Update. Smuggling operation in Turkey is exposed after news that smugglers where using Syrian children to make fake life vests. Please read my article below written last week on the subject.
An article caught my eye a few days ago. There was an actual decrease in migrants landing in Greece for two weeks. Was it the weather? No. Erdogan cracking down? Of course not. The lull happened because the smugglers ran out of “dinghies”, the large rubber boats used to transport the refugees from Turkey to Greece. The manufactures could not keep up with the demand and they were on two weeks back order.
Sure enough, the numbers surged again in two weeks. Smugglers are like drug dealers and while it is tough to control the demand for their products and services, you can choke their supply chain. No doubt, the smugglers are raking in billions, but they are not the only ones profiting from their crime.
I googled “who makes boats for refugees” and the results were disturbing. One company even openly offered different model “dinghies for refugees” depending on where they were sailing from, around $2,000 US dollars. It’s not just dinghies, but there is a bustling enterprise in Turkey full of shops selling all kinds of supplies needed for migrants to sail to Greece. There are hotels for the refugees to strike deals with the smugglers while they await their voyage. There are even volunteers in Greece (good-hearted but naive) who recycle the dinghies and life vests for future refugees in Turkey. This should not be overlooked, for aiding illegal human smuggling is a crime.
Then there is Erdogan and the authorities in Turkey. This open industry of human smuggling would not be tolerated without their approval and neither would they allow it without demanding bribes and skimming from the top to get their share of the riches. Follow the money and you will find a scum like Erdogan, whether he is shaking down Merkel or the network of 25,000 smugglers that operate in Turkey. He is no different than a Mafia boss.
If the EU is serious about stopping human smuggling and regaining control of the external borders, they have to target the supply chain and Turkey. Supply chain is easy IF one has the will. The EU currently has sanctions on Russia and companies that do business with Russia. The EU can fine, sanction, and shut down any vendor supplying Turkey with the tools (such as dinghies) to enable the smugglers. They can also identify these companies (they sell other products too) and encourage EU citizens to boycott any of the products they sell.
While not a cure-all, like sealing the border, this is a start and certainly would disrupt the flow.
The more complex problem is Turkey. Europe must realize the amount of leverage they have on Erdogan and how dependent Turkey is on Europe. The Arab world is on fire, an economic basket case with no future. What future does Turkey have if they are isolated with the Middle East? Isolate Turkey and their economy, already in turmoil, will implode.
Give give Erdogan a choice: Dismantle the smugglers and their network, blow up any empty dinghies you see on your coast, close down the shops that provide the tools for smuggling and we can talk about your future, maybe even grease your palms a little for your troubles; or choose not to play ball with us and cast your lot with an Arab world in flames, for we will isolate you and your people from Europe.
We live in a complicated world not for the meek. One has to confront the bullies, smugglers, and their enablers who profit from their actions head on and with conviction and courage. You have to break their ribs (the supply chain) so they can’t breathe and they will get the message.
You certainly can’t offer Erdogan roses and expect candy in return. This is about the future of Europe. There is no time left for Juncker and summits. When there is the will, there is a way, even if it involves a little street fighting, so to speak.
It’s time to regain control of Europe and to slay the dragons (smugglers). The question: Does the EU have the will and courage to fight or will they go gently into that good night?