بناء عالم أفضل

dap_20160526_induction_0013-xlالخنجر والرصاصة والقنبلة، لا يعرفون الأخلاق، غايتهم القتل وإنزال الضرر. ولكن من يملكون هذه الأسلحة، هم كائنات أخلاقية اختارت العنف. يستمدون هذا الاختيار من معتقداتهم، ومعتقداتهم مستمدة من القضايا او من الايديولوجيات التي اختاروها، او من الاثنين معاً.

إذا كان اختيارهم للعنف مستمد من التطرف الايديولوجي، ففي هذه الحالة هم يرون ان العالم منغلق وغير متسامح، بل ويجب ان يكون كذلك. فعليه، انه من الطبيعي بالنسبة لهم ان لا يبقون ولا يذرون كل من يقف في طريقهم لتحقيق غاياتهم. لذلك هم يتبنون مظهر القوة التي لا تقاوم.

ولكن، ماذا سيحدث عند تصادم القوة التي لا تقاوم بمجسم ثابت؟ في الواقع، لا يوجد شيء في الطبيعة لا يقاوم بشكل مطلق او ثابت بشكل مطلق. في واقع الصراعات على السلطة، الفعل وردة الفعل يحدثان بدرجات متفاوتة، وكلاهما يعكس الجانب الأسوأ من الآخر.

هل انا أصف داعش؟ قد اكون أصف نموذج كرومويل للجيش الانجليزي في فترة ما بعد ١٦٤٠ ميلادي. او قد اكون أصف الأنظمة الفاشية الأوروبية في الفترة ما بين ١٩٣٠ – ١٩٥٠ ميلادي. كلهم كانوا يعتقدون بأنهم بقوة لا تقاوم، ولكنهم كلهم قد هُزٍموا في نهاية المطاف. إرثهم الذي خلفوه كان ومازال هو العنف.

مقولة أفلاطون الشهرية، “وحدهم الأموات شهدوا نهاية الحرب”.

العنف يولد العنف، وأشقائه هم: العقاب والثأر والهجوم المضاد. الحكومات، بل وحتى الأفراد، يتبنون هؤلاء الأشقاء ويطلقونهم كيفما شاءوا وقتما شاءوا. ولكي نكسر دائرة العنف، يجب علينا ان نقاوم قوى العنف والانتقام من جذورها.

كل الحروب والصراعات تنتهي، وذلك يكون عن طريق إنهاك الأطراف المتنازعة او استسلامها او التدخل الخارجي او العملية الدبلوماسية. ولكن نهاية الصراع نادراً ما يكون بداية السلام المستدام، غالباً ما يكون توقف القتال مجرد انطباع بالسلام، وفي حين انه مجرد هدنة مستقبلها غير واضح.

لسنوات عديدة، لَبٍسَت امريكا وبريطانيا وحلفاؤهم عباءة الأخلاق التدخلية بالشؤون العالمية. وقد رأى الكثيرون ان هذه السياسة جاءت متأخرة جداً او على الأسوأ انها كارثة لكل من يعنيهم الأمر. ولأول مرة في التاريخ المعاصر، نتيجة للبس عباءة الأخلاق الغير صادقة في جوهرها، قد جلبت السياسة التدخلية العديد من ضحاياها الى شواطئ وشوارع الدول المتبنية لهذه السياسة. معاناة الصدمة واليأس والجوع والجرح الجسدي والنفسي لهؤلاء الضحايا تمثل خسارة للغرب، بقدر الخسارة التي يمثلها قتلى وجرحى جنود الغرب وحلفاؤه في الحروب الأخيرة.

وهناك رد فعل عنيف جديد يتجسد في عودة القوى السياسية الرجعية الشعبوية في امريكا واوروبا واماكن اخرى. الشعارات الشعبوية التي ينادون بها تنبذ ما يسمى بالقيم الليبرالية والديموقراطية التي هيمنت على الخطاب الدولي منذ عام ١٩٨٩ ميلادي. هذه القوى الجديد غير متحيزة الى، او تعارض، فكرة الأخلاق الدولية. وسيستخدمون العنف (الخطابي والفعلي) لتأمين حدود بلادهم، وسيولدون عقلية الحصار الوطني، وسيمارسون العزلة عن التدخل في الشأن العالمي، بدلاً من محاولة القيام بالتدخل بشكل أفضل.

