News / Middle East

Lebanon's Crisis Reflects Regional Strife

Lebanon's Crisis Reflects Regional Strifei
X
March 25, 2013 9:48 PM
The resignation last week of Lebanon's prime minister highlights the long-standing political tensions in the multi-faith government. As VOA's Elizabeth Arrott reports from our Middle East bureau in Cairo, the perils of sectarian politics is being played out with increasing intensity across the region.
TEXT SIZE - +
Elizabeth Arrott
— The resignation last week of Lebanon's prime minister highlights the long-standing political tensions in the multi-faith government. The perils of sectarian politics is being played out with increasing intensity across the region.

In the two years since the conflict in Syria began, the fragile sectarian mix in neighboring Lebanon has become only more tense.  In the northern city Tripoli, supporters of Syria's Alawite President Bashar al-Assad have yet again fought deadly street battles with Sunni supporters of Syria's rebels.  

The latest fighting follows the resignation of Lebanon's consensus prime minister, who had tried to hold together a government of Assad-backing Hezbollah with Sunni politicians. Najib Mikati stepped down nominally over domestic issues, but he warned of the “regional fires” touching Lebanon “with their flames.”

The sectarian nature of the war next door has prompted worries Syria could fragment completely along sectarian lines.

“I can see in front of me some possibility of Syria splitting into Alawi country, [with the] capital Latakiya in the western part of Syria; the northern part the Kurds; and then the rest of Syria for the rest of Sunnis, Druze and everybody else,” said former Egyptian intelligence officer and regional security expert Sameh Saif al Yazal.

While some dismiss the idea as a worst-case scenario, forces tearing apart Syria reflect the sectarian actors with influence in Lebanon as well -- in particular Iran with its backing of both the Assad government and Hezbollah.

Christian Donath, a professor at the American University in Cairo, says Iran's regional reach has prompted other nations of the Persian Gulf to get involved.

“The Qataris and the Saudis both share concerns over Iranian power and I think they are doing what they can to stem what they see as a spreading tide of Iranian and Shia influence," he said.

But some argue the rise of Sunni Islamists in the past two years may have prompted Iran's leaders to see a different kind of foreign influence at play.

“I think one of the things they understand is the West wants -- that the Arab Spring turns into a sea of Sunni regimes against Iran,” said political sociologist Said Sadek.

While suspicions abound, and while Syria sinks into what analysts call a proxy war for foreign powers with sectarian agendas, multi-faith Lebanon is trying to step back from the brink.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid