Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
The European Migration Crisis: A Man-Made
Crisis and Illusion
By Curtis F.J. Doebbler
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, April
There is no denying that many Europeans believe they are undergoing a
migration crisis. Indeed, tens of thousands of Africans and Middle
Easterners have fled their regions seeking more secure futures in Europe.
Even though a good proportion of them never made it to Europe instead
drowning in the Mediterranean Sea in no insignificant part due to European
sea safety budget cuts, they keep coming.
It is easy to see how
Europeans are scared. Europe has to date accepted a fraction of the refugees
fleeing Africa and the Middle East. Many times more, the lion's share of
migrants, have fled to countries that are closer to home in the Middle East
In Africa, South Africa and Sudan, host hundreds of
thousands of economic and political refugees from surrounding countries like
Zimbabwe, Angola, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, just to name a few neighbours. In
the Middle East, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Turkey, host hundreds of thousands of
refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
For these African and
Middle East countries huge influxes of refugees are not the exception, but
the norm in recent years. At the same time, but the countries in Africa and
Middle East receive little assistance from Europe or the United States to
deal with the huge migrant influxes with which they are regularly faced.
Why should African and the Middle East countries expect support? Why
should Europeans not be so surprised that they are receiving so many
migrants fleeing death and destruction or exploitation at home? The answer
lies in understanding the cause of the so-called 'European migration
In almost every case, the African and Middle East migrants
are fleeing wars, violence, or exploitation caused by Europeans, Americans
and their allies.
The United States' initiated wars against the
people of Iraq and Afghanistan, which are sustained with NATO and sometimes
regional allied support, are responsible for a recently estimated slaughter
of as many as four million people since they started. In addition, there are
countless maimed and wounded civilians crowding hospitals around the region.
The so-called 'evil regimes' in these countries could not have
killed and maimed as many people as the United States, NATO, and its allies
killed in a hundred years. Nevertheless, the lesson from this senseless
bloodshed has not been learned.
Instead of recognizing the erred
ways of their violent actions these same countries have been involved in new
acts of aggression against the people of Syria, Libya, and once again Iraq.
It is not by coincidence that Syria, Libya, and Iraq were once the most
developed countries in the Middle East and North Africa. They not only
provided their own people free and high level health care and education,
they drew migrant workers from around Africa, the Middle East and further
The migrant workers who came to Syria, Libya, and Iraq were
not basket cases who had lost everything and who are often too traumatized
to be able to contribute to society in which they eventually land after
fleeing. The migrants that came to Syria, Libya, and Iraq were often
workers, skilled and unskilled that contributed to society. They helped to
build the societies in which they worked and their remittances back home
often sustained their families and helped their own national economies.
Libya was the richest country in Africa and on-track to achieve all the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Syria was a centre of Arab and Islamic
learning where more books were translated into Arabic from other languages
than anywhere else in the world. And Iraq had been on the verge of becoming
an industrialised developed country with under-one and under-five child
mortality rates that rivalled Western European countries and the United
After Europe and the United States intervened, today, Libya
is a failed-State. Libya's wealth has dried up or been syphoned into private
pockets. Today, after the NAO intervention Libya will not achieve not a
single MDG. In Syria its people have been forced to turn their attention to
defending their sovereignty from multiple foreign-led aggressions, while
watching the United States and NATO allies bomb what is left of war-torn
towns into the rubble. And Iraq, after two US and allied wars killed an
estimated as many a one million Iraqi children and scared many whole
generations to come, Iraq is a State that is incapable of sustaining itself
where insecurity is rabid.
Policy makers in Europe, the United
States, and at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, appear to have given
little or no thought to the decades of social upheaval that they were
causing by instigating violence in Africa and Middle East. Instead they
appear to have acted based on selfish near-term interests. They did not even
observe the international law that they, themselves, predominately wrote.
Instead they flaunted this law with impunity to secure their short-sighted
To date few, and no senior, American or European has been
prosecuted for the terror they caused in the region. Yet, the actions of
these senior American or European leaders far outweighs the horrors
perpetrated even by the likes of Al-Qaeda, ISIL, ISIS, or Boko Haram. In
fact, it would not be an exaggeration to note that these Middle Eastern and
African non-State entities are following in the foot-steps set in the sand
by the United States and the European States.
The cause of
Sub-Saharan migration might be more complex, but is no less traceable to
Europe and the United States. Instead of recent wars and the relatively
quick destruction of rapidly developing States, Africans have been subjected
to long, sustained torture and slow deaths.
