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.
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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid