The Syrian migrant crisis as viewed from the Middle East

The Syrian migrant crisis as viewed from the Middle East

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The one big difference between Middle East critics and those from the West is that they do not recognize, or a least do not mention, the possibilities for increased terrorism.


CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 15, 2015 – As the Western world creates new havens for potential terrorism, the Arab press is blasting Gulf nations for not taking Syrian refugees themselves. The one big difference between Middle East critics and those from the West is that they do not recognize, or a least do not mention, the possibilities for increased terrorism.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)  published several articles from Arab journalists expressing their take on the current refugee crisis surging across Europe.

The insights are interesting and revealing. Surprisingly, some appear to demonstrate a changing attitude among Muslims in the Middle East.

On the other hand, while many stories were vocal against their own countries, others blamed the West for the problem, particularly the U.S. for its inept handling of Gulf issues.

Saudi Arabia, which brazenly offered to build 200 mosques in Germany, bears much of the criticism. Even the pro-government daily Al-Sharq noted, “refugees who have specialized (skills) and scientific and professional qualifications must be permitted to find employment in the Arab states that require workers in the fields of medicine, engineering, education, commerce, etc., and should even be given first priority (in employment)… [The countries must also] increase governmental and nongovernmental budgets for the Syrian refugees… find sources of income for the refugee families.”

In Qatar, the Qatari Daily Gulf Times was particularly severe in commentaries about the wealthier Gulf States: “Europe, has been named ‘Mama Merkel’ by the migrants….Tragically, the cash-rich Gulf countries have not yet issued a collective statement on the crisis – much less come up with a strategy to help the migrants, who are overwhelmingly Muslim. Turkey has taken in more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees, while not-so-well-off Lebanon is also hosting hundreds of thousands. In this part of the world (i.e., the Gulf), however, the silence is deafening.”

Another Saudi writer, ‘Ali Sa’d Al-Moussa, was even more damning about his own country in a column in Al-Watan: “Let us analyze things as clearly and transparently as possible. After the criminal terror attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, on the train (system) in Madrid, and on the London Underground, it took a long time for some (Muslim) religious institutions to issue confused and sheepish condemnations of these crimes. (And) let me state clearly and honestly: were it not for the pressure exerted by the political (echelon), the religious (establishment) would not have issued (even) these condemnations. Conversely, (only) hours after the tragic incident in Hungary in which 70 immigrants were killed in a truck, the Pope appeared and said: ‘This is a crime against morality that contravenes the human values of compassion, tolerance and coexistence, and Europe must apologize and feel shame over this disaster…’

“Without a moment of hesitation, let me say… that we are a primitive nation that has lost its sense of humanity.”

A rare admission to be sure. Perhaps there is a slim possibility for reform if others dare to follow Al-Moussa’s convictions.

In a similar vein, ‘Adnan Hussein, acting editor of Al-Mada in Iraq had praise for the West based upon personal experience:  “Those who have lived in Europe know that there is nothing strange about this, and it would [actually] have been strange if the European peoples and governments had taken the opposite approach. A society where people care for cats, dogs and birds the way a mother cares for her child could feel nothing but shock and anger and its conscience had to be troubled by the sight of the refugees arriving in Europe.”

Another Iraqi journalist came down hard on Barack Obama for his mishandling of all things Middle Eastern:  “The West is responsible (for the crisis), not because it is unable to absorb millions of refugees that might transform Europe’s social and cultural fabric… but because of the wretched and dangerous Western policy, in particular Obama’s policy, which has helped spark crises of conflict in our region, especially in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq…if the international community at large had cared for the lives and security of our (Arab) peoples, they would not have shrugged off the decisions of the (June 2012) Geneva I (Conference on Syria) when it was still possible to find a balanced, gradual and peaceful solution (to the Syrian crisis) that did not include Assad. Back then ISIS did not exist and there were no deadly barrel bombs.”

And finally another Saudi perspective from Mshari Al-Zaydi:  “The main cause of this tragedy is the indecisiveness of the U.S. administration from the very beginning (of the crisis), and its failure to listen and to genuinely cooperate with the countries that wanted to solve the problem at an early stage and which explicitly warned of these consequences.”

It’s a treasure trove of opinions providing more than enough food for thought for Western observers.

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award-winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.

Taylor is founder of the Magellan Travel Club (  

Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News

Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod





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Bob Taylor
Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.