BRANDON J. WEICHERT | THE WEICHERT REPORT
In his fantastic book, “The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, and Islam,” the brilliant writer, Douglas Murray, writes of the refugee crisis emanating from the Muslim world: “What is strange is that the default attitude of Europe is to agree that the Gulf states and other societies are fragile, whereas Europe [and the West writ large] is endlessly malleable.” Indeed, Murray takes aim at the self-loathing European elite who, after any time that a refugee on their way to Europe perishes, immediately takes the blame for the death of those refugees. To be sure, the refugee crisis is a true crisis in need of dire management and mitigation–but a full and effective response cannot come from either Europe or the United States (or Canada, for that matter). On the contrary, the response must be lead by the great powers of the Middle East.
Fact is, the refugee crisis could have been significantly ameliorated several years ago, had the Muslim countries surrounding places like Iraq and Syria simply taken in more refugees than they did (which, by the way, they’ve taken in barely any). In the specific case of the Syrian Civil War, which has raged since 2011, Europe, Canada, and the United States have been told that it is our responsibility to handle the crisis. Yet, the crisis has come about thanks to the internal divisions embedded within the Islamic community today. Whether referring to the rise of jihadist terror, the proliferation of Islamist political parties, or the Sunni-Shia (barely) cold war raging between Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, these are first-and-foremost excitations from within the Islamic world, not from without–irrespective of how many coups the West may have engineered over the years in the Muslim world, or how many bombs are dropped over predominantly Islamic countries. In fact, the only reason that Western military force has been deployed in the region is usually in response to a threat caused by the ethno-religious, regional civil war tearing the Muslim world apart.
Very often, commentators in the West (usually of the Libertarian or Leftist bent) have voiced the bromide that the Global War on Terror is, in fact, the result of internal contradictions embedded within Islam and, therefore, no outside power could forcibly bring these violent movements to heel.
Writing in 2001, Islamic scholar Ziauddin Sardar stated that,
“Muslims everywhere are in a deep state of denial. From Egypt to Malaysia, there is an aversion to seeing terrorism as a Muslim problem and a Muslim responsibility.”
He continued his line of criticism after the 9/11 attacks by arguing that,
“Yet, while [Muslims] have been shocked and sympathise with the victims of the atrocities [9/11] in the US, Muslims have stubbornly refused to see terrorism as an internal problem. While the Muslim world has suffered, they have blamed everyone but themselves. It is always ‘the West’, or the CIA, or ‘the Indians’, or ‘the Zionists’ hatching yet another conspiracy.”
Sardar, and others like him, might be right. But, why do many of these same commentators (or people who share their worldview in the West) believe that Europe, Canada, and the United States can fling open their borders, and take in as many refugees as possible? If the West is not to blame for the current crises plaguing the Muslim world (which we are not to blame), then how are we responsible for resolving the refugee crisis that is the direct result of the inter-religious war beguiling the Islamic countries today?
Can someone explain to me why Western countries–particularly those in Europe–are somehow more capable of embracing throngs of people who do not share the West’s language, culture, religion, values, or history than those predominantly Muslim countries in the Mideast and Africa that do share the culture and values of the refugees fleeing these conflict zones?
The Leftist reading this is likely stung with moral outrage. But, this is not meant as a screed against refugees or a diminution of their plight. Far from it. This post is a humanitarian call to action. The (mostly Muslim) refugees fleeing these conflict zones are choosing to leave their destroyed homes, they do not necessarily seek to immediately move to the West. However, because their Muslim neighbors rarely accept refugees (and when they do it is either on a temporary basis or so unpleasant for those refugees that they yearn to flee to a more hospitable country), those seeking refuge have no choice but to flee to the West. While many Western leaders may be heartened by the knowledge that the poor, huddled masses of the world seek out our shores for salvation, we should be cognizant that many of those people fleeing are not seeking to become Westerners in any sense of the word. Rather, they are seeking physical refuge.
In fact, studies have proven (as Murray proves throughout his excellent work) that the Muslims who either move or flee to Europe rarely integrate into the larger societies. Instead, these permanent “guests” opt to congregate together, isolate away from the larger society, gain critical mass, and then implement sweeping changes in their adopted countries–changes that usually make those adopted countries look less like jolly old Europe and more like the Islamic lands they fled.
