Home » Posts tagged 'Sweden immigration policy'

Tag Archives: Sweden immigration policy

Syria: The Definition of Insanity

by John Brian Shannon | September 26, 2015

The world witnesses the underwhelming response to the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII.

The United Nations calls the Syrian crisis the worst humanitarian crisis in a quarter of a century, with half of Syria’s population displaced within Syria or fled to other countries. Some 310,000 innocent civilians have been killed in the crossfire of civil war.

CNN image. The Syrian population and where they are presently located.

CNN image. The Syrian population in 2015.

“The Syrian refugee crisis is the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. And we think people should know more about it.

Of the 4 million refugees, the vast majority are women and children. And nearly 3 million of those children are out of school with no hope of returning to any formal education.” See: The worst humanitarian crisis since World War II — PBS NewsHour

Since 1999 the socio-political structure in Syria has been deteriorating due to many factors and it has been too convenient for some commentators to blame Bashir Al-Assad the country’s democratically-elected leader for all of Syria’s troubles.

But things are rarely as they seem. This is true for the Middle East and North Africa nations (MENA) but is especially true in the case of Syria

For just one example, more than half of the people who live in the port city of Tartus, Syria are retired Soviet or Russian military people who chose to receive their pensions and live out their lives in warmer climes, as compared to say, Moscow or Siberia. I can’t blame them as it is a beautiful part of the world, full of important historical sites.

Farmlands east of Tartus, Syria.

Farmlands east of Tartus, Syria. Visit this link to see some excellent images of the region.

During the Cold War, thousands of Soviet Navy personnel had occasion to debark their ships while they took on supplies at the Russian Navy facility located just south of Tartus.

Not only that, but Soviet merchant ships unloaded everything from Lada cars to borscht, returning to Russia loaded with produce of every kind, especially figs, dates, olives and wine. The punishment for not returning to their ship on time was to be shot by the Soviets, so every sailor (whether Soviet Navy sailor or Soviet merchant mariner) took pains to return to their ship prior to sailing. Yes, really.

Soviet Naval Facility near Tartus Syria taken from a Turkish F-4 Phantom II in September of 1990.

Image now owned by Google. Soviet Naval Facility near Tartus Syria taken from a Turkish F-4 Phantom II in September of 1990.

Over several decades this fraternization between Soviet/Russian citizens and Syrians turned Tartus into the wedding capital of the eastern Mediterranean with many thousands of marriages between Soviet sailors of every rank and background marrying the beautiful young women of Tartus.

Hamrat Street in Tartus, Syria

Hamrat Street, Tartus, Syria. “Hamrat” by Ahmadac at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by nopira. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

When I visited Tartus in 1989 and again in 1990 as the Cold War was ending, I was struck by the fact that all of the road signs were written in the Syrian, Arabic and Russian languages only.

And similar was true in Syrian government offices where I also noted that everyone chatted easily in the Syrian and Russian languages — as I waited over an hour for an English-speaking government employee to arrive from a nearby town so that I could have my passport returned to me. Holding passports until the last day of a person’s visit was standard practice during the Cold War, as was the requirement for government officials to phone the local police to verify that no crimes had been committed before handing the passport back. Sorry about that speeding ticket.

Syria has sourced uncountable billions of dollars of Soviet and Russian military aircraft and other military vehicles through Moscow since WWII. Indeed, Syria was one of the first nations outside of the Soviet Union to receive the export version of the MiG-25 fighter/interceptor aircraft, a very advanced jet fighter for the time.

Petroleum trade between the two countries has likewise been brisk.

Suffice to say that the deep links between Syrian citizens and Russians span several decades and I’ve hardly touched on them.

Therefore, it is quite a natural thing that Russia should lend economic, military, and political support to its ally and we should not interfere in that profound and long-term relationship.

What has been tried for the past five years has not worked and will continue to not work

And the proof of that is that fully half of Syria’s population are internally displaced or have fled the country, living as refugees in neighbouring countries like Turkey which is on track to accept over 2 million Syrians in 2015.

In addition to that, some 3 million (non-Syrian) refugees have arrived in Turkey from Iraq and the Arab Spring nations in recent years.

