From time to time, TOC reports on the analyses by Dutch Middle-East correspondent Harald Doornbos; his analysis of the potential rise of Saif-al-Islam, Muammar Khadaffi’s son, and his observations on the different attitude towards extremism in Muslim countries compared to the West.

Doornbos is currently in Raqqa, Syria, and now observes Syrian refugees returning to their home country. According to the UN-refugee organisation UNHCR most of them returned to the cities Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Damascus. The organisation concluded this proves that the safety levels in those regions have improved. Approximately 12 million Syrian refugees are still on the run from war violence.

He is speaking to refugees, local government and even ISIS fighters, and his findings are significant:

“Isn’t it weird, that Syrians are returning to the ‘Assad region,’ the same Assad who, according to Western media, is hated and despised by his people? It’s also interesting that 31.000 Syrians returned home from surrounding countries, none did so from Western Europe.

For decades I’ve seen the same thing in different war zones, refugees from local refugee camps return home, and refugees residing in the West hardly ever do. For example, Bosnian refugees who fled to Croatia or Serbia, almost all returned to Bosnia to rebuild their lives there. Bosnians who fled to the West, are still there.

Another example, the 100.000 Kosovars who were refugees in Albania in 1999, all returned to Kosovo, the Kosovars who fled to the West didn’t.

And a final example, Afghans who fled to Pakistan are returning to Afghanistan, except for the Afghans who fled to the West.

And for Syrian refugees, the same thing is happening. Refugees who flee to the West, hardly ever return. And getting refugees to the West, which the West does in huge numbers, has more to do with the ‘we want to do something good’ sentiments of Western people, than the effectivity of it.”

Doornbos is living in the Middle East, now in Dubai. In 2000 he was part of the search party going after former fugitive Karadžić’. In 2011 he reported on the protests in Egypt and the revolt in Libia. He now reports from Syria, Turkey and Pakistan. So yeah, one could assume he at least has a clue.