Aylan Kurdi And The Heavy Hand Of History

“Refugees welcomed by: Saudi: 0, Kuwait: 0, Qatar: 0, Emirates: 0, Bahrain: 0” (Íomhá: Hassan Baber)

It some ways it is a terrible comment upon the calibre of our political leaders that the harrowing images of a young Syrian Kurdish boy, Aylan Kurdi, washed up on the shores of a Turkish beach has done more in several days of media “celebrity” to prick the consciences of Europe than several years of meetings and conferences across the European Union and beyond. The three-year-old, along with his mother Rehan and five-year-old brother Galip, drowned while trying to cross the eastern Mediterranean to Greece, following a perilous journey from Kobane, the embattled town in Syrian Kurdistan, to a three year sojourn in south-western Turkey. Exploited by people-traffickers they, like many others, sought escape from their uncertain and impoverished plight by daring a life-threatening journey to a place within the EU, perhaps as a stepping-stone to elsewhere in the world. As we know that journey, as is not infrequently the case, ended in death.

However while the press-driven fury over the plight of the hundreds of thousands of refugees seeking asylum on the continent – principally from the territories of north Africa and the Middle East – currently grips the headlines one suspects that in time the general public, both individually and collectively, will move on. While most of the left-wing, and some conservative, media find this a good cause célèbre to beat their breasts over, an excuse to berate those in positions of leadership they believe not as worthy as themselves to lead their respective nations (which is the underlining motivation of many a newspaper columnist), few have any real inclination to clinically address the political and economic causes of the humanitarian crises gripping the Mediterranean region.

Aylan Kurdi, and an unknown number of others, died not because of the refusal of the European Union to grant asylum en masse to those crowding its borders. They died because of the refusal of the European Union to deal in any meaningful way with an internecine war that has forced some several million people to flee their homes to seek safety – however untrustworthy – elsewhere. The long-term solution to the refugee “problem” as a whole is not to be found in the “opening up”of  the borders of the EU but by solving or radically alleviating the political and socio-economic problems of the countries and territories whose form, and in many cases present plights, have been shaped by the historic exploitation and interference of nations like Britain, France and Italy, not to mention the United States and its allies. To argue otherwise is to suggest that the solution for the Irish people to the holocaust of the mid-1800s, An Gorta Mór, was to be found in the slums of Liverpool and Glasgow, New York and Boston, Sydney and Melbourne.

Meanwhile, some have queried the response, or lack of response, to the Syrian, Iraqi and Kurdish refugee crises by the potentates of the Gulf States. Money has been found to ease some suffering, but not as much as that which has gone into recruiting, training and equipping various regular and irregular proxy-forces fighting various opponents of the sheikdoms, nominal or otherwise, across the region. Note this wire-report from Al Jazeera:

“Forty-five soldiers from the United Arab Emirates’ military and five troops from Bahrain have been killed while taking part in a Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, in the deadliest day for Gulf forces since the conflict began.

Pro-government Yemeni security officials said the UAE troops were killed on Friday when a Houthi missile hit a weapons storage depot near their position in the province of Maarib, about 120km east of the capital Sanaa.

In a separate development on Friday, Bahrain, another Gulf country involved in the coalition’s conflict against Houthi fighters, announced that five of its soldiers were killed in southern Saudi Arabia where they had been posted to help defend the Saudi border. It did not give a precise location.

Saudi Arabia and a coalition of other mostly Arab states have been fighting since March to restore Yemen’s exiled government and to repel the Houthis, who took control of the capital Sanaa in September last year.”

The governments in Riyadh, Kuwait City, Manama, in Damascus and Tehran, and elsewhere are just as complicit in the death of Aylan Kurdi as those in the capitals of Europe. This is a horror story with more authors than one.

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5 comments

  1. The Mediafest that follows incidents of great human tragedy resulting in death and injuries is quite nauseating and I foam at the gills whenhose who try to address the issues and offer any solutions aren’t given much “airtime” Often interviews with aid workers and local people are cut short by the news presenter and we’re carried on to the next “sound bite”? This dizzy swirling through “breaking news” doesn’t engender reflection which is needed to address issues and form plans
    The social media is great for spreading news quickly to large audience but why it can’t have a few more boxes to tick this beats me eg.’find this repulsive” “find this sad” ‘at long last ‘ ‘facts here not correct”

    Was looking at Médicines sa s Frontiėires ( Ireland) report of conditions in Syria.
    At the end of detailed presentation I wondered how many were listening

    Have only one quotation that I really like

    All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men todo nothing

  2. Funny how the rabidly pro-Israel Sunday Indo, RTE and the rest of the Irish media are so insistent that Ireland take much more than its share of Syrian migrants, but yet remain completely silent about Israel’s outright refusal to take ANY refugees whatsoever from its next door neighbour Syria. Just as the Sunday Indo and all the other pro-Israel shills in the Irish media have castigated the Irish people for “racism” and bigotry for years, but remain completely silent about Israel’s brutal policy of imprisoning and then deporting ALL African refugees.

    1. Yes noticed Netanyahu words over the last few days in relation to absorbing refugees:

      “…Israel is a very small country, with neither demographic nor geographic depth and, therefore, we must control our borders.”

      Those sentiments have been echoed by cabinet ministers and others in the coalition parties. Which I suppose essentially underlines Israel’s status as an exclusively ethno-religious nation-state. They are technically correct, and the economy in Israel is very finely balanced indeed, however no such caveats are placed on Jewish immigration. Though the sorry tale of African/black Jewish immigrants speaks of a very specific type of acceptable Jewishness.

      That said the nonsense we have seen from certain Irish politicians, newspaper columnists and lobby groups calling for Ireland to accept 50,000 refugees is just as bad. They know that number is unsustainable, would have problematic socio-economic effects, and will never be committed to. So it’s easy to chest-thump and play holier than thou when they know there are no consequences for it.

  3. And of course the West and Israel are clearly backing the anti-Assad Islamists in Syria, just as they backed the forces that toppled Ghaddafi. Their strategy amounts to bombing targeted countries into smithereens, and then using the anarchy that inevitably ensues as an excuse to bomb them into smaller smithereens. Moreover, if as our Neocon media keep insisting, there is a real security threat to the west from Islamic militants, it seems quite crazy to invite huge numbers of migrants from such hotspots of internecine warfare to reside here.

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