The Guardian, the UK’s proudly ‘left wing’ news outlet reports that Europe’s United States-led military alliance NATO has sent three warships, ‘backed by planes’ to ‘intercept migrants trying to reach Greece by sea and send them back to Turkey.’
After an apparently unanimous and unusually speedy decision, the patrol will be led by the flagship of the German navy, and will include a Canadian frigate, I assume to show that Europe has broad international backing for its action.
At the same time, NATO’s Norwegian secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, was quoted as saying, ‘This is not about stopping or pushing back refugee boats.’ I wonder what it is about then. The words of the NATO boss, from his enlightened Scandinavian nation, seem somewhat at odds with the reality of warships rushing to the Aegean Sea backed by air support.
Well, I guess we are pretty used to the hypocrisy of Western governments. Not so long ago, Angela Merkel was ready to commit Germany to doing its bit for the refugees. Now, however, as her local approval level has taken a battering, sending in the navy to stop the flow seems to have become her preferred option. No doubt she will be comforted to know she has the support of the Catholic Church, whose leading German cardinal, Reinhard Marx, recently called for a reduction in the number of refugees his country accepted.
Not so long ago, its Western allies were criticising Turkey’s government over its ‘porous border’ with Syria, and accusing it of failing to stem the flow of foreign fighters using Turkey as a route to enter Syria and join ISIS/Daesh. These ‘jihadists’ were not Turkish, mind. In fact several thousand of them originated from Western countries – but Turkey was apparently to blame.
Now it seems, the same border needs to be opened to allow another influx of refugees, this time fleeing from the Syrian city of Aleppo, as Bashar Assad’s military, with Russian support, continue aerial bombardment. The United Nations are urging Turkey, in the name of humanity, to take in thousands of Syrians queuing at the border, to add to the more than 2.5 million that have already entered since civil war broke out in Syria nearly five years ago.
By the way, you might also notice the ambiguity of that headline. If you didn’t already know who was doing the bombing of Aleppo, you would have to read well into the article to learn that it is a Russian air campaign, and nothing to do with Turkey.