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We can't solve migrant crisis without tackling Isil in Syria


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

None of the facts concerning the tide of migrants from Africa and the Middle East seeking entry to western Europe were changed by the tragic drowning of a three-year-old boy. But the emotions surrounding them certainly have been.

The media have focused on the human tragedy of the tens or hundreds of thousands of people from areas under the bloodthirsty murderers of Isil.

There are also many thousands more fleeing from Africa. Some of that exodus is from fear of the cult of Boko Haram, or racial struggles between Hutu and Tutsi, or religious wars between animists, Muslims and Christians.

About the only common thread between all of those people is that they are citizens of states which were once safe and prosperous and are now poverty-stricken and dangerous.

Every day we see pictures and footage of overloaded boats sinking under the weight of their human cargo, often trapping men, women and children. Locked holds and locked lorries found abandoned, stuffed full of the bodies, at the roadside in south-eastern Europe.

In parliaments, assemblies, churches, mosques, and among the general public, feelings run high, and the cries of "something must be done" grow louder.

Yes, but what should be done? Let in all-comers? Let some in, but not others? Let in refugees but not economic migrants? Turn them all back?

There is a short supply of clear thinking about the whole affair, as indeed there was initially in the Ebola crisis, which makes former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey's intervention all the more welcome.

We know something about who is financing Isil. The trade in oil from the oilfields in Mosul must bring in a good sum. Then there is the protection money being paid by the mega wealthy in the Gulf which may account for the total absence of any pressure on the Muslim brothers of the disposed and homeless to offer sanctuary, work, homes, schools and hospitals in their countries.

Those states take their foreign labour from India, Pakistan and South East Asia and seem not to have offered nor been asked to help solve their regional crisis. Indeed Kuwait plans to reduce its foreign workforce by a million by 2022.

Perhaps those so full of emotive demands that we in the West should solve a problem not of our making - with the exception of Tony Blair's lunacy in Iraq and David Cameron's foolishness in Libya - might ask themselves who is benefiting from this tragedy.

Above all it must be Isil. The leaders of that death cult may be mad, but they are far from stupid. I suspect that they are already looking beyond the territory they control today to the World Caliphate from which all non-believers will have been cleansed. It seems likely to me that their next target may well be Europe - rich, decadent, full of non-believers. If Europe could be destabilised, its non-believers driven out or killed, its churches, shrines and monuments destroyed, then the World Caliphate would be brought much nearer.

All human experience suggests that the appetite of such cults as Isil grows with the eating. There was plenty to feed upon in the wreckage left behind in the wake of the Bush/Blair invasion of Iraq and the efforts of the West to overthrow Bashar al-Assad in Syria. That is where Isil was incubated and its leaders recognise the weakness of leadership in the West.

If Isil continues to grow stronger it will sooner or later become a threat to Russia. To me that strengthens the case for talks with Mr Putin on the theme that shared enemies may be a bigger threat to each of us than our differences.

That could lead to some agreed actions against Isil before it becomes much stronger.

In the meantime, it may come as some small comfort to British Prime Minister David Cameron that having been an opponent of his proposed military intervention in Syria against Assad, I would now support him in using forces in Syria against Isil.

I would counsel Mr Cameron that the present threat to Christendom and the West is from Isil, not Syria's president Assad.

There is some good high ground for Mr Cameron to occupy. But that needs deeds, not just words. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Norman Tebbit is a former senior British Conservative politician

Irish Independent