently on Lesbos. The island's normal population numbers just 86,000.

    It is easy to think that this sudden influx from Syria is just a surge that will die down soon. But these numbers come on top of existing flows of migrants from many countries. The Financial Times has charted asylum applications between January 2009 and June 2015, and gives figures for Italy, Greece and Hungary, the three countries currently bearing the brunt of the refugee tide. Hungary alone has had 54,170 applications from Kosovo, 19,095 from Syria, 4,015 from Iraq, 7,245 from Pakistan, and 32,470 from Afghanistan.[1] At its mildest, this is an administrative nightmare, made all the more unbearable because the European Union has so far been unable to formulate a coherent policy for handling the crisis.

    Nor is this the height of the problem. Europe's immigration problems date back many years. Motivated by a politically correct obsession with multiculturalism, Europe has used mass immigration to beef up its workforce and to create a semblance of diversity, only to find that many of its immigrants -- above all Muslims from Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Somalia -- have remained averse to integration and assimilation into their host societies. There are virtual Muslim no-go zones in France, Sweden, Germany and Britain, places where native French, Swedes, Germans and British are not welcome.[2]

    In a 2011 report by Pew Research, it was estimated that some 19 million Muslims lived in the nations of the EU. That number has grown and is estimated to grow even more rapidly over the next fifteen years. A 2015 report by Pew describes this trend as follows: "In recent decades, the Muslim share of the population throughout Europe grew about 1 percentage point a decade, from 4% in 1990 to 6% in 2010. This pattern is expected to continue through 2030, when Muslims are projected to make up 8% of Europe's population."

    Critics such as Ed West, or the outspoken English commentator Pat Condell, argue that Islamic demands on European countries are slowly destroying the national heritage, Christian identity, and coherence of places such as the UK. There are towns in Britain that have strongly Muslim identities. Many large cities have at least one majority Muslim area. Savile Town in Dewsbury is almost wholly Muslim. Importing Islamic and foreign cultural values, instead of being a valuable enrichment of our societies, has become a largely negative influence, due in part to native resistance to alien ways, but in greater part to the failure of many Muslims to integrate with the host culture. The presence of shari'a courts in the UK, offering an alternative to British law; the growth of private Muslim schools with connections to extremism and explicit antagonism to Western values; the attempts to impose Islamic mores on non-Muslims through Shari'a-Controlled Zones and Shari'a Patrols in places such as Tower Hamlets; arguments that requiring immigrants to speak English in England are a breach of their human rights, or the transference of Pakistani biradari politics (using patrilineal, clan-like influence behind the scenes) to towns like Bradford, have all distorted the character of the nation without providing positive contributions of value to all citizens.

    Perhaps the most disturbing of these many blights on British culture have been the major episodes of child sexual grooming and prostitution in English cities by gangs of unassimilated Pakistani men. Criminal groups in Oxford, an archetypically English town, and in Rochdale, Rotherham, and Birmingham, targeted vulnerable white children and teenagers, introducing attitudes derived from Islamic views of women. That the police, local councils, social workers and the media chose to ignore these crimes of many years standing for fear of being accused of racism or Islamophobia stands as a clear example of how patronizing Muslim "victimhood" has undermined the moral and legal values of the cradle of democracy, fair play, and equality before the law.

    As Europe staggers under the growing weight of Muslim immigration and supremacist attitudes, the Gulf States show a bewildering lack of compassion. Yet those states are better placed to take in Muslim refugees than any European country. It is difficult to make simple comparisons between countries, as there are so many complex factors to juggle: economies, populations, geographical size, fertility, technical sophistication, stability, good governance (or lack of it). But some comparisons have to be made.

    Even if we leave Europe out of the picture for the moment, the contrast between four Arab states and Turkey on the one hand and the Gulf States on the other is striking. A map-based graphic reproduced in the Washington Post, gives figures slightly above those in the Amnesty report and shows how Saudi Arabia and its companions are impervious to refugees from any country, especially Syria, a short distance away. The Arab states hosting refugees are poor countries who are finding it hard to cope with the numbers crossing their borders. Here are some data taken from that most valuable asset, the 2015 CIA World Factbook, concerning the states that refuse to take in their fellow Arabs:

    Saudi Arabia has a population consisting of about 90% Sunni Muslims and 90% Arabs. Its official language, as in Syria, is Arabic. It has a population of 27,752, 316, 30% of which is made up of foreign workers (who are 80% of the workforce), with a low growth rate, numbered 96th in the world. Its GDP based on purchasing power parity is $1.6 trillion, and per capita $52,200. This places Saudi Arabia at only 20th place among 230 nations, one spot below the United States. But let us look at some of the countries it comes well above, often by a huge margin. These are all countries into which Arab refugees have gone, or into which they are headed, in order of descent: The Netherlands, Ireland, Australia, Austria, Sweden, Germany, Canada, Denmark, Belgium, Finland, France, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Portugal, Greece, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Romania, Lebanon, Bulgaria, Jordan, Ukraine.

