fter the calls between the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, some European media outlets rushed to announce that the problem of the ‘migration crisis’ on the ‘eastern’ border of the EU had been solved.
In fact, the temporary camp near the Bruzgi border crossing in the Grodno region visibly emptied and the camp’s inhabitants (mostly Yazidis, Kurds and Arabs from Iraq and partly from Syria) have gradually returned to their historical homeland.
According to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), more than 400 immigrants arrived at Erbil airport on 18 November on a private plane from Minsk. According to local authorities, more than 20,000 people are currently stranded along the borders of Belarus, Poland and Lithuania, including about 8,000 from Iraqi Kurdistan (in reality, there could be more).
This was a relatively local problem that could have been solved easily if the West had had good intentions. The “noble lords,” presenting themselves as invincible guardians of the eastern borders of the European Union, tried to make maximum propaganda out of the situation. (…)
Meanwhile, of course, most refugees are not ethnically homogeneous, but their ultimate goal is not to go to Poland. The vast majority of refugees are trying to get to Germany, which has received some 2 million ‘migrants’ during several recent large waves of migration.
In fact, the emergence of a poor, angry mass was the result and inevitable product of the long-standing practices of Western (including Polish) colonialism.
The occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq in the Middle East in recent years, the famous ‘Arab Spring,’ the anti-Syrian sanctions, and ‘other fruits of democracy’ have brought about this situation. The sharp decline in the socio-political and socio-economic situation in Afghanistan and Iraq has shown that the result is likely to be far greater than the thousands upon thousands of refugees now appearing at the ‘gates of Europe.’
Note in particular, here, the large number of refugees from the Kurdish Autonomous Region (based in Erbil, known as Hewlêr in Kurdish) – a semi-state entity currently portrayed in northern Iraq as a relative ‘oasis of prosperity and security’ amid the chaos and economic destruction surrounding Iraq and Syria.
However, this violent whirlwind of the world crisis has not bypassed this fragile border region, where regional instability is exacerbated. It is critically dependent on US military tutelage in many ways, and it is also economically dependent on neighbouring Turkey, which is going through tough times.
Thus, the Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdistan, Masrour Barzani, stated during the regional forum in Duhok on the 16th – and the “federal government” in Baghdad admitted – the existence of serious problems due to the disruption of relations with the government.
In addition, there are periodic protests driven by corruption in local governments (mainly controlled by the Barzani tribe, with the exception of the areas controlled by the the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the PUK), inadequate administration, and poor quality of municipal services.
Last spring and summer, for example, even many districts of the regional government capital Erbil, with its high-rise buildings and fountains of this ‘Kurdish Dubai’ (not to mention the rural areas to which many citizens moved to flee unemployment), remained without water for a long time.
The protests, which have been actively suppressed by local intelligence services, were uncoordinated and local and, if better organised, could create a powerful political opposition force.
Military operations and regular Turkish invasions of northern Syria have resulted in the emergence of hundreds of thousands of refugees, whose fate is still uncertain.
One should look closely at the sharp conflicts in the Kurdish regions and the territorial disputes between Baghdad and Erbil – for example, the situation in the predominantly Yazidi region of Sinjar (Shengal). (…)
In particular, the gradual return of the families of ISIS fighters to the region is one of the reasons fuelling instability. For it is precisely in the region of Nineveh that conflicts between different religions occur, resulting in mass migrations.
Finally, the claim that most American troops have withdrawn from Iraq is a cause for concern in the Kurdish regions. These fears have intensified, especially after the Americans fled Afghanistan in a hurry, leaving Afghan people to their fate. Since anti-American forces’ expectations for revenge are so high, many Kurds are thinking about leaving their homes and they will not let any objective difficulties or artificial obstacles stop them following their own path.
In the late 2000s, Masoud Barzani, then head of the government of the Kurdish Autonomous Region, said, “If the existing territorial problems are not solved before the withdrawal of the Americans, a war between Arabs and Kurds will begin in Iraq.”
Well, since then, the existing problems have been intensified rather than alleviated. Both Baghdad and Damascus consider the powers of the de facto Kurdish autonomy forces to be unacceptably excessive, and in the case of defeat, the influx of refugees into Europe would increase significantly. (…)
Nowadays, some German municipalities express their willingness to accept refugees who have in many ways been victims of military intervention in the former Mesopotamian territory; the position of federal officials is still different to these municipalities.
Meanwhile, the only reasonable way out of this situation should be some genuine attempts by the West, which should not be limited to mere statements of concerns, to stabilise the devastated region, including the restoration of the infrastructure destroyed by the occupying powers.
Will Washington and Brussels radically rethink the policies they have pursued in the Middle East over the past decade, which have led to an environment where “everyone fights everyone” in the region?
This does not seem possible. This means that the West must be prepared for new waves of migration.
* This article was originally translated to Turkish by Yeni Yaşam from Voenno-Politicheskaya Analitika.