Earlier this month, the world, and likely all Americans as well, were repulsed by the images and tale of a 3-year-old Syrian boy whose lifeless body was retrieved from a Turkish beach. The boy and his family were among the millions of displaced refugees fleeing war-torn Syria and surrounding nations. And while foreign policy may not be of great interest to some during the current presidential campaign cycle, the refugee crisis clearly illustrates how critical sound policy is to our national interests, and global stability.
The 3-year-old boy, Aylan Kurdi, his 5-year-old brother Galip, and his mother, Rehan, all died along with nine others when the small boat carrying them from Turkey to the Greek island of Kos, capsized. Only the boys’ father survived. They were fleeing the Syrian town of Kobani near the Turkish border that has been embroiled in the war between ISIS and Syrian military forces.
The grieving father, Abdullah Kurdi, said, “My kids have to be the wake-up call for the whole world.” It should serve as a wake-up call: not just for the plight of the refugees fleeing unstable nations and communities, but also for a reasoned and rational foreign policy.
A large part of the culpability for the current refugee crisis, the worst since WWII, rests on us, and our abysmal and destructive foreign policy. From the early days of the Arab Spring which started with the Tunisian Revolution in 2010, the Obama administration backed the revolutionary parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood, in overthrowing the despotic regimes in the Middle East.
The administration has been actively engaged in toppling Middle Eastern regimes; Khadafy in Libya, Mubarak in Egypt, and Assad in Syria. In fact, at one time, the president was requesting $500 million to help the “freedom fighters” in Syria topple the Assad regime. The majority of those “freedom fighters” now go by the name ISIS, and the president was poised to fund them.
Even worse, according to CNN in August, 2013, CIA sources revealed that the Benghazi consulate attack of 9/11/12 was directly linked to a clandestine administration operation providing arms to the rebels in Syria. It wasn’t just the consulate compound in Benghazi that was demolished by the marauding jihadists, but the CIA facility two kilometers away, that housed the cash and weapons caches being smuggled into Syria. Jihadists got all of it.
By 2012, the regimes of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen had been overthrown by revolutionaries. Civil uprisings and major protests had spread to Bahrain, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Sudan, and Syria. But the administration’s final objective, the collapse of the Assad regime in Syria, never materialized after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intervention, leaving the warring factions to fight Assad on their own.
The vacuum created by the withdrawal of troops from Iraq played directly into the hands of the Islamic State, or ISIS, that was continuing the fight against the Assad regime. Despite recommendations from the military, the Obama administration refused to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq prior to the 2011 deadline established by the Bush administration. This suited the president’s objective to get out of Iraq, regardless of the consequences of retreat. He kept his promise to “end the war,” but the vacuum significantly enhanced the ability of ISIS to cross the Syrian border and occupy large swaths of territory within Iraq, again destabilizing a nation we spilt precious blood to save.
All of the mayhem in the region has created the refugee crisis, with the majority coming from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Ivory Coast, and Albania. The humanitarian element is not the only concern with this migration. There’s ample evidence that the crisis is being utilized by ISIS as a hijrah, which is the Islamic doctrine of migration to form a stealth jihad. Quran 4:100 says, “And whoever emigrates for the cause of Allah will find on the earth many locations and abundance.”
According to Robert Spencer of FrontPage, “Evidence that this is a hijrah, not simply a humanitarian crisis, came last February, but was little noted at the time and almost immediately forgotten. The Islamic State published a document entitled, Libya: The Strategic Gateway for the Islamic State.’ Gateway into Europe, that is. The document exhorted Muslims to go to Libya and cross from there as refugees into Europe. This document tells would-be jihadis that weapons from Gaddafi’s arsenal are plentiful and easy to obtain in Libya – and that the country ‘has a long coast and looks upon the southern Crusader states, which can be reached with ease by even a rudimentary boat.’”
A British paper reported in February that a Syrian operative affiliated with ISIS claimed they had already used the refugee crisis to “form a fifth column of Muslim fighters inside Western nations.” He claimed that more than 4,000 trained ISIS fighters have already been smuggled into Europe, hidden among innocent refugees.
And still the Obama administration will not be honest about the mess they’ve created. We learned just last week that over 50 intelligence officials have filed formal complaints alleging that their superiors have been inappropriately altering intelligence reports on ISIS to make it appear as if the administration was making more progress than it actually was.
The consequences of an ideologically driven, acquiescent foreign policy implemented by incompetents are becoming increasingly evident on a nearly daily basis. The next administration will have its hands full trying to undo the damage wreaked by eight years of ineptitude. It’s impossible to judge whether the damage is irreversible, for the hijrah genie is already out of the bottle.
Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].