Forced to Flee (I)

DAMASCUS/BERLIN | | syrien

DAMASCUS/BERLIN (Own report) - With its foreign policy, Germany is largely contributing to starvation and armed conflicts on several continents, thereby forcing millions to flee - also toward Europe. This becomes evident, when one looks at Berlin's policies regarding various countries in Southeast Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. Political interference and even occasional military interventions have, in many cases, subverted nations and forced their populations to seek refuge. German policy toward Syria is a good example. According to official statistics, the Federal Republic of Germany has granted asylum to more than 100,000 Syrian refugees. A brief analysis published in 2012 by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin, indicates that the German government, in its choice of political support for the insurgency against Assad's government, had consciously accepted the risk of creating the war conditions that would force these refugees to flee. The German government is condoning, still today, its close allies' assistance to jihadist organizations, such as the "Islamic State" (IS), in spite of the IS having again forced countless numbers to flee. Berlin continues to insist on maintaining the embargo on Syria, even though for years observers have been admonishing that this creates unbearable living conditions for the entire population. Critics are calling for an immediate end to the embargo.

Promoting a Putsch

The development of the Syrian war is a good example of how the German government has contributed to - and still contributes to - creating the conditions that force people to flee. Following the hefty demonstrations in Syria in the spring of 2011, Berlin decided in the summer of that year to insist on the overthrow of the Assad government. Accordingly, the German government began cooperating with those sectors of the Syrian opposition, who refused all negotiations with the government in Damascus, and demanded that it unconditionally step down. This sector of the opposition was also prepared to take up arms against the government. This exacerbated the conflict, not least of all, because those sectors of the Syrian opposition were forced into the background, who, fearing a civil war, continued nonviolent opposition and favored negotiations with the government. The German media largely ignored these forces. Within the first six months of 2012, Berlin's support for the putschist forces even went so far as to have the German Chancellery-financed Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) elaborate a concept in collaboration with around 50 Syrian exile government opponents for restructuring Syria once the Assad government is overthrown. The working title of that plan was "The Day After."[1]

War

Aside from the fact that planning putsches in foreign countries makes a mockery of all basic international norms and standards and falls under the crime of aggression, those responsible for Berlin's policy had been fully aware of the risks these represented. This, for example, has been clearly demonstrated in a brief analysis published by the SWP in February 2012 - at a time when "The Day After" project was just beginning. The analysis sketches various scenarios for that country's development. "Regime implosion was the recommended," the authors write and note that this could lead "to a massive escalation of armed conflicts," ultimately to a "comprehensive civil war, probably being fought along confessional lines." This also threatens to become a "proxy war" of foreign powers, since "Saudi Arabia and Qatar" - both allies of Germany - "are already pushing for the rebels to be equipped militarily." "The conflict could possibly even spread to neighboring countries." The "tribes living in the Iraqi-Syrian border regions could be drawn into the conflict," which could conceivably spread to Lebanon as well. All of these prognoses have proven true. Already in early 2012, the SWP took for granted that people could be forced to flee. They clearly assumed that the "refugees would seek refuge mainly in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan."[2]

Starvation

In early 2012, it was evident to the SWP that western sanctions imposed in 2011 on Syria, had dramatically deteriorated the situation of the population providing a greater incentive to flee. Particularly "the European sanctions on the Syrian oil sector" have already had a great impact, according to the brief analysis published in February 2012. "The population is suffering under the lack of gasoline, heating oil and butane gas," "in the meantime, power shortages of up to six hours daily ... are registered even in the capital." This has begun to have an effect on the food supply. There is a lack of imported articles, such as wheat for making bread, while the locally produced daily necessities, such as dairy products, are appreciably becoming more expensive." However, the authors admit that, in spite of the increase in the civilian population's suffering, there is no "indication that the sanctions will lead to the desired political consequences." Neither "the government leadership has changed its policy," nor has "the business elite turned against the regime." Coldly calculating Germany's strategic interests, the SWP's experts recommend "a strict continuation and further tightening of the current sanctions."[3]

Deliberate

The German government's decision to support the militarized sectors of the Syrian opposition, to risk an uncontrollable escalation of the civil war and to use economic sanctions to dramatically deteriorate the country's means of subsistence, was not based solely on considerations of Germany's strategic interests. Also playing a role was Berlin's decision to condone the support for Salafist militias, including their use of terrorism, by its close Middle East allies - above all Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The governments of these countries were - and are still - reinforcing the Salafist and sporadically even jihadist militias, including those of al Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) - to help overthrow Syria's Assad government. According to documents from the US intelligence services, western governments condoned the rise of IS for the strategic reason of breaking Iran's influence in Syria. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[4]) It is widely known that terrorism by the jihadists, al Qaeda, and the IS have forced large numbers of inhabitants to flee, not only from Iraq, but from Syria as well. This has never compelled the German government to put a stop to Riyadh and Ankara's support for this terrorism; on the contrary, its close cooperation continues with these countries, including in the form of arms deliveries. In 2014, Saudi Arabia placed sixth among Germany's arms customers and Turkey is among the Top 20. For its war on Yemen - which also generates its share of refugees - the Saudi's are also using German weapons.[5]

Combat the Cause of Flight

The fact that the German government is tolerating Turkey and Saudi Arabia's support for jihadist militias - including the IS - has begun to provoke a growing amount of criticism. The policy of sanctions on Syria is also drawing protests. "To starve out a people deliberately," in order "to impose a satisfactory regime change from abroad," is a crime, says Bernd Duschner of the "Friendship with Valjevo" peace initiative in his conversation with german-foreign-policy.com. He is the initiator of an appeal (with already more than 2,000 signatures) to lift the embargo on Syria. This peace initiative supports Syrian refugees and demands that the sanctions - "a primary cause of the refugees' suffering" [6] - be lifted. The German government, which claims to seek to fight the causes of flight in the countries of origin, has shown no reaction.

[1] See The Day After, The Day After (II) and The Day After (IV).
[2], [3] Muriel Asseburg, Heiko Wimmen: Der gewaltsame Machtkampf in Syrien. Szenarien und Einwirkungsmöglichkeiten der internationalen Gemeinschaft. SWP-Aktuell 12, Februar 2012.
[4] See Vom Nutzen des Jihad (I), The Jihad's Usefulness (II) and Das Spiel mit dem Terror.
[5] See In Flammen and In Flames (II).
[6] See Gezielt ausgehungert. The appeal can be read (in English) and signed here: www.freundschaft-mit-valjevo.de/wordpress/