KLJUČNE RIJEČI: prisilne migracije, Bliski Istok, Sirija, specijalne operacije, terorizam.
ABSTRACT: During 2015 and 2016, Europe was swept over with a substantial number of refugees and displaced persons, with political and economic background. Europe was not prepared for this very serious challenge. The process of migration fuelled by the wars and conflicts in the Middle and Near East, and Central and North Africa, which moved tens of millions of people toward Europe, primarily to Germany and Sweden as their primary target country.
This process had opened many questions about real reasons why so many people, with different habits, traditions, ways of thinking, organisation of the state and society, and religion is moving towards the EU member states, and not toward the countries of similar cultural/ civilizational characteristics.
KEYWORDS: Forced migrations, Middle East, Syria, special operations, terrorism
During 2015 and 2016, South-East Europe and the European Union have encountered the largest migration since World War 2. Countries from which these migrants come from are extremely poor, war-torn and devastated countries of Central Asia, North and Middle Africa and especially from the Middle East. The processes of encouraging political change in the countries of North Africa known collectively as "Arab Spring", long-term instability, insecurity and the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the attempts of violent changes of certain regimes in power, as in the case of Syria, have led to the migrations of millions of inhabitants to, in the opinion of those who move and those who direct them, their nearest area of stability and security (economic and political): to the European Union. Pressure placed upon by migrants has not been felt by all countries equally. The greatest pressure has been placed on the countries that are in the line of movement in which these migrants have been headed (Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Italy) and the countries that are their prime goal: Germany and Sweden.
Since the migrations are only a result of certain actions and intentions, it is necessary to identify and read their cause (one or more) in order to attempt to influence them. If the will of the political elite in power and those in opposition is to deal only with resolving the consequences, and to use this difficult situation for their own political and promotional purposes, then a solution to end the crisis will be unreachable and impossible. Without attempting to directly act on the causes, it is difficult to expect that the migration wave will stop. Moreover, the positive resolution of the status of many refugees in EU member states can only give additional impetus to further strengthening the migration process and increase the flow of migrants into the EU. Therefore, their sudden flow should be monitored in light of changing geopolitical relations and the new "card shuffling" among the countries that are key subjects of geopolitical relations in Eurasia.
The migrants who come from Syria, which we are talking about here mainly (politically and economically), are on their way to the EU for several reasons:
- Those who are politically inclined to the ruling regime in Syria, whether or not they do not want to or cannot participate in war activities,
- Those who are politically inclined to one of the rebel groups, gathered around the FSA, and who are fighting against the regime,
- Those inclined to, and members of, the ISIS, who are trying to "below the radar " dragged themselves to the EU with the aim of creating a state of emergency by taking violent and terrorist actions of different natures and attempted to recruit future terrorists and perpetrators,
- People who do not come from Syria, but are trying to join the migrant flow in order to exploit this power in order to easily obtain new documents and new identities in the EU and
- Members of various political opposition groups, various criminals and fugitives from national legislations of different countries.
According to UNHCR data, distribution of displaced Syrians inside Syria and refugees in neighbouring countries as in 02/29/2016 is the following:
Figure 1: Syria Situation Map
The total number of refugees from Syria which have been recorded, and that are present in neighbouring countries, is almost 4.8 million. How many refugees are staying unregistered in neighbouring countries can only be assumed. In the period between April 2011 to the end of December 2015, according to UNHCR official data, almost 900 000 Syrians have sought asylum in Europe. The majority of them came during 2014, as well as in 2015.
Trends in the number of refugees are dependent on the development of combat operations in Syria, as it is evident in Figure 2. It is clear that the increase of refugees has been strengthening due to the rising influence of FSA and ISIS on the area, actually, the loss of control of the territory by the central government in Syria in clashes against ISIS and FSA. The next larger wave followed the involvement of the Russian Federation, Iran and Hezbollah forces together with the central government forces in Syria in late 2015.
