The Syrian Refugees and their impact on EU – III
by Waiel Awwad on 03 Oct 2016 2 Comments

Was it really an Arab Spring?


The plot to change regime objectives in the Arab world and introduction of political Islam led to what is called “the Arab Spring”. The winds of change began in Tunisia and Egypt. Libyan president, Muammar Gaddafi, was forcefully removed. Syria was the main target for regime change. People were out in the streets in few pockets of Syria, hoping that the winds of change will also remove President Bashar Al-Assad from power, with the help of Muslim Brotherhood Organizations and their affiliated sleeping cells inside Syria availing the opportunity and accusing the government of not performing in the interest of the people.


Hence, there were enough reasons to revolt. President Assad formed a committee to study the reasons for the uprising and the changes in Tunisia and Egypt. He tried to enhance political and economic reforms to meet the aspirations of the people. Syria was facing a big task to calm down the streets and eliminate the militant groups. The armed infiltrators that took advantage of the genuine demands of the demonstrators and tried to settle scores with  Syrian regime either to topple it or correct its track as per the wishes of US and the West with regard to regional issues, meet Israeli peace deal and isolate Iran.


In fact, the US media has revealed that the Israeli lobby is behind the changes of US administration policy toward President Bashar Al Assad and calling for toppling of the regime even if a radical Islamic regime is the alternative. After the Iraq invasion, the US was targetting Syria. Colin Powell, former US defense secretary, paid a visit to Syria and carried a list of demands from the Israel Lobby to President Assad: Dismantle Hezbollah, pullout of Lebanon, cut relations with Iran, stop asking for the Israel occupied Syrian Golan and sign a peace treaty with Israel under the formula peace for peace and not peace for land.


If we take a close look at the Syrian map and see the areas have been targetted, a clear plot is exposed. Syria has been under perpetual threat. According to a Wikileaks revelation, the US administration asked Erdogan to have very close relations with the Syrian president. Syria and Turkey enjoyed a honeymoon period, which lasted for decade. It was agreed to allow the movement of citizens of both nations freely.


Washington Post and US administration stated they have been funding Syria’s opposition group, led by the Muslim Brotherhood. Whose idea was it that one-third of Syrians should die so that the other two-thirds can live in peace in a population of 24 million?


Until recently, the West was seeking President Bashar al Assad’s help to settle many regional crises as Syria enjoys a pivotal role in the Middle East. It is absurd that some of the Western capitals led by France and England changed their positions and called for a “regime change” by force in Syria. They created and supported their own Syrian opposition (FSA: Free Syrian Army) and called them ‘moderate rebels’ to overthrow President Assad, who still enjoys a popular support among the Syrian masses (Hashmi).


With the radicals among the refugees, the long waiting in the camps and tents, it will be easy to recruit more frustrated and desperate people fighting for survival in the most humiliated conditions after the long and deadly journey.


The EU is equally responsible for creating the mess in Syria and other parts of the Middle East and North Africa, directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, by supporting and arming militias that target schools, government installations and public properties, besides residential areas. They indiscriminately fire rockets and change the paradigm of small-scale wars into suicidal operations killing Syrians regardless of ethnic or religious background. In addition, the EU, toeing American dictates, imposed immediate economic sanctions on Syria, which caused harsher conditions for Syrians to survive and led to the exodus, while tons of arms and ammunition paid by Petrodollars found their way into terrorist and mercenary hands.


What was considered an aspiration of the Arab world during the onset of Arab Spring turned out to be a project to topple secular regimes in the Arab world and introduce political Islam. The Europeans themselves separated politics from religion two centuries ago, but were front-runners in supporting this union in the Arab world.


Challenges and Impacts on EU economy


No doubt, Islamophobia is gaining ground in Europe after the spurt of refugees and terrorists acts. The right wing nationalist parties are utilizing this opportunity and fear to reject refugees for political gain. Europe should not worry about Syrian refugees since they got the creamy layers of Syrian society. According to statistic available from EU, more than 37% of Syrian refugees are post-graduates. The millions of refugees at the doorsteps of many European capitals comprise of “50% approximately Syrians, 13% Afghans, 8% Eritreans, 4%Nigeria and 3% Somalians” (ClimateRevolution).


