The Middle East Refugee Crisis. Syria and Iraq Case

  • Paiman AhmadEmail author


The article analyzes the push factors that compelled many people to flee from the region.

It is organized in four sections; the first addresses the topic in brief; the second reviews theoretical perspectives of migration. The third section discusses the push factors of migration concerning Iraq and Syria. In this section four main points are addressed. The first will discuss the state failure in both countries as a key driver of forcing people to leave their countries. The second highlights the economic factors that caused the migration of population. The third focuses the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its role in escalating migration in Syria and Iraq. Lastly, a brief conclusion with key findings is discussed.


Syria Iraq Migration Islamic State Europe 


  1. Alami, M. (2017, January 3). The shadow of the Islamic State weights on Saudi Arabia. Middle East Eye. Accessed 3 Feb 2018.
  2. Atwan, A. B. (2008). The secret history of Al Qaeda. Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  3. Atwan, A. B. (2015). Islamic State: The digital caliphate. Oakland: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bariagaber, A. (Ed.). (2014). International migration and development in Eastern and Southern Africa. Ethiopia: Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA).Google Scholar
  5. Bates, R. H. (2008). State failure. The annual review of political sciences, 11, 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. BBC News. (2007, April 17). UN urges help for Iraqi refugees. BBC News. Accessed 13 Feb 2018.
  7. BBC News. (2018, March 28). Islamic State and the crisis in Iraq and Syria in maps. BBC News. Accessed 13 May 2018.
  8. Borjas, G. J. (1989). Economic theory and international migration. The International Migration Review, 23(3), 457–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bradshaw, N., & Twadelle, T. (Eds.). (2016). A comprehensive response to Syrian refugee crisis: Highlighting the United States’ role in the international effort. Washington University. Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, Task Force.Google Scholar
  10. Brooks, E. R. (2005). Failed states, or the state as failure? The University of Chicago Law Review, 72(4), 1159–1196.Google Scholar
  11. Bunzel, C. (2015). From paper state to caliphate: The ideology of the Islamic State (The Brookings Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World Analysis Paper No. 19).Google Scholar
  12. Buzan, B., Waver, O., & Wilde, D. (1998). Jaap. Security, a new framework for analysis. London: Lynne Rienner Publisher.Google Scholar
  13. Byman, L. D. (2015, June 3). Civil wars and spillover. The Brookings. Accessed 3 Mar 2018.
  14. Castles, S. (2004). Why migration policies fail, ethnic and racial studies. International Migration Review, 27(2), 205–227.Google Scholar
  15. Castles, S., & Miller, M. J. (1993). The age of migration, international population movement in the modern world. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  16. Chengu, G. (2014, September 19). How the US helped create Al Qaeda and ISIS. Counter Punch. Accessed 3 Feb 2018.
  17. Cockburn, P. (2015). The rise of Islamic State. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  18. Combs, C. C. (2003). Terrorism in the twenty first century (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  19. Connor, P. (2016). Conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen lead to millions of displaced migrants in the Middle East since 2005. Pew Research Center. Accessed 7 Aug 2017.
  20. Coutts, A. (2011, May 18). Syria’s uprising could have been avoided through reform. The Guardian. Accessed 9 May 2017.
  21. Dobbins, J., Jones, S. G., Runkle, B., & Mohandas, S. (2009). Occupying Iraq, a history of the Coalition Provisional Authority. Pittsburg: Rand National Security Research Division.Google Scholar
  22. Dori, M. K., & Zeuthen, M. (2015). Iraqi migrants’ on a city. In R. Hinnebusch & T. Zintl (Eds.), Syria from reform to revolt (pp. 285–313). New York: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Flibbert, A. (2003). The consequences of forced state failure in Iraq. Political Science Quarterly, 128(1), 67–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Foucault, M. (1983). The subject and power. In H. L. Dreyfus & P. Rabinow (Eds.), Michel Foucault: Beyond structuralism and hermeneutics (p. 211). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  25. Freilich, J. D., Newman, G., Shoham, S. G., & Addad, M. (Eds.). (2002). Migration, culture, conflict and crime. New York: Routledge Revivals.Google Scholar
  26. Fund for Peace. (2017). Fragile states index. The fund for peace. Accessed 3 Apr 2018.
  27. Grisgraber, D. (2017, September 24). Too much too soon: Displaced Iraqis and the push to return home. Refugee International. Accessed 20 Feb 2018.
  28. Healy, L. M., & Link, R. J. (2012). Oxford handbook of international social work. Human rights, development and the global profession. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Held, D., et al. (Eds.). (1985). States and societies. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  30. Hokayem, E. (2013). Syria’s uprising and the fracturing of the Levant. New Yok: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Hosken, A. (2016). Empire of fear: Inside the Islamic state. London: Oneworld Publications.Google Scholar
  32. Howard, T. O. (2010). The tragedy of failure: Evaluating state failure and its impact on the spread of refugees, terrorism, and war. Santa Barbara: PSI Reports.Google Scholar
  33. Hudson Institute. (2008, July). The caliphate attempted: Zarqawi’s ideological heirs, their choice for a caliph, and the collapse of their self-styled Islamic State of Iraq. Hudson Institute. Accessed 13 Feb 2018.
  34. Hujo, K., & Piper, N. (Eds.). (2010). South-south migration implications for social policy and development. Chippenham: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  35. Ignatieff, M. (2013). Bosnia and Syria: Intervention then and now. In The Syria dilemma (pp. 51–52). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  36. Ignatius, D. (2015, October 29). How ISIS spread in the Middle East. The Atlantic. Accessed 20 Sept 2017.