Figure 2: Syrian refugee Crisis
If we want to thoroughly examine the possibility of additional migratory pressure on neighbouring and EU countries, it is necessary to consider the number of the displaced Syrian population who have found asylum in some other parts of Syria. UNOCH estimates that their current number is about 6.5 million persons. More than the sum of all refugees who are in neighbouring countries and many times more than the number who have so far arrived in the EU. It is clear that the fall of the Syrian regime would most likely produce an important increase in the number of migrants who would swarm into the EU (provided that most of these displaced persons, as shown in the Table 1, are currently located on the territory which is under the control of the central government in Damascus).
Table 1: Internally Displaced Persons in Syria – stand February 29 2016.
Displaced Persons by Governorate:
Lower increase in the number of refugees would have happened if the situation on the battlefield in Syria is going to be stabilized, if the FSA experience strong internal divisions that could lead to the transition of the part of the rebel groups toward the government forces and winning the war against ISIS. This situation would create conditions that could lead to a gradual easing of tensions in Syria and reaching an agreement similar as it was the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) for Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) from 1995. To create conditions, according to the interest of leading world powers, for a fast and efficient post-war rebuilding of Syria, with a guarantee of political stability and an amnesty for all those who have not committed any war or terrible crimes (to fight against in a battle is not a crime; torturing, raping, deliberate murders are crimes that should be punished). In this case, certainly, the conditions for the return of a large number of current migrants to Syria would be created. The migrant pressure from Syria on the EU would decline, political and conflict situation on the Middle East would temporarily stabilize it, in terms of the existence of open armed conflict. Tensions in the relations between different political factors would not disappear, but could continue to be solved by political means. Low-intensity conflicts will replace armed conflict.
Croatia and Migration
This migrant crisis has led to serious repercussions on the political relations within many countries which have found themselves on the migrant route, as well as countries that receive a large number of refugees. In Croatia, the issue of migration was one of the most important issues in the political elections for the national parliament, which took place around the time of the intensification of the migration crisis. In Germany, Austria and Slovenia, these disputes are still present and influence at the changes in the political scene. Turkey, Macedonia and Greece are under strong domestic and external political pressure where they face the threat of serious consequences in the domain of their political stability. Hungary, very quickly, even in mid-2015 "solve" the problem of migrants by placing barbed wire and military on the state border with non-member and the EU member countries. This is example, after being attacked for a long time by EU institutions, was enforced also by Slovenia and Austria. Today, within the Schengen area there are numerous "small iron curtains”. Precisely, barriers and walls that are in complete opposition to the very existence of the EU.
The Republic of Croatia faced the migration wave at that moment when the migration route Turkey-Greece-Macedonia-Serbia-Hungary was interrupted by the Hungarian police and military units that were sent to the border with Serbia for raising of a barb-wire fence along the entire Hungarian-Serbian border. An alternative route for migrants on their way to desired destinations became Croatia, which was faced with the arrival of more than six thousand migrants per day, which at that moment, caught the state structure unprepared. There was not enough place in the shelters nor were police forces properly instructed on how, when and where they need to work with migrants.
At first, the migrants who arrived in Croatia right on the border were registered and more or less allowed to make their own movement to the destination countries which proved to be a risk concerning in security threats, the possibility of transmitting a variety of diseases up to potential of committed criminal and violent acts, which did not occur (such cases have not been recorded). In order to avoid an uncontrolled flow of migrants, Croatian Ministry of Interior tried to establish an organized direction for the migrants, which initially did not seem to be organized properly. When the state’s infrastructure was faced with approximately six thousand migrants on a daily basis, the City of Zagreb jumped in to offer help, which quickly and efficiently provided acceptance and shelter to more than 3,500 people in the area of the Zagreb Fair. All migrants were provided with beds, showers, meals and medical care. As well, buses were also organized to take the migrants to the Hungarian-Slovenian border, so that the reception centre could be ready within a few hours to receive new migrants. Only then, the Croatian government decide to start building reception centres and that the refugees could no longer be sent to Zagreb, which showed organizational readiness for confrontation, and fast, efficient and successful resolution with these challenges. In order to reinforce the work on the location, with the police, the Croatian army was also engaged. Migrant’s reception and care of them in the City of Zagreb was taken over by the organization of Zagreb’s Civil Protection.
