News / Middle East

    Lebanon Tense as Syria Strikes Loom

    Spanish U.N. peacekeepers patrol the Lebanese Israeli border in the southern village of Odaisa, Lebanon, Aug. 29, 2013.
    Spanish U.N. peacekeepers patrol the Lebanese Israeli border in the southern village of Odaisa, Lebanon, Aug. 29, 2013.
    Heather Murdock
    Lebanon is tense as Western-backed strikes against neighboring Syria loom.

    With the U.S. intervention in Iraq a decade ago still on many Lebanese minds, the thought of an American-orchestrated military attack on Syria has many in Beirut on edge.

    On a windy side street in the Lebanese capital, Samira Srour sat with her teenage daughter outside the building where she worked.

    There have been so many victims in Syria, she said of that civil war, so many dead children. She said something must be done, even though it was not clear, in every case, exactly who was at fault.

    Up the hill, at a popular outdoor café, two local architects drank coffee and orange juice.

    Elias Faouz said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may - as the U.S. maintained - be guilty of ordering the attack last week that killed hundreds of Syrians in a Damascus suburb.

    But U.S. strikes on Syrian targets, he said, would not help rebels take over Syria, and the consequences for the region could be disastrous.

    “We are afraid that bombing Syria will cause a flow of new refugees in Lebanon, for example, as one," said Faouz. Two, what if someone strikes back from Syria or the allies of Syria? Will it stay on the Syrian scale, or will it expand to the regional scale?”

    Lebanon has suffered greatly from the fallout of Syria's war. Sectarian violence and bombings have rocked Beirut and other cities the length of the country.

    The U.N. refugee agency said more than 700,000 Syrians fleeing their war were now in Lebanon - a big addition for a country of fewer than 5 million people.

    While Elias talks, an argument broke out in the street over a minor traffic accident.  His colleague, Roye Dagher, said a U.S. attack on Syria, would make divisions worse in an already deeply polarized country.

    “Let the Syrian people choose what they want and let the powerful win," said Dagher. "Why should they [the Americans] interfere?”

    But not everyone in Beirut agreed.

    Down the street, Ahmed Sheikh, a 60-year-old chauffeur, said a lack of action by the international community could be even more dangerous than a strike against the Assad government.

    Sheikh said he feared the U.S. would not keep its word and take direct action to stop use of chemical weapons, and that this would result in the war in Syria spiraling into Lebanon and beyond.

    Some Beirutis just do not want to talk about the war in Syria at all - not because they are afraid that voicing their opinions will cause trouble. They said they were simply tired of always being afraid.

    Gallery of recent images of Syrian refugees

    • Syrian refugee children look at their Korean taekwondo instructor at Zaatari refugee camp near Mafraq, Jordan, Sept. 17, 2013.
    • Migrants arrive by rescue boat with a group that includes Syrian refugees, Pozzallo harbor, Sicily, Sept. 17, 2013.
    • A Syrian refugee shows her immigration papers before boarding a flight to Germany for temporary relocation, at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Lebanon, Sept. 11, 2013.
    • Mustafa Abu Bekir is carried on the shoulder of a relative as he arrives at the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Sept. 9, 2013.
    • A Syrian man carries his belongings as he enters Turkey from the Turkish Cilvegozu border gate, Sept. 9, 2013.
    • Syrian refugees gather at the the Turkish border gate at Cilvegozu, Sept. 4, 2013.
    • A young Syrian refugee stands beside water containers at Al-Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, Sept. 1, 2013.
    • Jordanian workers prepare materials to build the Azraq Syrian Refugee Camp, the third of its kind, near Al Azraq, east of Amman, Sept. 1, 2013.
    • Syrian refugee children stand outside their tent, at a temporary refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Faour near the border with Syria, August 28, 2013.
    • A Syrian refugee girl walks at a temporary refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Marj near the border with Syria, August 28, 2013.
    • Young Syrian refugees watch a news broadcast on the Syria crisis with their father (unseen) at their temporary home at the Al Hussein refugees camp in Amman, Jordan, August 29, 2013.
    • A view of the new refugee camp in the outskirts of the city of Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region, August 26, 2013.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    August 31, 2013 2:00 PM
    'Tired of always being afraid', that is what the gambit is. Being afraid it will spill into Lebanon? Why have the peoples of Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, etc. not started shooting at each other since the war began two years ago? Someone plays a mind game here, understanding USA itself has squabbles over who supports who in the Middle East and for what benefits. If USA is striking based on what violation is on the ground - crossing the red line of using Chemical Weapons on civilians in Syria - let's move on with it and mop up the mistakes later. We are afraid Hezbollah will strike Israel, we should also be tired of being afraid of that, move forward and perhaps find an opportunity to silence Hezbollah forever, to stop being afraid of Hezbollah indefinitely. The best form of defense is attack. Ronald Regan once said, 'if you want peace, prepare for war'. Since Hezbollah understands how much afraid of it the US is, it becomes the ace whenever issues surrounding the Middle East is to be considered. Like the Beirutis, let us be tired of being afraid, go in to do what we want to do, and count cost later. But if we must strike, it must not be on hit-and-run basis. Leaving the scene more disorganized than how you meet it becomes chaotic. Assad is out of the question, the Opposition group has so much infiltration of extremist, fanatical, islamist terrorists that cannot be be trusted with a democracy. Therefore Assad being dislodged must be replaced with a credible administration, in the interim, until an election is held to provide the right cadre of politicians to lead the country.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.