Syria

Egyptian Billionaire Suggests Buying Island for Syrian Refugees—4 Million and Counting

No sign Syria's civil war is coming to an end.

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Mustafa Khayat/flickr

Naguib Sawiris, an Egyptian telecom mogul, the country's third richest man, and one of the founding members of the Free Egyptians Party, says he wants to buy an island from Italy or Greece to house refugees fleeing war-torn Syria and other countries in the region. He made the announcement on Twitter, asking one of the two countries to sell him an island so that he could declare its independence and help refugees build a "new city"  there.  

In an interview with Agence-France Press, Sawiris suggested an island could cost up to $100 million and that it would require investment in infrastructure, saying there would be "temporary shelters to house the people, then you start employing the people to build housing, schools, universities, hospitals." He also envisions the refugees having the right of return to their home countries when things settle down. 

More than four million Syrians have fled the country, which has been in the throes of civil war for four years. Government camps along the Turkish-Syrian border house nearly two million of the four million Syrians registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). More than a million Syrians fled to Lebanon, where they have access to basic public services. More than 600,000 more Syrians are in Jordan, with another 400,000 in Iraq, Egypt, and Libya.  

Even at the population density of a refugee camp, the largest Greek islands for sale to the public probably couldn't hold more than a few thousand people—they're advertised as resort development opportunities.  

More than 348,000 Syrians have applied for asylum in Europe since 2011, with more than 138,000 applications coming in 2014. Migrant traffic across the Mediterranean, from Syria, Libya, and elsewhere in Asia and Africa, increased by 80 percent this year so far, with the UNHCR reporting 137,000 migrants crossing the Mediterranean according to data from European authorities. The prime minister of Great Britain, David Cameron, announced today the United Kingdom would accept "thousands" of new refugees after previously saying that wasn't the simple solution. Cameron also pledged $150 million dollars to relief efforts. By 2014, Germany had already pledged to accept 20,000 refugees. Most of the refugees not in the countries neighboring Syria (except Israel, which is not accepting Syrian refugees into the countries) are in Europe. Very few have been accepted in North America, and virtually none anywhere else in the world. 

The United States, which has given more than $4 billion to international relief efforts, has accepted just 1,500 Syrian asylum-seekers since 2011. It approved just 36 applications in 2013 due to counterterrorism rules. Earlier this year, a group of 14 Democratic senators called on the U.S. to accept more Syrian refugees, while the president of the International Rescue Committee wants the U.S. to accept and settle 65,000 refugees by the end of 2016. The refugee situation has been called the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. 

Meanwhile, the White House says its monitoring reports of Russian troops in Syria. Russia has backed Bashar Assad and his government in their effort to maintain control of the country, while Western countries, led by the United States, insist any solution to the Syrian civil war requires Assad to step down.

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  1. How about the Turkish side of Cyprus?

    *flees cackling*

    1. You…… hayvan gibi eshol eshek!!!!!!!

  2. so that he could declare its independence and help refugees build a “new city” there.

    Libertarian paradise!

    1. I thought the same thing, but I doubt it. Anybody know anything about Mr. Sawiris that would suggest how he would rule his potential dictatorship?

  3. 4 million people on a mediterranean island?

    I would like to purchase the movie rights to that.

    1. Cannibalism Run Riot – Eatin’ the Cretan

      Rhode(s) to Perdition

      Cypriot Games

      1. So, do you look in the mirror and *narrows gaze*?

        1. I..I..probably should for those, yes.

          1. The second one for sure. I could give you a pass on the others.

            1. I laughed at all of them

  4. Russia has backed Bashar Assad and his government in their effort to maintain control of the country, while Western countries, led by the United States, insist any solution to the Syrian civil war requires Assad to step down.

    Still? Hasn’t it occurred to anyone that the only two options on the fucking table are Assad and ISIS? What is wrong with people?

    1. *reluctantly offers service as monarch, brushes up on Arabic*

      1. “You don’t need to speak the language of your subjects”

        George I

        “Hear, hear!”

        George II

        1. King George III: Some people say I’m mad, and say the word “penguin” after each sentence. But I believe that we two can make Britain great, with you as the Prince Regent, and I as King Penguin.

          1. Hah!

            Great movie though.

