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Is the U.S. To Blame for the Refugee Crisis in the Middle East?

Created: 11 September, 2015
Updated: 18 October, 2022
2 min read

Investigative journalist Ben Swann has no qualms making a controversial remark that few in the media or the political world are willing to say out loud: that the United States must accept responsibility for the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe.

In a recent segment of Swann's Reality Check, he says the refugee crisis started with the United States' invasion of Iraq:

The United States blew that country apart looking for weapons of mass destruction that did not exist. And after more than 10 years of trying to unsuccessfully piece Iraq back together—after losing thousands of U.S. soldiers, more than $1 trillion and half a million Iraqis dead—we moved on. - Ben Swann

From there, Swann says the U.S. helped overthrow the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, which eventually made Libya the door to Europe for refugees.

Finally, the U.S. backed the Saudi Arabian regime in their attempt to overthrow Assad's regime in Syria and, while unsuccessful, Swann mentions that the U.S. did train the Free Syrian Army, who would later move on to join ISIS. Six billion dollars of military equipment was left behind and a significant part of it is now in the hands of ISIS, Swann notes.

As of today, 19 million refugees have been forced to flee their countries in the Middle East, while 4 million people, one-fifth of the Syrian population, have fled the country since 2011.

The United Nations estimates that 850,000 people will seek refuge from the conflicts in the Middle East this year alone. U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, said the asylum system in Europe is "extremely dysfunctional and completely chaotic."

Currently, European nations are working out details to settle refugees.

Germany said it will take in 40,000 refugees, but will increase that to 500,000 by the end of the year. However, this is met with heavy pushback from far right groups protesting Germany's already high unemployment rate.

Other European nations, such as Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland do not want to accept compulsory resettlement. Britain agreed to take 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years, while France will take around 24,000 in two years.

Philippe Legrain, in a New York Times article, compares previous waves of immigration and the effects on the receiving nations' economies. Most migrant demographics tend to be younger and help counterbalance the aging population of many European nations, he writes. The total refugee crisis, currently, is 0.07 percent of Europe's population, according to Legrain.

To date, the United States has taken in 1,293 Syrian refugees since 2011. After some criticism over the low numbers, the U.S. recently announced it will take in at least 10,000 refugees over the next fiscal year and 30,000 over the next year.

Swann's Reality Check segment ends on a sobering but all-together true statement.

"Today in the Middle East and Africa...terror groups are actually larger and more numerous than when the war on terror began," Swann concludes.

Photo Credit: Al-Hourriah