  37. Internal Displacement Monitoring Center. (2017, June 30). Iraq. Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC). Accessed 11 Jan 2018.
  38. International Organization of Migration Report. (2015). Migration, displacement and development in a changing Arab region. Beirut: The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).Google Scholar
  39. Jackson, R., Murphy, E., & Poynting, S. (Eds.). (2010). Contemporary state terrorism, theory and practices. Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  40. Jessop, B. (2008). State power, a strategic relational approach. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  41. Jones, S., & Shaheen, K. (2015, July 9). Syrian refugees: Four million people forced to flee as crisis deepens. The Guardian. Accessed 13 Nov 2017.
  42. Jordan, B., & Duvell, F. (2003). Migration the boundaries of equality and justice. Oxford: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  43. Kainth, G. S. (2009). Push and pull factors of migration: A case of brick kiln industry of Punjab State. Asia-Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, 1(1), 82–116.Google Scholar
  44. Kainth, G. S. (2010). Push and pull factors of migration: A case study of Brick Kiln migrant workers in Punjab (Munich Personal RePEc Archive, MPRA Paper No. 30036). Munich: Guru Arjan Dev Institute of Development Studies.Google Scholar
  45. Koslowski, R. (Ed.). (2005). International migration and globalization of domestic politics. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  46. Lee, E. S. (1966). A theory of migration. Demography, 3(1), 47–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lesch, D. W. (2012). Syria the fall of the house of Assad. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Lindly, A. (Ed.). (2014). Crisis and migration critical perspectives. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  49. Lister, C. R. (2016). The Syrian Jihad: Al-Qaeda, the Islamic state and the evolution of an insurgency. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Locke, J. (2014). Second Treatise of Government: An essay concerning the true original, extent and end of civil government. New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  51. Lynch, M., & Brand, L. (2017, March 29). Refugees and displacement in the Middle East. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Accessed 13 Mar 2018.
  52. Magen, A. (2013). The crisis of governance in the Middle East: Implications for democracy, development & security. Jerusalem: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Israel.Google Scholar
  53. Marsella, A. J. (2004). Reflections on international terrorism: Issues, concepts, and directions. In F. M. Moghaddam & A. J. Marsella (Eds.), Understanding terrorism: Psychosocial roots, consequences, and interventions (pp. 11–47). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Mead, W. R. (2017, September 6). The roots of the migration crisis. The Wall Street Journal. Accessed 7 Mar 2018.
  55. Menz, G. (2009). The political economy of managed migration. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Moghadam, A. (2006). The roots of terrorism. New York: Chelsea House Publishers.Google Scholar
  57. Muller, N. (2016, July 28). Refugee convention of 1951 still crucial cornerstone of human rights. Deutsche Welle. Accessed 7 Jan 2018.
  58. Newman, E. (2007). Weak states, state failure, and terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence, 19(4), 463–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Nielsen, O. (Ed.). (2003). International migration and sending countries, perceptions, policies, and transnational relations. Chippenham: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  60. Otten, C. (2017, July 25). The long read slave of ISIS: The long walk of the Yazidi women. The Guardian. Accessed 3 Mar 2018.
  61. Penninx, R., Berger, M., & Kraal, K. (2006). The dynamics of international migration and settlement in Europe, a state of the art (IMISCOE Journal). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.Google Scholar
  62. Phillips, C. (2016). The battle for Syria: International rivalry in the new Middle East. Yale: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Pronk, J. (2004). Collateral damage or calculated default. In M. Spoor (Ed.), Globalization, poverty and conflict, a critical development reader (pp. 9–33). The Hague: The Netherlands, Institute of Social Studies.Google Scholar
  64. Reach Report. (2015, September). Migration trends & patterns of Syrian asylum seekers travelling to the European Union, assessment report. Reach Resource Center.
  65. Rivlin, P. (2015). The humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and Iraq. The Middle East Economy, 5(1), Tel Aviv University. Accessed 20 Nov 2017.
  66. Rotberg, R. I. (2002). The new nature of nation-state failure. The Washington Quarterly, 25(3), 83–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Rotberg, R. I. (Ed.). (2003). State failure and state weakness in a time of terror. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  68. Schimd, A. P. (2016). Links between terrorism and migration: An exploration. The Hague: International Center for Counter Terrorism.Google Scholar
  69. Sifry, M. L., & Cerf, C. (2003). The Iraqi war, reader history, documents and opinions. New York: Touchstone.Google Scholar
  70. Swain, A., & Jagerskog, A. (2016). Emerging security threats in the Middle East, the impact of climate change and globalization. London: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  71. Taylor, A. (2015, August 17). Escaping from war-torn Syria to Western Europe. The Atlantic. Accessed 9 Feb 2018.
  72. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). (2017). The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Accessed 13 Feb 2018.
  73. UNHCR. (2017). UNHCR Syria: 2015 end of year report. UNHCR. Accessed 5 Mar 2018.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of RaparinRanyaIraq

Personalised recommendations