            1. That was Blackadder III, not The Madness of King George.

              1. Ahh. You know, I’ve never watched BA, I really should.

      2. Listen — strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

        1. Yeah, well your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

        2. They need to set up an Anarcho-Syndicalist Commune and take it in turns as a sort of “executive officer for the week”

      3. Swissy, if you can manage to take over and hold that shithole, you have my unqualified support.

        1. Really only the Romans can.

          1. “What has Naguib Sawiris ever done for us?”

        2. Oh, I would have to have it handed over…I would only accept the Throne if given. Were I conqueror, conquering and going forth to conquer…I would carve out some sort of Burgundian type state of the nice bits of Benelux, the Rhineland-Pfalz part of Germany and Switzerland.

    2. Almost everyone knows this.

      The real question everyone should be asking is what’s wrong with Block Yomomma? He’s the guy who has spent the last few years trying to help radical Muslims take over the entire region.

      1. +1 Block Insane Yomamma

        1. YOU BASTID! I damn near spewed coffee everywhere, laughing.

        2. Is he *actively* trying to make that happen (which is conspiratorial in nature in my view) or is it just a result of his poor foreign policy calculations? The latter makes more sense because you don’t want the former.

          1. If he was actively trying to make that happen, what would he do differently? And still be able to maintain plausible deniability?

            1. He’s an upper class guy who loved to smoke pot and entered the Chicago political machine. What, in the conspirators’ fevered minds, is his motive? Why would he give a shit about radical Islam gaining ground in the Middle East?

              1. What, in the conspirators’ fevered minds, is his motive?

                Secret Muslim from Indonesia/Kenya!

                His commie mentor ass-raped him into lurving any enemy of America!

                Alinsky!

                …that help?

              2. Anyone who thinks he wants radicals to win is an idiot. What’s happening is that Obama just believes all the nonsense about the glories of multi-culturalism that got shoveled into his head by leftists his whole life, so he is incapable of understanding the actual dynamics in play in the Middle East. Multi-culti thinking makes an informed foreign policy impossible since it gets you to believe everyone around the world is really just the same so you don’t have to worry about the specifics of an individual case.

                Plus, Obama also refuses to acknowledge how widespread fundamentalist ideas really are among Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East, so he behaves as if he’s negotiating with rational actors rather than crazed religious lunatics who think women need to wear burqas to avoid getting raped and whose favorite holiday decoration is a lynched gay person.

                1. “Multi-culti thinking makes an informed foreign policy impossible”

                  Nonsense. Not only is an informed foreign policy possible, it does exist. Obama is simply following the lead of America’s most important partners in the region, Israel and Saudi Arabia in opposing the democratic reforms of Arab spring, and supporting Sunni fundamentalism. Aside from a brief break under the reign of George W. Bush, this has been American policy for decades.

                  1. WTF are you talking about? The US supported gave tacit support to the revolution in Egypt. Further the US gave tacit support to Syria’s revolution, which was Sunni-dominated. And gave overt support to Libya’s revolution.

                    1. “The US supported gave tacit support to the revolution in Egypt.”

                      Right up until the coup that brought back the old regime. A coup the US also supported.

                      “Further the US gave tacit support to Syria’s revolution, which was Sunni-dominated. And gave overt support to Libya’s revolution.”

                      What’s with the past tense? The US is still supporting Sunni fundamentalists is Syria and Libya. Neither of these benefactors of US support are in favour of the democratic reforms that the US opposes.

              3. He’s a true-believing child of Alisnky.

                I’ve puzzled over his bizarre affinity for these lunatics for a while now, and I’ve come to the conclusion that his hatred for America (and the west in general) are so great that he’ll reflexively side with our enemies out of spite as much as anything.

                1. Or he’s just a dumbass. But if you want to believe Obama seriously loves ISIS, be my guest.

                  1. He’s a bleeding-heart liberal dumb ass.

                2. He hates America so much that he became its President and actively promotes his image as a global icon for America. This checks out.

                  1. He became president of the country in order to “fundamentally transform” it.

                  2. He hates America so much that he became its President

                    He become president because he likes power. He may or may not hate America, but it’s clear that he hates a large percentage of the American people.

                3. You don’t really need to go to that extreme to explain it. Barack Obama has pretty much a standard academic leftist view of foreign policy. The problems of the Middle East is that America hasn’t been “nice” enough some of the countries. That’s why they don’t like us. If we make our peace with guys like Qadafhi or Assad who are “mean” to their people, of course they won’t like us.

                  It’s the geopolitics of the playground.

    3. That’s not true. There are other options but they are a lot weaker. Still, there is no way Assad is going to take control of Syria.

      1. Assad has done far more to promote ISIS than America could. He released many of its founders from jail.

  5. This is historically unprecedented (though Isreal after WWII has some similarities), but Greece should really consider it. It could help refugees, and would give Greece a bit of (much needed) cash.

    1. Did you see the size of those islands? The biggest one is like 2 square miles. Forget about it.

      1. Build up Rhywun. Jeez, do I have to think of everything?!?

        1. The Robert Taylor Homes of the Med!

          1. I was thinking SimCity Arcology, but whatevers.

            1. Arcology – nice.

              But I rather imagine it would end up all Cabrini Green II – Crime and Poverty Booglaoo

              1. I made the mistake of taking a wrong turn in Chicago while on bidness, and ended up driving by the Green and a bunch of other projects. The residents STARED at me as I drove through, their eyes blazing, “You don’t BELONG here” into my skull.

                The only time I’ve actually SPED through a “bad” section of a city. Worse than Detroit…Detroit doesn’t scare me. Cabrini Green did.

                  1. +1 rustic wooden cup

        2. I’m writing a scifi novella where the diaspora of arabs from the Jihad Wars of the early 21st century are consigned to arcologies, where they are kept distracted by pron and video games and their population controled by low-level contraceptives in the food and water. The Roma also get sent to the ‘Arcs’ and they’re not as easily diverted and set up drug factories to supply the Arabs inside and ‘Sunshine’ people outside the Arcs.

          1. Spoiler alert – they all end up in Dearborn, MI

          2. they are kept distracted by pron and video games and their population controled by low-level contraceptives in the food and water.

            Sounds like a pretty good life.

      2. Hong Kong is small too.

        1. Yes, and it took decades and a lot more than $100M to build up the infrastructure to support the people who are there.

  6. Here is a good article on the endgame of the Syrian civil war:

    http://observer.com/2015/09/ho…..-damascus/

    1. Meanwhile…Myanmar, (remember those guys?), is sliding back into military dictatorship.

          1. Henry the Eighth
            Sure had
            Trouble
            Short term wives
            Long term stubble
            Burma-Shave

    2. “They won’t be coming for money, not the best of them. They’ll be coming for Damascus. Which I’m going to give them.”

      “That’s all I want.”

      “All you want is someone holding down the ISIS Right. But I’m going to give them Damascus. We’ll get there before you do. And when we’ve got it, we’ll keep it. Tell the politicians to burn their paper now.”

      “Fair enough.”

      “Fair? What’s fair got to do with it? It’s going to happen.”

  7. Finally the Arabs step up to the plate.

    1. I would take this somewhat seriously if he offered to buy them, say, a few hundred square miles of Egypt.

      1. “But you’re using them to work the diamond mines!”

        “What? You thought I was doing this out of the goodness of my heart? At least here they get three meals a day don’t end up in streets of Paris wandering around like hobos!”

  8. Europe is fucked. There’s no way they can assimilate this kind of wave of refugees. So you’re going to end up with massive Muslim slums all over Europe where everyone is poor and there are no jobs. Meanwhile, you’ve got a massive, ongoing upswing in nativist and often outright racist political parties (Jobbik in Hungary, the Golden Dawn in Greece, etc.) who are not going to be particularly happy with their new Syrian neighbors.

    It’s a recipe for either a) a permanent minority underclass like what exists in American inner cities but which Europe has never had to deal with and the problems of which they are not prepared to solve or b) mass deportations/concentration camps courtesy of the crazed wild eyed bigots who might rise to power in reaction to this sort of thing.

    1. You know who else came to power in Europe blaming immigrants and foreigners for many of their economic problems?

      1. Hitler?

        1. Pim Fortuyn?

    2. All immigrants are a positive asset to the country they enter, no exceptions.
      /Shikha

    3. Trump suggested fencing off the Mexican border and charging Mexico for it?which is politically and economically absurd for a number of reasons, not least of which for his habit of trumping up the problems of border insecurity and illegal immigration.

      But I can see an argument being made for Europe radically intervening in Syria. Not walling it off per se, but intervening and imposing martial law until some sort of order and a return to rule of law can be established. Yes, there’s an obvious parallel with Iraq, but Iraq was not an existential crisis the way Syria is becoming for Mediterranean countries.

      Not necessarily arguing in favor of occupation, but relative to America’s problems Europe’s immigrant problem might actually justify foreign intervention.

      1. They’d certainly have reason to do so, but I don’t know how they accomplish it in any sort of “civilized” way. They’d have to take out most parties engaged in the civil war, and then try to stop ISIS and similar groups from rebuilding an insurgent group. The costs would be enormous.

      2. Europe doesn’t have the martial or cultural fortitude anymore for that type of colonialist/imperialist activity. 150 years ago, Britian or France probably could have turned around a situation that’s as chaotic as Syria/Iraq is right now.

        They can’t anymore. They’re decadent, weak, and their native ruling/managerial class is ridden by pathological altruism. What is going to happen here is the European left will continue to insist that every refugee be admitted, irrespective of whether their countries have the resources to accomodate them. The European right will get more pissed off and will eventually begin cracking skulls, because they’ll stop giving a shit whether people call them racist.

    4. a permanent minority underclass like what exists in American inner cities but which Europe has never had to deal with

      I don’t think that’s true. European cities have had a history of such things like “Jewish Quarters” and urban pockets of Romani (btw, everything about this photo is awesome). However, I do agree that they are not prepared to solve it, nor were they ever.

      1. “People called Romani they go the house?”

      2. I wasn’t aware that Weird Al Yankovic was a Gypsy living in 1910.

        1. I thought he was Living In An Amish Paradise?

        2. Where do you think he got his mad accordion skills?

    5. Either that or there Europe will experience a short-term crunch from the wave of immigration, followed by a medium-term stabilization and then moderate economic growth as Syrians integrate into the European economy, followed by a long-term leveling-out as many refugees return to Syria after the war ends and European birth rates and population density adjust to the fluctuating price signals caused by the flow of immigration.

      1. Which will totally happen in countries where the markets are tightly controlled by governments and where welfare is so generous that only 4 out of 10 Somalian immigrants to Sweden are working.

        Clearly when you have 60% of an immigrant group sitting on that sweet ass Euro-welfare there’s no danger that they just never assimilate.

        followed by a long-term leveling-out as many refugees return to Syria after the war ends

        “Hey, Salim, the war in Syria is over. Sure our entire village was burned to the ground and we have nothing to go back to, but would you rather return to a burned out wasteland like post-war Syria, or stay here in beautiful Hamburg collecting German welfare payments that amount to more money than we could possibly hope to make working in Syria? Oh, you’d rather stay here? That was unexpected.”

        1. There is no correlation between immigration population and welfare monies doled out in American states.

          1. He’s talking about Europe, you moron.

            1. And I swear he has that macroed to a key, so he can keep posting the total lie every chance he gets.

      2. I dunno. How many convenience stores does Europe need?

        /Dearborn, MI

      3. many refugees return to Syria

        “I’ll have what she’s having.”

    6. They could easily assimilate these people if they abandoned social democracy welfare statism.

    7. Isn’t that the case now?

      You have Muslim slums all over in the UK, turning English girls into sex slaves

      You have all these places in France that are no go zones. Despite all the hysteria when Fox made the claim, there was someone that tried testing it by dressing up as a Jew and going to those places. He couldn’t.

  9. Some similarities with Australia’s Pacific Solution.

    Which, by the way, is a politically idiotic name to choose.

    1. Well, it’s not like they called it the Final Pacific Solution.

    2. How many names did they reject before they chose the Final one?

      1. Greater South Pacific Co-Prosperity Sphere

        Forcible Transportation Island

        Tasmania

        Pacific Solution

  10. Somewhat OT: The Donald makes more sense on Foreign Policy than the rest of the Retardicans. So says Doug Bandow of Cato. Lulz ensue:

    http://www.detroitnews.com/sto…../71648020/

    1. Absurd. ISIS rose in Syria not Iraq.

      1. He didn’t say ISIS rose in Iraq; he said ISIS came about as a result of the Iraq War, which is conventional wisdom by pretty much everybody.

  11. I’m writing a scifi novella where the diaspora of arabs from the Jihad Wars of the early 21st century are consigned to arcologies, where they are kept distracted by pron and video games and their population controled by low-level contraceptives in the food and water. The Roma also get sent to the ‘Arcs’ and they’re not as easily diverted and set up drug factories to supply the Arabs inside and ‘Sunshine’ people outside the Arcs.

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