    The contrast is even worse in Qatar next door. With a tiny population of 2,194,817, only 12% of these are native Qataris. The vast majority are foreign workers from across the globe, especially Nepal (17%) and India (24%). It is apparently not a secret that Qatar treats most of its foreign workforce like slaves, paying them a pittance and subjecting to cruel conditions that result in a high death toll. In 2014 alone, one Nepalese worker died every two days.

    You might expect that sort of thing in a third-world country without resources. But Qatar is the richest country in the world, number one in a list of 230 countries. Its GDP based on purchasing power parity is $320 billion, with a GDP per capita of $143,400. While its land mass is small, Qatar could well afford to employ Arab and Muslim refugees at the cost of dismissing the cheap slave labour currently working there. Indeed, it could well afford to pay huge sums of aid to Nepal, India and Pakistan.

    Similar patterns are repeated in the UAE (13th richest), Bahrain, Kuwait (10th richest) and Oman (31st richest). Their resources are not in question, although their extravagant spending on luxuries for their elite princes and billionaires is little more than a slap in the face for the austere principles of the Wahhabi and Salafi belief system they hold up as a model for all mankind. That hypocrisy is only made worse by the vast sums spent by the Saudis on the propagation of Salafi thought globally. According to Yousaf Butt, "it is thought that more than $100 billion has been spent on exporting fanatical Wahhabism to various much poorer Muslim nations worldwide over the past three decades. It might well be twice that number. By comparison, the Soviets spent about $7 billion spreading communism worldwide in the 70 years from 1921 and 1991."

    Vast sums are spent by the Saudis alone on ostentatious indulgences and on the spread of one of the world's most aggressive religio-political ideologies, with its dire consequences for women, non-Muslims, and integration into Western societies. Butt describes Saudi Wahhabism as "the fountainhead of Islamist terrorism." He puts it even more strongly here:

    "More recently, the Saudi role in promoting extremism has come under renewed scrutiny. Calls for declassifying the redacted 28 pages of the 9/11 congressional commission have been getting stronger. And statements from the lead author of the report, former Florida Sen. Bob Graham, suggest they are being hidden because they 'point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as the principal financier' of the 9/11 hijackers. He has been unusually explicit, 'Saudi Arabia has not stopped its interest in spreading extreme Wahhabism. a product of Saudi ideals, Saudi money and Saudi organizational support, although now they are making a pretense of being very anti-ISIS.'"

    It is not just government money. "Not all of the cash comes from Saudi state coffers. 'Traditionally, the money is handed out by members of the royal family, businessmen or religious leaders, and channelled via Muslim charities and humanitarian organizations,' said Karim Sader, a political analyst who specializes in the Gulf states, in an interview with FRANCE 24." But no room for a single refugee.

    Writing on September 10, Rodger Shanahan comments:

    "During his visit to Washington last week, Saudi Arabia's King Salman booked out the entire 222-room Four Seasons Hotel for his entourage. The joint press statement following his meeting with President Barack Obama made no reference to the Syrian refugee crisis other than a vague determination to end the Syrian conflict to 'end the suffering of the Syrian people.' No mention of resettling any Syrians within a kingdom that employs 1.5 million people as domestic help."

    And Qatar? How does it spend its money, whether government funds or private donations? According to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, "Qatar-based terror finance challenges have metastasized into a pressing, world-class crisis." Its report goes on to say that "Individuals taking advantage of Qatar's 'permissive jurisdiction' for terror finance have provided funding in recent years to the leaders of [the Islamic State], the Khorasan Group, the Nusra Front (under which Khorasan operates), al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Shabaab, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and core al Qaeda in Pakistan, to name just a few."

