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8/12/16

Europe's Refugee And Political Crises: Will the US Own Up to Its Role In the Destabilization Of The World?

EU  relationship with USA
Until last summer, the refugee crisis in Europe was quietly and intentionally hidden from most Americans' view.

It took 3,771 deaths in the Mediterranean last year - and a photograph of a lifeless, drowned Kurdish child named Aylan Kurdi - for coverage to hit the American press.

By that time, 3,000 people were arriving every day to Lesbos, and many thousands more to the other Greek islands.

The irony of this ignorance should be obvious: the United States stands at the center of this disastrous situations given their military involvement in the Middle East and arouind the world, which has resulted in refugees being out of their homes, over mountains, around border crossings, through Turkish prison cells and onto crowded, dangerous boats.

From Libya to southern Afghanistan, US interventions and occupations have led to further destabilization, violence and, in almost all cases, civil wars.

A longer trail of complicity that stretches back to the four decades of economic and military support that the United States has given to the Arab dictatorships challenged in the 2011 Arab Spring, and to similar support given in that same time period to a number of insurgencies that dovetailed with US foreign policy objectives.

 One such group, the insurgency of the Afghan Mujahideen, fought a decade-long guerrilla war against Soviet occupation in the 1980s.

Those who came to fight in Afghanistan from abroad, many of whom received US military and economic support either from Congress or the CIA, hatched a postwar strategy of insurgency across the Arab and Muslim world, which resulted in a civil war in Algeria that took 120,000 lives. Meanwhile, other smaller rebellions caused significant fighting across the Maghreb, in northern Pakistan, Yemen, Chechnya, Albania and beyond.

The group now known to the world as ISIS was created in this period by a Jordanian Mujahideen veteran named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Originally launched in Jordan, the all-but-failed organization was given a second lease on life in post-invasion Iraq, where a destabilized and fractured society made fertile soil for the hyper-sectarian ideology of Zarqawi, who helped turn anger at the US occupation into a civil war against Shiites.

The sectarian state originally put in power in Iraq by the United States escalated divisions in the country, helping fuel the other side of the 2005-2006 civil war while pushing a large, disenfranchised Sunni population further toward the open arms of groups like ISIS.

A focus of the US "surge" in 2007 was working with Sunni militias to turn against this tide, but that strategy only lasted until the Iraqi state took control of the Sahwa program (Awakening Councils, or Sons of Iraq) as US troops withdrew and quickly dismantled them.

Against a backdrop of electricity shortages, water contamination and continued political destabilization, ISIS, which had by then entered into the north of Syria to take advantage of the civil war there, re-entered the picture with its dramatic capturing of Fallujah, Ramadi and other key points in Iraq's Anbar Province.

ISIS may be the most menacing face of Syria's civil war, but the multifaceted war includes a range of other groups, most notable the Assad regime itself, but also groups like the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army, a "moderate" group originally formed by deserters from the regime's military. And while a civil society-based revolutionary movement continues to defend the small spaces it has been able to hold, a pipeline of US, Gulf and European money providing various factions with weapons that have helped prolong the bloodshed has helped shatter the hopes and dreams of those who first took to the streets in 2011. Though the US Congress recently canceled the public program backing such rebels, the much larger CIA program remains in operation.

Alongside the US funding, US allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pumped weapons, logistical equipment and soldiers into Syria to support various factions fighting in the civil war, mainly those linked with the Supreme Military Council of Syria, which includes the Free Syrian Army and other anti-ISIS, anti-Assad groups. These groups, as well as the Kurdish peshmerga (from Iraq but often fighting in Syrian Kurdistan) and the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), are often supported by bombings of the US, EU (NATO) countries, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Canada and Turkey.

On the other side of that war, Russia and Iran have sustained financial and political support to the four-decade-old Assad regime, helping defend its authoritarian police state from an array of forces fighting against it. In October 2015, Russian air support joined in the fight to secure Russia a seat at the negotiation table and to bolster Assad's position in power. Though Russia announced in mid-March that it would begin withdrawing forces as a long-needed cease-fire takes effect, fighting targeting Islamist groups unaffected by the cease-fire continues in Aleppo, Syria's largest city and its financial center.

Popular protests have exploded in almost every corner of the world, drawing comparisons to the revolutionary period of 1968. It's hard to analyze this wave of uprisings and protest without crediting the revolutions in the Arab world as the first spark that caught.

Those who inspired the world now face a severe wave of repression, with Syria as one of the most shocking examples. Over 11 percent of the population has been killed or injured since the start of the revolt, and over 20 percent have fled the country. Syria has become the single largest source of refugees in the world. The second largest? Afghanistan.

The Arab allies of the United States, fully involved in the war, have taken in an astoundingly small number of refugees from Syria, with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in last place, with zero. The United States, with its massive economy and "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" rhetoric, pledged last year to take in a mere 10,000 refugees for fiscal year 2016 - that's .015 percent. So far, that number has only reached a little over 1000.

Considering the extent to which US money has been spent killing people and destroying infrastructure in these countries -- for each of the 1,700 Syrian refugees accepted into the country last year, the United States spent an estimated $375,000 financing and arming various factions in the civil war -- it's far beyond an oversight that the United States' borders are almost impossible for refugees from the region to enter. Even those who worked as interpreters for US soldiers in Iraq regularly make the dangerous crossing to Greece, unsupported by the governments they risked their lives to assist.

The reality is that the United States is politically unwilling to help. Its wars of political and economic self-interest have always centered on a US perception of success and have always utilized a rhetoric of liberation to achieve long-sought foreign policy objectives. It has left those whose lives have been turned upside down across the Middle East -- the people it claimed to be liberating when it invaded their homes -- to fend for themselves in Europe or drown in the picturesque waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

The message of the US is now crystal clear: "Your liberation only matters when we need to justify our wars."

Unfortunately the EU will pay, as it already is experiencing, a heavy price for blindly following, agreeing and participating in these disastrous US adventures in the Middle East and other places around the world.

This is not anti-Americanism, it is a statement of fact, which most cowardly corrupt politicians  and the corporate controlled press don't dare to mention.

Where are the European politicians who dare to speak out? It is high time for a EUXIT out of this destructive US embrace,  before this fragile European Union completely falls apart.

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