Why young Kurds are migrating to Europe
This is a crisis built on aspiration, not desperation
Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan
Why have so many Iraqi Kurds made the journey to both the Poland-Belarus border and the English Channel? The situation of 2021 should not be confused with 2015. It is not mere desperation that motivates these journeys — aspiration, and the chance to embarrass a resented political order have played a part as well.
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Long regarded, for good reason, as the success story of the region due to its stability, safety and genuine high level of religious tolerance, resentment is growing in Iraqi Kurdistan, particularly among the young. High unemployment and the perceived injustice of a political system dominated by the Barzani and Talabani families, cronyism in government hiring, unpaid wages, felt exclusion from the proceeds of oil revenues, and, most recently, the removal of government stipends for students has led to a wedge developing between the young and old. The latter, remembering the Iran-Iraq war and the persecution and gas attacks under Saddam, often do not perceive these issues with the same level of seriousness.
But for the young, memories of the Saddam Hussein era are distant, if not entirely non-existent. Earlier this month, a cafe owner was arrested after videos surfaced of the Ba’ath Party anthem being played from the sound system to a clientele of unfazed 20-somethings.
The exact circumstances of the incident are unclear, but the neighbours suggested it was a stunt. Even if had it been a mistake, or a joke, the nonchalant reception to the chirpy, rousing tones of ‘Saddam Zera’ is evident of a youth growing jaded with the orthodoxies of its elders.
The sight of Iraqi Kurds on the Polish border, having paid out thousands of Euros to traffickers for the gamble, has embarrassed both Barzani and Kurdistan’s reputation. The president has been forced to publicly defend the situation in Kurdistan and put on repatriation flights.
Yet Kurdistan remains a high-trust society. At the Erbil citadel bazaar, currency is exchanged in the open, with only a small plastic cover shielding tens of thousands of US Dollars and Euros from the wind. Shops and cafés rarely have proper tills; owners throw notes loosely into a wooden draw before leaving the shop open and unwatched for a chat and a chai next door.
During the recent protests, students took to blocking Erbil’s arterial ring roads. Though violence was reported in Sulaymaniyah (Kurdistan’s most liberal city; the site of an American University established in 2007) before the government agreed to reinstate the student living allowance, there was a lack of aggression in the atmosphere in Erbil. Much like the city’s ever-present Peshmerga, who politely usher you this way or that, smiling with a ‘welcome to Kurdistan’, the police, far from relishing the opportunity to swagger in riot gear, removed the students from the roads with resigned embarrassment.
Kurdistan’s problems are serious, but that a region with such a brutal recent history has begun to develop political and cultural fault lines reminiscent of those of more stable countries — particularly with the improved security situation following the territorial defeat of ISIS — is, perhaps, progress of sorts. What this means for western governments trying to secure their borders, however, is an entirely different question altogether.
“The sight of Iraqi Kurds on the Polish border, having paid out thousands of Euros to traffickers for the gamble,”
The key word here is gamblers….
For some time now—years? Decades? the gamblers have determined that the games are rigged in their favor and that the house almost always loses. When a “gambler” makes it through to Germany, the UK, Sweden, the word gets out. Try your luck at the tables—the odds are greatly in your favor. And, as the article points out, these are not the desperately poor with no other choice, these are people of some means and maths skills who have taken the time to calculate the odds. Their bet: all in! One makes it, more come. It’s that simple.
One gambler on The BBC said that he made the calculation of “three days of suffering and then Germany.” And he made it! When he sends back Instagram photos of him strolling down the Ku’dam, driving a Benz with flash cash, it is a force multiplier for anyone and everyone to come.