    Writing here last November, I noted that:

    Qatar's major international charity, the Qatar Charitable Society (now simply Qatar Charity) has acted as a financier and agency for terrorist outfits in several countries. It has funded al-Qaeda in Chechnya, Mali and elsewhere, was a key player in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and funded Syria's Ahfad al-Rasul Brigade. Qatar has also financed terrorists in northern Mali operations, including Ansar Dine, alleged to be linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb [North Africa]; and it retains contacts with (and no doubt still funds) al-Qaeda.

    According to David Blair and Richard Spencer, writing for London's Daily Telegraph, four branches of the Qatari government handle relations with armed groups in Syria and Libya. These are the Foreign and Defense Ministries, the Intelligence Agency, and the personal office [al-Diwan al-Amiri], of the Emir, who, as we have seen, flatly denies financing terrorism. The Amiri Diwan, as in Kuwait, appears in the lists of government ministries and offices. Of course, Qatar does nothing directly. It prefers to use middlemen and to permit private individuals to do the work for it. Large sums are passed to middlemen in Turkey (itself no stranger to support for terrorism), and this money is used for the purchase of weapons from other countries (notably Croatia). The weapons are then transferred to rebel groups in Syria. It has also been claimed that money owed to British companies operating in Qatar has been siphoned off to Islamic State. This may require some ingenious application of the dark arts of bookkeeping, but it does provide another means of evading condemnation of the state.

    Qatar, which will host the 2002 Football World cup, spends liberally and, like Saudi Arabia, on questionable or outright despicable causes and ventures, yet has no room for a single Muslim Arab refugee.

    Does that matter? Don't the Gulf States have a right to determine their own demographics, just as Israel does when it refuses to recognize the "right of return" for millions of Palestinian "refugees"? This confuses two very different situations and does not answer the real question. Allowing generations of a refugee population that has been deliberately denied citizenship in all Arab states except Jordan to enter Israel would destroy the Jewish state overnight. It is not surprising that Israel prefers not to let that happen. But admitting Arab (and, indeed, other Muslim) refugees into countries of great wealth and bloated migrant worker policies would cause little disruption and might even contribute to a strengthening of ties between the various Arab and Muslim nations.

    The noted journalist, Douglas Murray, has already put his finger on the real hypocrisy behind this resistance of the Gulf States. In a short piece in The Spectator last week, he argued with great clarity that this is not a European problem: Europe has had precious little involvement in the events that have led to the current crisis, whereas the Gulf States have done a great deal to destabilize the region. More importantly, he argues, echoing the thoughts above, that this refusal of sanctuary also demolishes the claims of Muslim governments and organizations such as the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that all believers are united in a single supranational state, the umma, the collectivity of the Islamic family.

    Established in 1945, the Arab League has 22 member states, with Syria's membership currently suspended. Its Pact states that it was formed "With a view to strengthen[ing] the close relations and numerous ties which bind the Arab States, And out of concern for the cementing and reinforcing of these bonds on the basis of respect for the independence and sovereignty of theme Stated, And in order to direct their efforts toward[s] the goal of the welfare of all the Arab States, their common weal, the guarantee of their future and the realization of their aspirations."

    According to Article 2, its purpose is to "draw closer the relations between member States and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries." Yet the League has made little comment on the refugee crisis, apart from blaming Syria, and has offered no cohesive strategy for its member states to act by offering shelter to refugees from the Arab people.

    The OIC was set up as the Organization of the Islamic Conference in 1969. It is "the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations which has membership of 57 states spread over four continents. The Organization is the collective voice of the Muslim world and ensuring to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world." In other words, it represents the umma and the interests of some 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. Its headquarters is in the city of Medina in Saudi Arabia, a symbolic location as the capital of Islam during the later part of Muhammad's career.

    In a statement issued on September 5, 2015, the OIC spoke of the refugee crisis:

    Those Syrian refugees who drowned in the Mediterranean, or suffocated in a human trafficker's truck in Austria, none of them are responsible for starting the Syrian crisis or for the failure to stop it. Yet, they are and continue to be the direct victims of both that crisis as well as the failure of the international community, particularly of the Members of the UN Security Council, and the countries of the region, to find a solution to it. This must not, and cannot continue to be so.

    It is our humanity getting drowned in the Mediterranean. It is our humanitarian values, principles, and our human dignity, getting suffocated. We must put an immediate end to this tragedy. Acknowledging the positive attitude and efforts made by some European countries, I call on all the Members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the international community as a whole to put aside their differences, and mobilize all their efforts to help the Syrian people and refugees. This is neither a Syrian, nor Middle Eastern, nor European nor Muslim crisis. This is an international humanitarian crisis, in which precious lives are perishing.