لقد تضائل النفوذ الغربي في بلاد الشام، بل وينظر اليه كأمر غير مرغوب فيه. وفي الوقت حينه، قد ملئت قوى إقليمية أخرى الفراغ، ولكن هذه القوى تملك أجندة تاريخية وايديولوجية معادية للغرب. وفي الوقت نفسه، يشهد الغرب افلاسا اقتصاديا؛ فإن منظمة الأمم المتحدة تواجه نقص في الدعم المالي وفي حالة من التحفظ على مجلس الأمن للأمم المتحدة، والنظام الأمريكي الجديد عديم الخبرة ويفتقر الى المصداقية، واوروبا تتفكك كمشروع سياسي. يبدو انه قد تم حصر التدخل الغربي الى جانبين: ضربات عسكرية مستهدفة في بلاد الشام ومن جانب أخر الى القلق بشأن الاتفاقات التجارية في مناطق أخرى. يبدو ان الغرب يعاني من الجمود او التعطيل الأخلاقي.

إذاً من أين ستنشأ طاقة جديدة للتوفيق والتقارب العالمي؟ هل من روسيا او الصين او تركيا او الهند؟ هل نحن في فصل الشتاء الدبلوماسي؟

(لا خير في كثير من نجواهم إلا من أمر بصدقة أو معروف أو إصلاح بين الناس ومن يفعل ذلك ابتغاء مرضات الله فسوف نؤتيه أجرا عظيما) – الآية ١١٤ سورة النساء.

(طوبى لصانعي السلام) – انجيل متى ٩:٥

اذا كان الأجر العظيم لمن يصلحون بين الناس فنحن نحتاج ثورة من صانعي السلام وجيش من المصلحين. (اراميا فاونديشن؟ نكست سينتوري فاونديشن؟ انيشيتف اوف شينج؟) نحتاج تحالف بين الذين يعملون بلا كلل ولا ملل ويضحون من أجل السلام؛ مطالبين بتجديد السياسات الخارجية القائمة على الأخلاق، وتجديد النزعة الدولية، ومد اليد الى الأعداء ووهب شيئا من النور الى أظلم الاماكن.

كشخص متديّن، انا اتفهم نقاط ضعف التديّن، ولكن في الوقت ذاته اعرف قدرة الدين على الإلهام وتغيير حياة الكثيرين وإضفاء الرؤية الطموحة والأمل للبشرية في أيام الظلام.

يجب ان يلعب الايمان والتدين دورا هاما في سوريا والعراق في مرحلة ما بعد الصراع. ستحتاج سوريا والعراق الى كل النوايا الحسنة التي يمكن حشدها، والى مشروع اقتصادي واجتماعي غير مسبوق مثل مشروع مارشال. هذه تكلفة ذنوب الغرب وعناد الشرق وعدم ترابط الشرق الاوسط.

في إطار اي خطط مستقبلية للمناطق التي مزقتها الحرب في بلاد الشام، يجب ان تحظى القدس على مكانها في هذه الخطط، تلك المدينة في أعلى التل، التي تمثل نقطة يتجه اليها الكثير من البشر الذين يتوقون للرب.

نتمنى ان نجد الأمل والرؤية والعزم لبناء مستقبل حيث يرى الأحياء فيه نهاية الحرب.

 

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The World’s Hidden Refugees

Over 65 million people have been displaced from their homes worldwide of whom a substantial proportion have had to cross international borders and have become refugees forced to flee their countries because of persecution, war, and/or violence.

We are swift to remember the strength and courage of refugees and their families. By raising awareness and standing in solidarity with those displaced, we show support to the individuals and families forced to flee persecution under life-threatening circumstances.

However, we often fail to remember those who have been unsuccessful in fleeing persecution – those unable to become refugees. There are a large number of people, living across many different countries including but not limited to, those in Syria and Gaza, who are unable to become refugees. The true number of refugees would be significantly higher had those who are living under persecution, war and violence been successful in fleeing.

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Children walking the ruined streets of Biet Hanoun, Gaza Strip 2015

In conjunction with remembering those who have been successful in fleeing, the profile of the situation of those unable to leave must also be raised. We must raise awareness of the situation of all refugees, hidden and visible, throughout the world– both those who are successful in fleeing and those who are not.

Migration to Europe: Crisis Or Opportunity?

EU

The Economist recently described refugees as “reasonable people in desperate circumstances”. Tragically, similar rational observations are in short supply. Amidst rising public concerns over the massive influx of displaced peoples and the European Union’s repeated failure to sufficiently respond to the crisis, specious populism has increasingly emerged at the forefront of political discussion. This has been compounded by the rapidly approaching possibility of a British exit from the EU and a broader resurgence of nationalisms across the Continent. The underlying cosmopolitan tenets of the European project may be starting to crumble. Paradoxically however, this turbulence may also provide an excellent opportunity to re-assert the EU’s humanitarian ethics.

Mass migration has increasingly come to define the BREXIT debate. UK Nationalists and Eurosceptics have a tendency to conflate public frustration over record high immigration figures with the refugee crisis, framing them as synonymous issues that can only be resolved through a ‘Leave’ victory in the referendum. With a recent Economist/Ipsos MORI poll revealing 56 per cent of British citizens view immigration as the most important issue facing the country, the expediency of politicising the refugee issue becomes fairly obvious. In light of the 2015 Paris attacks, demagogues across Europe have also sought to securitise the crisis, drawing dubious links between migration and terrorism by using inflammatory terms and stoking hardline nationalist sentiments.

Pervasive xenophobia has proliferated across the continent, born on an undercurrent of popular anxiety. Trumpeting the dichotomy between ‘European values’ and the ‘undesirable’ qualities of ‘outsiders’, far right parties are seizing the opportunity to re-engineer European liberalism as a vehicle for social discrimination. In this sense, European identity has increasingly become anathema to the cosmopolitan norms it was trying to advance, igniting tensions along predominantly ethnic and religious lines and accelerating a new wave of national isolationism.

In such an atmosphere, the legal realities of dealing with refugees have been largely overlooked. As Zoe Gardner, spokeswoman for London-based Asylum Aid, has argued, “if your issue is you want no refugees in the UK, then your issue is not with the EU – it is with global law”. In contrast to regular migration, refugees and asylum seekers are protected under the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. These statutes transcend the authority of national border controls and make the outcome of the BREXIT debate largely irrelevant to the refugee issue. However, given the level of European hostility towards fulfilling their legal obligations, it remains unclear how much impact the humanitarian values underlying international law actually have today. The EU is facing an existential crisis. Crucially however,  this is the product of nascent xenophobic and Islamophobic tendencies long associated with Europe’s far right, rather than the malign interests of external agencies.

The inflexibility and institutional deficiencies of the EU itself has not helped the situation either. Its initial approach of regional refugee containment was poorly executed and relied on the Middle East acting as a closed system, with already saturated local states absorbing any spillover generated by the Syrian crisis. When the strategy was eventually adapted to manage a growing exodus of peoples, gridlock in the European Parliament, vetoes by an increasingly recalcitrant Eastern European bloc and the resurrection of internal border controls across Schengen, have all undermined the EU position further. In the eyes of internal and global audiences, the EU has become an inert bureaucratic Leviathan incapable of resolving the challenges now facing it. In this context, it is understandable that the deal with Turkey was hurriedly ratified in March 2016. At its core, the agreement aims to mitigate refugee flows coming into frontline European states by facilitating the fast-track mass return of migrants from Greece on a ‘one in one out’ basis structured along specific national quotas. However, the Council of Europe has subsequently condemned the bargain, maintaining “it at best strains and at worst exceeds the limits of what is permissible under European and international law” by infringing on the “basic norms on refugees’…rights”.

Leaving aside the practical issues in actually implementing the deal, it is ultimately an ad hoc strategy for shifting the ‘burden’ of dealing with refugees back to the Middle East. This entirely contravenes the humanitarian values codified in European law by re-locating people to countries that are well known to infringe human rights. It also installs a discriminatory regime at odds with the self-ascribed liberal aspirations of the EU. Perhaps most importantly, the agreement doesn’t offer a sustainable, long term solution to the crisis. The strain will only increase in the coming decades. Under the pressure of climate change, food insecurity and water scarcity, many host nations for refugees from neighbouring states, such as Kenya and Ethiopia, are liable to transition back into departure states over the coming years, creating further waves of displacement far beyond the numbers we are experiencing today.

