…..along with the Rohingya (but that’s another story)!
Last week I reported that Iraq had agreed to open its borders to fleeing Syrians (Syrian Christians being killed by rebels). But, it appears that they have done so with great reluctance because they fear that Al Qaeda (Sunnis) will flow in with the Syrians. I think it’s a legitimate concern for the mostly Shiite government in Baghdad.
Here the New York Times has the Iraqi anti-refugee theme outlined.
QAIM, Iraq — Muhammed Muafak decided he had had enough when Syrian Army mortar shells struck near his house while his family was having the iftar meal to end the daily Ramadan fast. He packed up his 10-member household in Bukamal, the Syrian border town where they lived, and fled here to this Iraqi border town.
He expected a warm welcome. After all, his country had taken in 1.2 million Iraqis during their recent war, far more than any of Iraq’s other neighbors, and had allowed them to work, send their children to public schools and receive state medical care.
Instead, Mr. Muafak found himself and his family locked up in a school under guard with several hundred other Syrians, forbidden to leave to visit relatives in Iraq or to do anything else.
“We wish to go back to Syria and die there instead of living here in this prison,” said Abdul Hay Majeed, another Syrian held in a school building, along with 11 family members. Mr. Majeed was refused permission for that either, he and other refugees said.
Alone among Syria’s Muslim neighbors, Iraq is resisting receiving refugees from the conflict, and is making those who do arrive anything but comfortable. Baghdad is worried about the fighters of a newly resurgent Al Qaeda flowing both ways across the border, and about the Sunni opponents of the two governments making common cause.
The NYT never did like that Iraqi government:
The contrast with the situation during the war in Iraq is stark. [Assad's] Syria took in more Iraqis than any other neighbor, and was more hospitable than Jordan, which imposed tight restrictions on its 750,000 refugees’ freedom to work and use public services.
“If they don’t want us here, they should let us go back to our country,” said Thafir Khalel, who came Thursday. “It’s better to die there than be humiliated here.”
Looks like Iraqi government leaders have a legitimate fear!
Now, American troops have left Iraq, and Al Qaeda has switched sides, taking up arms against the Assad government.
Here is the story that link about switching sides sends you.
The presence of jihadists in Syria has accelerated in recent days in part because of a convergence with the sectarian tensions across the country’s long border in Iraq. Al Qaeda, through an audio statement, has just made an undisguised bid to link its insurgency in Iraq with the revolution in Syria, depicting both as sectarian conflicts — Sunnis versus Shiites.
One Qaeda operative, a 56-year-old known as Abu Thuha who lives in the Hawija district near Kirkuk in Iraq, spoke to an Iraqi reporter for The New York Times on Tuesday. “We have experience now fighting the Americans, and more experience now with the Syrian revolution,” he said. “Our big hope is to form a Syrian-Iraqi Islamic state for all Muslims, and then announce our war against Iran and Israel, and free Palestine.”
Watch for it! We have already given Syrians Temporary Protected Status and now I can hear the distant drumbeat—the clamor to bring more Syrians to America has begun (and it won’t be a clamor to save the Christians). Will we be sure Al-Qaeda doesn’t sneak in here too?