    From the very beginning, the OIC has been following with profound concern the escalating human tragedy of the Syrian refugees, fleeing their homes and seeking refuge in neighboring states. Many OIC Member States, most notably Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt have been carrying the extreme burden of the refugee flow out of Syria, and they have all allocated huge amount of resources to host more than four million of them in their respective countries. Similarly, in cooperation with the UN OCHA and other humanitarian partners, the OIC has been striving to help the victims of the conflict in Syria.

    These are fine words. Yet it is significant that the OIC seeks to address, not its own parish, the Islamic world, but the international community, looking to non-Muslim countries to solve a problem that has its origins as much as anything in the growth of extremism and religious violence in the Islamic world, something the OIC has done little to ameliorate. Most notably, it says nothing at all about the religious, moral, or political responsibilities of the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, where it is headquartered.

    The position of the Gulf States is morally indefensible, whether judged by Judaeo-Christian, secular or Islamic standards. Oil riches, coupled with the massive indulgence of ruling elites and an inability or lack of will to raise standards of education, human rights, women's rights, religious freedom, have turned these states into lazy, self-absorbed and intolerant regimes without democracy or liberty. The Saudis' emphasis on hardline Wahhabi indoctrination and the central role played by their official clergy have sucked the kingdom dry of original thought, technical innovation, rational discourse, and the will to accommodate their ethnic and religious brethren in a time of unprecedented crisis.

    The use of migrant workers by the Gulf States strengthens their already bloated economies at enormous human cost and weakens communities in Nepal, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Instead of using their disproportionate wealth to build those communities through schools, hospitals, and productive industries that will keep families together, provide safe neighbourhoods and increase longevity, the pious Muslims of the Gulf prefer to put migrant workers through lives of misery while turning away other Muslims in desperate need of asylum and work.

    One of the greatest ironies in all this is that the Gulf States are, in fact, sometimes generous to their fellow Arab countries. According to the Economist, remittances from the Gulf to Arab states are currently worth $35 billion. "According to the World Bank, the Gulf states have been the world's most generous donors of aid as a share of GDP." Business Insider claims that Kuwait is the single largest donor to the Syrian refugees and the fourth largest internationally, after the US, the UK, and Germany. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are in the top ten internationally.

    So, a certain amount of generosity, even if $35 billion dollars shared between six wealthy states is not startling. For all that, none of the poorer Arab states that are beneficiaries of this generosity is flourishing, and that is in some measure because the money has gone to the propagation of extremist Islam and the furthering of non-progressive policies. Money that might have helped poor countries develop their economies in the way neighbouring Israel has done has resulted in very little, while the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Iraq still reel from the shock of an Arab Spring that turned rapidly into a sectarian conflict that threatens to destroy them.

    The more refugees flood into Europe, the more the home countries, Syria above all, sink into chaos and risk total collapse. Such a collapse will unleash millions more refugees on the world. Many of those already making their way to Europe are among the better educated and better skilled, and their disappearance reduces the capability of Syria to restructure itself should the war ever reach an end. Others are stuck in camps in Jordan and Lebanon, two countries that lack the resources of the Gulf States.

    Sir Paul Collier, author of Exodus: Immigration and Multiculturalism in the 21st Century, recently wrote: "Europe... (should be) fostering a Syria-in-exile economy in Jordan and other neighbouring countries... Providing a skilled minority of Syrians with dream lives in Europe is not the answer...It would gut Syria of the very people it would need (to re-build). It is an intellectually lazy, feel-good policy for the bien-pensant."[3]

    I would only change one thing in the above. It is not primarily Europe but the wealthiest Muslim and Arab countries that should foster a Syria-in-exile economy. But if their donations of money are to have any serious impact, they (and other Arab and Muslim countries) have to do considerably more to foster a society in which sectarianism, Salafi extremism, and outmoded interpretations of the Qur'an and ahadith, or strict applications of a religious law code better suited in the main to more unproductive forms of social engineering, are discarded on whole or part.

    Eyal Zisser, a professor of Middle East and African history at Tel Aviv University argues in Israel Hayom that a failure on the part of the Arab states to solve their refugee problem will place an intolerable burden on Europe: "The problem at Europe's doorstep, therefore, is not a few thousand refugees, nor is it a few million Syrians seeking refuge from the war ravishing their country. The problem is the tens of millions who want to leave the Arab world -- a world that offers no hope and no future -- and move to Europe."

