THE REAL REASONS SYRIAN REFUGEES ARE FLEEING THEIR COUNTRY

Last Friday, in his executive order suspending indefinitely the entry of Syrian refugees into the United States, Donald Trump claimed the move was intended “to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States.”  This was yet another example of alt-facts being the new administration’s hallmark.  Every such act since 9/11 has been perpetrated by either American citizens or legal residents.  Not a single one has come from Syrian refugees.

Of course, of the almost five million refugees fleeing Syria during a civil war that’s created a humanitarian crisis not seen since the Second World War, the U.S. has only taken some 15,000 – a miniscule 0.2% of the total number and primarily women and children.  As CNN’s Peter Bergen reported: (Trump abandoning America’s principles (Opinion)

“Not only are these Syrian refugees not terrorists, but they are fleeing the brutal state terrorism of the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and the brutal non-state terrorism of ISIS.  The refugees are the victims of terrorism, not the perpetrators of terrorism.”
Why this has happened in the first place is certainly not something Trump will talk about.  That’s because it has very much to do with climate change and fossil fuel interests.  Assuredly, the Assad regime’s denial of basic freedoms and free elections set off the anti-government revolt in 2011 that fomented civil war.  But less publicized is that, in the four years before that, the worst drought in a century ravaged the Syrian countryside, leaving a million small farmers out of work and bringing a massive rural migration toward the cities.  The  ensuing water shortage was exacerbated by depleted irrigation wells above aquifers that had been over-exploited.  Climate scientist Richard Seager of Columbia, lead author of a National Academy of Sciences Study, says the drought “helped kick things over the threshold into open conflict.”  (See www.pnas.org).
Another root cause of the crisis has been highlighted by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in a landmark article published on EcoWatch (“Syria: Another Pipeline War,” February 25, 2016.  Kennedy began:  “The fossil fuel industry’s business model is to externalize its costs by clawing in obscene subsidies and tax deductions—causing grave environmental costs, including toxic pollution and global warming. Among the other unassessed prices of the world’s addiction to oil are social chaos, war, terror, the refugee crisis overseas, and the loss of democracy and civil rights abroad and at home.”
He went on to a history lesson, recounting how in 1956 – two months after an attempted CIA coup in Syria – his uncle John F. Kennedy gave in the Senate “a milestone speech endorsing the right of self-governance in the Arab world and an end to America’s imperialist meddling in Arab countries. Throughout my lifetime, and particularly during my frequent travels to the Mid-East, countless Arabs have fondly recalled that speech to me as the clearest statement of the idealism they expected from the U.S.”
Kennedy’s grandfather, Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, was part of a secret committee in 1957 investigating the intelligence agency’s mischief:  “The so called ‘Bruce Lovett Report,‘ to which he was a signatory, described CIA coup plots in Jordan, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Egypt, all common knowledge on the Arab street, but virtually unknown to the American people who believed, at face value, their government’s denials.”
Years later, in 2000, the small Arab nation Qatar proposed constructing a $10 billion natural gas pipeline across Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey.  The U.S. and the European Union supported this.  The Russians did not.  Nor did Assad.  The political reasons are complex, involving the Sunni-Shia conflict and Iran.  You can read Kennedy’s whole story at:  www.ecowatch.com/syria-another-pipeline-war
Here is the telling conclusion:  “Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link. In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria.”
As Kennedy also points out, Qatar is America’s closest ally in the Arab world – home to “two massive American military bases and the U.S. Central Command’s Mid-East headquarters.”  It’s widely known that Qatar has been bankrolling the Syrian rebels.
Then there is its cozy relationship with Rex Tillerson, the ExxonMobil  CEO now slated to run the State Department.  He’s met numerous times over the past two years with Qatar’s president, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.  Indeed, on the day Trump was elected, Tillerson was over there in the capital of Doha talking about bilateral cooperation between Exxon and Qatar.  Speaking in 2009 at the Seventh Doha Conference on Natural Gas, Tillerson said: “We must learn from Qatar’s vision and its policies.”  (See more at: https://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2016/12/rex-tillerson-has-quite-a-cozy-relationship-with-the-islamic-supremacist-nation-of-qatar.”
And guess who received the first export concession in 2013 to ship American shale gas to Europe?  Quatar Petroleum International and Exxon.  
This opened the door for building a new $10 billion terminal in Exxon’s native Texas.
There is clearly a lot more to the tragic Syrian saga than we’re allowed to know.

1 Comment

  1. Really interesting information on the Qatari pipeline. The knowledge of the long drought that precipitated the initial unrest has been with us for awhile. But the added twist of this Qatar-Turkey pipeline puts the conflict in a more contemporary context. Normally extreme climate conditions exacerbate social/political/military trends. In this case, it seems human economic activity has exacerbated the conflict triggered by the drought. Looks like a fascinating and very relevant piece of reporting.

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