Saturday, 19 September 2015

Gulf countries not taking in refugees

Doha, Qatar at night. One of the wealthiest countries in the world are apprehensive to help their war torn neighbors by hosting refugees or providing a haven for asylum seekers.

While Lebanon is trying to keep its calm as it hosts 1 million Syrian refugees and Turkey hosts another million and Syria is now home to 12 million IDPs, the wealthy Gulf Countries have done nothing to help their Syrian neighbors. Jordan has made the effort to host Palestinian, Iraqis and Syrians. However, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain have made it near impossible for Syrian refugees to seek refuge in their respective countries. There are Palestinians who are descendants of refugees living in the gulf countries but they are businessmen and well off. Same goes for Iraqis. The ongoing refugee crisis and social destruction in Syria and by extension of Iraq, hasn't received widespread sympathy from the Gulf governments at the same level as Serbia or Germany. Even the UAE and Oman hasn't offered to take in Syrians or other refugees. The gulf countries have provided financial assistance in the billions to refugee camps and aid for basic services and goods not provided in the UN camps. The Gulf countries do get honorable mentions for the generous aid grants, humanitarian NGOs and educational and social investments that have been made in poorer neighboring countries such as Yemen, Oman, occupied Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and Libya among other places. Nevertheless, its not to say that the GCC has money to throw at every problem or bleed dinars.

Plight of migrant workers in Qatar Inside Story Al Jazeera

When migrants are the majority population

The Gulf have their own reasons for not opening their borders to hundreds of thousands of refugee families even if they come from their backyard. From Kuwait to Oman, governments have long been nervous around having even a large foreign workers in their respective countries since the local Kuwaiti and Qatari populations are tiny and often feel like minorities with 1 to 2 million migrant workers making up the majority of the Gulf states' growing population. In the same countries including the Emirates, foreign population makes up nearly 80% of the population. In countries used to immigration, the number wouldn't make many flinch but for the gulf monarchies its unsettling. Compared to Turkey or Jordan, Qatar and Kuwait heavily relies on foreign workers to keep their economies, financial institutions and high standard of living in the region turning. Since 2006 Global Financial Crisis, the Gulf states have recovered from the recession and are hurriedly building new and futuristic cities and infrastructure to showcase to the world the Khaleeji people's regional might and cultural architecture greatness. The world knows the story of the slave like conditions facing hundreds of thousands of migrant workers (both men and women) in Qatar, Emirates, Kuwait. The irony is the migrants can't be deported in mass to their countries of origins after the infrastructural and economic contributions they have made for over a decade in turning Doha, Kuwaiti City, Dubai and Abu Dhabi into global cities in the literal sense and economic powerhouses that function more like city states a la Singapore than solely national capitals. Qatar has started long overdue labor reforms to begin complying with international labor laws. Yet, the Qatari government is slow to react to refugee families seeking refuge outside their home country. Eventually, the out of sigh out mind attitude of the Gulf monarchies or governments to the pain of Syrian, Afghan, Eritrean refugees will come back to hit the monarchies hard.

Qatar's Influences in Syria, Libya and Egypt

Unneighborly actions in Syria, Libya

Beyond the glittering cities and infrastructure of the Gulf countries and far from the petroleum dependent economic powerhouses, Qatar and indirectly the UAE government have been involved in less neighborly dealings in Libya and Syria. Through the war and destruction in Libya, Qatar has provided local Libyan takfiri groups, ISIS and Al Qaeda in Libya with materials and financial backings in their quest to bring the Saudi based wahhabi interpretation of Islam to the war torn countries. Qatar remains involved in Libya's destruction, turning a blind eye to ISIS killings and massacres in Sirte against Copts and Eritrean countries. Being an Islamic state itself minus the extreme forms of Wahhabism, the Qatari government sees no contradiction in indirectly working with ISIS or its cousins to overthrow secular governments. Many people forget that most governments in Africa and Middle East are secular and normally use religion as a nationalist fervor. Gadhaffi had fought against Al Qaeda and the Libyan Islamic Fight Group long before the War on Terror when the world's focus was still on what to do about post communist Russia. He rightly predicted the current destruction in Libya. He also warned Europe about the current migrant crisis saying that "Europe will become Black" if it doesn't aid Libya in its fight against illegal migration. Now that Gadhaffi's gone, everyone has woken up to the fact that the prophecies were not bluffs but the truth.

Syria was once regarded as the safest countries in the Middle East even while its neighbors were and are still on fire. Anyone could've visited Syria prior to 2011 and be surprised by its peace. The future has yet to say what would happen to Syria if Bashir Assad who has yet to die is overthrown or captured in the same manner as Gadhaffi. The Syrian government and Assad have made it clear from the beginning that they are against ISIS and its cousins, al Nusra, Al Qaeda in Iraq and other Wahhabi groups back Saudi Arabia via fighters. Qatar has provided financial support and training to the Syrian rebels fighting across the country from village to city to town. Contrary to media's equating dictators to terrorists, Assad is not aligned with ISIS's own extreme religious ideology. Neither is the Iranian government who despite having gave birth to the first Islamic state in the region is quite lenient when comes to ordinary Iranian's daily lives and even critiques against the government. It's peculiar how both Libya and Syria's people led protests as part of the 2011 Arab or revolutions transformed into full blown wars led by secular rebels turned Wahhabi fanatics. The other countries involved in 2011 Arab or People's revolutions Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Bahrain, Oman didn't end with full blown civil wars. Algeria and Oman's revolutions fizzled right before it begun and Bahrain and Egypt are both under hated military juntas like Thailand.

Israel has been itching to see Assad leave office no matter the consequences. There is an old defense plan "Yinon Plan" that seeks to keep Israel secure by creating chaos in neighboring countries by proxies and have Arabs and Kurds fighting each other while Israel remains the regional power to the chagrin of the rest of the region. This is not conspiracy theory when you look back at how the policy of proxies wars used during the Cold War. The US/UK support for proxy rebel groups such as mujaheddin in Afghanistan and anti communist and later pro Wahhabi forces fighting in Iran, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. The same happened in many African countries and infamously in Latin America. Israel has been known to play political forces inside Lebanon and in Occupied Palestine against one another for its benefits. Israeli Defense Forces quietly bombed Syria earlier last year before retreating when word of their bombing was brought to the world's attention.

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