In this August '17 issue, we flag up the continuing massive exodus from the equatorial south, seeking to live and work in Europe. Sara Bielecki assesses their impact on the existing refugees and the authoritarian-inclined nations of Central Europe.

Europe’s Unwelcome IMMIGRANTS : ‘The New Sea Peoples’

‘The Sea Peoples’ of pre-history, flourished in the eastern Mediterranean. They came from nobody knows where, sometime around the first known ‘European’ civilisation of Crete, and that of ancient Egypt. Eventually they disappeared, presumably absorbed into the territories they inhabited, They were followed by a discernible, if gradual, history of the Greek civilisation, from which the earliest culture of a European entity eventually followed. 

It has become relevant because there is a new mass unorchestrated movement, crossing the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe, much of it now coming from below the equator, south to north, of peoples foreign to Europe, seeking to escape their present circumstances, risking their lives daily in the hope of something safer and better. Such movements are as old as humanity. 

Until quite recently, mass immigration from elsewhere was welcomed by both North and South America, Australia and even after WWII, the UK, but no more. Europe and the USA now see themselves as closed, to all but selective immigration,’ the brightest and the best’ as the UK Prime Minister recently put it; and grudgingly, genuine refugees.

The nature of work in the developed world has changed. Robotic mechanisation continues to replace mass-employment manufacturing jobs, resulting problems proliferate. Immigration is a growing problem, assuming greater significance in the west, because the ‘demand’ continues to exist, exacerbated by the fact that displaced-by-machines skilled workers, are understandably not minded to do lower- paid, semi - or unskilled work, but this is now often all that is available (which unskilled immigrants would fill up in the blink of an eye) . 

Peoples of the less successful populations in even the remotest areas of the world, see on movies and TV the kind of lifestyles possible in the west for even average families. Understandably, they want in. Often their own circumstances include downwards pressure from ubiquitous undemocratic rulers. The majority of the world’s population live like that (See “World Democracy Audit” in this issue).

This general exodus ‘from the south’ was sparked by war refugees from 21st Century wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The 2011 collapse of the State of Libya, brought about with intervention by the western powers, supporting a miscellany of heavily armed rebels, prompted by numerous causes (in which democracy was a very small voice), has created, if it is not yet fully recognised as such, an international crisis. 

Libya covers a vast North African space where once there was a coherent state, with a long Mediterranean coastline now dominated by ruthless people-traffickers, of local and more distant origin. 

The Mediterranean dividing Africa from Europe has been many things. For some years now it has been a deep-water conduit for the Trafficking trade –trafficking that is of human beings, from the shores of a lawless Libyan space without a single undisputed government, even from small Egyptian ports close to the Libyan border, where an inadequate coastal force signally fails to prevent large-scale human embarkation in the flimsiest of vessels. The big money calculation these ‘people traffickers’ make, is that the old perished fishing tubs, and flimsy rubber dinghies they employ, might indeed sink, but will otherwise be intercepted by foreign patrol ships, the people transferred and the empty small boats cast adrift, or sunk. That has been the pattern, with those rescued would-be immigrants then taken to a south European port, there to be interned. But their ultimate destination is unknown. 

Earlier, most were fugitives driven from the middle-eastern wars. Many at this time are ‘economic refugees’ with no international ‘rights’ from sub-equatorial Africa, driven to find the opportunity to live a better life away from constant violence, starvation and disease, but they are essentially ‘illegals.’ Unwanted and unneeded, they have escaped from varying degrees of misery, a few may be able to establish political ‘refugee’ status and be accepted by the country they first apply to. Whilst victims of Syrian and Iraqi wars and a steady stream still from Afghanistan had the chance of residential status, those that are now fleeing violence, as is commonplace in parts of Africa, primarily simply want work and a better life to which to bring their families. They are likely, as things currently appear, to be interned indefinitely. The EU being the overarching authority are on the grounds of humanity alone, rescuing these unfortunates, but they are not wanted by member nations and even the most generous of potential host nations –and there are some that have shown great generosity - after several years of this, are no longer in a mood to accommodate new arrivals and the political reaction that their presence provokes

Consequently the Mediterranean European nations facing Libya, are building ever-growing internment camps, primarily Italy- and Greece which also has refugees crossing from Turkish shores. 

The EU conducted negotiations between its component arms of government, to parcel out to its member states, quantities of the interned fugitives, but two EU member nations, Poland and Hungary (both of which have lurched in the direction of authoritarian government), in particular are refusing to take their allocation. This article examines the current state of this crisis, but also makes it clear that the situation is exacerbated by the momentum of the massive African exodus south to north which continues showing no signs of abatement. This unquestionably is set to become a growing world crisis unless there is an effort by the UN Security Council (for a start), to tackle the causes of the problem in the territories from which these migrants are leaving. 


