Kuwaiti Official: Gulf Oil States Are ‘Too Valuable’ for Syrian Refugees

Officials from the oil nations of the Gulf have refused to accept Syrian refugees because, as one Kuwaiti official put it, their nations are “too valuable” to risk waves of migrants resettling there.

While most have been candid in expressing this opinion, few have been as blunt as Kuwaiti official Fahad al-Shalami—whose country, you may recall, owes its very existence to American and European military forces.

Shalami explained that the Gulf states are “too valuable to accept any refugees”:

“Our countries are only fit for workers,” Shalami continued.  “It’s too costly to relocate [refugees] here.”

Some of the oil states have large temporary-worker programs that have accepted Syrians, but they are adamantly against permitting the sort of long-term resettlement the U.S. and Europe are expected to facilitate. If the early wave of genuine war refugees had been handled better by local governments, there might not be such a huge migratory wave pushing into Europe—a wave by no means composed entirely of either war refugees or Syrians.

He had some ideas for where the refugees could go instead of his fashionable emirate. “Kuwait is too expensive for them anyway, as opposed to Lebanon and Turkey, which are cheap. They are better suited for Syrian refugees,” Shalami explained.

The Turks will no doubt be delighted to hear their country dismissed as “cheap,” especially since they are already running large camps for the refugees Shalami thinks Kuwait is too ritzy to accept.

Shalami also expressed some doubts about the ability of his country to assimilate the refugees. “In the end, it’s not right for us to accept a people that are different from us,” he said. “We don’t want people to suffer from internal stress and trauma in our country!”

Clearly it makes more sense to ship the refugees over land and sea (where a horrifying number of them have drowned) to Europe, which is much more like Syria than Kuwait. Did anyone notice any signs of “internal stress and trauma” when 15,000 migrants rolled into Munich last weekend?

It should be noted there is some confusion about precisely what “official” position Shalami holds in Kuwait; he has, in previous appearances, been identified as a security consultant. The video and translation appear to be genuine.

What he says here is not much different than pronouncements from official sources, and the dearth of Syrian refugees in the Gulf states speaks for itself; Shalami is just using more outrageously blunt language than prior official statements. This clip has been circulating for a couple of weeks without any apparent debunking or distancing from the Kuwaiti government. At this point, merely denouncing Shalami as a blowhard with no official stature would be far less convincing than proving his assessment incorrect.


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