The exploitation of
Africa goes back centuries starting with the subjugation of millions of
Africans to slavery and colonization mainly by Europeans and Americans. Much
of Europe and the United States of America was build with the blood and
sweat of African slaves and the fruits of European colonization.
Slavery and colonization are international crimes and States that carry out
such actions are responsible for their internationally wrongful acts,
including the consequences of compensation. Nevertheless, to date no
compensation has been paid to African countries by the European or Americans
who profited from slavery and colonization.
This is not for want of
claims. Claims are regularly made for reparations or compensation in
international forums, but they are ignored or to put aside with trivial and
often inconsistent excuses. Europeans and Americans claims Arabs or Africans
themselves were often responsible for the slave trade, minimizing their own
much more significant responsibility. On the other hand, they then sometimes
reply to claims of reparations by claiming they, Europeans and Americans,
have already suffered enough from the indignity of having conducted the
Is there any European and American legal jurisdiction
that absolves criminals from responsibility for their crimes based on their
claim that the act of committing a crime is demeaning? Of course committing
a crime is demeaning for the perpetrator, but it is even more so for the
victim. That is exactly why the law punishes criminals or establishes
systems aimed at rehabilitating them.
In the case of Europe and the
United States it would appear that rehabilitation has not worked as despite
well-endowed universities and formally functioning electoral and political
systems, these countries have not learned to respect the rule of
international law. Reflecting this widespread view Western-schooled, United
States' ally Ms Tzipi Livni, at the time the Justice Minister of Israel,
reportedly stated that “I am against law, international law in particular.”
This statement today reflects the way both executive and often judicial
authorities act in many European and American legal jurisdictions.
But as if centuries of slavery were not enough hardship for Africans, they
have been followed by economic exploitation that is ongoing to this day.
After having been pressured to ignore their own proposals for a New
International Economic Order, which the United Nations adopted in numerous
resolutions in the 1970s, developing countries, especially Africans and
Middle East countries, have been coerced into accepting an economic order
that is unfair to them.
While this economic order has a development
model inbedded into to it created by Europeans and Americans the so-called
donor countries. The development model has been an abject failure. This is
attested to by the small number of States that have graduated from
developing to developed States even using the UN low threshold over the last
At the same time the gap between developed and
developing States has increased. The rich have become richer, the poor have
become poorer. By many standards there is less equity and equality in the
world today than there has been during the lifetime of anybody alive today.
Still Europeans and Americans object to efforts aimed towards
ensuring equity. In climate change talks they ignore the legal obligations
of financing, capacity building, and technology access they have unanimously
agreed to more than twenty years ago in the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change. They even challenge the principle established in this
treaty that lends itself most to achieving equity, arguing that the
principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is outdated despite
the persistence of gross inequalities.
In the negotiations on the
Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals that will
shape them, European countries and the United States reject any language
placing the blame on them for the inequalities in the world.
blind eye for reality it is no wonder that the United Kingdom's British
Broadcasting Corporation, more widely known as the BBC, reports with such
ignorance about the so-called 'European migration crisis'. A recent BBC
broadcast completely failed to mentioned a single root cause. When a
commentator from Save the Children indirectly hinted at root causes she was
abruptly cut off by the BBC news presenter because time was up. The BBC then
cut to the holiday weather, hardly a time sensitive subject that needed to
be broadcast without a fifteen or thirty second delay that could have
allowed for at least an illusion to the root causes of the so-called
'European migration crisis'.
* * *
Until European States and
the United States and their allies look at the root causes and adequately
address them, the 'European migration crisis' will merely intensify. The
current strategy of building barriers to migrants will only stimulate the
creativity migrants and traffickers use to circumvent the obstacles they
If Europe and the United States really want to deal with the
so-called 'European migration crisis' they will need to start by admitting
to themselves, and the world, that they are the cause of it. Europeans and
Americans will have to sit with their African and Middle East counterparts.
They will have to break out of their huddles that are protective of their
narrow national interests. The will have to engage in an open and
transparent manner with the aim of achieving cooperation to address the root
causes of the crisis, not merely the temporary manifestations.
in turn will ultimately require Europe and the United States to share the
benefits of their lengthy exploitation of the Middle East and Africa in a
much more equitable manner. It will also require Europe and the United
States to provide reparations to Africans and the people of the Middle East
for the violence and exploitation they have suffered at the hands of
Europeans and the Americans.
Do Europeans and Americans have the
courage and integrity to act to address the root causes of the 'European
migration crisis'? Millions of migrants from the Middle East and Africa
didn't think so to date. There are however another almost 2 billion people
in the Middle East and Africa who are still willing to give the Europeans
and Americans the benefit of the doubt, but only time will tell if they will
be forced to act as have their compatriots.
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