World Questions Absence of Wealthy Gulf Nations in Migrant Crisis

Soldier Patrols Saudi Arabian Border Fayez NureldineAFP
Fayez Nureldine/AFP
Washington, DC

The ongoing wars in the Levant area of the Middle East, particularly in Syria, have claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands, and many have chosen to flee in desperation. However, none of these migrants from war-torn countries seem to be traveling south to the Gulf, and for good reason.

Their Arab co-ethnics in the Gulf states are, for the most part, refusing to offer resettlement to a single person, drawing the ire of NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the Washington Post reports. The situation is also exacerbating the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe.

Luay Al Khatteeb of the Brookings institution tweeted out a map showing that the oil-rich Gulf nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE have not taken in a single refugee from the ongoing Syrian Civil War.

These oil-rich nations have plenty of cash at their disposal, and their citizens live much more comfortable lives, on average, when compared to their northern Arab neighbors, which would seemingly create a situation where the Gulf nations would be able to absorb some refugees.

The article also points out that the Gulf states have not exactly been “innocent bystanders” when trying to create a result from the regional wars. For example, the piece notes that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others have funded rebel and Islamist groups fighting against the Assad regime.

But some say that the Gulf states have done enough to assist Syrian refugees.

“If it wasn’t for the Gulf states, you would expect these millions to be in a much more tragic state than they are,” Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a university professor in the United Arab Emirates, told the New York Times. “This finger-pointing at the Gulf that they are not doing anything, it is just not true,” he said, claiming that the UAE has absorbed 160,000 Syrians over the past three years.

“Why is it that there are just questions about the position of the Gulf, but not about who is behind the crisis, who created the crisis,” commented Khalid al-Dakhil, a professor of political science at King Saud University in Riyadh.