Posted by Hassan Hassan | Salim al Salami (artist)
In the Washington Post Ishaan Tharoor asks what the Arab world’s wealthiest nations are doing for Syria’s refugees. The short answer is – next to nothing:
Some European countries have been criticized for offering sanctuary only to a small number of refugees, or for discriminating between Muslims and Christians. There’s also been a good deal of continental hand-wringing over the general dysfunction of Europe’s systems for migration and asylum.
Less ire, though, has been directed at another set of stakeholders who almost certainly should be doing more: Saudi Arabia and the wealthy Arab states along the Persian Gulf.
As Amnesty International recently pointed out, the “six Gulf countries — Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain — have offered zero resettlement places to Syrian refugees.”
In Slate, Josh Rogin notes that when it comes to supporting the terrorists who are tearing this region apart, the Arab Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are worldwide champions. Rogin says:
a key component of ISIS’s support came from wealthy individuals in the Arab Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Sometimes the support came with the tacit nod of approval from those regimes; often, it took advantage of poor money laundering protections in those states, according to officials, experts, and leaders of the Syrian opposition, which is fighting ISIS as well as the regime.
“Everybody knows the money is going through Kuwait and that it’s coming from the Arab Gulf,” said Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Kuwait’s banking system and its money changers have long been a huge problem because they are a major conduit for money to extremist groups in Syria and now Iraq.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been publicly accusing Saudi Arabia and Qatar of funding ISIS for months. Several reports have detailed how private Gulf funding to various Syrian rebel groups has splintered the Syrian opposition and paved the way for the rise of groups like ISIS and others.
And how much money has been spent on the care and feeding of Syria’s Butcher, Assad? According to Michael Weiss and Nancy A. Youssef (Slate), quite a lot:
Consider Iranian support for Assad thus far. The U.N. special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, estimated last month that Iran has spent between $6 billion and $35 billion per year to keep its ally afloat and in an active state of war. Just days ago Damascus ratified a $1 billion credit line from Tehran. The mullahs have also been caught sending oil to Syria that is more or less “free” because there’s no expectation that Assad will ever be in a position to repay the loans Iran extended to it to buy the stuff in the first place. And all this support has transpired under a still-active and robust international sanctions regime.
Even birds know better than to poop in their own nests. These dictators lack this basic instinct. What is their endgame?
In his Al Arabiya opinion piece, the awakening and comeback of the Arab Spring Jamal Khashoggi says that these leaders care only about staying in power and hiding their incompetence.
The Arab dictator is ruthless and does not want any blessing. The only important thing to him is his longevity. During the last few years, we have witnessed conflicts, civil wars and biased media motivated by hatred, fear, sectarianism and partisanship.
All of that was planned. The tyrant does not want to hear about decent living, employment, clean streets, pride or dignity because he is incapable of providing them. He only promises stability and security.
If he is absent, chaos will prevail. Terrorism serves him and encourages him implicitly. Media affiliated to him remind citizens of terrorism day and night, in a bid to make them accept his violence. He is necessary to protect the state that terrorism wants to tear apart. Anyone who remains silent or presents another opinion is a terrorist who deserves to die.
This dirty tactic will work for one or two years, even a decade, but it will inevitably collapse.
The people who live under these regimes know what they’re about. That’s why they’re voting with their feet.
But the rest of the world has been very slow to wake up to what’s going on. We need to stop pretending that the our radical Islamic BFFs are part of any solution.