Friday, 23 October 2015

The Geopolitics of the Syrian Migrant Crisis

'Angela Merkel appears determined to prevail, as she grapples with a crisis that will likely define her political legacy. The German chancellor is said to be angry with the governments of eastern and central Europe which are strongly opposed to being forced to take in refugees'
Angela Merkel certainly is destined to determine her political legacy over the migrant crisis as did Tony Blair over the Iraq War. Merkel is a pacifist version of the liberal interventionists who helped create the migrant crisis in the first place and has sought to make the problems of the Greater Middle East Germany's to 'solve'.

Germany under Merkel has aimed at playing a more active role in defining its powerful centre stage role in the EU. However, in having pursued an open door policy to Syrian migrants, only to find hundreds of thousands determined to take advantage of the offer before winter set in, Merkel could end up fracturing the EU.

Merkel's intent on the politics derided by Barbara Tuchman in her The March of Folly. As opposed to changing tack, the very resistance against both her insistence on imposing austerity on Greece to prop up the euro and her attempt to enforce migrant quotas on recalcitrant EU states is regarded as proof of her being 'right'.

As in Greece, the far right would be resurgent should migrant quotas be enforced. In fact, as Berlin plan to impose them incrementally, the Central Eastern European states, led by Hungary's Orban, will attempt delaying strategies until the German elections are held before 22 October 2017.

This would give enough time for domestic discontent in Germany to result in Merkel's removal from office. The idea of compulsory quotas could only be enforced by withdrawing develpment funds from Central Eastern European governments. There would be no other way of enforcing quotas if they continued to refuse.

The reason Merkel is becoming more dogmatic and pushy is not just because of her attempt to survive politically. If Germany alone bears the cost of the migrant influx, there is a real danger of German far right reaction and even terrorism against the 'liberal eite' who have colluded in the 'Islamisation' of Europe.

Despite the oppobrium heaped upon Viktor Orban, if he had not come out against Merkel over migrant quotas and the open door, then its likely the far right Jobbik Party would have moved centre stage as it is already Hungary's second largest party. Merkel seems to have been oblivious to that.

More likely, however, is the geopolitical strategy behind Merkel's attempt to recreate Germany as a Eurasian rival to Russia. Erdogan decided to allow Syrian migrants to go West in large numbers because he intended to use them to panic EU governments into recommitting to the demand that Assad must go.

Erdogan himself is struggling for political survival in Turkey. This is a consequence of his disastrous neo-Ottoman strategy in Syria and the reignition of the civil war between the Kurdish PKK and the Ankara after he used the 'war on terror' as a pretext to take out Kurdish targets and effectively shore up ISIS.

Putin saw that and decicively moved in to back up Assad against the Sunni jihadists backed by the Gulf States and Turkey. So as a reward for helping ISIS murder its way across Syria, Merkel promises visa free travel for Turks and to put EU membership back on the agenda so as to help make Erdogan more popular.

Yet Erdogan is a real part of the problem driving conflict in the region. His migrant strategy is part of a geopolitical plan to re-extend the Ottoman Empire in Europe. The influx of migrants is accepted by Germany as the price to be paid to keep Turkey onside as a transit route for gas from the Middle East and Central Asia.

Orban can afford to thumb his nose at Merkel. Hungary wants to strengthen energy ties with Putin. Poland's opposition is more muted due to old antagonisms against Russia. Hence Merkel's comment about Poland needing to show more "solidarity" with Germany as it shows "solidarity" with Poland over Ukraine against Russia.

As world economic crises and an oil price shock, caused by Saudi collapse, grow closer, there could well be a global situation like the 1930s  Only possibly far more protracted. There is less and less chance the crisis will end well as the war in Syria escalates and the prospects for a global conflict over the Middle East grows closer.

The vast majority of Syrian migrants from Turkey are Sunnis. They have every reason to feel they have the human right to migrate and to blame the Western powers for all the misfortunes endured since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. If the West were to then accomodate to Assad's remaining in power, resentment could well surface.

The Western Powers, therefore, should be fortifying borders and threatening to expel Turkey from NATO as a response. It's a big 'should'. The useless politicians who run Western democracies are essentially pusillanimous; greedy for resources and yet guilty at the outcome of their contradictory geopolitical strategies.

The privileging of Erdogan's Turkey, as opposed to mending relations with Putin's Russia on a realist basis. is a terrible mistake being made by Euro elites who have inherited liberal progressive illusions of the immediate post-Cold War period as opposed to steeling themselves to the new era of global great power politics.

A rapprochement with Moscow over the Ukraine crisis and threats to Turkey's continued membership of NATO-plus a determination top permanently end EU accession for Turkey-should be the sticks being used to coerce Erdogan to stop. The Turkish military would certainly have a view on expulsion from NATO too.

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