It is needless to emphasize how this crisis affects the deterioration of the political, economic and social stability of countries that have a number of open issues in their relations: Turkey, Greece and Macedonia. This crisis is also an excellent source of income for certain criminal groups that generate high income for the organization of getting migrants into the EU. Direction of movement of migrants to the EU’s Eastern and Middle-Mediterranean directions are shown in the Figure 3:
Figure 3: Main Migration Routes
The migration crisis was used for the introduction of additional political divisions on supranational issues, but also on the level of EU member states. The diversity of approaches to the problem of migrants of certain national policies led to the imbalance of power and relations within the EU, to further polarization of the multilayered EU, and to exploit these differences by criminal groups to continue to stimulate the migration wave regardless of the sacrifices of the victims who experienced this in a difficult, long and demanding path towards their final objective, Germany and Sweden.
Forced migrations become very powerful non-kinetic weapon. That supports the idea that everything what can be used as a weapon for achieving the strategic goals can, and it seems has to, be used in order for own countries benefit (short- and long-term).
One of the current and future sever problems that is already causing, and will further cause, the migration wave is the problem of efficient, accurate and irrefutable identification of all persons who are in the migration wave. There are numerous cases where migrants were supplied with new documents and completely new identities based only on their testimonies. It has been also known cases of using the original Syrian and Iraqi passports but with falsified identities of the travelling persons. That makes „personal identity washing" process realistic, especially necessary for persons who are arriving in the EU with the intention of planning, encouraging, organizing and the execution of violence and acts of terrorism, of those who will remain as "sleepers", as well as those who will work on the radicalization of certain indigenous people in the communities in which they will be placed.
The sudden influx of refugees/migrants leads to the movement of various diseases, which can in unprepared environments trigger a serious crisis. In addition, the educational system is not ready to accept such a flow of persons/children that need to continue with an effective education. Conflicting differences in tradition, norms and values, civilization and the legal system, culture, educational system, school subjects, language diversity, and the diversity of religious rules makes this process even harder. These are all issues that the domicile country should face with in order to be able to offer an appropriate response and to create conditions for effective and positive integration of immigrants in the EU and to create conditions for their return to their home country when it would be possible. Migrants who are willing to live in coexistence with other people and show respect for others regardless of their differences in a new host country could stay and help others to integrate better in a new society.
Data on the number of migrants from the above-mentioned areas of Africa and Asia that are coming to the EU with regard to the total population does not indicate that there may be serious security threats as well as changes of the established norms in the EU. However, grouping or the concentration of migrants in a specific regions, cities, towns, and places, their "self-isolation" point to the fact that unwanted changes are coming to be real, and that immigrants largely do not accept the existing rules and norms of behaviour in the environments in which they have arrived. In communities in Germany, France and Belgium many negative examples of self-isolation can be found. The existence of those self-isolating communities are making the process of integration of immigrants in the existing system of values, the existing legislative, social, economic and security framework very difficult to accomplish. The process of integration of certain groups of immigrant population often results in a complete failure, with the constant demands of immigrants for the rules under which they lived in the countries from which they came from, even though they may be in contradiction with local rules/laws. This leads to the immigration of the local population that does not want to live in this, newly created, environment. No matter how much we try to keep this in the dark, it is a process that happens all the time and that slowly but surely burdens the internal relations and leads to the radicalization of political relations within each community, the country and to the change of the political scene.
On the other hand, one should not forget the truth of the claims of those who say that this migration flow is used to change the ethnic and religious images of Europe and to create a foundation for further weakening the internal cohesion of the EU on key geopolitical and economic issues and challenges that as member states and as the whole of the EU, are facing or will be faced in the future.
The Dayton peace agreement for the Middle East? Federalization, Cantonization or something else?
Can a solution to this, primarily political and only then migrant crisis be a daily increase in the quota allocation of upcoming migrants into EU member states? Will the increase of these quotas bring us to a decrease in the number of migrants? In our opinion, the effect will be exactly the opposite. Encouraged by the continuous increase in the quota, failing to resolve the root cause of the problem will further increase the number of migrants. Not only that the number of migrants from Syria is going to increase, but also from other countries whose people are confronted with poverty and violence.