The invasion can be stopped but the West must “harden the target.” These invasive species must be repelled, but even more importantly, they must be given absolutely nothing once they have succeeded in breaching the many Maginot Lines that continually pop up. Let me suggest several strategies: first, the do-gooders must be stopped from their human trafficking activities, and this extends to do-gooders who assist the invaders in country. Let them face some real punishment—arrest, forfeiture of their assets. Seize their boats! Second, boats must be turned back, confiscated, sunk. The so-called “rescue operations” are simply the last chain the smuggling network. Third, the language must change. I cringe when I hear the invading hordes describes as “refugees” or “migrants.” They should be called “invasive species,” “economic terrorists,” “invading hordes,” “scammers,” or some highly negative but highly accurate term that captures their reality. Even “gamblers” would do in a pinch. Finally, the invaders must remain completely apart from the society they are invading: no public help of any kind—no ID, no housing, nothing, and private efforts to assist them must be shut down immediately through criminal and civil procedures. If some NGO or church group wants to help the invaders, arrest the leaders, sue them, take their money. This will work.
Finally, it is extremely important, existentially important if you at all value Western Civilization, that the gamblers lose. Each and every one must be hunted down, and sent back with nothing. The individuals must be broken so that the chain is broken, and they must be returned to their countries of origin in their broken condition for all to see. And even though Angela “Wir Schaffen das!” Merkel is almost gone and is not screaming that all of the invasive species must be welcomed, many, perhaps tens of thousands, have quietly made it to Germany and beyond. This is madness!
It is a fact that London is no longer a British city, and Cheeky Sadiqi can bang on about “our diversity is our strength,” but this is a lie, and we all know it’s a lie. In fact, that’s why he bangs on about it so much—if the lie is big enough, and if it is repeated often enough, people may come to believe it…..
Time for the West to wake up!
Please bear with me and I am definitely not criticising you BUT…. In the days of the Internet and easy communication people only seem to say nice things. The softer the words, the more agreement you will have. All media people and politicians have learned to say only nice words. I use the word ‘nice’ to mean insipid, meaningless and lacking in direction. Everybody wants to be nice. Nice is wonderful and shows sympathy with all who have a poorer life than we do. So if your post, which is definitely not insipid, were to be broadcast you would be perceived to be a bad person because you are not nice. To say meaningless things is good; to advocate action is bad.
I would add one thing to your post and to me it is the most worrying. Our young people have been brought up to be protected from anything which is risky. They have been ‘protected’ from physical hardship and work. An influx of young, clever and hardened people is not just immigration; it is an invasion by a stronger force. Like a decadent Rome waiting for the barbarians. With such an invasion, laws and lawmakers will be useless because they will be too nice.
Fair play. I take your suggestions, and I strive to give it a go, but…. A commentator here suggested I sign off “talk and listen” instead of “lock and load.” I try, I really do,but it’s a bit like Kevin Kline in A FISH CALLED WANDA–He needed to apologize but he just couldn’t do it….
If your post were to be broadcast….I’ve had that issue on The BBC, where what is eventually run is so watered down. It’s not completely unrecognizable but close. Maybe cancelled now.
I simply call for honesty in the debate. Par example, if the West takes a Kurd who says he’s 15 but looks 25, what do we owe him? Do we owe him? If it’s clear through medical (wrist X-ray) and dental (X-rays) that he really is 25, must “we” continue with the fiction that he’s 15 when we know he’s not? Must we take his mother? Father? Siblings? Do “we” have a moral duty to help him? What about the moral duty to help our fellow countrymen? Doesn’t that come first? Why is no one talking about that? These economic terrorists have costs, huge costs in dollars, as well as the softer costs of destroying a society through sheer numbers, such as surrendering London.
Re your final paragraph, spot on, mate! I’ve lived in a Baltic capital for some years now, leading the FAF (Free American Forces), getting ready for the coming civil war in the US. What I see here routinely used to amaze me, not it’s just routine. What would be considered serious child abuse–climbing trees, being outside in the cold, navigating the city alone by young children–is routine here. In the US, there is almost zero “unstructured play.” This is the best example I can think of: I was minding some kids , maybe 5 and 7 at the time, on a beautiful summer day. I said Hey, let’s go outside, go down the block and see your friends–maybe 30m from home. NO!!! They called out. Mommy text. Mommy text. What? I didn’t get it at first. We were going to walk 30m, knock on the door, and see if the kids could come out to play. Normal, right? NOT NORMAL. These kids wouldn’t think to walk 30m w/o a directive from Mommy–Mommy must text to set up a play date–kids would never consider showing initiate, it’s all structured for them. Sad.
