The migrant crisis in Europe is a phenomenon we are all aware of. However, living across the Atlantic, it is difficult to understand its role in one of the biggest decisions made in Great Britain.
The shocking referendum to leave the European Union is a consequence of a larger problem, one that many have decided to turn a blind eye on.
The Syrian Civil War has been ongoing since 2011, killing at least 400,000 and displacing more than 14 million (with five million who have escaped the country). The majority of those leaving look to Europe for asylum. The role the EU has played in the refugee crisis aided Britain’s right wing.
Germany, the largest economy in Europe, has already pledged to take more than one million refugees—mounting pressure on other opulent countries in the continent to do the same. The intake of refugees in the German dominated European Union has challenged Great Britain’s control of its own borders, or so the argument goes.
The relaxed border laws of the European Union have been vividly criticized by the British right wing, with the UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage even calling the European Union a “Political Union” which achieved such power through “deception and lies.” To his defense, the slack border laws of the European Union have allowed for terrorists to move in between countries with ease, facilitating the November Paris attacks.
The biggest mistake any country has made however, has been ignoring the source of the problem: the reason why there is an Arab diaspora in the first place. The brutal dictatorship which has oppressed millions in Syria has managed to survive by the skin of its teeth (and a little help from Russia). The lack of support for rebel groups fighting the Syrian government, especially from nations which controlled the area in the past and created its current borders, has enabled the Syrian government to crush the moderate opposition and brand all dissidents as radical Islamists and terrorists.
The longer the world abstains from aiding moderate rebel groups such as the YPG (People’s Protection Unit), FSA (Free Syrian Army) and SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), the blurrier the lines become between rebel groups as they try to keep up with military losses while the Assad regime is kept afloat by Vladimir Putin.
The negligence of the war in Syria by Western powers has become the catalyst for a humanitarian catastrophe and in part for the weakening of the largest economic and political union on Earth. The longer the world waits to intervene, the greater the cost of Syria’s war will be in the long run.