For more than four years we Europeans neglected the ongoing conflict in Syria. Assad was allowed to terrorize his own people with poison gas and barrel bombs, without interference from neither Europe nor USA. Only after Daesh (IS) became a major force in the region, there came a reaction. And now, after terror attacks in Paris and threats in other places in Europe, several politicians show willingness to cooperate with any force, how evil it may be, just to get rid of Daesh. And seemingly with little consideration to our democratic values or to the people who are suffering under Syrian dictatorship.
During the ever-escalating conflict in Syria, more than 200 000 people have been killed while over 12 million are displaced of an entire population of approximately 18 million. When this led to a massive flow of refugees to Europe during the fall it it looked like the politicians were taken by surprise! At first the gates were fully open, at least in some countries, but now, when our abilities to take care of the refugees are clogging, they may soon be slammed into the faces of the fugitives. A treaty with Turkey concerning refugees is disgusting, because it will legitimate a regime which has supported extremist forces in Syria and is persecuting minority groups and free media.
Also, any treaty concerning Syria involving Russia, Iran, Saudi-Arabia and worst of all, the bloodstained Assad, will, even if it seemingly leads to a short-term solution, in the end be counteractive as these states have their own agendas contrary to ours. Will we, if Russia is part of the deal, then forgive the Russians what they have done in Ukraine and ease the present trade sanctions?
We betrayed the Syrian people fighting for freedom when we did not interfere to help them gain their rights. Are we going to betray them again by not letting displaced getting shelter and, without any concern to their interests, only to our own, cooperate with bad players just in order to stop Daesh?
The signal this will send to people living in North Africa and the Middle East is that their hope of living in freedom in their own countries are worth nil and nothing for us, as we will support any autocratic regime, how evil it may be, just for the sake of avoiding a rebellion that might, if it goes wrong, lead to an extremist Islamic regime.
Military and police forces are of course necessary in the fight against Daesh, but we must remember that the fight is mainly a battle of values â€“ their against ours. We must not repeat the mistake of George W. Bush in his fight against al-Qaida; to disregard fundamental principles to try to win the struggle, then we are going to fail. Concerning USA, we shall of course continue to cooperate, but we must also acknowledge that European interests differ from those of USA. The biggest difference is that North Africa and the Middle East is our neighbourhood, not theirs, and any mistake will directly affect us, not them.
Europe needs a long-term strategy to stop disasters like the one in Syria. Our goal must be that all countries in our neighbourhood shall become free and democratic. We must therefore make all efforts we can to strengthen positive forces, such as the embryonic democracy in Tunisia, and to support selected organisations and individuals with a potential to make changes in their countries. And we shall not be so afraid of trade relations that we avoid to criticize vile verdicts and punishment methods in autocratic states, e.g. Saudi-Arabia. This state is in fact a major source of terrorism through itÂ´s billion dollars expenditure promoting Wahabism, one of fundamentalist IslamÂ´s most extreme alignments.
If we in Europe were acting as one force, we would be the world’s strongest unit, but we are divided and weak. If we do not unite, there is a risk that we lose much of what we Europeans gained â€“ from living under oppression by state and church during the Middle Ages to todayÂ´s free and secular societies. We must by all means work so the benefits we enjoy in Europe can be disseminated to people in our surroundings. Only in this way can we provide security for ourselves. A region of poor, desperate and hateful people is not a safe neighbourhood.