Tuesday, November 30, 2021
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The Syrian Refugees

Source: Time

The situation is Syria is dire. Since 2011, when President Bashar al-Assad used military force to suppress democratic reform demanded by the citizens, Syria has become ground zero for one of the most horrific wars ever raged in the Middle East. As a result of the dictatorial state, protesters and defected soldiers gradually turned to armed resistance, forming the Free Syrian army. The situation has since worsened since ISIS entered the conflict, attacking both Syrian government and rebel forces. Since then, the conflict has become much more complicated as the United States and Russia sought to intervene. As of 2018, more than 30 armed groups are directly involved. Unsurprisingly, over 60 million Syrian civilians have been displaced, causing an international refugee crisis. Meanwhile, Trump has lowered the number of refugees that can come to the United States, down to just 45,000. Yet, the United States has much to gain from admitting these refugees. The US government should substantially reduce its restrictions on legal Syrian refugee immigration to the US because increased acceptance of refugees would improve international US credibility and soft power and would help stabilize the Middle East.

Trump has already wrecked US international credibility by withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, criticizing NATO, vowing to re-structure trade deals with allied countries, and supporting an isolationist foreign policy. However, US international credibility and soft power are essential to maintaining the global balance of power. Russia is currently undermining the EU and democracies all over the world by influencing elections – such the 2016 US presidential election– and creating armies of social media bots to hijack democratic discourse. Meanwhile, China is attempting to assert its own regional hegemony in the South China Sea and is blatantly stealing Western corporations’ technologies without any repercussions. The solution to these problems does not require military force, but the application of US global influence and cultural influence, and upholding international systems such as the UN or the International Court of Justice. Bringing in more refugees allows the US to retake global leadership on the refugee crisis and sets a precedent for the US to take global leadership on other issues. 

Second, accepting more refugees has a concrete and real-time impact as well. While countries bordering Syria – such as Lebanon and Turkey – have taken in most Syrian refugees, these temporary accommodations of refugees won’t last. Due to the economic drain on host countries, conflict between natives and refugees, and perceptions of improved security as ISIS declines, many countries are pushing refugees to return to Syria prematurely. For example, since 2016, Turkey has deported over 100 refugees per day, totaling to about 40,000 per year, a figure that has no doubt increased over the past 2 years.

Yet, the premature return of refugees guarantees the deaths of innocent people. In Syria, the collapse of infrastructure meant the collapse of humanitarian conditions, resulting in a state of despairing poverty. The return of refugees to Syria amid the ongoing war would incite more chaos and violence, and redirecting refugees to the United States can prevent this from happening.

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