Must see: Al-Jazeera video showing some of the devastation in Homs, Syria

CNN image of Syrian refugees accepted in the region

CNN image. Note: Jordan says it has 1.4 million Syrian refugees within it’s borders, but the UNHCR has documentation on only 630,000 of them.

Jordan says that more than one million Syrian refugees have arrived in 2015, while tiny Lebanon reports that 1-in-4 people within its borders are Syrian refugees.

JORDAN says it has taken in 1.4 million Syrians, although the UNHCR counts 629,266 registered refugees. Jordan prides itself on its hospitality toward these and other refugees, but the high numbers — about 20% of the population, based on government figures — have taxed the small kingdom, already struggling with strained resources such as energy and water.LA Times

Europe opened its doors to 310,000 Syrian refugees in 2015 with Germany taking a huge share of that number, while Sweden offers almost automatic residency and a full social safety net to 80,000+ Syrians per year.

CNN image Syrian refugee destinations

CNN image. “Conflict, persecution and poverty are creating more refugees than the world has seen in decades.” — CNN

I’ll give the last word to the citizens of Iceland (total population 329,100) who went over the heads of their elected leaders with more than 11,000 private citizens offering their homes to Syrian families after Iceland said it would accept only 50 Syrian refugees

Kudos to the citizens of Iceland. Let’s hope this catches on.

Related Articles:

Sweden’s Example to the World

by John Brian Shannon | December 9, 2014

Sweden began governing with a unique brand of socialism in the 1960’s and almost everything in that small, but very picturesque nation of 9.5 million people has worked very well for citizens and non-Swedish residents since.

The coastal city of Malmö, Sweden. Image courtesy of Viking Trip 2012.

The coastal city of Malmö, Sweden. Image courtesy of Viking Trip 2012.

By combining results-oriented liberalism with a strong focus on the well-being of citizens and investing in a strong industrial base geared towards the export market, the country excelled and continues to excel in many aspects.

Some problems have arisen over the years as one would expect — it can’t be all Camelot and winter wonderland!

For example, during the worldwide financial crisis of 2008/09 Sweden’s unemployment rate shot up to 7.7% and some of the country’s generous benefits-to-citizens were slightly reduced.

Which was pretty shocking stuff for Swedes, as the unemployment rate historically fell within the 2-3% range and benefits had never been curtailed.

Like everything in Sweden, things are taken in stride. The most telling Swedish aphorism is; “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” And don’t forget that the Swedes see winter temperatures as low as -50 degrees every year, though most of the winter it stays at a relatively balmy -25 degrees. Usch!

Although Swede’s certainly enjoy a model society, they pay for it with some of the highest taxation levels on the planet as most employed people pay 50% tax rates or higher. Still, so many things are covered by the state and the society functions so well that it’s a good deal for everyone. An entire separate article would be required to list off every single benefit of living in Sweden’s social welfare state.

Full medical benefits, full medical prescription benefits, full dental benefits, full holistic medical treatment, full employment for life (or at the very least, a job-sharing programme), a very low crime rate, one of the highest life expectancies in the world, a high rating on the UN’s Happiness Index, among the highest literacy rate in the world and many other benefits are part of living in Sweden. That’s the short list!

World’s Happiest Nations are… [Sweden in 5th place] | CNN.com
‘Outstanding’ [2nd place] climate ranking at COP 20 for Sweden | The Local – Sweden

In Sweden, if the industry you work in can’t employ all of its workers, you’re automatically enrolled in a job-sharing scheme whereby you and one other worker ‘share’ a job over the course of the year. Each person in a job-sharing programme works for six months (or more) of the year. One person stays on unemployment insurance, while the other works.

The person who is ‘off work’ for up to six months must still make themselves available to cover any sick days or vacation times of the person who is ‘on work’ for six months. Not only that, but when the ‘off work’ person is called in, not only do they receive their normal unemployment benefits for those days, they also receive the regular hourly wage from the company for those days worked. “Yes, I’d be happy to come in and cover Sven’s shift for him.”

It is unknown in Sweden that a company is short-staffed and thus, cannot handle the workload. Orders are taken, projects are completed on-time/on-budget, companies prosper, and everyone benefits.

Everything in Swedish society functions with degrees of redundancy, not just employment. It’s part of the recipe for success.

Anyone who has visited or worked in Sweden, wants to live or retire there. It’s just that good.