Further unorganized and illegal increase of the number of migrants in the EU will directly and adversely affect the internal stability and security of the EU, its social policy, economic development, and unfortunately it will probably strengthen the radical political circles which will encourage actions for further inner-society divisions in terms of attitude towards migrants. Equally on the far right and the far left political side. These kinds of radicalizations Europe does not need. Europe does not know how to fight against these kinds of radicalizations and cannot successfully fight according to its current mode of operation. The problem of migrants needs to be solved at their root by combining political, social, economic, security, and if necessary, military, measures and activities. Stabilization and the prevention process of violent separations of individual countries should be the primary concern of all subjects of international policy.
Can Syria and the wider region of the Middle East, achieve a peace agreement similar to the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA), which in 1995 ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina? The DPA brought on peace, but it did not form conditions for sustainable development of B&H. The agreement ended the armed conflict, but it allowed the continuation of the conflict at the lower level with non-kinetic weapons. The DPA included many diverse international and national interests and different national, ethnic and religious groups that have experienced it differently. Before reaching a final agreement, in the area of B&H the international community prevented the continuation of joint military activities of the armed forces (Croatian army-HV, Croatian defence council-HVO and Army of B&H-AB&H) which, if continued, until the end of 1995 would have led to the complete defeat of Serbia and Serbian military forces in Bosnia and Croatia. Therefore, during peace negotiations the Serbian side did not feel completely defeated nor did the Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina feel like true victors in the war. The Croatian side was aware that they are the only true winner of the violent separation of Yugoslavia and the Homeland war in Croatia and in B&H. This is the reason why there were diverse attitudes, approaches and behaviours of three presidents in Dayton, in the way how American sources presented them when describing the process of reaching a DPA in Dayton.
What conditions must be achieved in order to gain access to the negotiation process that could result in success? The term success does not mean only the end of armed conflict, but also the beginning of the normalization process and creating conditions for sustainable development of Syria and the wider region. First, it is necessary to clearly and unambiguously identify the key sponsor-states of the peace agreement that will agree to participate in conducting the negotiation process. Second, it is necessary to determine the conflicting parties that will be included in the negotiation process, and the parties that will be excluded from the negotiations and against whom the armed operations should continue until their final defeat. Then it is necessary to determine and see who can also be included in the negotiations, as other interested sponsor-states to stop the war, whose interests in the context of resolving the situation needs to be heard (because of short- and long-term stability and sustainability of the peace process), but that will not "sit at the negotiating table". An essential condition for effectively conducting the negotiation process is a controlled process of media access to only those parties who will responsibly use this opportunity. It is useful to use the example from the DPA described on p. 160-161:
„After a week reviewing possible facilities, the State Department had chosen Wright-Peterson Air Force Base outside of Dayton, Ohio. While Tudjman was agnostic about the choice, Izetbegovic and Milosevic seemed disappointed. Izetbegovic and Sacirbey left the clear impression that they wanted easier access to the American media to drum up public pressure on their behalf. Upon hearing that the talks would be held not in bustling midtown Manhattan but sleepy mid-America, Milosevic said „you can't confine us to a military base. The Serb leader wanted to be closer to New York and Washington, where he could enjoy the high-life and, no doubt, also play to the media“.
It is clear that one of the key conditions for achieving any agreement is total media isolation of conflicting negotiating parties. This approach involves organizing the negotiation process in a separate and secure facility that will provide the necessary level of discretion for negotiating delegations. Then it is necessary to establish clear rules that no one can leave the negotiating area until a suitable solution has been reached and that the party who could leave the negotiations is going to be accused of boycotting the peace process. That side will be faced with all negative consequences.