It is therefore essential for the EU to design comprehensive institutional structures with the capacity to effectively deal with these issues. There is no silver bullet and any success will have to rely on a pan-European process involving multilateral coordination and contentious discussion. But, by initiating this conversation, there will be space to debate and re-define the underlying normative values of Europe providing an opportunity for much needed societal introspection. In doing so, it would allow sensible voices to confront and hopefully diffuse the Continent’s volatile political fringe, laying the foundations for a new, genuinely inclusive European project. By tackling what constitutes European values and a European identity, the EU may be able to finally ameliorate its darker tendencies and more fully embody the liberalism it seeks to champion.

ANSWERING EUROPE’S MIGRANT CRISIS

John Bond of Initiatives of Change writes:

A million migrants reached Europe last year from the Middle East and Africa, half of them from Syria. A million more are expected this year. This will not stop until peace prevails in Syria and Iraq. People fleeing for their lives do not obey border controls.

We Europeans need to do all we can to resolve the conflict. And we need to care for the refugees.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has set the lead, and many Germans have responded wholeheartedly. Other countries have dragged their feet, not least Britain. This is shameful. We led the invasion of Iraq along with the USA, and the ineptitude of our post-invasion policies are a major cause of the war from which the refugees are fleeing. More than any other European country, Britain has a moral obligation to care for them, and we are shirking that responsibility.

In so doing, we are missing a vital opportunity. Because refugees are not just victims, they are potential peacemakers. In many countries, returning refugees have played a significant role in developing structures capable of maintaining peace. Europe, after centuries of war, has had a large measure of peace for 70 years, and the lessons we have learned can advance peace on other continents. Here Syrians can gain insight into what it takes to enable a multicultural society to function harmoniously. Many of them will return when conditions improve. We can help them return with a greater understanding of how to work for a governance which serves all citizens.

We need to offer this help because of our history. A century ago Britain and France grabbed the territory of the defeated Ottoman Empire and divided it up, creating Syria and Iraq. In Britain’s case, to ensure a supply of oil. There was no thought of creating coherent nation states whose peoples could live in harmony with each other. And we British promised the same land to different peoples. The region has been paying the price of our duplicity and short-sightedness ever since. As the British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, said in 2002, Britain’s record in the region is ‘not entirely honourable’.

He spoke with British understatement. If we ask why such a destructive organisation as ISIS attracts thousands to its ranks, one answer is to look at the decades of humiliation of the peoples of the region. As psychologist Evelin Lindner has said, humiliation is the ‘nuclear bomb of feelings’. We British cannot deny that we have helped cause the explosion of anger and hate we see in ISIS, and the resultant flow of migrants. If we recognise this, we will then be able to develop policies which unite British of all backgrounds in tackling extremism, rather than policies which do the opposite because they stigmatise Muslims for our misdeeds.

Much of this also applies to our record in Africa. For several centuries Europeans have exploited Africa – taking slaves, minerals, oil, agricultural products, fish, and giving little in return. African diseases receive inadequate attention until they affect richer nations. Weak African governance is tolerated, perhaps because it makes exploitation easier. And then there is climate change, which is largely caused by the industrialised nations, but which impacts most on Africa’s drylands, severely reducing their agricultural potential.

The overall result is that some countries are so poor and so poorly governed that many enterprising Africans see no hope, and leave for Europe.

This will continue until Africa thrives. That is a challenge to Africans; there is much that only they can do to improve governance.

But it is also a challenge to the rest of the world including Europe. We need to end the exploitation. Let Africa’s fish feed Africans, not the rich nations whose factory fishing vessels plunder African waters. Let us pay adequately for the minerals and oil we take from Africa. Let us end the trade agreements which thwart African development. Let us tackle the European corruption which enables African corruption. Let us build the partnerships between Europe and Africa which will strengthen human rights and inclusive democracy on both continents.

That is the realistic answer to Europe’s migrant crisis.

