Refugee crisis and the destabilization of the Middle East
By Peter Ewart
The image of a drowned young Syrian boy picked up and carried away from a beach in Turkey by a soldier is shocking and heartbreaking. The immediate media focus, of course, has been on the refugee crisis and the action or lack of action by countries like Canada to alleviate this crisis.
But there is a problem if this tragedy is looked at in isolation. For example, how has this terrible refugee crisis come about?
One thing is clear – the entire Middle East and much of North Africa has become destabilized. A big factor in this destabilization has been the intervention and aggression by outside powers, including the U.S., Canada and various European countries.
The invasion of Iraq on false premises by U.S. coalition forces back in 2003 and the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime destabilized the country and region, and created conditions for the growth of Al Qaeda and other sectarian forces.
The invasion of Afghanistan also destabilized that country and fostered a civil war that continues to this day. As various experts now agree, the arrest of Osama Bin Laden for the 9/11 atrocity could have been achieved using other avenues rather than invasion, which has cost the lives of many Afghanis, as well as U.S., British and Canadian troops (1).
In 2011, the U.S., Canada, and other European countries bombed Libya, again under what has since proven to be false premises (2)(3), and contributed to the overthrow of the Qaddafi government. Since then, Libya, which had the highest standard of living in North Africa, has been overrun by fanatical and warring sectarian forces and reduced to a basket case both economically and politically. Many of the refugees to Europe now are Libyan.
Bolstered by their victory in Libya, sectarian forces from that country migrated to Syria and played a key role in forming ISIS (4). In addition, other African countries like Mali were destabilized by forces fleeing the Libyan chaos.
It is unfortunate that parties in the Canadian parliament, including Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP, supported sending Canadian planes to bomb Libya.
And then there is the issue of Syria itself. It is well-known that various western powers, including the U.S., Canada, U.K., and France have, in one way or another, backed so-called “moderate forces” to overthrow the Syrian government of Bashar Assad. Much of the weaponry and other supplies provided to them actually ended up in the hands of ISIS when these so-called “moderate forces” joined ISIS, as did many of the forces trained by the U.S. (5)
Now, Canada has joined the U.S. led mission and is bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Will we be bombing the Assad government next? Unfortunately, there are those in the West who are advocating just that.
It is well known that NATO member, Turkey, a supposed ally of Canada, has been supporting ISIS forces in both Iraq and Syria to fight the Syrian government (6). It has done so by allowing arms and equipment to pass through destined for ISIS, as well as allowing ISIS training facilities on Turkish soil and the sale of oil from ISIS. More recently, Turkey has been bombing the very Kurdish forces that are fighting ISIS (7).. In the past, other so-called allies in some of the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia have also been implicated in supporting ISIS and Al Qaeda forces in Syria in various ways. Although, now even Saudi Arabia appears to becoming wary of the terrible forces it has helped come into being.
It is a fact that the fascistic and barbaric ISIS, which Western powers are now saying is the main enemy, was in large part a spawn of the various interventions by foreign powers over the last 12 years that destabilized the region and created the fertile soil for ISIS to grow. As is abundantly clear, ISIS has all sorts of modern weaponry, brand new vehicles and bundles of money to pay its militants. This does not come out of thin air.
So, is it any surprise that there are hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees fleeing the chaos of Libya, Iraq, Syria and other countries in the region?
When peppered with questions regarding the death of the little Syrian boy and the refugee crisis, Stephen Harper claims that what is needed is more foreign intervention in Syria and Iraq to combat ISIS. In other words, throw more gasoline on the fire.
Indeed, sectarian forces like Al Qaeda and ISIS use the aggression and intervention of foreign Western powers to justify their existence. The formula is simple: the more Western intervention, the more support they gain.
Canada needs to take a different approach. Why not take a stand against any foreign military intervention in the region? Against any foreign support for terrorist forces such as ISIS, whether it is financial, military or material? And that includes our NATO ally Turkey.
Foreign intervention and aggression are a big part of the refugee problem in the Middle East, not the solution. It is time that the Conservative government, along with the NDP and Liberals in Parliament, realize this. It is time to reset Canadian foreign policy and put it on a different path.
Peter Ewart is a columnist and writer based in Prince George, British Columbia. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- “The US refuses to negotiate with the Taliban.” BBC – History. Accessed Sept. 3,
- “’Limited but persuasive’ evidence – Syria, Sarin, Libya, Lies”. Media Lens. June 13, 2013.
- “The mainstream media and the destruction of Libya.” Media Lens. March 18, 2015.
- Cartalucci, Tony. “Libya’s NATO supported ‘pro-democracy’ rebels have joined the Islamic State (ISIS).” Global Research, November 19, 2014.
- Cartalucci, Tony. “In Syria, within the ‘opposition’ there are no ‘moderate rebels’.” Global Research, September 20, 2013.
- Nimmo, Kurt. “Joe Biden apologizes for half truth: Persian Gulf regimes and Turkey are responsible for supporting ISIS and Al-Nusra.” Global Research. Oct. 6, 2014.
- Washington’s Blog. “Turkey supports ISIS … Now declares ‘war against ISIS’, but instead bombs its political rival, which is the most effective force fighting ISIS”. Global Research, July 31, 2015.