A Week In Europe's Migrant Crisis

A Week In Europe's Migrant Crisis

Though the flow of migrants into Europe has slowed dramatically since its peak in 2015, the politics of migration reached a fever pitch in recent days. Here are four snapshots of an ugly week in Europe.


Snapshot 1: The Chemnitz Problem – In the German city of Chemnitz, thousands of neo-Nazis and far-right protesters hit the streets to protest the murder of a German man, allegedly by two immigrants from Iraq and Syria. Far-right rallies are not a new phenomenon in eastern Germany, but the size and intensity of this latest event have shocked many there.

The most worrisome issue: public officials say someone with access to police files leaked the arrest warrant of the Iraqi suspect, and the report then found its way onto far-right websites. This is highly unusual in Germany, a country with strict rules on arrest information and privacy. On Thursdaypolice discovered the culprit was a prison guard in Dresden who had photographed the document and passed it along.

This kind of leak, which included information on the number of stab wounds, the full names of suspects, witnesses, the judge involved in the case, and the Iraqi man’s address, will inspire more vigilante violence. Beyond the Chemnitz protests, there have already been attacks on immigrants in other German cities, including in the northern city of Wismar, where police are now looking for three men suspected of using a chain to break an immigrant’s nose.

The leak of an arrest warrant, which is not proof of guilt, also undermines confidence in the integrity of the police. If anti-migrant groups have hidden allies within local police departments or the court system, all arrest information becomes suspect.

Germany’s largest opposition party, the far-right Alternative for Deutschland, which won dozens of parliamentary seats for the very first time last year by promising to crack down on immigration, has vowed that anti-immigrant protests will continue.

Snapshot 2: Europe’s Unite the Right – A meeting this week between Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban brought together the two most important anti-immigration politicians in Europe. Salvini has achieved this position with recent moves to block would-be migrants from reaching Italy by boat. Orban has led an effort by Central European governments to refuse migrants that were supposed to enter as part of an EU burden-sharing plan championed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2015. Salvini and Orban are now working together to strengthen anti-immigrant parties’ foothold in the European Parliament via elections next year.

Their primary nemesis here is not Merkel, but French President (and proud defender of pan-European values) Emmanuel Macron. During a joint press conference with Orban, Salvini accused Macron of delivering “preaching lessons to foreign governments” instead of helping them manage the migrants they’ve already accepted.

Macron wears the adversary label with pride. “If they want to see me as their main opponent, they’re right,” he told reporters on a visit to Denmark this week. He pledged he would not “cede any ground to nationalists and those who advocate hate speech.”

Snapshot 3: Macron’s “Own Gaul” – Unfortunately for Macron, that’s not all he said in Copenhagen. The French president hoped to use his visit to a country that combines flexible labor laws with generous social benefits to build support for reforms designed to create a similar system in his own country.

"What is possible is linked to culture,” said Macron. “These Lutheran [Danish] people, who have lived through the transformations of recent years, are not exactly Gauls, who are resistant to change," he continued, referring to French citizens by the name Imperial Romans used to describe residents of northwest Europe.

This seeming dismissal of his own people as fearful and stubborn is the latest example of political tone-deafness that, as Alex Kliment noted in your Tuesdayedition, has dropped Macron’s approval rating to 27 percent.

It’s much harder to play an effective role on the European stage against domestically popular leaders like Salvini and Orban, particularly on an emotional issue like immigration, when barely one in four of your own people think you’re doing a good job.

Snapshot 4: Eye of the Storm  Finally, there are the people at the heart of all these controversies—the migrants themselves. A report this week on life inside a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos paints a picture of suffering and despair.

The facility was designed as a transit camp, but many migrants have now lived there for more than two years. The details include extreme overcrowding, long lines for food, open sewage, respiratory disease, sexual harassment, deadly violence, extreme anxiety, and suicide attempts by children as young as ten.

The bottom line: These snapshots reveal the fears and frustrations of governments trying to cope, aid organizations trying to help, political leaders grandstanding, neo-Nazis gaining ground, citizens who want fair solutions, and migrants, many of them children, who are desperate for release from the cycle of misery. Though migrant flows have slowed in recent months, these issues will shape European politics for many years to come.