Unlike the physical and security constraints of peace negotiations, the issue of achieving political preconditions for reaching an agreement is a set of questions that will be harder to get clear answers. It should be achieved through the fast, well organized and effective "shuttle diplomacy" to determine the minimum focal points on which should be able to reach general agreement from the key parties in conflict. Then it is necessary to get into defining and reaching a "package of solutions", smaller and larger ones, which will pave the way towards achieving common solutions. The negotiation process should include the essential difference in the process of accepting and understanding the structure of the future state and society with different actors. For example, in the DPA this diversity was easily visible:
Croatian side had a clear set of political objectives of building a future state as a state of all its citizens and did not associate nationality and ethnic / national definition with religious determination; in B&H they supported the idea of the constitutional internal reorganization of B&H in the way to, respecting and recognizing the integrity of its external borders, favour the option of self-sustainability to the whole area of B&H and the Croatian people there;
Serbian side focused on the creation of separate legal organizational units in B&H that was supposed to be as more independent of the central government and which might one day set the referendum question and the possibility of secession from B&H and join Serbia;
Muslim side thought that any negotiation about the future internal reorganization of B&H meant the separation of B&H as a country. At the same time also equated, in the line with the policy from the time of the existence of Yugoslavia, its religious with their newly national commitment (to be a Muslim in Yugoslavia had a two meanings: as a religious orientation and as a nation) in B&H, which led to substantial differences in the approach of ways to resolve the crisis.
Armed superiority on the ground (Croatian army-HV, Croatian defence council-HVO and Army of B&H-AB&H) and threatening to defeat the Serbian military forces, led to a peace agreement which imposed peace in B&H but also created the conditions for ending the war with the peace negotiations in Croatia and demilitarization of the confronted sides. However, B&H did not become a self-sustaining state, nor does it have a optimistic survival in the future without strong financial, human resources and any other assistance from the international community. The survival of B&H without a strong and direct influence of the international community in all its structures would be called into question (the other side of this influence is often yielded and completely different unique results that are only contributed to the deepening conflict and increasing tension between ethnic groups).
Is there a need for such an agreement in the Syria? The agreement might be able to end only some of the armed conflicts, but that would not allow a solution for the real reason why the war started. Can the "Balkanization of Syria" be an acceptable solution for the conflicting parties, or will this process lead to more intense armed conflicts in, and with, neighboring countries and in the whole Middle East? Such a process certainly does not represent desirable outcome for any serious participant because it refers to the opening of Pandora's box which will hardly resolve any peace process. The process should be directed either towards federalization or to Cantonization of Syria or toward other form of internal constitutional reorganization with inevitable preservation of Syrian external borders.
It is necessary to make the above mentioned activities in Syria in order to bring the situation in terms of controlled processes that could lead to the ending of the armed conflict and to the return of refugees in Syria. From the negotiation process it should be immediately sent off the side that is trying to impose the concept "or we - or they" because such an attitude does not lead to positive progress. Then it is necessary to make the negotiation process without negative influence of ideologies and religion, the gradual demilitarization of the zone of direct contact between the conflicting parties and the concentration of military forces against those who are not going to be included in the future peace process. At the same time, it should be necessary to create conditions for a gradual return of the population, renovation and infrastructure construction and housing units, control and use of energy resources, as well as creating conditions for the establishment of minimum common institutions of government as well as the determination of the timing of the free, unhindered and fully monitored democratic elections at all levels.
The issue of military cooperation with interested neighbouring countries, as well as state-sponsors in military operations against opponents of the peace agreement is an essential issue that will have to take into account the views of the negotiating parties. A key requirement is the inviolability and not altering the external borders of the state without the direct consent of all accepted negotiating parties, and with the full consent of the state-sponsor.
Today's kinetic and non-kinetic weapons can with very little funding cause considerable damage to any target, located anywhere in the world. Therefore, no one can say that is safe and that can be bypassed as a target of possible violence and terrorist acts. And with these and such terrorist activities are often linked persons that are coming in a variety of migratory waves from certain areas.
Multilayer approach for the EU minority policy toward different minority groups, that tends to self-isolate themselves, of the population in the EU is in short- and long-term unacceptable from the legal, social, economic, cultural, security and civilization point of view. In a community based on equal opportunities and rights there should not be the ones that have the increased and more rights than others because of their minority or migrant status. Such a policy, especially in times of crisis, is leading to a strong political divisions and processes that will completely produce different long-term effects, which can lead to violence and the general state of insecurity. And this, state of insecurity, is what terrorists are looking for. The introduction of the policy of equal rights to all persons, without multiple, so-called positive, discrimination in terms of social and economic crisis, is necessary to prevent future stronger divisions that can give fuel to numerous conflicts with unforeseeable consequences for local, regional, and global security.
