Sep
03

Refugee crisis deepens

By

Terrible images from Europe this morning as the refugee crisis deepens:

The full horror of the human tragedy unfolding on the shores of Europe was brought home on Wednesday as images of the lifeless body of a young boy – one of at least 12 Syrians who drowned attempting to reach the Greek island of Kos – encapsulated the extraordinary risks refugees are taking to reach the west.

The picture, taken on Wednesday morning, depicted the dark-haired toddler, wearing a bright-red T-shirt and shorts, washed up on a beach, lying face down in the surf not far from Turkey’s fashionable resort town of Bodrum.

They come to Europe from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia. The flood of refugee/immigrants has governments scrambling to cope and resentments building. On the rural border between Hungary and Serbia, refugees are numerous where outsiders were once considered exotic:

As Europe’s leaders argue over how to tackle its worst refugee crisis since the Yugoslav conflicts of the 1990s and perhaps since World War II, Bajtai and his neighbors find themselves on what he calls the continent’s new front line, where, he said, the fields and orchards they rely on are being ravaged by the hungry travelers.

The rail track running through Horgos has become the main path to the EU for refugees — more than 150,000 so far this year — taking the Balkan route from the Middle East to what they hope will be a safe and prosperous future in Europe.

On the edge of the fields that surround the village and along its entire 109-mile border with Serbia, Hungary has unfurled three layers of razor wire and intends to construct a 13-foot-high steel security fence in the coming months.

In Germany, neo-Nazis are suspected of burning hostels for refugees and distributing “No Asylum Shelter in My Neighborhood” pamphlets, even as thoughtful Germans attempt to come to grips with the crisis:

Just how great the challenge is doesn’t become clear until one speaks directly with the refugees and the helpers. I learned that we have talked too long only in technical and administrative terms about coping with the flood of refugees. And yet much more is at issue here; it is what defines our society, what defines Europe, namely the concept of freedom, justice and solidarity. Or, simply put, human brotherhood.

The people coming to us are seeking freedom and security. They are hoping for a better society in which justice and solidarity are real. For all of what we in Germany have agreed upon with our European neighbors, after many wars and battles, to be the foundation of living together. Given our relatively high degree of prosperity, we Germans, in particular, occasionally tend to take peace and security for granted. The refugees remind us of the treasure we possess. We should learn to share it.

Here we are in America, safely buffered by an ocean (for now), and hanging on Donald Trump’s every insult and pronouncement about deporting millions like them, only dimly aware of the humanitarian crisis our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan unleashed on Europe. Even as George W. Bush paints bad pictures and Dick Cheney tries to rehabilitate the image he can’t see reflected in a mirror. And for comic relief, former CIA director, General David Petraeus, one of the architects of that disaster proposes throwing more gasoline on the fire we set. To fight ISIS, he proposes “arming members of the al-Nusra Front in Syria, an offshoot of al-Qaida and a designated terrorist organization.” Trevor Tim writes in the Guardian:

History could not matter less to war planners, as the dangerous cycle of arming dangerous factions in the Middle East and escalating US involvement is about to start anew. The CIA armed the Mujahideen in the 1980s in their guerilla fight against the Soviets, many members of the Mujahideen would end up forming the core of al-Qaida in the 1990s.

Isis, which was originated inside squalid US prison camps from George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq, and which also has billions of dollars in US weapons and armored vehicles thanks to a series of embarrassing mistakes and battlefield routes of all the foreign militaries we arm, eventually turned on al-Qaida. So now an ex-CIA director is suggesting that we also arm a part of al-Qaida directly, since they are now the enemy of our (larger) enemy.

I’m reminded of an old Three Stooges short in which
Curly attempts to fix a bathroom leak by threading on more pipe.

Meanwhile, ISIS is funding itself by looting antiquities and blowing up archaeological sites to cover its tracks, according to one account.

And hundreds of refugees remain stuck in a Bupapest train station, resisting attempts to relocate them to migrant camps. Trains to western Europe have been suspended.

Not our problem, right?

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : International, Iraq

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