Turkey’s policy toward Syria is the main reason for the exodus. It first dismantled more than 1500 factories in Aleppo and tried to create a no-fly-zone to accommodate its supporters to separate the Kurds of Syria and Turkey by targeting the Kurdish labor party, PKK.  As a NATO member, Ankara was compelled to open its border with Syria to mercenaries and arms to Islamists loyal to Muslim Brotherhood, the spiritual guide of Erdogan party that fits his ambition to be the “New Caliph” and blackmail Europe.


The last deal between EU and Turkey fetched Erdogan government 3 Billion Euro and the same amount before 2018 to improve the living conditions of Syrian refugees and prevent them from sailing to Europe and ensure returning migrants to Turkey. In return, Ankara got a bonus by easing travel of Turks to EU without visa. Erdogan considered it a step closer to joining EU, but this was before Brexit. In spite of all the gains, Turkey’s policy toward its neighbors, in particular towards Syria, started to backfire on the internal affairs of once-secular Turkey. The issue became more complicated after the failed coup and Erdogan consolidating his power so the future of the deal regarding Syrian refugees is in jeopardy.


The refugee crisis is not a new phenomenon. Europe opened its door to migrants after World War II to rebuild its devastated war-torn nations. Additionally, the war on Yugoslavia and its breakup led to more than 700,000 applicants for asylum, but this time it is different as 27% of the asylum-seekers are not EU citizens, and mostly Muslim. Other reasons are the economic recession and rise of unemployment among ailing European states which also led to the increased gap between rich and poor by almost 1%. The magnitude of this sudden influx caused panic, worry and led to the rise of right-wing nationalist parties leading the social unrest, which seeks an alternative to current governments in many European countries.


According to Christine Lagarde, managing director of International Monetary Fund, “the refugee should not be looked at as a liability” but an asset needed to stimulate their economies in countries like Germany, Sweden and Austria (Mellow).


According to Eurostat, 18% of the population in Europe is above 65 compared to 1950 status, which was around 8%, and 80% of the refugees are less than 35 years of age. This is a positive energy to push the European economy, contrary to the presumption that it is a burden as reflected by some. It boosts the local economy significantly because of additional purchase power.


The refugees exposed the flaws in the current policy of the EU and raised doubts regarding the ability to integrate newcomers economically and politically. However, the complex issue was compounded by the economic difficulty and austerity measures by different European countries. Dublin procedures added more trouble to countries like Greece and Italy, which states that the entry permits of refugees into a European country has to be completed by that country.


The EU proposed to increase the allocation of funds from 1.7 Billion Euro to 9.2 Billion Euro, approximately 0.07% increase of the EU GDP, by relocating resources from other parts of EU budgets to help the refugees.


The data on the skills and education of the current asylum seekers shows that most Syrian refugees have already completed XII standard and 37% of them have finished higher education in different fields. This will speed up the labor market integration and give decent jobs with moderate wages to most of them. However, this may not be the case if the war on Syria is prolonged and leads to more chaos and influx of unskilled refugees. This will worsen the challenges the refugees are already facing. The challenges are tremendous in some countries especially on the labor market and GDP.




We are living in an era of global uncertainty and chaos. It is a phase for reshaping the international new world order. The Middle East (West Asia) and North African States, under covert dirty operations and sabotage, are passing through a geopolitical power shift and  a stage of violent political awakening as a result of post-colonial reaction. Arab Spring, color revolutions, political Islam with Erdogan’s rein of absolute power after a coup hoax, social unrest, manipulation of terrorism, media propaganda, disintegration, inter-fighting and prolonged wars that will lead to more displacement of people and influx of refugees from destabilized nation into Europe. Hence, we should not see the Syrian refugee crisis in isolation.


The European Union is not in a good shape. It is passing through a stage of aging demography, social unrest, and dissolution with Brexit, financial crisis, sluggish economic performance and bankruptcy. In addition, Europe is facing the rise of right wing nationalist parties opposed to migrants and heterogeneous societies.


The impact of migration on Europe is minimal even if 5 million refugees are accommodated; it will have 3% impact on demography in the decade to come. Hence, it has a minimal impact on the plight of Europe.


The faster the EU acts, the better the solution to the Syrian refugee crisis. They must act to put an end to the war on Syria and rein in the terrorist organizations now threatening to attack European cities and kill civilians.



The author is a veteran Syrian journalist; he appears regularly on Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV



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