NO RISK is the goal in the US and it has largely succeeded. Same for Corona, and when these kids become bigger kids and take the keys, there is a huge risk that they will try to run society in an even worse way than the boffins we have now. Sad for the kids, sad for society. You are exactly right! Kids should be kids.
Thank you for your helpful thoughts. To those who want to attack me for being clear and perhaps a bit controversial, fill your boots!
“With such an invasion, laws and lawmakers will be useless because they will be too nice.”
Personally I still avoid using the word “invasion” but you are definitely right when you say our Western authorities are far too soft to deal with the people coming in. There is a commentator in Germany whose name I have unfortunately forgotten but he has roots in the Middle East. He is constantly saying that we have to get a lot tougher on troublemakers if we want to make them integrate as they have come from tough, violent places and consequently only understand the language of violence and coercion as a way of making them behave a certain way. Thinking that all we have to do is get a bit nicer and a bit more cuddly and everything will be OK is the definition of naivety. No one is ready to admit it yet, but the Polish border force have shown us in the last few weeks how it is going to have to be.
With respect, I disagree. MANY have gotten through, and the problem is that once they are in, there is more support than even “they” could have possibly imagined. NGOs to feed them. People who believe in fairy tales (the religious) to give them clothing and shelter. Governments that give them ID, allowing them entrance to the system.
I am against border walls, including the partial monstrosity on the Southern border. It may work a bit, but it is an environmental disaster, as ALL of these barriers are. What needs to happen is that the West must “Harden the F… Up,” in the immortal words of Australia’s Chopper Read. No barrier will stop someone if as soon as they are on the other side they are welcomed. To use a US example of the insanity of the West’s policies–“they” used to strive mightily to evade the Border Patrol; now they strive mightily to find them.
The West has gone mad! Still waiting for someone to challenge me on my basic premise: that “they” must be returned to their home countries as broken people, no money, no help, no hope. Rounded up, all assets except perhaps clothing seized, and returned home broken, without hope. Let this news spread in the their countries!
Does anyone seriously believe that the opposite: pics showing Hey, I made it, look at my ID, my flash cash, my Benz. You’re a sucker if you stay….?
“Invasive species” – denying the humanity of another human being makes you a monster, is that who you want to be?
Fill your boots! Do you have a preferred term from the choices above? Economic terrorists?
They’re economic migrants! You may object to their culture/ethnicity/religion etc, but it doesn’t change why they’re coming. It’s no different in many ways to the Catholic Irish arriving to American shores (for a better life), and receiving a hostile reception.
The large majority have no right to be here, its very simple. Governments blame the perople smugglers but there would be no smugglers if these people weren’t trying to find an illicit way into the country simply becaue they know they have no legitimate claim to justify being here.
With respect, I disagree–they’re all the words I used to describe them above. And those seeking asylum are almost always liars, criminals, scammers–if they are seeking asylum don’t they have an obligation to seek it in the country of first refuge? How many at the Belarus-Polish border are seeking to stay in Poland?
No different from Catholic Irish in America? Are you daft? Different times, different circumstances, different possibilities. Were the Irish coming illegally in massive numbers? I suppose I missed that.
And why would calling these hordes an “invasive species” deny their humanity? We are all animals. Perhaps the English are a species, the Welsh, the Scots. But they are indigenous to the areas they live in, mostly. Take tens of thousands of Somalis and drop them in Linkopping, Sweden–aren’t they a species? Are they native? Do they exhibit many of the characteristics of everything that is known about invasive species–lion fish in the Caribbean, pythons in Florida? What effect do they have on the native species?
I don’t object to their culture/ethnicity/religion–though I wouldn’t go so far as to say that all cultures are equal: FGM anyone? Stoning adulterers? One can respect other cultures if they respect ours–do you agree? If you slaughter a goat in your bathtub, or in the courtyard, in London, is that culturally appropriate?
Western Civilization has a duty to protect itself, and massive numbers of non-European immigrants can only undermine that. Take London.
Too late – London has already been taken.
Were the Irish coming illegally in massive numbers?
Let me put it this way, There was enough indifference to Irish suffering in the English speaking world during the Potato Famine in the 19th century to see a million of them die with Britain removing help at the height of the famine. Millions of Irish migrated to US (a significant proportion of the entire population of Ireland) after that event where they met further hostility.
Was their move illegal? Given Britain was apparently not too worried whether the Irish died or lived, their migration was probably not seen as a massive concern by either US or Britain.
So, it is probably the case that their reception in US would have been more like the Iraqi Kurds of today than the reception of an expat Swedish PhD.
Where are Swedish PhDs fleeing to and what are fleeing from?
Used to be high-tax rates, but I suspect you want to open up a different topic there. If so, a new article is bound come out any time soon again in Unherd, may be better to wait for it.
There are 4 nations in the United Kingdom. English were the largest population, followed by Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish.
This is no longer so.
By population size it’s now English, Scots, Muslims, Welsh and Northern Irish.
In 10 years or so the Scots will drop down to third place.
Do you think they will demand their own assembly.
The difference is that the Catholic Irish were allowed by the USA to come; immigration was accepted. Kurdish economic migrants are not allowed, so are would-be illegal immigrants.
You might as well say that a library’s a bookshop because it has books in and you can walk in and take them away.
It’s no different in many ways to the Catholic Irish […]
I don’t doubt there are many differences. My argument was/is that there are also many similarities.
Also note that imposition of national borders is a relatively new development.
”Humanity” – how would you define that? Opportunism? Craft? Illegal presence?
You really want me to define what humanity means?
Yes,but in the context of the actual situation where the recipients are in general young able bodied males with economic resources to get this far and who have possibly thrown their identity documents away. Humanity as you may like to define it would be more appropriately directed towards those families stuck in the regions concerned or in refugee camps or even more so the women of Afghanistan.
As the article says, and I have no reason to doubt that, these are economic migrants – though keep mind that not all crossers are Iraqi Kurds, some of them may very well be in more need than others who are merely economic migrants.
So, yes, when it comes to this particular group of people, resources may indeed be better spent looking after the more vulnerable elsewhere, it’d be best to put in place incentives to discourage the crossing (e.g. repatriation).
Having said that, it’s not acceptable not to help those people when their lives are in danger or when they have landed exhausted, even if this is while they were breaking the law. I’m hoping you were asking for a description of this kind.
I wonder if the Native Americans would consider the Europeans an “invasive species?” Why don’t you ask them? How did that work out for them?
It’s interesting – though not altogether surprising – to see you agree with the Woke viewpoint on that one. I would however call for a more nuanced approach on both cases.
Yeah, you got me, mate! I’m always on side with the woke–so predictable! No sense of irony!
Do you think Native Americans would be right to think of the Europeans as an “invasive specifies”?
I think that in 1600 or so the Natives should have been afraid, very afraid of what was coming.
Would the Aztecs consider the Spaniards an invasive species? You bet! Too late now!
I find it odd for someone to think of the Pilgrims as an invasive species and celebrate Thanksgiving. Unless you think of being an invasive specifies as a good thing of course, in which I case I would find it odd that you celebrate Thanksgiving.
Do you really not get irony? No turkey for me, mate! Please stop banging on about this–it’s boring! Plenty of other areas to bang on with me about.
I’m with you on this one Emre. I am not at all in favour of uncontrolled immigration and think it absurd that Europe’s asylum system is being abused as it is. However, speaking of “invaders” is just very bad taste. Even if I want uncontrolled immigration stopped, I still understand and respect the motivations of the people trying to get into Europe.
So I’m Trumpian–very bad taste but entirely right on policies?
Fair play. Would you be on side (on my side) if I used gentler language? What should I call them? I provided several choices above. Pick one–give it a go–or provide your own.
I’m fine with the terms illegal immigrants, asylum seekers or economic migrants. The term refugees should be limited to those persons who have actually been accorded that status legally and not before.
