The closing of Europe: more instability or a bigger push for democracy?

19 Mar

Will the closing off of Europe to more refugees lead to more instability in the Middle East and Africa? Could it end up driving more people into the arms of extremism, or the opposite, to push them towards demanding more accountability and transparency from their leaders?

The recent agreement between Turkey and the EU sends this clear message to any potential Middle Eastern or North African migrant: “Unless you are from Syria, Europe is now closed to you. Its over. It will no longer treat refugees the same way it did before”. Not just the agreement, across the EU the issue of accepting refugees is becoming a controversial issue in an unprecedented manner. Even the liberal Swedes are threatening to expel 80,000 asylum seekers.

Now imagine you are a young unemployed Libyan, Afghan, Iranian or Iraqi. For years you always had the option of going to Europe as a refugee, even though the majority did not take it. Nevertheless, that option always existed as a last resort.

Now it no longer exists. You know you will be stuck in your country for better or for worst. And migrating to neighboring Middle Eastern or North African countries will not help much either.

Knowing that you can no longer just move to the EU if all else failed could increase the sense of desperation in the Middle East and Africa, especially among the young and unemployed.

The Middle East and North Africa region could from now till the next decade either become even more unstable with more people joining extremist movements. Or the opposite, the realization that there is no longer an escape to the EU option may push its citizens to demand more accountability from their leaders. This is a potential development which Iran, Israel and the rest of the world especially the EU can not ignore.

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