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Syria the Maligned

Uneasily moving towards something less than total war, with Aleppo cleansed of al Qaeda’s islamist occupation; and in IRAQ, with ISIS down and out in Mosul, the region may once more be approaching a tipping point. What next? 

In Iraq there is a US-approved government, which although inevitably majority Shi’ite can be expected to continue to govern, notwithstanding Saudi's  barely concealed hostility. Baghdad is moving on to recapture and consolidate the presently remaining ISIS-held villages, towns and districts. Yet the outstanding territorial question now relates to the Kurds who did so much of the fighting, together with decisive US and Allied air support, to which we will turn in a future article. 

But for Syria, after more than six hard years of total war, with the Asad government and its allies fighting numerous joint enemies throughout that time, (including Al Qaeda that killed 3000 New Yorkers at the Twin Towers) the Syrian government, like all of its neighbours, like all of the Arab League, remains authoritarian. Its government has undoubtedly committed egregious personal abuse, torture and the like against perceived enemies, as have all of its neighbours. Indeed the appropriate US intelligence agencies at one time sub-contracted to Syria and neighboring states, the interrogation of ‘renditioned’ suspects, of a kind that would be illegal on the USA’s home turf. But the current US President is clearly opposed to the government that remains, so despite their principal mutual enemies Al Qaeda and ISIS being largely defeated, despite everything, for Syria the future is not so predictable. 

In this context Alessandro Bruno reviews the unbalanced western media approach, reflecting that of its governments, which has confined its reportage to broad brushstrokes. This has led to a grotesquely unbalanced public reading of events (although western intelligence analysts could not have missed what any careful reading of events made clear). It does lead to a conclusion that even now with Obama having pulled out the large formations of US ground troops, the US wishes to continue to remodel the middle-east. This to be in a way that favours their two regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, even if that perhaps shifts the current warzones to include attacking the Lebanon. 

Go To: Syria the Maligned 

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World Democracy Update

Our Democracy Audit is as old as this century. Now including 154 nations (with qualifying populations of one million plus), providing the data from which we are able to publish our ‘Democracy tables’ is organised in four divisions. It is supplied by ‘Freedom House’ (the world’s longest established NGO), who in every country monitor Human Rights and Civil Rights, that determine which of the four Divisions nations are placed. Rankings within these divisions are subject to Freedom of Speech (measured by Freedom of the Press) and to their ranking in Corruption for which data is available to us from ‘Transparency International’, who monitor Corruption worldwide. 

Following Freedom House having recently published their very comprehensive reports, we are able in turn to publish our resulting updated rankings.
It should be noted that changes since the last audit are:-

POLAND has dropped from DIV ONE to TWO, now at 33rd ranking. 

TAIWAN enters the First Division at 25th; 

LATVIA is promoted to Div Two, from Div Three, now at 31st. 

PAPUA NEW GUINEA Up to Div Three at 48th from Div Four.

COLUMBIA Up to Div Three at 66th from Div Four.

ECUADOR Down from Div Three to 108th in Div Four

World Audit’s Four Divisions rank the qualifying nations (minimum population of one million). Our methodology is detailed in the sidebar.


Denmark is listed top in the world based on the criteria of Civil Rights, Human Rights, Press Freedom and absence of corruption. Since these reports commenced in 2000, Scandinavian nations have been dominant. This time Denmark is first.  Finland, Sweden and Norway are all at second equal.

As of now the First Division lists 30 nations and Division Two a further 7. These 37 nations are held to be fully democratic. 

Division Three: The Third Division numbering 34 nations are all candidates for promotion, the best are capable of achieving full democratic status –equally, the worst are in danger of slipping into demotion. 

Division Four : The 83 nations in Division Four, by far the largest bloc in the Tables (out of 154), contain the ‘usual suspects’ - nations that have shown little progress to improve their citizens lot, as well as the virtual ‘no hopers.’

‘The Bottom Line’ for democracy is that of the world’s 154 nations that have more than one million population ONLY 34 by these criteria are considered as ‘fully democratic’.

Apart from the Four Divisions described, the sidebars feature several ‘easy comparison’ group/regional listings, in this issue: OECD, EU, NATO, G8, ASEAN, APEC, LATIN AMERICA, AFRICAN UNION & ARAB LEAGUE

More Individual Country data

The 154 nations listed on the online league tables are all interactive, enabling access to each with more and specific data about that nation. 

(Data Management: Trina Middlecote)

Clive Lindley - Publisher/Editor
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