If memory serves, you’re the woman who wants to essentially imprison 1/3 of Austria until they break and get the jab. Fair play! I disagree. But aside from my vulgarian language, are you willing to round up these people and deport them summarily? I’d add that they should be “taxed,” meaning that they are sent home totally broke (take everything–especially all their money) and broken.
Re your terms: illegal immigrants. This would get you cancelled in the US, as “no human being is illegal.” Really. Second, asylum seekers. Fair play. These Kurds/Syrians/Africans simply decided that this year it’s Belarus, the tourist destination of 2021! Let’s go to Minsk and see the fjords! Asylum seekers? What are they fleeing? If they lose their job, they’re entitled to make a claim for asylum in the third/fourth/fifth/sixth country they make it to? At what point do they lose the plot? Like Haitian “asylum seekers” in the US, fleeing to Canada because…. They’re fleeing the US and seeking asylum in Canada?
Crazy? Perhaps not. I’m told that there are people in France fleeing the EU to seek asylum in the UK. Is that true? They’re fleeing the “freedom” of the EU to seek “asylum” in the UK. Because they speak some English? Because of a cousin/brother/uncle already in the UK?
Haitians who have lived for 10+ years in Columbia, who recently lost their jobs, have fled through 5, 6, 7, 8 countries to the US Southern border (I should say region, there is no border), to claim ASYLUM in the US? Basis: they lost their job in Columbia? Too bad, so sad!
We’ve lost the plot! The mere claim of asylum, no matter how bogus, essentially gives them the right to live legally in the US for years, and then illegally forever.
The West is being played….
Yes, seeking asylum in the UK! Apart from the reasons you mention and the possibility of going underground and working on the lack market there’s the excellent hospitality provided. 3 star hotels, meals and freedom to wander around at will, instead of living rough in the forests, sand dunes and streets of France or further afield. They seem even to be getting bussed in from other parts of Europe to the gateway to a better life. And once there, it’s almost impossible for them to be sent back to where they came from. Eldorado in 2021!
Gamblers may be your key word in the sentence. I think, however, the thrust of Hardaker’s article is more the Embarrassment being reflected back home by these migrant seekers into Europe. Can’t think of many towns where opportunities to pinch other people’s money are resisted; or where ferocious noble warriors welcome you into town. Supporting this migration Embarrassment could be a more successful strategy than the Merkel coin to Erdogan?
What’s the evidence that the people arriving here illegally and conveniently with no ID aren’t just criminals?
The reason that they are convieniently without ID is so that it’s not possible to know where they originally came from and therefore not possible to deport them, it doesn’t have to be anything about criminal behaviours.
Have you no sense of irony? Isn’t lying on an asylum application a crime? Non-cooperation? Sandpapering your fingertips so you can’t be fingerprinted?
Don’t all of these actions show consciousness of guilty–of planning to do something illegal?
In Kurdestan, “the perceived injustice of the political system……..has led to a wedge between young and old.”. Therefore, young people are leaving and trying to get into the EU and the UK.
What they see is politicians in Western Europe sacrificing the old for the young. They see lots of highly-paid jobs (relatively speaking) and lands of opportunity where the local populations are weak and mollycoddled. Sounds like a good idea to me.
Boils down as to whether the people of any country have the right to demand the right to refuse rapid mass immigration that alters their culture. As it is the elite establishment in the UK ignored the voices of the working class for reasonable but strict immigration control from the 1950s on. Instead of gradual assimilation of,say, 2m skilled workers we have disastrous multiculturalism- medieval cultural practices and rampant corruption ( if you come from corrupt countries you habitually avoid tax). A question for woke Greens- does pushing our population to circa 80m do more or less for rewilding the most naturally depleted country in Europe? Do tell.
This is an excellent observation. In the US, the Sierra Club–formerly a highly-respected environmental organization–used to be for reasonable population control so that the US would not get too crowded, destroy forests, consume too much of nature.
Some years ago they went totally woke! Totally. Now they are in favor of open borders.
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