This is a far cry from the previous waves of immigrants, especially if one looks at the previous waves of immigrants to both the United States and Canada: these historical waves were of European descent; they shared a common history and culture. In many cases, they shared a common language or, at the very least, a basic understanding of the common language. Today, those fleeing the Mideast–however terrible their plight may be–share little in common with prior migration flows. They must risk life-and-limb just to make it across the Mediterranean (that is the usual route) on rickety boats manned by incompetent and corrupt seamen (who routinely take advantage of the refugees). Many of these refugees die along the way–especially the children. And, for what? The majority of these individuals could have been kept alive and safe, had the United Nations–along with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (consisting of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman)–taken in at least some of these hopeless people. Iran should also be on the hook for mitigating the refugee crisis, which has only been exacerbated since the Iranian military intervened in Syria to uphold Bashar al-Assad’s tenuous grip on power. For that matter, the Russians should have an outsized responsibility to take in and/or help relocate these refugees; it should not be the responsibility of the Europeans, or the Americans, or the Canadians. We can help, but we will not take the bulk of these people in; we simply cannot without fundamentally disrupting our own societies.
Instead, as Murray recounts, the GCC states refused to take any Syrian refugees up until 2016. At the very same time that the United States was forging its grand coalition to annihilate the Islamic State’s physical “caliphate” in northern Iraq and Syria, no one in the West demanded that the flows of immigrants and refugees slow; no one insisted that the bulk of these individuals be redirected to countries that were far closer, easier to gain access to (physically, at least); countries that shared a common language, culture, and value system. We simply excused the Muslim world’s indifference. The West–in particular, Europe–was not able to take in such large groups of truly foreign people. Rather than being malleable, as America’s “partners” in the Mideast pretend to believe, the West (notably the European states) is brittle and incapable of effectively integrating these people–at least at the rate that they’ve been entering the West.
Speaking in 2015, Fahad al-Shalami, a Kuwaiti official, explained to France 24 that the reason Kuwait refused to take any Syrian refugees was because,
“Kuwait and the Gulf countries are expensive, and are not suitable for refugees. They are for workers. The transportation is expensive. The cost of living in Kuwait is high, whereas the cost of living in Lebanon or Turkey is perhaps cheaper. Therefore it is much easier to pay the refugees [to stay there]. At the end of the day, you cannot accept other people, who come from a different atmosphere, from a different place. These are people who suffer from psychological problems, from trauma. You cannot just place them in Gulf societies.”
Please keep in mind that when Europe first initiated their open door policies with the Mideast, Africa, and Asia, it was initially only to help fill in gaping labor shortages in the postwar years (as Walter Laqueur points out in his book, “The Last Days of Europe”). However, after a period of time, the Europeans simply stopped enforcing their own immigration laws–particularly after many of the guest-workers, thanks to generous welfare benefits and chain-immigration, insisted on staying in Europe rather than return home, after their work visas expired. Al-Shalami, the Kuwaiti official who spoke to France 24 in 2015, claimed that his country (and the Gulf states overall) was simply too expensive for refugees to live in.
However, when looking at a simple cost of living comparison between France and Kuwait, one finds that:
Comparing the United Kingdom to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s cost of living, one finds that:
Between the Netherlands and Bahrain, one finds that:
You can continue doing this in an endless amount of permutations, taking the top European countries that are embracing the predominantly Muslim refugees fleeing conflicts in the Islamic world and comparing it to the general cost of living in the GCC states. Most of the time, the European countries have a far higher cost of living for everyone–even those on the generous welfare programs, such as many refugees and immigrants are in Europe.
As for al-Shalami’s claim that unemployment opportunities are far more plentiful in the various European countries as opposed to the GCC states, let’s perform a similar exercise as we did above, shall we?
