Israel must prepare for the waves of Arab immigrants fleeing Islamic State terror into its territory, which could pose an existential threat to the Jewish State.
The advent of the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) terror organization and other Islamic terror groups in the region has generated a mass wave of refugees fleeing from their reign of horror.
According to new research published by Haifa University Professor Arnon Soffer, which analyzes the possible consequences of waves of immigrants resulting from demographic chaos in the Middle East, Jordan is the next country that could be significantly damaged by the growing IS threat.
“In a region of collapsing countries that are in states of internal and external war, Israel must prepare for waves of immigrants from Arab countries to its territory, which may endanger its existence,” Soffer, who holds the Reuven Chaikin Chair in Geostrategy, and Professor Anton Berkovsky affirm.
The U of H academics point out that waves of immigrants already constitute a serious danger to the future of Jordan, and the biggest threat is the possibility of IS gaining control of territories in Jordan.
Global Record of Immigrants and Refugees
According to data presented in the research paper, 2013 shows a global record of immigrants and refugees, with more than 232 million people fleeing their native countries; they constitute approximately 3.2 percent of the world population.
The picture in the Middle East is bleak, Soffer explains: “We have a globally unique demographic event occurring. The population of the region doubled within 30 years (1950-1980), and doubled itself again within the 30 years following that. That is one of the main reasons why the Middle East has entered a demographic, economic and political spiral, resulting in disorder and instability.”
Furthermore, climate changes that have led to severe water shortages in a number of areas, such as northeast and southern Syria, which could increase the influx of refugees.
Changing Seasons of the Arab Spring
The turmoil and instability in the Middle East, which began over two years ago with the Arab Spring, has already resulted in waves of refugees, especially from Syria and Iraq, Soffer continues. According to estimates presented in the Haifa University research paper, three-to-four million Syrians have become refugees outside of the country, and another eight million are refugees within Syria as a result of the civil war. Wars between the various factions in Iraq have resulted in 750,000 refugees who have already left the country – mostly to Jordan – and another three million within Iraq. These refugees enter neighboring countries, causing changes that threaten stability, thus creating a demographic domino affect.
Three Options of Development – A Danger to Israel
Soffer describes three developing scenarios, with the first being the most optimistic: massive Western aid that could help maintain Jordan’s stability.
The second possibility is an attempt by the Palestinians to seize control and create their own state.
The third possibility, and the most alarming, would be an IS takeover of large parts of Jordanian territory.
Both the second and third possibilities would increase the number of refugees in the Middle East by hundreds of thousands, Soffer maintains.
“There will be a profound danger to Israel – not only from the existence of unstable, extreme and hostile regimes close to its borders, but also because a significant portion of the hundreds of thousands of new refugees may try to enter the Jewish state,” he states.
Jordan – the Weak Link in the Chain
Jordan is gravely threatened by IS and seems to be next in line to suffer the consequences. As a result of the situation in Iraq and Syria, between a million and 1.5-million new refugees have entered the country. Research estimates that the percentage of Syrian refugees in Jordan now stands at 8-15 percent, overwhelming the local population.
“The Jordan of 2014 presents a new ethnic, national mosaic that has completely changed the previous balance of power in the kingdom. We need to keep in mind that some of the refugees are infiltrators from extremist groups such as ISIS. Others are in such a bad state that it makes it easier for radical groups like those to recruit them,” notes Soffer.
Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Israel Ziv, former head of the IDF’s operations branch, also believes the threat to Jordan from IS should be perceived as a direct threat to Israel.
“Jordan has the longest border with Israel. For Israel, any change or real threat that puts Jordan in instability has a direct effect on Israel, such a direct effect that can change the whole national security policy of Israel,” he warns, adding that 2,000-3,000 Jordanian jihadists have recently returned home from fighting with the rebels in Syria in order “to prepare the ground for the next stage.”
Israel Must Prepare
“As such, Israel needs to prepare as soon as possible for new waves of immigrants… mainly Arab immigrants from Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon,” Soffer concludes.
He does not, however, offer suggestions on how to resolve this existential threat.
The Waves Continue
The latest wave of refugees fleeing from IS hit Turkey’s borders on Saturday, as some 60,000 Kurds fled Syria due to the advance of the IS terror group in the vicinity, Reuters reports.
“Clashes started in the morning and we fled by car. We were 30 families in total,” Lokman Isa, 34, a farmer who had crossed into Turkey, told Reuters. “They (ISIS) have destroyed every place they have gone to. We saw what they did in Iraq in Sinjar and we fled in fear.”
Author: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer: United with Israel