The war in Syria has been regarded by UNHCR as the biggest humanitarian crisis in 21st century.
The conflict began in 2011 and turned into extreme brutality. Thousands of people died, and millions of Syrian either have fled to look for asylum in any other places or internally displaced. Syrian refugees put a disproportionately strain on a few neighboring countries, namely Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, who together host almost three quarters of them. As the conditions for refugee populations worsen in neighboring countries, European countries have been regarded a place of opportunity for safety and a new life. With these hopes, Europe became the main destinations for Syrian refugees, and hundreds of thousands started to migrate towards Europe especially after 2015. As a result of the increasing number of migrants coming from Syria or neighboring countries put enormous pressure on EU countries. In fact, Europe has succeeded in settling the political issues in a certain way.
Some countries like Germany and Sweden have settled almost 1 percent of its population. However, countries in Eastern Europe have settled less than 1 percent of their population or even none. Hence, the idea of “Fortress Europe” have been treated by this huge amount of refugee flux, member states started to follow policies aiming to keep refugees and irregular migrant out of their territories. Moreover, member states took preventive measures on their borders and even suspended the Schengen agreement. The EU has also proposed a quota system, but it was rejected by many EU countries. All of those policies have been highly criticized on the issue of human rights and the international refugee laws.
Claiming a leader of human rights on one hand, and adopting such non-humanitarian policies on the other hand shows that European values have been tested by the refugee crisis. By taking these into consideration, it will be concluded at the end of this article that the way of EU to deal with the refugee crisis highly controversial and contradicted with the values of the human rights.After the collapse of socialist regimes at the end of the Cold War, several colored revolutions resulted with the democratic reforms or even government changes in the globe. These protests which demand for democracy, freedom and human rights, then spread to Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries, and now it is called as the Arab Spring.
It has first started in Tunisia in 2010 and later in Syria on March 15, 2011. Although it has started with the peaceful and civilian popular uprising, it has turned into civil war in the meantime. This revolution series, which is defined as Arab Spring or awakening, present the longest and bloody scene in the Syrian case. Although the popular uprisings in Syria have worried the Syrian regime, the regime’s first reaction was to ignore the effect of this change of wind, and they argued that Syria is different from other countries. So, Bashar al-Assad believed that Syria is not going to the previous cases.
He had an optimistic thought that its citizens have toleration to the economic hardships and political difficulties inside the state. In addition to this, Assad did not expect that Syrian people was going to demonstrate against government because of his reformist promises. However, the expectation didn’t come true and people have begun to rebel in single party administrations, minority regimes, restrictions on political and religious freedoms, arbitrariness in administration, exclusion from state administration, exploitation of economic resources on the basis of personal interests, poverty and unemployment, income imbalance and social injustice. It is better to describe the current situation in Syria not as a single conflict because it has multiple aspects which cannot be described as just a tension between rebel and government forces. Rather than this, it has to be included that some other factors such as ethnic and sectarian conflict, the involvement of world powers, and terrorist organizations are involved the situation. Along with those facts, the refugee issue is neither Syrian nor the Middle East problem.
The human tragedy of the Syrians, who have been forced to compulsory migration, is the problem of the entire international system. In this framework, it will make the things worse if it is considered that the solution of the Syrian refugee crisis is the responsibility of the neighboring countries. Members of the international system should play a role in solving the problem.
1.1 Spark of the Conflict The first wave of rebellion in Syria started on the 15th of March in the city of Daraa on the border of Jordan with thousands of people in the streets. In fact, mass demonstrations have begun because of the arrest and torture of teenagers who painted revolutionary slogans on a school wall by saying that “the people want the regime to change.” Shortly thereafter excruciatingly response to their own citizens, the demonstrations spread to cities near to Daraa, then to all over the country.Since the international actors did not give the necessary harsh response, the Syrian government began to use disproportionate power against not only the protestors but all the dissidents. Then a complete vicious circle emerged; as the security forces killed the people in the street, people’s resentment and reaction increased to the regime; as people’s reaction increased, the use of violence and human losses increased.