John Bond grew up in Britain and has worked with Initiatives of Change on several continents, including eight years in Africa and 25 in Australia. There he gave leadership in initiatives aimed at healing the harm done by tragically misguided policies towards Aboriginal Australians, and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia. He is now a co-convenor of the Caux conference on Just Governance for Human Security. He and his wife Mary Lean live in Oxford.

The Woman

Syrian Refugee Woman

The child watched the woman.

She was Sunni, she was Christian, she was Shi’ite, she was you. And she was a refugee. Her tent was thin and the weather was cold.

She was from Raqqa, she was from Mosul, from Aleppo, or from home. And her daughter was a prostitute; whilst her son, her eldest, had gone to fight with Isis; and her son, the youngest, was trying his luck on the Europe trail.

She blessed her children. She loved them. They and they alone would keep her in her old age. Her husband was long gone, disappeared. She thought him a good man but he had abandoned her. Perhaps he was dead. Perhaps that was why he had not come back to her.

The child watched the woman. She would not last the winter, the boy thought. The cold would get her here in the mountains; which was good for she would not see her eldest boy die, as was inevitable, for most died who went to fight. In any case, the boy knew her son would die.

As for her, he would send angels to collect her soul.

God did that sort of thing when he could but he was running short of angels these days.

The Refugee Crisis

Initiatives_of_Change_logo_ENThis speech was give by William Morris, at last week’s Refugee Crisis event held by Initiatives of Change.

To tackle the refugee problem, the British government must commit to confronting it “at source”. That means not merely confronting illicit migration and dealing with the people smuggling rings but also finding a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Syria and diminishing ISIS’ capacity to continue its operations. And that means serious collaboration with on-the-ground political and humanitarian organisations.

British aid has played a significant role in alleviating the plight of refugees. Britain’s £1 billion in humanitarian funding means that it tops the donors’ league table and plays a vital role in ensuring refugees have access to basic services, food, shelter and medical care.

So much for the good news.

Not all of that vast sum of money provided by the UK is for humanitarian use. Far from it. Some is used for the vaguest of purposes like “capacity building for the Syrian opposition” and there is absolutely no transparency as to the UK’s dispersal of money in the region.

But whatever the use that is being made of UK taxpayers’ money – humanitarian or otherwise – The problem is that money can only do so much. This is part of the containment of the problem, not its solution. These refugee camps are not a solution in and of themselves. They cannot, in the long-term, accommodate the millions that they cater for and many camps are over-stretched and poorly serviced.

The subsistence money from the UN going to those within refugee camps has now been cut to $13 a month (according to Scott Darby of initiatives of Change who has just come back from Lebanon). This pathetic income leaves refugees with two options: either fight for Daesh (the group we in the West call ISIS) or flee to the West. So, if we are to keep refugees in the region more must be done.

And unless Syria stabilises and returns to some form of normality, it is only through resettlement that Syria’s refugees can achieve some form of viable future, particularly since they are also treated inhumanely and as second-class citizens in places like Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.  But then what else can these countries do? Official UNHCR figures for September of this year indicate that there are 1,938,999 refugees in Turkey and 1,078,338 in Lebanon. The real figures are much higher of course. These countries cannot cope. Furthermore Syria itself has seven million refugees within its borders (people the UN terms in anodyne bureaucratic fashion mere IDPs or internally displaced persons).

But it is possible for refugees to be given alternatives to the dangerous and costly prospect of fleeing to Europe.

  • Syrian Kurdistan could act as a safe haven. It is the most stable part of Syria. The 1990s Iraqi Kurdish experience proves that an autonomous region that has a decent political process and a stable security environment can function as a safe-haven. That, however, is an ambitious proposal. It requires convincing the Turks that this would not jeopardize their territorial integrity; it requires investing resources in Syrian Kurdistan so that it can build the infrastructure and institutions necessary for housing refugees. Getting the international commitment for this might be difficult. The Assad government, Russia and Iran would however come on board, given that Syrian Kurdistan has effectively constituted a de-facto ally in the war against ISIS and Syria’s opposition rebels.

