“Why aren’t the rich ARAB countries taking these Muslim refugees?” is THE MOST important question in my opinion. Simply because: aren’t refugees their Arab Muslim brothers? Americans, Canadians, Europeans, and Australians should raise this question and demand answers from their government officials. And should hold it as one of their voting criteria during election cycles – I know I will.
Refugees have become not only a national topic in American politics, but a serious problem for many governments around the world. As a Christian-Iraqi-American, I lived through many immigration policies of American Administrations, starting with George H. W. Bush – on through Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. As politicians debated, legislators wrote, and the U.S. Presidents signed those polices in Washington DC, I lived them thousands of miles away in the Middle East.
And on the Syrian refugee problem, I have been listening to both sides of the debate. From my life and the experience of many of my family members, I can offer many answers to many questions about immigration. But before I reply to the most important question I posed in the first sentence of this blog, I would like to share something about my background.
I come from a long line of immigrants. Most of my relatives have been refugees starting with my grandfather who was born in the city of Van in Turkey and migrated to Iraq during World War I. During that war, the Ottoman’s declared ecumenical Jihad against the Allied Forces and their Christian proxies. By leaving Turkey, he escaped the Christian Armenian/Assyrian pogrom conducted by the Turkish government in the 1920’s.
Later, my grandfather and my uncles migrated to America through Lebanon in the late 70’s, during the rise of the Baathist regime. My father was the only family member to remain in Iraq, and there we faced the Iraq-Iran war, the Iraq-Kuwait war, and 10 years of sanctions. During that same period many extended family members emigrated and settled in several countries – including Sweden, Austria, Germany, France, UK, Canada, Australia, and America.
I personally attempted many times to obtain a fake American visa for approximately $5000. That was during my year and a half stay in Jordan , after the Iraq-Kuwait war in 1992. My plan was to fly to America, shred my Iraqi passport on arrival, surrender myself to the Customs authorities, and seek asylum. On numerous other occasions, I came very close to paying an expensive price for someone to smuggle me to Greece through Turkey, Cyprus, Malta, or even Thailand. Fortunately, I didn’t do it.
Today, we are facing another Global Jihad. As I write this blog, my first cousin just entered Canada after seven years, in which four were spent waiting in Syria, and three waiting in Turkey. My aunt is in France now – as a refugee – applying for asylum. Just recently, a few of my family members fled Iraq to Jordan after ISIS raided their village in the north of Iraq. One of them is trying to seek asylum from any embassy where his efforts will pay off. He’s running between the American Embassy, any European country’s embassy, as well as the New Zealand and Australian Embassies, searching out the latest immigration news.
I know their stories, waiting time, vetting process, medical exams, and the pain of days being wasted from our lives in endless unknown waiting. Does all this make me an expert? I will leave that to the reader.
After this short background, I am confident in my knowledge as to all the pitfalls and problems of the immigration policies. I don’t need to listen to debates when I have lived through the experience myself.
Thus, When President Obama called refugees “pilgrims”, it wasn’t a 400-year -old Mayflower fantasy. I lived it all the way to my grandfather – I Am a Victim of religious pogroms – even my uncle was killed in Baghdad during the civil war between Sunnis and Shia.
The question has been framed as ‘is it American or un-American to accept refugees? But let’s reframe that. I believe it should be ‘is it Arab or un-Arab to accept or reject the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DESPERATE MUSLIM IMMIGRANTS WHO ARE FLEEING THE VIOLENCE OF THEIR HOMELANDS, AND SEEKING NOTHING MORE THAN SAFETY AND SECURITY.
It is my belief that refugees have been fleeing Syria from ISIS – NOT the Bashar al-Assad regime. For that, I hold the Saudi Arabian, Qatari, and Turkish governments responsible for this disaster and for the escalation of the Syrian conflict.
I am a naturalized American citizen; and as such, I hold American interests first. It is with this mindset, I answer the question about these Syrian refugees with one statement: I WOULD make the Arab countries: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE, and Bahrain either accept refugees or pay for all the financial cost of their settlement in America. (Period)
The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council should use the UN to raise this issue to the Arab countries, and if it is met with nothing but refusals then there should be economic penalties imposed.
Election year is coming soon, I ask all American citizens to feel as passionate about immigration as they feel about the Second Amendment “the right to bear arms”. Let us make Arab countries pay. Let us make Arab countries pay – especially the VERY WEALTHY ONES. They must be participants in the refugee solution. We should not simply accept that the refugee problem is ours to solve.