By Edmond Y. Azadian
Newspapers, television screens and the Internet are all flooded with stories and pictures about refugees pouring in and around the Mediterranean. The caravans moving over land and the rickety ships on seas evoke memories of yesteryear, when emaciated refugees marching on some of those very roads taken today were Armenians seeking refuge in any country willing to shelter them, seeking peace and survival for their families.
Therefore, all those images and news stories strike a very deep chord with the Armenians who are descendants of Genocide survivors.
History repeats itself, though this time with a cast of Syrians, Iraqis and Libyans.
Some European governments, such as Germany, demonstrate empathy towards the plight of those uprooted people. Others, such as the Hungarian government, treat those human beings as so many heads of cattle, as they try to cross through Hungarian lands to reach northern countries. It is ironic that Hungary, which until a little over two decades ago was suffering economically because of the Iron Curtain, can spare so little sympathy.
In both cases — whether charitable or not — there is a sense of irony which needs to be identified and addressed. The people who are knocking at the doors of Europe are in that position not because they decided overnight to abandon their habitats and seek refuge in Europe. They are the victims of a man-made humanitarian catastrophe splintering their countries, designed by the very same powers upon whose mercy they are throwing themselves.
At the conclusion of World War I, Armenians who had survived the Genocide became the subjects of the same moral dilemma, because the Allies — especially France and Great Britain — had already signed the Sykes-Picot Treaty of 1916, dividing the Ottoman lands between themselves and there was no homeland for the Armenians to which they could return. Even the 150,000 Armenians who were promised a homeland in Cilicia were treacherously abandoned by the French government whose occupation army had fled Cilicia secretly, leaving the defenseless Armenians behind, at the mercy of the Turkish forces.
Later on, when those refugees reached the port of Marseille, France became their savior, deserving of our gratitude for this delayed humanitarian gesture.
The same destiny was imposed on Armenians who were thrown to the sea with the Greek population of Smyrna in 1922.
Prior to 1990, Iraq was a stable and prosperous country. Provocations by today’s humanitarian countries to incite rebellion were met with tough measures to maintain the country’s peace and integrity, while offering a propitious opportunity to the news media in the West to demonize its leader, in preparation for the aggression which followed.
The same scenario was repeated in Libya and Syria.
The planners of those tragedies did not know or rather, did not care, about the outcome of their acts. Today, they have a huge refugee problem on their hands. The irony is that some journalists try to rationalize and justify this mayhem by concocting theories that the people in the Middle East are not competent to self-rule, that the authoritarian regimes they were under caused the present chaos, notwithstanding the military aggression from the West.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who is one of the architects of the current chaos, has emerged from his bunker to release his third book, The Exceptional. He blames President Obama for refusing to follow his model of creating bloodbaths and instead resorting to diplomacy to resolve intractable conflicts in the Middle East. Incidentally, Mr. Cheney had also the country of Iran on his hit list, to reduce it to rubble, much like the fate that has befallen Syria, Iraq and Libya, but he did not have time to achieve his goal. The thrust of his new book is to hint to the next president that there is an unfinished mission. Of course, the language used is totally different, however to insinuate the same outcome, that President Obama is weak, he hesitates and undermines America’s greatness (exceptionalism), especially since he is not strong on defense, meaning he restrains arms manufacturers and merchants.
The foreign aggression in 2011 against Syria (“civil war” is a misnomer) has created 9 million refugees. More than 3 million have fled to neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Another 6.5 million are internally displaced. Turkey and Jordan complain about the flood of Syrian refugees, yet they have served as surrogates of Western powers to instigate war in Syria.
Col. Muamar Qadaffy had created an egalitarian society in Libya, although admittedly he was an eccentric head of state. But no citizen was motivated to abandon the affluent country to become a refugee until Libya was invaded and its president was killed in the most atrocious way, splitting the country and making it vulnerable to Islamic extremism.
As some boats sink in the Mediterranean and others make it to the shores of Italy and Greece, many refugees from Somalia crowd those dinky boats.
The Somalis’ fate was sealed much earlier. Strongman Mohammad Siad Barre ruled Somalia from 1969 to 1991. During his rule, there were no pirates at the Horn of Africa and sea lanes were safe for merchant marine ships carrying oil from Gulf states to Europe through the Red Sea. Mr. Barre had a fallout with the Soviet Union, under whose tutelage he maintained his rule. He turned to the US and was overthrown after a war with the Marxist regime of Ethiopia. Since then, Somali refugees have been fleeing to Arab and European countries, compounding the refugee problem.
A side show of this refugee crisis is the conflict between the different groups settling in Europe. Kurds and Turks constitute the earlier wave of refugees settling mainly in Germany, Holland and Austria. The violence between Kurds and Turks has spilled over in Germany where the Turkish Grey Wolves have cut the throat of a Kurdish demonstrator in Hanover and a Turk deliberately plowed into Kurdish demonstrators in Bern, Switzerland, injuring five people.
There are also reports that moles have been accompanying refugees to become Jihadist sleeper agents in Europe.
Armenians empathize with the new flood of refugees and once again witness the duplicity of great powers, playing unscrupulously with the destiny of small nations, at the same time creating problems for themselves.
The price of the political cynicism is the refugee problem plaguing European countries today.