But to solve this crisis, which of course isn’t just the UK’s crisis but the international community’s crisis, some serious shortcomings have to be addressed in terms of the way that the debate has unfolded, which itself is a reflection of the failures of leadership. The toxic nature of the discourse surrounding the refugee crisis has marginalised constructive debate, which, in turn, has prevented effective and sustainable policies from being implemented.

You are all well aware of the difference between a refugee and a migrant. A refugee is someone forced to flee home. A migrant is anyone who moves to another country, whether a refugee or not. Most of those who flee their homes in Northern Iraq or Syria have little hope of becoming migrants to the West. They cannot afford to pay the air ticket to Istanbul and the subsequent fee to the people smuggler. Baghdad is being stripped of its educated young men from prosperous families as they seize this opportunity for a new start in Europe. The queues of young men to the Turkish Airways office in Baghdad today go round the block.

So let’s look at containment.

What we need is the kind of refuge that has been set up in St George’s Baghdad by Cannon Andrew White. This acts as a place Christians as well as those from other confessional groups can come and meet and get support from one another.

  • The Next Century Foundation proposes that the community centre on the approach road to the Christian town of Al Khosh in Northern Iraq be converted into a similar refuge offering free dental care, basic health care, primary education, a meeting room for worship and a soup kitchen to care for the displaced of any heritage.
  • We propose that something similar be done in the Yezidi town of Basheika in the Ninevah Plane.
  • We also propose the construction of a similar community centre in the Kurdish town of Qamishli in North Eastern Syria
  • And in the Christian town of Qatana on the outskirts of Damascus on the airport road. All of the above to support those who have not yet been displaced in those regions as well as the many displaced families that cling to life in those areas.

We then need havens within the region.

  • We need additional housing in the Ninevah Plane.
  • We need a new town in the Kurdish Region of Iraq to accommodate refugees.
  • We need additional housing in Qamishli in Northern Syria, and we need corridors for the free movement of aid to Qamishli. Six ambulances donated to the people of Qamishli by a German charity have been held up in Arbil airport for months because the Turks object to their movement. The Turks have nothing to do with it. Just because of the extraordinary hatred of the Syrian Kurds by the Turks, it should not mean that they can then constrain the movement of aid across the territory of a neighbouring state over which they have no hegemony. There is one more issue that needs attention.
  • We also need Western support for new housing in Kirkuk to accommodate the huge numbers of Internally Displaced Refugees migrating to that city.

However there is also some need for refugee resettlement. At the moment much of the burden for this falls on Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and the Kurdish Region of Iraq, as well as, oddly, the failed state of Libya.

  • We need Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Israel, most particularly Israel, to start to take significant numbers of refugees and to be supported so that they can do so. I find it extremely distasteful that on the 6th September of this year,Benjamin Netanyahu rejected calls from opposition politicians for Israel to accept refugees from Syria, saying that Israel was “a very small country that lacks demographic and geographic depth.”

As for those that do need to be accommodated in Europe:

  • One practical step would be for Western nations that offer asylum, like the UK, to give preferential treatment to those that claim asylum at embassies in the region and whose claims can be processed there, thus discouraging dangerous life threatening migration by boat.

We must be very careful, however, as to how we deal with the resettlement of refugees in Europe. I am a believer in the Khalil Gilbran dictum of a world without frontiers. I am completely convinced that we must work towards the free movement of peoples. I am a believer in the sixties doctrine as expressed in the Blue Mink popsong: “What we need is a great big melting pot. Big enough to take the world and all it’s got. Keep it stirring for a hundred years or more. And turn out coffee coloured people by the score”.

However, whether or not we are to have a melting pot, what we do not need is sectarianism. Most of us at both Initiatives of Change, our hosts this evening, and at the Next Century Foundation, believe in the importance of building a future world in which the absolute selfishness of materialism is replaced by an ethos of absolute selflessness. This is an ethos consistent with the teachings of the three great monotheistic religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

We must therefore campaign to undermine as thoroughly as possible the sinister program of groups like the Barnabas Fund that, out of a misguided sense of love, are working to cleanse the Middle East of its Christians by giving preferential treatment to Christian refugees.

There are actually petitions that are being signed by misguided Christians in churches up and down the country suggesting that the British government should give preferential treatment to Christian refugees. This goes against the basic tenets of Christianity. The Barnabas Fund seems to have forgotten the underlying meaning behind the story of the Good Samaritan whereby Christ advocates help for the stranger. But this is a sickness that is gripping the world.

