When I updated my Facebook status a few days back, about why I totally support the influx of refugees from Syria into Europe, and how I would in fact love for them to enter Britain by all means necessary, not a few of my friends were alarmed at such a suggestion, but I wasn’t apologetic, rather I held my grounds while predicating my argument on the history regarding the empire days of European powers such as the British and the French.
I was particularly angry at the British for their reluctance to take in refugees, as the French were more forthcoming, and very much surprised that the Germans threw their gates open, of which my friend George Alakhume rationalized their behavior as that borne partly of guilt for responsibility in starting two world wars, in another of their bid at appeasement following what is considered as the world’s worst treatment of humanity especially from the last World War, at their hands.
Whether it is in Africa, or the Middle East, or even in South America; Europe (and by that I mean Britain and France majorly, and to a lesser extent Germany, Belgium, Spain, Portugal amongst others) cared very little about the implications of the expansionist agenda of their empires while they enjoyed the fruits (that came in terms of raw materials to feed their industries, as well as food and cash crops to satiate their populace) thereof, including expansive pieces of real estate (part of which was of a whole country, as was with King Leopold of Belgium over Congo) owned by citizens in far flung parts of the empires amongst others, to the shame, rape, plundering, and exploitation of not just the people of the conquered territories, but of their lands and resources.
In order to achieve their aim, they drew imaginary lines, over maps of places of which many of those in the room where agreements such as the SYKES-PICOT AGREEMENT
(concluded on the 16th of May, 1916 between the governments of the United Kingdom and France with the assent of Russia, aimed at defining their proposed spheres of influence and control in the Middle East should they succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire during World War I) and as with those in the SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA
were formulated, would never visit in person, because all that mattered to them was the proceeds and never how their actions and inactions affected the lives of people on ground.
Hence, people who had lived independently of one another for ages on end, only once a while engaging one another in trade as well as wars (sometimes)without the thought of ever coming together to be one state because of ethnic and religious differences were put together. Such lines, split and shared Kurds amongst Iraq, Syria, Turkey etc, and put Sunnis and Shias together in Iraq, Bahrain amongst other confusing geo-social-religio-political configurations in the middle east, even as they did in Africa. The Yoruba will be split and be found in Nigeria, Republique du Benin, and Togo, while the Hausa/Fulani rather than be one homogenous state in West Africa will be spread across the Northern parts of a large number of West African countries, and the Igbo who had never seen the Hausa or Fulani became amalgamated with the later (in 1914), as with other tribes and ethnic groups to become Nigeria. Such was the “LIGHT” the European empires and powers brought to bear on the areas they colonized.
A light that made them view with suspicion (and to subjugate), groups of people that were reluctant to simply lie down and acknowledge their authority, while elevating those who elected to behave to the contrary to glorified servile positions. When they felt the SLAVE TRADE (in Africans for plantations in South America and the Carribeans) had become more expensive with a little pricking of their conscience, they decided to keep the Africans in their place and exploit the land using them as cheap, even in some places unremunerated labour. Even when these European colonialists built infrastructure, it was such that ensured the seamless transfer of the BOOTY off colonial lands to the homeland in Europe via land, rail and by sea. With divide and rule, they maintained status quo, lording one group over the other and when there were not such differences in Language, Tradition, and Culture, they created one like they did in Rwanda and Burundi with the Hutus and Tutsis, using differences in physical appearance and characteristics, like height, facial presentation etc.
After it became obvious that they were spent, at the end of the second World War, and the locales many of which had fought in the war or had relatives who fought in the war, discovered that there was nothing supernatural about the Europeans and that besides their fairer skin suffer the same inanities that bedevil every other person of colour, it became pertinent for the powers to evolve another means to continue their exploitation. They instituted NEO-COLONIALISM by placing their stooges in power in the countries in Africa and the Middle East many of which personified the story in George Orwell’s “ANIMAL FARM”. The arrangements in many of the places were recipes for disaster, more like ticking time bombs, that wasted no time in unraveling, especially with the spate of coups that followed immediately after independence of many of the countries, with political instability leading even to civil wars, in which the former colonialists took sides, and the often instability that continued to plague the nations as the different constituents of the amalgam constituting the countries periodically failed to continue to cohabit, while the peace they maintained was akin to that in a graveyard, or simply put- an ABSENCE OF WAR, especially where the ruler of such a country was/is a paranoid megalomanical freak.
It was in one of the Turbulence as will visit those states that the ARAB SPRING occurred sweeping away some of the regions’ MIGHTY MEN and the West couldn’t muster a united response, even Britain bailed on her best friend and ally, the United States of America, when the cries from the Syrian government’s human rights abuses upon its citizen reached reached the peak of Mount Olympus, to dim Obama’s famed “RED LINE” to grey. Once some of those mighty men were toppled and the positions of the others became threatened, age long divisions amongst the tribes, ethnic and religious groups became thrown up, and a few times the subjugated majority of those places rose not only to challenge their masters in the minority by staging demonstrations, but as is with Syria engaged them in military warfare. The intervention of the west in Iraq threw power in the opposite direction, following so called “elections”, into the hands of the majority Shia, allies of Iran (which up till now, with the signing of the Nuclear Deal, was America’s sworn enemy), leading to violent reaction by the Sunni minority which through the late Saddam Hussein, had been in power before the invasion. The Sunnis initially supported elements of the Baath Party, many of which were in the military and remained loyal to Saddam even after his toppling and death, before they were largely decimated or became a part of the group, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant/Syria, ISIS/ISIL or DAESH (as they are called in the middle east) as the group through which respite might come to them from the Shia who are now in power. The allegiance of the Sunni prior to the coming of ISIS, to Al-Qaeda in Iraq was shortlived as it was easily decapitated each time they named a new leader.
The ISIS having learnt from all the mistakes of the groups before it, even went a step further from being merely a terrorist group, to instituting a state wherever they conquered, even collecting taxes, involving in trade (via sales of crude oil and artifacts which escaped destruction from ancient ruins of Babylon and what used to be Mesopotamia, at giveaway prices in the parallel/black market) and imposing their strict interpretation of Islamic Jurisprudence, the SHARI’A in tow.
The indecisiveness of middle east countries did not help matters, as Saudi Arabia and Iran continued their proxy war of supremacy in other Arab countries of the gulf, while pretending to talk peace and conflict resolution at summits in Qatar, Kuwait even in Europe, both went ahead to open another vista of war in Yemen. So, as Africans continued to cross the Mediterranean into Europe mainly through Italy from Libya for economic (of West Africans mainly) and political reasons (of Sudanese, Erytreans, Ethiopians etc), increasingly larger numbers from Iraq and Syria, even Yemenis joined in the fray, till the explosion we have now witnessed in recent days was reached, involving bodies of children washing up on to European coastlines, and the
huge number of survivors via the Sea making it onto European soil rather than the shorter distance to relatively peaceful oil rich gulf states, whose positive impact in the conflicts of the middle east now and before has hardly ever been felt.
As for the British and French, whose past activities and inordinate ambitions in the middle east and Africa, greatly enriched their societies in the past as now, the wine they brewed long ago is now ripe for tasting, even drinking. Hence they shouldn’t feel bad about it, but rather open their gates wide to receive refugees from Africa and the Middle East, as rewards of their “labours” past. There you have it, my two cents!