It is a growing view that Europe is especially so ineffective on dealing with the flood of refugees that the problem is challenging the fundamental unity of the EU. There is no reason for Germany to have to take a million refugees and to argue with its neighbors over quotas and stir up xenophobia. Here is what I propose.
When I talk of a greater role of Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf states in dealing with the problem emanating from their neighbor Syria, I talk from the experience of someone who lived in Saudi Arabia for years and also Qatar.
These countries are incredibly rich and have built up massive funds from charging huge oil prices to the West and subsequently Asia. They have more of a direct stake in seeing a stable Syria and have been involved in supporting warring and destabilizing factions in that country. So whether good intentioned, hundreds of thousands of Syrians fleeing should be considered as part of their responsibility.
I believe that the Gulf States should therefore take a good portion of Syrian refugees. After all they speak Arabic and the vast majority are tied through Islam to the Holy Land of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. One could argue reasonably that for Christians they would definitely have a very hard time in integrating in Saudi Arabia where no churches, priests or even Christmas are allowed. Such groups should be permitted to go to the West along with eligible people from other religions including Muslims.
For Shia Muslims who find Gulf states to be unfriendly, then they should be permitted in possibly greater numbers to go to Iran and a lesser extent Iraq. Let us face it, Turkey cannot handle existing numbers of refugees or certainly any new numbers.
The current Turkish government feels it is enough under seize from terrorists bombing Istanbul, separatist groups and now Russia likely sworn to get the Erdogan government for shooting down its fighter jet. The economy in Turkey is bad to make matters worse. Turkey must be intelligently helped as a hinge NATO member buffer zone.
In partnership with the Gulf State Council, the United Nations should set up temporary refugee cities at the Saudi Arabian border and in various Gulf states. Complimented to this must be the Syrian peace process that Gulf states would have more interest in if they had these refugee settlements within their countries.
Compared to Europe, the regions of North America, Australia and New Zealand and Latin America are doing little. They should be taking in hundreds of thousands on a temporary basis thereby also relieving the pressures that could bust apart their important trading partner of the EU or exacerbate the crisis in Turkey.
America under Trump would tell the Gulf States more about what they really need to do to more fully act as responsible members of the international community. The vast majority of Saudis I met understand strength of reason but not bigotry.
A smart and cooperative plan worked out better with them could relieve both the fiscal crunch of taking in so many refugees in Turkey and elsewhere in Europe and who knows might make it possible for Gulf states to take many more. The security risks would be also reduced as more vetting could be done over time to see which refugees could move to the West because they met both security and professional integration requirements.
In the mean time, on a temporary basis, certain Greek islands should act as “holding areas” with EU assistance while NATO beefs up efforts to prevent further massive coming spring flows of refugees through the southern underbelly.
The UN as well, should be permitted more free flow of funds and resources into Turkey to improve conditions for refugees. NATO should work with Turkey on its eastern borders more diligently to prevent terrorists and terrorist money and resources from crossing its borders.
However currently, Europe seems to lack imagination with its other western and Arab partners on how to deal with this huge challenge. North America and Europe had best do a better job in engaging those who can help it from going down the road to refugee and related political disaster.
Or borders and more minds will close and radically compromise Europe in particular for trade, investment, labour snd tourism. So far European and western leaders overall in particular including Merkel have been far from impressive though certainly the chancellor has shown more leadership maybe too much.