Each month, Microsoft receives about 6,500 complaints from people who've been victims of tech support scams. But it's not just Microsoft's brand that the scammers leverage; fraudsters have pretended to be from a number of other reputable tech companies and service providers. These scams will remain an industry-wide challenge until sufficient people are educated about how they work and how to avoid them.

To measure the scope of this problem globally, Microsoft commissioned YouGov for a new 2021 survey across 16 countries. Results from the 2021 survey reveal that, globally, fewer consumers have been exposed to tech support scams as compared to the 2018 survey. However, those people who continued with the interaction were more likely to have lost money to the scammers than we saw in our previous survey. To read the highlights of the survey, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

Next week, Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner who is ideologically and personally close to Iran's 82 year-old supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will be inaugurated as Iran's president. This power transition comes as the country experiences a fresh wave of protests that started in Iran's southwest over water shortages earlier this month and has since spilled over into dozens of provinces.

Some close observers of Iranian society and politics say that popular discontent there is now more widespread than it has been in years, making the Iranian regime more vulnerable than ever.

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Was the world so focused on climate change that warning signs about the COVID-19 pandemic were missed? Historian and author Niall Ferguson argues that, while the climate crisis poses a long-term threat to humanity, other potential catastrophes are much more dangerous in the near future. "We took our eye off that ball," Ferguson says about COVID, "despite numerous warnings, because global climate change has become the issue that Greta Thunberg said, would bring the end of the world. But the point I'm making in DOOM [his new book] is that we can end the world and a lot of other ways, much faster." Ferguson spoke with Ian Bremmer in an interview for GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Predictable disaster and the surprising history of shocks

Tunisia, the only country that emerged a democracy from the Arab Spring, is now in the middle of its worst political crisis since it got rid of former autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali over a decade ago.

On Sunday, the 64th anniversary of the country's independence from France, President Kais Saied responded to widespread protests over the ailing economy and COVID by firing embattled Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspending parliament for 30 days. Troops have surrounded the legislature, where rival crowds faced off on Monday, with one side chanting in support of the move and the other denouncing it as a coup.

How did we get here, do we even know who's really in charge, and what might come next?

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Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

As COVID-19 cases rise, are vaccine mandates coming?

Oh, you just want to get me in more trouble. Yeah, some mandates are coming, but they're not national mandates in the United States. In some cases, you're looking at federal and state employees, in some cases you're looking at lots of individual corporations, universities, and such. I mean I've already been to a number of events where vaccines have been mandated in New York. You've got this Excelsior Pass if you want to go to the Brooklyn Nets games, as I certainly do. You show it off and that gets you in with your vaccine. So I think it's really going to be a decentralized process. But clearly, given Delta variant and the number of people that are getting sick and dying because they're not vaccinated, you're going to see moves towards more mandates, as a consequence.

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Castillo takes over in Peru: After almost two months of protests, baseless allegations of fraud from his rival in the runoff election, and even rumblings of a coup, Pedro Castillo will be sworn in as president of Peru on Wednesday. A former rural school-teacher famous for riding on horseback, wearing a cowboy hat and waving a giant pencil to show how much he cares about education, Castillo has big plans to achieve big change. But he won by just a razor-thin margin in a deeply divided country, and Peru's dysfunctional political system will likely hobble his attempts to get major legislation passed. Moreover, despite having moderated his positions, half of the country still sees him as a communist who might turn Peru into another Venezuela. Castillo's most immediate task is dealing with the twin crises of a deadly pandemic and a COVID-fueled economic crisis that has hit poor Peruvians — his base — the hardest.

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13: The two Koreas have restored their communication hotline almost 13 months after Pyongyang abruptly cut it in response to Seoul not doing enough to prevent North Korean defectors from sending propaganda leaflets across the shared border. The hotline was established in 2018 following a historic meeting between North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

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Now that the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway, your Signal crew will be bringing you some intriguing, uplifting, and quirky facts about the Games that have many people on edge.

Today — what's the smallest country (by population) to win a gold medal in a summer Olympics?

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