The Middle East is changing Europe


TAGS: Migration, EU, Politics, Society

One can hardly deny that the migration issue has transformed Europe.

The arrival of thousands of migrants and refugees contributed to the rise of far-right and xenophobic parties across the continent. Controversial politicians took advantage of the phenomenon to advance their own political agendas. Meanwhile, long-established parties such as Germany’s Social Democrats saw their political power wane as a result. Countries in Central Europe are now ruled by governments reminiscent of very turbulent times, while in the UK, populists orchestrated Brexit. Europe’s South became a waiting room, if not a storage area, for masses of migrants and asylum seekers. Furthermore, Europe and Greece in particular found themselves at the mercy of Erdogan’s Turkey, itself a transit country for migrant flows.

We already know all that, and we already feel the impact. What we do not yet know is the fallout from a new, even larger, meltdown in the Middle East.

There are growing signs that the region is close to a fresh crisis. Turkey’s military operations in Syria are taking on a new dimension whose complexity defies easy analysis and predictions. Developments in the region make it impossible for the average European to understand what is at stake in this conflict.

Even worse, it is becoming increasingly clear that Israel and Iran are not far from a military conflict. The rhetoric employed by both sides during the weekend Munich Security Conference raised not just concern, but justified fear, that the chances for peaceful coexistence are shrinking. In that case, the world would not just be faced with one incident but with a relentless clash involving many different sides. Washington, Tel Aviv and Tehran are doing everything to raise the heat.

If what now seems unavoidable finally does take place, Greece and Europe will be overwhelmed by a fresh wave of refugees. And that would certainly transform the political scene.