“Iraq’s problem is America’s problem,” said Rzgar Mohammad Abdul, who explained that he was a translator for the United States during the Iraq war. He is now at the Biscke Camp in Hungary. (Jodi Hilton/Jodi Hilton)

If he ever got the chance, he’d settle in the United States, Rzgar Abdul said. But for now, he lives in this spare, barracks-style refugee camp, placing much of the blame for his squalid existence on the United States.

After all, the Islamic State proliferated when U.S. forces pulled out of an unstable country. And that proliferation forced him to leave his home, said Abdul, 28, who is from the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

“Iraq’s problem is America’s problem,” said Abdul, who said he was a translator for the United States during the Iraq war, making him a target. “This crisis is America’s problem. In Iraq, Syria, all over, the U.S. did not do enough.”

From the squalid migrant campgrounds in Hungary to the offices of Europe’s elected officials, many others also saw the swell of migrants crossing borders as evidence of a failed U.S. foreign policy. Even as President Obama declared that the country would extend asylum to 10,000 Syrians, many blamed the United States for the migration crisis that has walloped Europe.

In Germany, it is rare that the distant reaches of the political left and right agree on anything. But they do now: The United States is at fault.


Sahra Wagenknecht and Dietmar Bartsch, deputy chairpersons of the Left Party in the German Parliament, last week savaged U.S. policy in the Middle East.

“Killer gangs, such as the Islamic State, were indirectly supported and without hindrance supplied with money and weapons from countries including those allied with Germany,” the two alleged in a policy paper, apparently referring to early efforts to back rebels fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Others have argued that the United States did not do enough to back the rebels and remove Assad.

“When the Left Party is right, it is right,” Alexander Gauland, deputy chairman of the conservative and populist Alternative for Germany party, said in an interview with the right-wing German weekly Junge Freiheit. “America bears a lot of blame for the flow of refugees.”

Officials in the United States call the criticism overblown. The CIA spent $1 billion to fund early efforts to unseat Assad. Others have argued that no one could have foreseen the magnitude of the war in Syria.

“It’s too easy to blame the U.S. for these waves of refugees and asylum seekers,” said Stephan Mayer, spokesman for the Christian Social Union, a part of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition. “This isn’t caused by the U.S.”

In Britain, the crisis has renewed old arguments about the country’s commitment to the Middle East. In 2013, British Prime Minister David Cameron suffered a major blow when the House of Commons voted against British military action in Syria. The vote helped to deter U.S. intervention in Syria over allegations that Assad’s forces were using chemical weapons.

As the number of refugees streaming out of Syria grows, the U.S. is under increased pressure to act. (The Washington Post)

Despite both countries’ strong language against the Islamic State and Assad’s government, U.S. and British commentators have criticized their nations’ policies as wishy-washy.

“I think the tone here is, above all, you start something and you fail to pick up the pieces — that’s the story of Iraq,” said Iain Begg, a professor at the London School of Economics who specializes in the political economy of the European Union. “And in Libya, it was, you push out [Moammar] Gaddafi, and then what?”

Jebrail Mohamed, 26, thought he knew what happened next when the United States did not use more manpower in Syria. That led to hundreds of thousands of deaths in Syria and the need for Mohamed to leave the city of Aleppo.

Then came the crossing into Hungary and eventually being sent to a processing center to wait for a passport. In this countryside camp, Mohamed receives 20 euros a day and takes comfort in walking with friends to the local grocery store, the closest thing to entertainment nearby.

“We have no country left,” Mohamed said. “Now all we do is wait for passports to go somewhere. Wait. Wait.”

As he spoke, a man walked out of the gate to go to the grocery store.

“I’m going to Germany,” he joked.

The European Union on Friday delayed until next month its efforts to begin a proposed refu­gee resettlement program, a reflection of internal disputes over how to deal with the crush of asylum seekers.

Advocates of the resettlement plan had hoped the E.U. would find common ground Monday on a formula to place as many as 160,000 migrants among 22 countries.

Many officials have cried foul. Denmark plans to reject the plan. Foreign ministers from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary issued a joint statement Friday calling for the E.U. to create a “more balanced distribution of finances” as well as a greater role “contributing to the international efforts in resolving the ongoing crisis in Syria and Iraq.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban lashed out against the migrants and vowed that tougher law enforcement would begin Tuesday.

“They seized railway stations, rejected giving fingerprints, failed to cooperate and are unwilling to go to places where they would get food, water, accommodation and medical care,” Orban said at a news conference Friday. “They rebelled against Hungarian legal order.”

Meanwhile, rights groups and others stepped up pressure for improvements at various bottlenecks where conditions are “inhumane,” including a center in southern Hungary where video appeared to show penned migrants scrambling for food thrown by security personnel.

The volume of migrants crossing the border into Hungary — thousands per day — has led to overcrowded camps and train stations. More than 8,000 people were expected to cross into Austria on Friday, although train service from Budapest, the Hungarian capital, was suspended because of crowding. A regional governor told television stations in Greece that 20,000 migrants had been processed on the island of Lesbos.

The U.N. refugee agency was planning to send enough supplies for 95,000 people in the region, an official said, including prefabricated housing units to temporarily shelter 300 families.

Daniela Deane in Rome, Michael Birnbaum in Brussels, and Brian Murphy and William Branigin in Washington contributed to this report.

Read more:

In migrant crisis, German generosity comes under fire

The Arab world's wealthiest nations are doing next to nothing for Syria's refugees

New exodus: A global surge in migration

Today's coverage from Post correspondents around the world