Last year literally hundreds of thousand refugees crossed from Turkey to Losbos and others ventured on a perilous voyage across the Mediterranean to get away from the hell in their own countries – some of which were caused by well-meaning Western politicians who thought that democracy in Libya was the way forward for them. The answer probably lies in a solution I first proposed in a book I co-authored called Water: the Final Resource (Harriman House 2008).
The history of refugees goes back probably even before the Israelites fled Egyptian persecution and spent many years in the wilderness before arriving at the promised land. Then it was caused by persecution which has many latter-day counterparts in Spain when Ferdinand and Isabella kicked out the Jews, the business people and the Moors who knew anything about terraced farming.
Next the French under The Sun King, Louis XIV, booted out the Huguenots, the smartest business people, who greatly enriched the economies of Holland and England. In more recent times Czars instituted programs to expel the Jews from Russia, many of whom created the motion picture business in Hollywood and great banks in London and New York; then, instead of allowing the Jews to migrate, a crazy anti-Semite murdered millions of good European citizens in the gas chambers. Even more recently Idi Amin expelled Asians many of whom have made a huge contribution to the United Kingdom. Some of the modern refugees are like, as before, fleeing persecution from the ISL where some crazy Muslims whose distorted reading of the Koran destroys anything or anybody who fail to meet their stereotype. Others are fleeing a civil war caused by a difference between two branches of a faith: Sunni and Shia Muslims. The former can only be only be stopped by armed force, the latter in Syria by a diplomatic approach to an individual in Moscow the West is at present attempting to unseat through sanctions.
Vladimir Putin is an old fashioned nationalist – not greatly unalike the leaders in breakaway parts of Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom. It seems he wants to regain parts of the Ukraine that have been historically closely associated with Russia but are now under the jurisdiction of Kiev. Why not, instead of driving him into a corner, suggest making the Ukraine a confederation with the disputed eastern region into an international zone guaranteed by the governments of Russia, Ukraine and perhaps Germany, with a rotating presidency.
In this way, the Russian nationals in the east can feel comfortable, V Putin receives something of his nationalistic drive and the politicians in Kiev are relieved of a running sore that is crippling the country and possibly the opportunity to receive cheap energy from the east. And the deal for the West is that Putin, the supporter of Syria’s Assad, no longer underwrites a brutal regime in the United Nations allowing a solution to be found that stops refugees crowding neighbouring states and attempting to resettle in a Europe that has already its own share of unemployment.
Apart from lifting economic sanctions, and relieving the pressure of the Russian Bear from the Baltic States, there could be other advantages for Russia. There will be a huge rebuilding work for a Syria that has been pulverised from land and air strikes – work that would attract international funds. Contractors would be partly allocated from those supplying funds from Russia, China, the West but most of all from the Middle East where the civil war has been a running sore and the need for countries to house terrified people driven from their homes by war.
That possibly takes care of the source of the problem. What about the hundreds of thousand of wretched people herded into makeshift camps?
Some, of course, could be resettled quite quickly in their homes that have suffered only minor damage, others in the building trades could be employed on reconstruction sites housed in temporary accommodation until a number of houses were habitable. This leaves hundreds of thousands of desperate individuals who can see no future for themselves or for their families.
The problem is complicated by a shifting climate that has made parts of the Middle East unusually dry – a factor that has probably swelled the ranks of the so-called Islamic State; after all, why stay at home and suffer a drought when you can join a force that will at least feed you?
This is a factor that would decide where to relocate the make-shift camps in Lebanon and Jordan – and stem the voyage of luckless refugees.
Of all the countries in the Middle East, Turkey is the only one with surplus water and is the source for the great rivers the Euphrates and Tigris. Like other nations, Turkey is suffering a downturn and might be persuaded to host camps as a holding operation for Syrian and other refugees until their own country was rebuilt.
Why not suggest to countries in the EU the offer to supply pre- fabricated buildings that could absorb at least some of their unemployed and give them training at the same time? What better for hard pressed politicians than to offer work for those who see little future in their own country?
It could also considerably help the internal security problem for nations such as France or Britain who are home to militant Jihadists, wishing to live in a Muslim state. Why not offer them inducements to become Syrian citizens and to help them rebuild and resettle in the new Syria?
In a world that seems paralysed to take any constructive initiatives, perhaps something on these lines be at least a way forward to politicians who seem terrified of their own shadows?