This is the end, beautiful friend [~]
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes, again
The picture of the Kurdish/Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, lying on the beach, was of a macabre beauty and tranquility. It was a haunting picture, as it pictured the boy in what seemed – at first glance – a relaxed, lying position on the beach: a place that most people in the Western world associate with joy and excitement.
The shocking truth was that Aylan would never move again. He was dead; drowned during the attempt of his family to escape from a country that can be called hell on earth and build up a better future for themselves.
And perhaps the most shocking personal experience was my relative numbness for this gruesome picture of poor Aylan. I always avoid the most shocking and brutal pictures and videos from the various war zones in the Middle East and Africa or from the numerous drownings in the Mediterranean Sea. Nevertheless, the ones that I did see were already enough to rise my tolerance for violence, torture and death to a certain amount of numbness, for which I feel deeply ashamed.
Aylan has hundreds of thousands of brothers and sisters in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and many other countries in the Middle-East and Africa. We all know it, but choose instead for repressing this knowledge, as we can’t handle the truth; a bold statement of truth, uttered so forcefully by “Colonel Nathan R. Jessup” in the movie A Few Good Men.
Hell on earth is Syria – Aylan’s country. A country torn apart by brutal, murderous squads, fighting against an evenly brutal government in a civil war of attrition. A war, which already lasts for more than four years and does not carry the prospect of having a quick ending. None of the fighting parties wants to underachieve in comparison with the other involved parties, when it comes to sheer violence and brutality.
And although the goals of all parties differ – carrying through people’s perverted views on religion, the constitutional state, protection of minorities and humane behaviour, versus an utterly egoistical, hedonistical and self-aimed regime only aimed at preservation of its own empire– their methods match each other totally, when it comes to brutality and bloodthirstiness.
Syria (and of course Iraq too) is the festering wound of international politics, as the country has a pivotal position for some countries (i.e. Russia, Israel and Saud-Arabia) and forms the summit of failed Middle-East politics, carried out by the Western and Eastern blocks since the Second World War.
There is simply no way out of this Syrian conundrum that won’t bring many, many losers and massive, ubiquitous bloodshed. Both intervention and non-intervention will cause more bloodshed and will respectively help to reach or keep parties at pivotal positions, that have no compassion for their fellow countrymen in the different political factions and religions whatsoever. It is a gruesome snakepit and everybody knows that.
There are no easy solutions for Syria or the other flashpoints in Africa and the Middle-East. The only way that these wars can seemingly stop, is when all involved factions are just so sick and tired of the war in their country, that one party surrenders or all involved parties start negotiating with each other. This point in time will probably take a few years of endless violence more.
The harvest of these war-zones and especially this festering wound, called Syria, is an endless influx of refugees that first flooded the neighbouring countries of Syria – Lebanon and Turkey – and is now starting to flood Europe: especially the South-European countries, neighbouring with Turkey or the North-African countries.
While the pure motives of some of the refugees, to find a safer life without war and violence for themselves and their families outside Syria or other countries, are discredited by some media, the fact remains that Syria and other war-zones are not exactly safe places to raise a family. That is the reason that you can’t blame these “fortuneseekers” – according to many right-wing politicians – for trying to find a safer place to live, work and raise a family. Irrespective of them being legal or illegal citizens in Europe.
I know that most Dutch (and European) politicians feel appalled by the dead end alley in Syria and Iraq (or Eritrea) and by the uncertain fate of the tens of thousands of refugees that risk their lives on the Mediterranean Sea, or during their long march from the Middle-East to Hungary and Germany.
Nevertheless , there are always good, rational reasons to justify selfish thoughts and behaviour within The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, or as a matter of fact the whole European Union, against refugees. During the past years most Dutch politicians (even the moderate ones) were seemingly more than happy to ignore the enormous flows of refugees and leave them as they were in Italy, Greece, Hungary, Germany or elsewhere.
“Yes, it is a big problem and we feel really, really sorry for those people. Really! Still, we have political issues of our own that are also very hard to solve. So we rather assume the ostrich position and wait until Italy, Greece, Germany and Hungary solved their problems for us. So that we don’t have to”.
This concept was expressed through logical fallacies, like: “We are already an overcrowed country… We cannot handle tens of thousands of refugees, as that would destabilize our society and lead to civil unrest… We agreed within the EU that refugees have to stay in their EU country of first arrival and now we should stick to that, in order not to jeopardize the Schengen treaty…”
All these reasons were used by Dutch politicians in order to defend their N.I.M.B.Y. stance.
Will poor Aylan Kurdi’s shocking death structurally change this stance?! Probably not.
There is always a new domestic issue to solve and a new political hype to pursue; politicians will be more than happy and willing to follow these new issues and hypes and store the poor and pitiful Aylan Kurdy in the deepest drawer of their mind, only to see him resurface once in ‘the annual overview’ of the news channels.
Simply because there is no solution for him anymore and no easy solution for the other refugees either, who are – luckily – still alive.
It is a nasty truth that most politicians scare away from the painful choices that must be made, in order to offer a safe haven for these refugees, afraid as they are to be confronted with widespread protests and bad polls in months ahead.
The circumstance that Germany currently is the moral leader of the EU, with respect to offering hospitality to the African and Middle-East refugees, is admirable and deserves to be followed elsewhere in Europe.
Nevertheless, this current benevolent political and civil stance of the Germans can hardly cover up the fact that latent racism and violence against vulnerable minorities are always looming under the surface in the poorer/less successful parts and civil groups of Germany (see also this link).
Such incidents with a fatal ending happened in the early nineties and they could happen again today. Not because of the fact that the Germans are bad people – to the contrary I would say – but simply because there are still many people in German society, who feel that they drew all the wrong cards in the recent past and now look for a fall guy to blame their misery upon. The refugees are becoming these fall guys now.
And The Netherlands?
The plan of Christian Democrat leader Sybrand van Haersma Buma (CDA) to create ‘safe zones’ in Syria, through international “boots on the ground” in that country, is in fact dead on arrival. The Netherlands is not able to supply more than a few boots, due to the current sorry state of its army.
Other countries have their own issues and military involvements and cannot afford to have yet another, violent frontline and another endless war with a heavy prospect for numerous military and civilian casualties.
Sybrand Buma, who knows this all very well, posted this plan as a feeler; either in order to gain sympathy or to do ‘something’ about the problem. This makes his plan an utterly casual one: nice for the stage and without further consequences. In other words: this plan is just as viable as a plan to put people on the moon within two year. It… won’t… happen!
Leader Diederik Samsom of the social-democrat party PvdA confessed, with tears in his eyes, that he could not sleep with the image of Aylan Kurdi engraved in his mind. He felt utterly sorry, but that was about it.
And PM Mark Rutte? He said that he wanted to administer a ‘dominant contribution’ to the European debate, regarding the influx of refugees. What that contribution contained, he could not or would not say.
No possible solution for the refugee problem… no generous gesture to host 50,000 refugees… no plea to the other European countries to be solidary with the countries, which have to deal with the highest amount of refugees… No, nothing!
So that is the sad conclusion: the utterly sad and unnecessary death of Aylan Kurdi and the unsolvable Syrian conundrum in general led to a mixture of futile words, feigned compassion and crocodile tears. Further, The Netherlands will firmly remain in its ostrich position.
“We feel sorry, but we can’t do anything about the whole situation. Next issue, please!”