Mostafa Minawi, Cornell University assistant professor of history and director of the university’s Ottoman and Turkish Studies Initiative, says sending Syrian refugees to other Gulf countries because it is where they’d have a more ‘natural’ home makes the false assumption that race or ethnicity is more important than nationalisms.
Minawi is co-organizer of an upcoming international conference titled “Beyond Survival: Livelihood Strategies for Refugees in the Middle East.”
“It’s been suggested that Syrian refugees should go to other Gulf countries where they’d have a more ‘natural’ home than Europe or North America. But even if the overland passage were open – which it’s not because of the Islamic State in the Syrian Desert – the idea that ‘Arabs’ should go to other ‘Arabs’ is misguided.
“It assumes that race or ethnicity, as defined by the West, is more important than nationalisms. It is like saying Mexicans should go to Spain before they come to the U.S. The reality is that these are independent countries that do not even get along in times of peace.”