It is indisputable that Germany is one of the leading countries in Europe to accommodate refugees from the Syrian conflict. Chancellor Merkel was armed with a large amount of political capital when she announced her open door policy on accepting thousands of migrants in Germany. It was her general policy that perhaps made Germany one of the most popular destinations for the migrants.

Unfortunately, her hardline political will to accommodate the refugees without any significant restrictions seem to be under duress. While even the opposition party generally supports Mrs. Merkel 's generous refugee policy, some of her party members as well as a growing nationalist party "Alternative for Germany" is slowly threatening Mrs. Merkel's political agenda (France 24 3/13/2016), which consequently is threatening her political future.

Unlike most other European nations, Germany enjoys a comfortable economic atmosphere, and the country has been wooing foreign skilled workers to support the shortage of skilled German workers. Even though the country had to finance the loan for the sovereign bailout crisis (The Guardian 2/2/2014), German labor participation rate ("Germany Labor Force Participation Rate", Trading Economics 3/13/2016) has been relatively higher than the general Euro area ("Euro Area Labor Force Participation Rate", Trading Economics 3/13/2016), signaling a stable economic situation.

Despite all positive economic indicators and the banked political capital of the chancellor, even Germany is feeling the heat from the public's growing angst of refugees. The core reason why the ultra-nationalist party is able to garner growing public support is due to European leadership's failure in addressing the long-term effects of the migrant crisis. From the people's perspective, this refugee crisis might go on perpetually, which signifies that the situation will get worse.

Regardless of the outcome of the state elections, Mrs. Merkel needs to propose a long-term solution to the refugee crisis that the European public can get behind. If Mrs. Merkel fails to propose a long-term solution that her German constituents can support, then there is no leader in Europe that can solve this crisis without risking a fractured Europe. Hopefully, Mrs. Merkel can lead Germany, and consequently Europe, out of this crisis gently, because merely building more border walls only will exasperate the problem.

While world leaders were able to agree on a no cease-fire agreement in Syria (The New York Times and Reuters 02/28/2016), thousands of Syrian refugees are continuously fleeing to Europe in search of security and a better life. Given the length of the Syrian conflict and the world's progress to contain it, how is it possible that this crisis can develop this extensively? The emergence of ISIS and other terrorist groups, as well as the Syrian government's ruthless tactics, have made the situation uncontrollable, and the current situation has been spilling over to Europe in the form of the refugee crisis.

If there is a clear and present humanitarian crisis, why can't the world body act swiftly to contain the situation? Couldn't the United Nations Security Council deploy security forces within Syria to directly take control of the dire situation?

The reason for the slow response from the global community is due to dark politics, which are driven by reasons that are not revealed to the general public.

The United States and Russia have competing interest in Syria, and the question of which country will a sphere of influence in that region is one major reason why the Syrian conflict has extended to this day. While there is no question about the commitment of both the US and Russia on wanting to stabilize the region quickly, the issue of the means of stabilizing the region (i.e. which rebel groups to support and which terrorist groups to attack) is impeding swift action.

If the situation in Syria is not contained quickly, then the spillover effects will intensify as Europe faces a prolonged migrant crisis. The US and Russia ought to contain the situation by the means of setting up a United Nations security zone in Syria which is under the United Nations Security Council's jurisdiction. Syria desperately needs stability or else people will continue to flee or get caught in the conflict. The future political question of Syria ought to be tabled and the international community should focus on the immediate needs of the Syrian people.

After Prime Minister David Cameron finished negotiating with European Union leaders to get a “better deal” for Britain, the debate of whether Britain should stay or exit the EU intensified after the Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced his support for Brexit. (The New York Times 2/22/2016)

The general argument for withdrawing from the EU has been focused on recovering Britain’s lost sovereignty from the supranational organization. Furthermore, EU’s inability to effectively deal with the migrant crisis as well as the Greek and other sovereign debt crisis have convinced many in Britain that the loss of British sovereignty is not worth the incompetence of the EU. With the growing perception that the EU is pushing unfavorable policy to the people in Britain, there is a growing movement for Britain to regain its national sovereignty by leaving the EU.

Prime Minister David Cameron has attempted to address the concerns of the Brexit supporters by extracting key concessions from EU leaders without having Britain leave the EU. His hope is that Britain can push away unfavorable EU policies while still getting the political and economical benefits from being a member of the EU.

