They have no cause left but their families

Ante, my new friend and reader, was really surprised seeing thousands and thousands of young and strong people going North from the war-torn Middle East. Why don’t they stay — he asked me — and defend their countries and their freedom?

In 1991, when Serbs started occupation on Croatia, all men fit for military service joined in defense of their country, even students. I understand that many men have to defend their family and children, but what kinda people are they if they don’t protect their freedom and their country?

Well, let’s look at the facts.

1. When you write “country”, you — I guess from the reference to Croatia and the military service — mean in fact a state. Country is an area and possibly a society (people connected with the history and culture). State is a government, army, politicians etc. etc. Normally we use these terms as synonyms, but sometimes it is important to see a difference. And this is the case. So, we have a situation that your question concerns those, who have their own state (country) with some kind of army and at the same time it is under some attack that could be repelled.

2. Now, let us see, who is in the group you refer to. You are not stating it clearly, so I have to guess again. I assume that you mean the people popularly known as “Syrian refugees”, traveling through the “Balkan corridor” from Greece, towards Germany, Netherlands and Norway.
Where do they come from? In their Migratory routes map Frontex agency says that 30% of all immigrants coming to Greece are from Afghanistan & Pakistan and 60% from Syria. NONE of these countries is under a foreign invasion (unless we count US-led military occupation of Afghanistan, but they are supposedly there to support a legal government against the rebels, so I do not count it).
Looking further, if we look at the Balkan Corridor, Frontex tells us that in that part of migration, 75% of the population is made by the Afghans, Syrians and Kosovans. Again, no known foreign invader in these countries.
Most probably 75% of the people are not in the situation you refer to. They are not needed to die for their countries (except as collateral damages in a US drone attack).

3. Now, Syrians. Syrian situation is pretty complex. The state is practically defunct. The official authorities are widely hated and despised for using brutal force against their own citizens. Syria is deep in the civil war and if we are talking about defending freedom and the country, in Syrian reality it MOSTLY means joining one of the rebel groups and trying to cut out some tiny area of the country for themselves. Not the greatest career path, I’d say.

Most (probably 90%) of Syrians in the migration stream are those who decided they do not want to get conscripted by the government army nor they want to fight for some pocket islamist (or other) warlord. There is no cause they would give their lives for. All they have left is their family.

4. In the Syrian context there is one significant exception. In Northern Syria there is Rojava Autonomy.  Multiethnic confederation of Kurdish, Assyrian, Arab, Turkomen and other  communities, run upon the ideas of Democratic Confederalism (Towards Stateless Democracy — English Edition), succeeded in defending their  territory against ISIS (and other warlords), developed strong  self-defense armed forces and now is struggling to rebuild the region  after the war.
Very few people from  Rojava goes to Europe. Despite strong opposition from Turkey, they keep  returning home. Also, especially from Iraq and from other parts of Syria,  people started going to Rojava to settle — as refugees or as new citizens. This is the only area in Syria that resembles a normal country.

So, conclusion is that the migrating people do not have a country to defend. Either their countries are not in war, or they are in civil war, where the government are “the bad guys”. The only duty they still have is to help their families — and that is why they migrate.

With few people in Europe I am involved in a campaign to help Rojava expand and rebuild. The idea behind it is that the refugees would be repatriated to Rojava, rather than moved to EU or kept in the camps forever. I believe it is really the best solution for the Middle East right now.
If you want to know more about this idea, see my article No more refugees!


It seems that Ante liked my answer. If you like it, too, you are welcome to follow this blog, or my profile on Quora — a social network of great questions and even greater answers.

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