Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Syrian Crisis and "The Religion of Peace"

While Americans continue to debate the appropriate approach to illegal immigration from Central and South America, Europeans now face their own immigrant crisis. Tens of thousands of refugees from various countries in the Muslim world have been making their way to Germany, Hungary, Austria, and other Western points of destination.

The cause?

Religio-Political conflicts across the Muslim world instigated and fueled by the “Religion of Peace.”

One gets the impression that very few Muslim countries feel a strong sense of national identity based upon language, ethnicity, or place. Turkey and Iran are the most obvious exceptions and are, interestingly, non-Arab Muslim states.

Pakistan and Afghanistan suffer from extreme tribal loyalties. And the Arab world divides over Sunni and Shia branches (among other smaller sects of Islam) and perpetually engages in proxy wars fueled by their religion.

Iran (Shia) challenges Saudi Arabia for leadership in the Middle East through supporting Syria, Hezbollah, and the insurgency in Yemen. Saudi Arabia (Sunni) and several allies provide financial and at least some direct military support for other factions. Then, of course, there is the notorious ISIS—a Sunni based group attempting to overthrow the Shite government in Iraq and the Assad regime in Syria. It also threatens fellow Sunni based governments in its pursuit of establishing a caliphate. Although condemned by other Sunnis and our theologian-in-chief as not constituting a true Islam, they embrace all the major tenants of the faith. ISIS represents simply a more extreme version. In other words, the difference of ISIS from other adherents of Sunni Islam is one of degree not one of kind. Because of cowardice, incompetence, or both, the Sunni and Shite opponents of ISIS have so far demonstrated that they are incapable of stopping them.

And the United States itself has contributed to the refugee crisis itself. We toppled Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Although a brutal ruler, he prevented the rise of militant Islamic movements and left the Christians to themselves. And we toppled another despot in Lybia—Muammar Gaddafi. In both of these instances, the United States and the people who lived in these nations suffered from that “law of unintended consequences.” Power vacuums left in Iraq and Libya opened the door to more religio-political conflicts and tens of thousands of refugees.

The war in Syria has displaced the most persons. An estimated 5 million Syrians have fled the violence of Syria's civil war. Most moved to neighboring countries such as Turkey and Iraq simply as a matter of geographic proximity. Now thousands have begun to head for Europe, either from refugee campsn Turkey or directly from Syria. You read more here.

Meanwhile the richest of the Arab states—Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and the UAE—not only contribute less money than that United States for the support of these refugees, they also so far have closed their doors to them.

So much for hospitality from the “Religion of Peace.”