News / Middle East

    Lebanon Tries To Contain Spillover of Syria’s Civil War

    Residents and Lebanese army soldiers inspect damage following days of clashes between Sunni Muslims and Alawites in the port-city of Tripoli, northern Lebanon, December 10, 2012.
    Residents and Lebanese army soldiers inspect damage following days of clashes between Sunni Muslims and Alawites in the port-city of Tripoli, northern Lebanon, December 10, 2012.
    James Brooke
    The Lebanese Army tried Monday to impose martial law in Tripoli, Lebanon's second largest city, after a spillover of Syria’s sectarian violence claimed 17 lives.

    The violence in the northern city came after about 20 Lebanese volunteers crossed into Syria to join the rebels, but were killed by Syrian government forces in an ambush.

    Lebanese Islamist gunmen fire their weapons as three bodies of other members of their group arrive from Syria, in Tripoli in northern Lebanon, December 9, 2012.Lebanese Islamist gunmen fire their weapons as three bodies of other members of their group arrive from Syria, in Tripoli in northern Lebanon, December 9, 2012.
    x
    Lebanese Islamist gunmen fire their weapons as three bodies of other members of their group arrive from Syria, in Tripoli in northern Lebanon, December 9, 2012.
    Lebanese Islamist gunmen fire their weapons as three bodies of other members of their group arrive from Syria, in Tripoli in northern Lebanon, December 9, 2012.
    As the bodies came home to Tripoli, Lebanese Sunnis attacked Lebanese Alawites, accusing them of collaborating with Syrian Alawites, who control Syria’s army.

    Kamel Wazne, a political analyst in Beirut, worries that Lebanese are lining up for and against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

    “As the situation in Syria deteriorates further, the situation in Lebanon will follow,” he predicted. “As we see tension escalate in Syria, we see more tensions here.”

    But Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, believes the fighting in Tripoli reflects the besieged position of Lebanon’s only major community of Alawites, cousins of the Alawites who have run Syria for decades. He traces the tensions to Syria’s 30-year occupation of Lebanon, which ended in 2005.

    “There’s a lot of bad blood since the days of the Syrian presence in Lebanon,” Salem said. “Obviously now that the Sunni in a sense in Syria are trying to topple the Alawite-dominated Assad regime, and the fact that unfortunately the main party in the Tripoli enclave is very connected to Syrian intelligence.”

    Some streets of Tripoli now resemble the battle-scarred urban landscapes in neighboring Syria and scores of people have been wounded in the exchanges of gun and rocket fire by the feuding sides.

    But Salem and other analysts believe that memories of Lebanon’s 15-year civil war are too fresh to allow Lebanon to pulled into Syria’s civil war.

    "The Alawites are surrounded and certainly there’s a great potential or risk for wider massacres, wider killings,” Salem said Monday. “It is very serious in itself, but it doesn’t translate into directly into Sunni-Shia fighting in other places.”

    Inside Syria, fighting continued for Damascus, the nation’s capital. Rebels tried to cut off the international airport. Heavy righting also raged in two northern suburbs.

    Outside Aleppo, Syria's most populous city, a major government base fell to the rebels. A video posted online showed them seizing military vehicles, including a tank.

    Slim hopes for a political solution dimmed when Russia, Syria’s principal supporter, said it would not support calls for Syria's President Assad to step down. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov repeated Russia’s longstanding position that Syria’s political future should be decided by Syrians.

    Suspected Syrian Chemical Weapons

    Sarin
    • Man-made highly toxic odorless, tasteless, colorless nerve agent
    • Possibly used during Iraq-Iran war
    • Exposure can be by inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption; people can recover with treatment form mild or moderate exposure

    VX
    • Odorless, tasteless man-made nerve agent; most potent of all nerve agents
    • Slow to evaporate, can last for days on objects
    • Exposure can be through skin contact or inhalation; people can recover with treatment for mild or moderate exposure

    Mustard Gas
    • Chemical warfare agent that causes skin blisters and mucous membranes
    • Sometimes odorless, sometimes smells like garlic, onions or mustard
    • Exposure can be by inhalation, ingestion or skin contact
    • Vapor released in the air can be carried long distances; exposure not usually fatal

    Source: CDC
    Chemical weapons

    Last week, the United States and Western powers warned that satellite photographs had recorded unusual activity at Syrian military installations known to store chemical weapons.

    In response, Syria’s government sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warning that radical rebel units could seize and use the weapons.

    Salem of Carnegie believes that Western warnings were strong enough to dissuade Syrian leaders from using chemical weapons.

    "I doubt that the Syrian regime would use chemical weapons because they are quite aware that that is a trigger point for Western intervention, or at least it has been presented as such,” Salem said."And they have been very careful in the last two years to stop just below Western trigger points. I also think their allies -Russia, China, and Iran - would certainly be leaning on them enormously not to use chemical weapons."

    While the Syrian government’s military hold on the country seems to be weakening, its economic hold appears to be also weakening.

    A global association of financial institutions, the Institute for International Finance, estimated Monday that Syria’s economy will shrink by one-fifth this year. Looking ahead, the institute predicted all of Syria's foreign reserves will be spent by the end of next year.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    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.
    Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United Statesi
    X
    July 28, 2016 2:16 AM
    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora