Helping you to #QuestionMore: How RT predicted where Syrian crisis would go
The EU is in the midst of a refugee crisis of gargantuan proportions. Every day that passes sees thousands of migrants heading towards Europe looking for a safer, if not better life. While the consequences may be a shock to some, RT has been warning of the fallout of Western-backed action in the Middle East and North Africa for years.
In September 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his opinions of the Syrian crisis in an exclusive interview to RT. More than three years later, a number of his concerns over the mistakes the West were making are still being made today.
“Today some want to use militants from Al-Qaeda or some other organizations with equally radical views to accomplish their goals in Syria. This policy is dangerous and very short-sighted,” he said.
“In that case, one should unlock Guantanamo, arm all of its inmates and bring them to Syria to do the fighting – it's practically the same kind of people,” the Russian president added.
Six months later in March 2013, RT contributor Afshin Rattansi made a similar claim that the West’s strategy “will eventually backfire if they arm rebels in Syria.”
“It is sad that these countries [the UK and France] can think of arming these Islamists because the blowback will be phenomenal,” Rattansi said.
US-made weapons have repeatedly fallen into the wrong hands. Intended to be given to "moderate rebel" groups, missiles such as the TOW have been used by Islamic State and the Al-Nusra Front.
The TOW weapons were reportedly used to destroy a Russian helicopter involved in the Su-24 aircraft rescue mission, which was shot down by Turkish forces. It was also used to attack a convoy of RT journalists, who miraculously survived.
“It has been openly supplied by the US and indeed by US allies in the region, particularly Saudi Arabia to rebel groups. So therefore it would not at all be surprising to find this weapon system in the hands of the rebel groups and being used by them,” security analyst and former counter-terrorism intelligence officer Charles Shoebridge told RT.
Almost five years of civil war in Syria has led to unprecedented numbers of refugees seeking a safer place in the West. Just over two years ago, a UN report stated that 2 million Syrians had fled the country, with a further 4 million internally displaced.
Back then, US film star Angelina Jolie, who is also a UNHCR Special Envoy, spoke of the enormous pressure the Syrians outflow is causing.
“If the situation continues to deteriorate at this rate, the number of refugees will only grow, and some neighboring countries could be brought to the point of collapse," she said.
Figures released by the UNHCR in December showed that over 4 million Syrian refugees have been registered by countries not part of the EU, with almost 2 million alone in Turkey.
The EU says it is providing over €4.4 billion in aid to help with the Syrian crisis, while the bloc has been in talks with Turkey to resettle around half a million refugees within the EU.
"The issue (of resettlement) will be a hot potato in the coming period because even though this could be kept in a semi-secret state... someone somewhere - I think in Berlin this week - will announce that 4-500,000 Syrian refugees could be brought straight from Turkey to the EU," Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban said, as cited by Reuters.
With such large-scale migration toward the EU, there is always the threat of terrorists being among those looking to head toward Europe.
“There are hundreds of sleeper cells today in England, Germany, in France. Talk to their intelligence communities and you can see how scared most of them are. We haven’t seen yet the Islamic State’s modus operandi, which they promised to bring over to Europe. And if they don’t have a very clear definition of who they are up against, it’s going to be a very, very long and bloody campaign, unfortunately,” counter-terrorism expert Jonathan Fine told RT in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January.