By Theodore Shoebat
A senior administration official just recently warned in the Munich Security Counsel that fighting in Syria will eventually push 3.5 million Syrians to flee into the Turkish border. In his opening statement he warned:
my focus today has been on two related aspects of Syria and Iraq policy. One is shoring up the international community to stand against the latest aggression and efforts to get a military solution to the conflict in Syria, most notably and dramatically in the offensive in Idlib, which, if it is not stopped, will create a true humanitarian catastrophe of 3 million people pouring across the Turkish border. They already have 3.5 million; they can’t absorb anything like that. They’ll be spewed onto Europe. We’ve seen almost a million people – over 800,000 – up and move in the last few days. And this is the largest single mass movement we’ve seen in the entire Syrian war, which is saying a lot considering that you’ve gotten almost 11 million people have at one or another point left their homes.
He went on to note that Idlib, where the most intense fighting is taking place, “is jam-packed with tens of thousands of fighters, many tens of thousands of fighters, and some 3.5 million people.”
What the senior administration said corresponds with what was said recently by Gerald Knaus, one of Europe’s foremost experts on migration who since 2019 has served on a commission within the German government to draft recommendations for policy on policy for migration. In a recent interview with Der Taesspiegel, Knaus warned that in the next four months Europe will face another migrant crises and this is going to trigger another nationalist backlash:
In 2018 and 2019, no more than 120,000 people a year came across the entire Mediterranean. Should the EU be overwhelmed? We’ll have the next major crisis in four months. The danger: then the hour of the demagogues strikes again. Those who demand that we should immediately question the right of asylum and rights. Orbán’s Hungary has been doing this for years.
Knaus recounted how: “I was in Lesvos in December 2018 and the situation was already unacceptable at the time.” He then describes the moribund immigration situation in Greece:
Between September and November 2019, 30,000 people came in three months. Last year 74,000 people came to Greece from Turkey. Calculate that for the population: That would correspond to 600,000 in Germany! We have been hearing for years: “2015 must not be repeated.” But Greece was experiencing a 2015 , and it will probably get worse in 2020 if nothing happens. Even if German cities commendably offer to take in a few thousand people, this alone will not solve the crisis. This requires a strategy.
Knaus also talked about how rejecting migrants and asylum seekers at the border are becoming accepted and politically favorable:
We experience constant breaches of the law, such as the rejection of people at Europe’s land borders without any procedure. The Hungarian Asylum Act is a human rights scandal, but has been in force for years. In Zagreb, two Nigerian tourists were pushed across the border into Bosnia because push-backs became politics. And the longer it all happens, the more we lose the ability to be ashamed. We got used to conditions that shocked us in Budapest in September 2015.
And while Turkey absorbed the majority of migrants, from 2017 to 2019 very few migrants who entered the Greek islands through Turkey were sent back to Turkey:
In three years, from 2017 to 2019, 122,000 people came to the islands. During this time, one percent of them were brought back to Turkey. And it got fewer every year.
This was regardless of the agreement between Turkey and Germany that stipulated that “those who do not need protection in the EU” are “to be returned to Turkey.”
What we can affirm without any doubt is that if what Knaus predicts comes to pass, and Europe faces another migrant crises, nationalism will increase even more and a tribalist backlash will strike again but with even more viciousness; jingoist politicians will have even more electoral leverage and popularity, and Europe will move towards a more militarist and racist condition.