The Polish government selects refugees from the region based on religious criteria – they demand that the refugees should all be Christian. There is currently a strong anti-Muslim campaign in Poland (including posters in major cities from nationalist groups attempting to convince the population that accepting Muslim refugees is tantamount to accepting terrorists).

The Next Century Foundation would contend that groups like the Barnabas Fund and the Government of Poland may be making the situation in the Middle East worse with their sectarian attitude.

If we do talk of “Safe Havens” within the region, we must distinguish them from the safe havens which the Barnabas Fund espouses. Their notion of Safe Havens for Christians represents a “sectarian” approach, which is abhorrent.

The Slovakian President has refused to take in Muslim refugees as he claims it would be unfair for Muslim populations to have to reside in a country with no mosque. Slovakia has therefore rejected the EU quota. A pretty horrible attitude but in practice it is at least less disruptive than the sectarian policy promoted by the Barnabas Fund and the Government of Poland respectively.

Bishop Angaelos of the Religious Affairs Advisory Council, a Bishop General of the Coptic Church went on record to tell me “We are not only supposed to tolerate, but love our enemies. To tolerate is merely to put up with. To love is to say truly Father forgive… with the right amount of grace and an understanding of the value of humanity, and why people need to be valued equally, we can love them.” He went on to say, “As Christians we are taught that we are all created in the image and likeness of God, which is our core identity… We must respect and accept that of the other.”

Similarly Dr Ahmed Al-Tayyib, the Grand Sheikh al Azhar, has denounced the forced displacement of non-Muslims in Iraq and called on them to remain in their homes.

Ayatollah Safavi of Iran also echoes these views. Indeed there is no major religious leader, Christian or otherwise, that supports this selective sectarian migration to the West that amounts to a form of ethnic cleansing that will ultimately result in the end of Christianity in the Middle East.

There are actually some members of the Jewish community who have set up a Safe Havens project whereby they see the Saturday people as helping the Sunday people in return for what the Allies did for the Jews at the time of the holocaust. It would be commendable if the prime focus of the project was resettling refugees of any heritage in the Middle East, just as the immediate recourse of those helping the Jews resettle under persecution was to move them to other countries in Europe. But no, the focus of this effort is to take Arab Christians, and Arab Christians only, direct to their promised land, which ironically turns out to be Germany. This is not helpful.

Much of the above is about containment. What of solutions? By which I mean solutions to the cause of this human tide of misery. We need more political action. For example:

  1. We need the return of the Embassies to Tripoli, Libya to foster a peace process. The mandate of the internationally recognized rump government in Tobruk runs out in a few days on October 20th at which point the embassies could return to the capital and promote a new power sharing agreement or caretaker government.
  2. We need the total removal of the US imposed de-Baathification laws that continue to cause such resentment in Sunni Iraq and have been a prime generator of support for ISIS amongst the young men of Sunni Iraq.
  3. We need the reformation of the Awakening or Sawah Movement in Iraq, most of the leaders of which were murdered by Malaki loyalists. Certainly an independent Sunni force loyal to the centre but regionally recruited and also loyal to an autonomous Sunni region.
  4. The constraint of Turkey’s disruption of the region and end to their practice of bombing the Kurds, supporting all anti-Kurdish insurgents, and facilitating the transit of volunteers to ISIS. Turkey’s decision to claim to be supporting the fight against ISIS came after the Kurdish Protection Unit (YPG’s) had made rapid territorial gains within Syria. Erdogan stated that: Turkey ““will never allow the establishment of a new state on our southern frontier in the north of Syria”. Such statements are indicative of Turkey’s tactics in the region.
  5. We need a swift settlement in Syria predicated on new elections in which all in the diaspora are fully enfranchised and enabled to vote at UN polling stations.

There is much that can be done but the Western practice of terrorizing the region with drones, American F16s, British Typhoons, and Russian SU30s does little or nothing to contain the Hydra that is ISIS and actually increases not decreases the flow of refugees to the West.  We are the problem. We are not the solution. We made this mess and we continue and continue, and continue to poor petrol on the fire we ourselves ignited.