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 Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More