The only thing more sinister than intentionally creating refugees, is weaponizing them as leverage to further coerce nations and advance hegemonic ambitions.
The United States and its allies have done both extensively – from exploiting the flow of refugees fleeing US-led wars in Libya and Syria – to the cynical exploitation of high-profile cases like Rahaf al-Qunun of Saudi Arabia and Hakeem al-Araibi of Bahrain – both of whom are fleeing autocratic regimes armed and propped up exclusively by the West.
In addition to creating the conditions ensuring a steady stream of refugees – the West has assembled an army of faux-rights advocates – most notably Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International to shift blame from those responsible for the creation of refugees to those saddled with growing numbers of people seeking refuge within their borders.
Weaponizing Refugees in Libya and Syria
After the US-led NATO destruction of Libya, a predictable tidal wave of refugees flooded out of North Africa into Europe. At the same time, the US-led proxy war in Syria was ramping up likewise causing a steady stream of refugees fleeing the conflict.
As refugees began arriving in Europe – the result of US wars eagerly aided and abetted by many of Europe’s NATO members as well as Canada and Australia – the socioeconomic pressure they created – real or imagined – was immediately leveraged to call for bolder and more direct military intervention against Syria by the West.
Articles like a 2016 Guardian piece titled, “Refugees are becoming Russia’s weapon of choice in Syria,” would even attempt to claim Russia’s air campaign against Western-sponsored terrorists in Syria was aimed at intentionally creating a flow of refugees into Turkey and Europe to “divide the transatlantic alliance and undermine the European project.”
The article would admit that this flow of refugees served as a pretext for a proposed “no-fly zone” in northern Syria – a stated goal of US policymakers since as early as 2012 published in a Brookings Institution memo titled, “Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change” (PDF) which called for:
…the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power.3 This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.
It is clear now – as the Syrian government regains control of the nation’s territory and refugees begin returning home almost exclusively to territory controlled by Damascus – just how cynical the West’s refugee pretext actually was.….