Europe takes action, now Syria’s refugees are there

What the Arabic press is saying about Europe’s role in the migrant crisis. Translated by Carla Mirza

Observers in the region have concluded that the truce negotiated in Syria is primarily a response to the effects of the migrant crisis in Europe.

Mohammed Al Hammadi, editor-in-chief of Al Ittihad, the Arabic-language sister newspaper of The National, said “the greatest question and most dangerous one, though quite reasonable and belated” is the one posed by Swiss diplomat Daniel Walker in his latest article in The National Interest: Can Syria destroy Europe?

“Raising big questions too late may be painful. Europe has stalled dealing with the Syrian crisis and forgot that the distance between Syria and Europe will only cost refugees €100 (Dh405) per rubber boat,” he said.

“Throughout the Syrian conflict, Arab friends of the Europeans have advised them to demonstrate a clear, firm and serious stand in the Syrian crisis.

“The mood in Europe swayed towards offhandedness and leniency, perhaps considering the crisis to be far off and assigning it minor importance. This is even though the situation in Syria is very complex, be it the terrorist and criminal acts of the regime and of extremist groups or the suffering of millions of Syrians who are among the dead, the displaced or the refugees.”

He said nobody wanted to see Europe shatter under the effects of the refugee influx, but equally there was a need to be realistic about what would happen if the situation in the region continues as it has.

“Should the situation remain as it is in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon, the ripple effects will reach Europe, especially if the Europeans fail to take a clear and explicit stance,” he added.

“The United States should not rule out the fact that this crisis may cross the Atlantic, causing repercussions there.

“This will remain the case so long as Europeans fail to grasp the extent of the danger and the evil behind this devastating wave of people who have swamped the region and landed in Europe.”

Iran is an essential part of the crisis, with its support for terrorist groups and its attempts to export its revolution.

“The world is not addressing the real problem but rather it is focusing on its symptoms and side-effects, and this is worrisome,” he concluded.

“One must behead the snake instead of wasting time following its tail, because it continues to spew its venom all around without being held accountable.”

In the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat, George Semaan said fear in Europe is what brought the Syrian conflict to a standstill ahead of talks beginning this week.

“As is the case with any conflict, breaches may occur here and there, despite the declaration of the commitment of all parties to the US-Russian agreement, but there is no way back, as this would mean going against the will of Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin,” he wrote.

“This agreement does not necessarily mean that they will now cooperate on various crises, nor that they have agreed to recognise one another’s interests. The optimism of Staffan de Mistura, UN envoy to Syria, is misplaced, when he confirms that Syrians themselves will negotiate a political solution.

“The repercussions of the conflict have crossed regional borders and reached Europe, affecting commerce, economies, governments, laws and freedoms.

“The greatest fear is that of a collapse of the Schengen zone and the devastating effects and consequences that would have, not just on the European economy, but also on global trade, from China to the United States.”

Translated by Carla Mirza

CMirza@thenational.ae