Politics Around the World


Allison Baroni, Features Editor

Anti-Muslim and anti-refugee hysteria have become some of the most influential factors in politics today. Multiple countries are reacting to the influx of refugees across the globe, particularly in Europe. Here’s some background information on the current state of things in Syria, and how the consequential global refugee crisis is affecting the political scheme today:

Syrian War

In mid-December rebel fighters agreed to leave the city of Aleppo, ceding the entire territory to the Syrian government. This was a huge win for President Assad’s forces, marking a turning point in the long civil war.

Just a little more than two weeks later, Russia (the largest country backing the Syrian government) announced that an agreement for a ceasefire had been reached. It has held to some degree, although it excludes terrorist groups and is ignored in many parts of the country.

Despite this, Russia and Turkey organized talks between the government and rebel forces in Astana, Kazakhstan where they met face-to-face on January 23 for the first time since the civil war started six years ago.

The talks quickly began to take an unproductive turn, with both sides beginning to denounce and verbally attack the other before refusing to speak to each other directly. However, the talks did result in an agreement on how to monitor the ceasefire.

On February 20 official talks between the two parties are scheduled to take place in Geneva under the supervision of the UN. The date was pushed back from February 8 amid requests to allow Syria’s divided opposition to organize and appear at the talks as a group.


Even though Syria’s civil war appears to finally be cooling down, the resulting refugee crisis is not. 13.5 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance, with about 4.8 million refugees residing in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq, and 1 million requesting asylum in Europe. An additional 6.6 million people are displaced within Syria, while meanwhile the U.S. accepted around 12,000 Syrian refugees between the start of the civil war and August 2016.

The U.S. has a history of animosity towards refugees. In 1939, the U.S. turned away a boat of nearly 1,000 Jewish refugees under the claim that they posed a serious security threat. More than a quarter of them later died in the Holocaust.

Over 70 year later, the U.S. is responding to modern refugees with similar fear and distrust. In his first week as president, Donald Trump issued a number of executive orders, including one that suspends all refugee travel into the U.S. for 120 days, and Syrian refugees indefinitely. The order allows refugees that are members of persecuted minority religions to enter the U.S. even during this designated time, which basically means that Christian refugees will be allowed to enter while Muslims will not, part of what has caused many to denounce the ban as unconstitutional. The U.N. estimates that this order will affect 20,000 refugees worldwide.

Not only is this order intended to keep refugees out of the U.S., but also citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen, all predominantly Muslim countries. Visitors, students, workers, and new immigrants from these countries have been barred from entry into the U.S. regardless of whether they had already received a visitor’s visa. Although at first it was uncertain whether green card holders would be allowed back in the country, the Trump administration eventually acquiesced and stated that they would be allowed re-entry.

On January 27, the day the order was signed, multiple judges across the country stayed the order in several states, working as fast as possible to prevent both refugees and visitors from being deported. In the past week, more judges across the country halted the ban in their states or cities, and the order has sparked multiple protests and many of our nation’s leaders, including several prominent members of Congress, have spoken out condemning the order.

The largest progress against the order took place February 3 when federal judge James Robart halted the enforcement of the order nationwide. The Trump administration is complying with the ruling while appealing to have the ban immediately reinstated. On the 5th, a federal appeals court refused to allow the U.S. government to immediately reinstate the travel ban, and so both Washington and Minnesota filed papers against the federal government. The justice department had about two hours to respond. As of Tuesday the Ninth Circuit was still reviewing the order, and a decision is expected sometime next week.

For now, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency have been reinstating previously issued visas and telling airlines that refugees with U.S. visas are to be allowed in. The Department of Homeland Security stopped implementing the executive order the We’ll have to wait and see what happens next.


Britain’s recent vote to leave the EU was also influenced by fear of refugees. The EU, a confederation of 28 countries in Europe, is designed not just to allow free trade of goods amongst member nations but also free movement of people. This prevents countries from having more control over who is and who isn’t allowed in. Many British citizens expressed wanting more control over who enters their country in the wake of both the refugee crisis and recent terrorist attacks.

Having more autonomy is not the only consequence of leaving the EU, however, and Britain now finds itself having to re-negotiate trade deals. This process is expected to take up to two years, and will occur under the jurisdiction of the new Prime Minister Theresa May.

Brexit has spiked fear the the EU is destabilizing, which could have definitive repercussions in the American economy. The EU is one of the largest trading partners of the U.S., and it’s destabilization would require a complete reworking of multiple trade agreements. Some economists argue that this fear is largely unfounded, however, pointing to the multitude of other nations that remain in the EU, and so for now the biggest effect of Brexit on most Americans has been a cheaper trip to Britain.