Syrian refugees (Photo: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)

Syrian refugees (Photo: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)

UNITED NATIONS – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aim in launching an assault against the rebel stronghold of Aleppo, Syria, is not only to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power but to weaken Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany by flooding Europe with millions more migrants this spring and summer, warns a top European foreign-policy analyst.

The ultimate objective is to destroy the European Union, she contends.

“Merkel’s latest plan is for Turkey to stop the flow of refugees to Greece, which can no longer cope under the immense strain,” said Judy Dempsey, a nonresident senior associate with the Brussels-based Carnegie Europe and the editor and chief of Strategic Europe.

“But outsourcing the refugee problem to either Greece or Turkey is not a sustainable option,” she stressed. “In return for Turkey’s assistance, Merkel said EU countries, many of which have already refused to take in refugees or are closing their borders, would have to be willing to accept quotas of migrants.”

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Putin’s action in Syria tests the 1985 Schengen Agreement, which committed the 26 nations of the EU to allowing passport-free travel across their borders.

With the more than 1 million Middle Eastern asylum seekers flooding the EU through Greece and Turkey last year, pressure is intensifying even within the EU to exercise a provision in the Schengen Agreement that would suspend passport-free travel for two years, “dealing a potentially terminal blow to a scheme that has been in place for more than 20 years,” as the London Guardian reported Jan. 26.

The Middle East flees to Europe

According to the International Organization for Migration, a total of 70,365 migrants from the Middle East have arrived in Greece from Turkey by sea this year, bringing the total number since Jan. 1, 2015, to 924,015.

“Even if the integration effort were going smoothly, the task would be well nigh impossible,” warned the widely read economic blog on Wednesday. “Germany, for instance, took in some 1.1 million refugees in 2015 – the country only has 82 million people.”

“Of course the integration effort isn’t going smoothly at all,” continued. “A wave of sexual assaults blamed on men ‘of Arab origin’ swept the bloc on New Year’s Eve and since then, a rising tide of nationalism threatens to destabilize the entire region and thrust the likes of Germany, Sweden, and Finland into social upheaval.”

On Wednesday, Turkey angrily rejected demands that it open its border to some 30,000 Syrian “refugees” fleeing the Russian airstrikes supporting the Assad-led Syrian government assault on Aleppo. The conflict has displaced more than half of Syria’s prewar population, creating a vast diaspora of nearly 5.5 million migrants beyond Syria’s borders and potentially could build to 600,000 fleeing the Aleppo region alone, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Last weekend, the BBC reported EU officials are insisting Turkey must open its borders to those fleeing Syria, with Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, insisting that Turkey has a moral, if not a legal obligation, to provide protection for the Syrians fleeing the intensifying war in Syria now centered around Aleppo.

Saudi Arabia to enter Syrian conflict

On Thursday, Al Arabiya reported Saudi Arabia has reached a “final” and “irreversible” decision to send military forces to Syria to back the Sunni militants in Aleppo.

Saudi Brig. Gen. Ahmad Al-Assiri told reporters on Thursday that Riyadh is “ready” and will fight with the U.S.-led coalition to defeat ISIS militants in Syria by sending ground troops into the conflict.

The statement came as Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman visited NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss the Syrian civil war.

An expanded war in Syria is certain to put increased pressure on Merkel, much as Putin appears to have planned.

“Back in December 2015, when it became clear that refugees from the Middle East would continue to head toward Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel reassured her conservative Christian Democratic Union party that everything was under control,” Dempsey concluded in her article posted on the Carnegie Europe website. “All she needed, she told party members, was more time. Germany could manage the influx of over 1 million refugees and asylum seekers.

“Merkel was banking, naively or not, on two things: peace talks that would end the five-year-long war in Syria; and cooperation from Turkey to stop sending refugees to EU countries, improve the conditions for refugees, and strengthen the EU’s external border,” Dempsey continued. “Neither has materialized. Merkel’s task of reassuring her party and voters is becoming trickier by the day.”

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