As of August 2017 (and this applies to 2015, the year that al-Shalami made his spurious remarks as much as it applies today), overall French unemployment was approximately 9.7 percent (most economists agree that a healthy and vibrant economy is one that has an unemployment rate of 5 percent or below). In 2015, it was 10.2 percent. Al-Shalami’s home of Kuwait has an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent, with an average pay of 250 KD for expatriate workers (which equates to about €701 today, or about $825).
According to a 2015 Labor Force Survey conducted by the Kuwait Central Statistical Bureau,
“The majority of expatriates in Kuwait are concentrated in categories which do not necessarily require labor with high academic qualifications, such as construction, manufacturing industries, as well as wholesale and retail sectors.”
“the statistics […] show that nearly 39 percent of expatriates in Kuwait have ‘primary and below’ education level, 35 percent with intermediate, compared to only 13 percent university graduates.”
So, al-Shalami’s claims are categorically false. It’s just that the Gulf states do not want to get their well-manicured hands dirty. They would rather export the dirty business to us kuffar in the West, as they routinely do. But, unlike in the past, the West can no longer handle the workload. If these Gulf countries believe that an Islamicized West will somehow be a better partner than it currently is, they are delusional.
Further, we have seen how the Gulf states in particular wash their hands of refugee crises. Since the creation of the Jewish state of Israel, the Gulf states have had a long history of aggression directed against the tiny Jewish land. When the Palestinian people were “displaced” from their homes by Israeli “aggressors,” it was mostly the Gulf states in the region who took up the cause of the benighted Palestinian people. Yet, rather than offering to absorb these stateless people, the Gulf states insisted that the Palestinians either remain in place–to continue being purportedly oppressed by the Israelis–or to move to ghettoized refugee camps, where their plight there would be as bad (if not worse) as their plight in occupied territories. No attempts were ever made to integrate the Palestinians into the larger Muslim diaspora in the Gulf states; the Gulf states didn’t really care. The same mentality is at play with the ongoing refugee crisis.
It is important to also understand that instability in Europe caused by the political dislocations of the arrival of millions of people from a completely different culture has direct implications for American national security. In Europe, there are many countries that the United States shares lax immigration and traveling policies with. The citizens of these countries, such as the United Kingdom, that are home to a large–and ever growing–Muslim population enjoy special privileges with the United States (a byproduct of the “special relationship”). Yet, at a time when countless British Muslim citizens have fled the UK to join the ISIS “jihad” in the Mideast, and are now returning after the destruction of the “caliphate,” a serious reappraisal of our immigration and travel policies with European states needs to be taken into account. What’s to stop one of these British Muslim jihadi “travelers” from sojourning across The Pond to inflict terror upon the United States, which was preeminent in the destruction of the so-called “caliphate”?
Should we feel comfortable with European states (or Canada) embracing more and more people fleeing from the violence of the Mideast–especially when so few have expressed an ability or willingness to integrate into Western society?
If the Global War on Terror is a result of internal tensions within Islamic culture; if no amount of external force can change–let alone defeat–the violent tendencies of Islamic radicals, then how is it that a more open and permissive immigration and refugee policy in the West will mitigate, or end, the ongoing refugee crisis emanating from Mideast wars?
The best solution that the West can formulate to this crisis is to slow the flow of people and redirect them to other Muslim countries. The West cannot stop conducting its fight against Islamic extremist groups in the region, but it can stop trying to topple regional governments that actually share our interests. Unfortunately, though, the deeper issue–the flow of people and how such flows alter societies around the world–is not only a military problem, but a public policy problem; it is a crisis that can only be resolved by the Gulf states (as well as Iran). If they continue to refuse, then the West will continue its decline–and continue being overrun in a silent invasion (whether that invasion is intentional or not is irrelevant).
At a time when Saudi Arabia in particular is seeking to create a grand regional alliance to counter the rising Iranian hegemony, taking an open-handed approach to the refugee crisis being kicked up by Saudi Arabia and Iran’s regional proxy wars is one, sure way to win a major soft power victory in that ongoing struggle. It should also be America’s price of admission for dealing with this alliance: if the Sunni Arab states want American backing for this endeavor against Iran, these states must accept the lion’s share of Muslims fleeing the region’s various civil conflicts.
Otherwise, the West will sit back and watch Iran gobble up everything in its path.