Migrant crisis has shown that the European Union needs much more integration. EU should have its own police forces and also a common army for the protection of its external borders and to help to prevent wars where EU is going to be called for help. Part of this Europe showed its other face, raising all kinds of fences, pointing that individual governing structures in the EU have not yet learned anything from history. The real question that should be asked is the need of preservation, and sustainability and the full protection of the "open- door EU policy". Barb-wire policy is, just like self-isolation policy, a way toward future problems and possible conflicts.
The processes of change in a particular society and the state, if they are justified and if on them there is a broad consensus, should be guided and controlled in the cognitive domain with a rare application of special information operations. With the clear goal of preventing violent and irreversible disintegration of certain states. There is no single acceptable model of organizing the state and society that can in all situations and in different cultures, give unique results. The future of Syria and the stability of the Middle East are not in the “Balkanization of Syria” because its armed conflict will quickly spill over beyond its borders, threatening to carry a significant number of countries into direct armed conflict. It is easier to negotiate the different stages of the peace agreement, such as the internal reorganization of Syria and the attempt to create the foundations for its long-term stability, when a peace process is backed by clearly define consensus between key state-sponsors. Moreover, these peace process and result of the negotiations can be a role-model that can be used as a possible solution of the future crisis that will, certainly, occur again sometime in the near future. Sustainable peace and destruction of conflict points is a final goal that needs to be achieved through the negotiation process.
1. Syria Regional Refugee Response, Inter-agency Information Sharing Portal http://www.data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php, access 6th of March 2016
2. Syrian Refugee Crisis, https://www.mercycorps.org/articles/syria-turkey-iraq-lebanon-jordan/quick-facts-what-you-need-know-about-syria-crisis, access 6th of March 2016
3. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, People internally displaced by violence, http://www.unocha.org/syria, access 6.3.2016.
4. Relief web, Syrian Arab Republic: Humanitarian Snapshot (as of 29 February 2016) [EN/AR], URL:http://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/syrian-arab-republic-humanitarian-snapshot-29-february-2016-enar, access 6th of March 2016
5. United States Department of the State: The Road to Dayton-U.S. Diplomacy and the Bosnia Peace process, May-December 1995 (Derek Choller, May 1997) http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB171/ch03.pdf, access 10th of July 2015
6. The World's Congested Human Migration Routes in 5 Maps; by Eve Conant, maps by Matthew Chwastyk and Ryan Williams, National geographic, URL:http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150919-data-points-refugees-migrants-maps-human-migrations-syria-world/ access 6th of March 2016
Gordan Akrap, PhD
St. George Association, Zagreb
Gordan Akrap (b. 1966) graduated on Zagreb Faculty of electronics and computing in 1994. In 2011 he received a PhD at the University of Zagreb, in the field of Information and Communication sciences. The title of his PhD was “Informational strategies and operations in public knowledge shaping”. He had an active role in Homeland war. During his career in diplomatic and security structures of Croatia he completed a number of professional courses, including Diplomatic Academy. He is active in research of national and regional security, intelligence and history of Homeland War. He published a number of books, and papers in journals and proceedings.
Pavle Kalinic, PhD
Office for Emergency Crisis Management, City of Zagreb
He graduated from the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Zagreb in 1982. In the same year, he received his master's degree in International Relations. He worked as an Assistant Professor at the University of Political Science from 1986 to 1987, and at the College of Technical Science from 1987 to 1991. In 1989-1990, as an assistant at the Faculty of Political Science, he participated in the scientific project "Characteristics of Political Behaviour in the Region". In 1989 he founded Fokus, the first independent magazine in Croatia, which was published until the end of 1990. During 1991, he participated in the Homeland War as an army officer. He underwent medical treatment in the US after being wounded on the battlefield. He resided in the United States the following two years, returning to Croatia in 1994.
He worked for the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in 1994 and 1995. In 1997, he became a member of the Zagreb City Assembly, as well as a member of the Croatian Parliament in 2000. In 2006, he became head of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports in Zagreb; as of 2008, he is the head of the Zagreb Office of Emergency Management. In July 2012, he obtained his PhD with the thesis “The politics of G.W. Bush administration and Islamic terrorism”.