One major cost of leaving the EU is the tariff question. Britain exports a significant amount of goods to other EU member states without tariff. If Britain does decide to leave the EU, there is a possibility of a long trade agreement negotiation that not only introduces uncertainty in the general markets in Britain but also a threat of a tariff from all exported goods to the EU. This will ultimately hurt the British economy and even perhaps make Britain less competitive even on the political stage in the world.

While the supporters of Brexit has been preoccupied with the political angle of the issue, unless they can provide an alternative and favorable economic benefits of exiting the EU, their Brexit argument is fatally incomplete, and their agenda might threaten Britain’s historical competitiveness at the global stage.

While North Korea was celebrating an alleged Hydrogen nuclear bomb test, government officials from neighboring countries were on alert and denounced North Korea. Chinese spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was aggressive in denouncing the test by stating, “China strongly opposes this act….. China will firmly push for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” (The New York Times 1/6/2016)

Over the years, the East Asian political sphere has changed as South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Chinese President Xi Jinping increased economic and diplomatic cooperation. (The Washington Times 6/27/2013) During this time, the new North Korean leader Kim Jung-un was busy consolidating his own domestic power base while making insignificant progress on improving North Korea-China relations.

While it is unlikely that China would endorse any drastic additional sanctions against North Korea, China made no effort to hide its dissatisfaction over North Korea’s belligerent action. If North Korea does not provide a satisfying diplomatic response to China’s anger, China would likely reevaluate its “special” relationship with the communist North Korea. If North Korea loses China’s support, Kim Jung-un’s regime would be virtually isolated from the international community.

The main reason why China is angered by the alleged test is due to North Korea’s main motive: publicity. Given the close proximity to Kim Jung-un’s birthday as well as the Kaesong Industrial Complex being open (limited) for South Korean workers (Sputnik News 1/8/2016), the test itself was not to threaten South Korea but to legitimize the rule of Kim Jung-un domestically and internationally. Unfortunately for North Korea, China’s top priority in East Asia is stability, which North Korea seems to disregard.

While there might not be immediate consequences for North Korea, it is expected that North Korea will lose more political support from China. Perhaps 2016 might be the year when China patience with North Korea runs out.

The recent shoot down of a Russian fighter jet near the Turkish border increased tension between Russia and NATO members while the world is trying to fight ISIS (The New York Times 11/25/2015). Turkey defended the shooting down the Russian fighter jet by stating that the jet was warned multiple times on radio as the Russian jet, according to Turkish radar, crossed border into Turkey. Russia has refuted Turkey’s claim by stating that no visual or audio warning was given, and according to Russian radar data the jet never entered Turkish air space.

It does not seem that Russia had any intention to invade or attack Turkey, and it is possible that a technological error from either side’s radar or GPS technology would have caused this unfortunate incident.

Nevertheless, the shoot down of a Russian jet shows a greater urgency for major international players to setup a coordinated military and intelligence infrastructure to prevent such tragedies in the first place.

It has already been over a year since the growth of ISIS, and despite the continuous brutality exhibited by the terrorist group against civilians, the world leaders have been extremely slow in mounting a counter terrorism operation. Bogged down by the question of whether Assad should stay in power in Syria, the United States and Russia are seemingly fighting the same enemy with a different end game in mind.

Due to the US and other world partners not being able to reach quick political consensus on how to approach the Syrian problem, Europe is facing a refugee crisis that is in historic in proportions. Without quickly stabilizing Syria and getting rid of all terrorist elements in the region, refugees from Syria will continue to attempt to reach Europe, and the world will be facing a long term humanitarian crisis for decades to come.

There are many ideas on how world leaders should approach the Syrian crisis, but the main priority ought to be a consensus among world leaders on the short term goals of Syria (i.e. getting rid of ISIS) and also form a United Nations sponsored special civilian protection zone within Syria. Under the jurisdiction of the UN, such region should provide stability, safety, and a possibility of recovery (of livelihood) for the Syrians still stuck in the region. If the world leaders are still bogged down on the question of whether Assad ought to be President, then they should ask themselves whether debating such question serves the immediate interest of the Syrian people running away for basic safety and stability.

Hopefully, the shooting down of the Russian jet will be the last such international incident that results in unnecessary death and casualties between nations that are supposed to work for the same cause.


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