    The refugees themselves are often keenly aware of the ironies in this imbalance. A Facebook community of Syrians in Denmark recently demanded, "How did we flee from the region of our Muslim brethren, which should take more responsibility for us than a country they describe as infidels?" Cartoonists and columnists in parts of the Arab press are openly critical of the Gulf States' response to the crisis. The Saudi daily Makkah Newspaper published a cartoon, widely shared on social media, which showed a man in traditional Gulf clothing looking out of a door with barbed wire around it and pointing at door with the EU flag on it. "Why don't you let them in, you discourteous people?!" he says. Their own discourtesy is certain to lose the Gulf States much of the respect less successful Arab countries and the Arab diaspora have had for them in the past.

    And there are other ironies. According to Rossella Tercatin, Syrian refugees now safely in Italy still believe that their greatest enemy is not the Assad regime, the rebel fighters, ISIS, or the Gulf states, but Israel. Thus, Europe is inviting to its shores thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, eventually millions of Israel-haters to bolster the anti-Israel Palestinian solidarity campaigns that already plague an anti-Zionist European Union. In the meantime -- which is where the irony lies -- IsraAID, the main Israeli international relief organization, is helping Arab refugees in Greece and is in talks with the Greek government to set up a long-term presence there. Zachar Zahavi, director of IsraAID, has set out their aims in doing so:

    To provide psycho-sociological help to local professionals, whether they be police, social workers or any others who have to deal with this influx of tens of thousands of traumatized people; and physical help to the refugees, through the distribution of equipment, such as hygiene kits, clothes, mattresses and food.

    What we have managed to collect so far is enough to get us started. Israelis and Jews from around the world have been asking if they can help; those who don't have money to contribute are offering to volunteer their services. This crisis has really touched a nerve. European Jewry is being galvanized, because of what European Jewry went through in the past. At the moment, it seems that it is touching European Jews more than American ones, though Labor Day weekend, when Americans are preoccupied, made it hard to tell. I urge American Jews to realize this is not a local Jewish issue, but a global one.

    Greece is not the only location for IsraAID's help. According to Zahavi, "IsraAID is already working in Jordan and the Kurdish region of Iraq to help them absorb Syrian refugees. We also spent eight months in Bulgaria last year, cooperating with the Bulgarian Red Cross, to deal with the influx of Syrian refugees there."

    So here is the greatest of the many ironies we have seen here. The greatest enemy of the Arabs (by their definition, not that of Jews and Israelis) is part of an international effort to assist the resettlement of the Syrian refugees, while their self-proclaimed greatest friend, the nation that boasts of being the leader of the Islamic world, turns them aside in pursuit of profit and a gargantuan lack of humanity.

    This crisis has exposed several things: One is the total disarray of the Arab and Islamic worlds, with so many states cracking apart through war, terrorism, and simple political incompetence. In contrast, we see the Gulf States united in their self-regarding absolutism, their disregard for human rights, and their failure to develop their societies beyond a crass materialism. It may also be that the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and elsewhere see the movement of Muslim refugees to Europe as a golden opportunity to increase their work in da'wa (Islamic proselytization).

    This crisis also demonstrates the abject failure of the EU, the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation or anybody else to criticize the bloated nations of the Gulf with even a tiny fraction of the abuse they pour daily on the only democratic state in the Middle East, Israel. It is a repetition of the ongoing Palestinian refugee crisis, with the Arab states refusing to give jobs and citizenship to Palestinian Arabs over decades, keeping them in refugee camps and laying the blame on Israel for not buckling under pressure and welcoming them, like an adder to her bosom. Is it surprising that the Arab world is still on the steady downward course on which it embarked in 1948?

    Dr. Denis MacEoin used to lecture in Arabic-English translation and Islamic Civilization at the University of Fez, Morocco, and in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Newcastle University in the UK.

    [1] During that period, Italy has had 15,370 applications from Gambia; 18,120 from Mali; 32,965 from Nigeria; 121,365 from Afghanistan; and 20,535 from Pakistan. Greece has had 4,750 applications from Syria, 6,330 from Georgia, 7,200 from Afghanistan, 14,885 from Pakistan, and 6,205 from Bangladesh.

    [2] On the failure of multiculturalism, see Ed West, The Diversity Illusion, Gibson Square Books, 2015.

    [3] Via private correspondence

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