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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

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.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs