By Richard Pollock
While the United States and Europe argue over how many Syrian refugees to allow in, the richest Persian Gulf states have accepted exactly zero.
The Muslim countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council that include Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates steadfastly refuse to accept any Syrian refugees. Amnesty International, USA (AIUSA) tells The Daily Caller News Foundation they have not accepted a single refugee since the armed Syrian conflict erupted years ago.
“The Gulf States have accepted zero refugees registered with the United Nations and administered through the U.N. resettlement program. They have accepted zero,” Geoffrey Mock, the Syrian country coordinator for AIUSA, tells TheDCNF.
Nadim Houry, the Human Rights Watch deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, calls it “shameful.”
The reluctance of Muslim countries to accept Syrians also may make it much harder for Americans to accept President Barack Obama’s proposal to resettle 10,000 refugees throughout the United States.
The Gulf states can be a natural new home for many of the Syrians. The Persian Gulf countries are fabulously wealthy from oil revenues, have strong economies, speak the same Arabic language and offer a familiar culture for the displaced Syrians.
A Fox News poll taken after the Paris attacks reports 67 percent oppose taking in any of the 10,000 Syrian refugees Obama wishes to resettle in the United States. Seventy-seven percent replied that “at least one of those coming through this process will be a terrorist who will succeed in carrying out an attack on U.S. soil.”
A Harris poll taken about a week after the Paris attacks shows that six out of 10 (61 percent) oppose the president’s plan to accept 10,000 refugees. Going deeper, it shows that 63 percent fear any Syrian refugee admitted to the U.S. could be connected to terrorism.
Those fears hardened after the Nov. 13 Islamic State attack in Paris that killed 130. Many of the terrorists that night were either French or Belgian citizens.
A Bloomberg Politics post-attack public opinion poll taken Nov. 15 to 17 shows 53 percent oppose any resettlement of Syrians in the United States, with only 28 supporting the president.
On Nov. 20, the House also voted 289 to 137 to call a pause in the resettlement program until greater security measures are in place to screen the refugees. The vote included 47 Democrats joining Republicans.
Thirty-one governors vow to stop temporarily accepting Syrian refugees into their states. All of the governors are Republican except for one.
Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican who is seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, raises the issue in his campaign.
The Gulf states are the “ones actually giving a lot of arms and weapons to radical Islamists. They’re taking zero refugees,” Paul declared in a campaign stop in his home state of Kentucky Nov. 23.
Muslim countries bordering Syria such as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon accepted the bulk of the 4.2 million Syrian refugees. Many there live in makeshift overcrowded tent cities operated by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its resettlement agency.
Egypt, which accepted 127,000 of the 4.2 million Syrian refugees, also appears to be getting cold feet about accepting more. Egyptian officials are now expelling some refugees, according to Mock. He tells TheDCNF some refugees are on hunger strikes because of depraved conditions.
Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon have also begun to impose new restrictions on accepting more Syrian refugees.