News / Middle East

Syria's Neighbors Weigh Fallout of US Strike

Syria's Neighbors Weigh Fallout of US Strikei
X
September 06, 2013 7:51 PM
The prospect of U.S. military action against Syria highlights the web of regional interests in Syria's conflict, raising troubling questions about how those lined up both for and against the Syrian government might respond. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott has more from our Middle East bureau in Cairo.
Elizabeth Arrott
The prospect of U.S. military action against Syria highlights the web of regional interests in Syria's conflict, raising troubling questions about how those lined up both for and against the Syrian government might respond.  

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned that U.S. military action against his country would unleash a regional war.

One flaw in that threat is that, in many ways, the Syrian conflict already is.

Professor Christian Donath, of the American University in Cairo, says regional powers - from Assad opponents like Saudi Arabia to supporters like Iran - are using the war to do battle with other rivals.

"Saudis have seen Syria as an opportunity to push back on the Iranians. And the Iranians see the uprising against the Assad regime as threatening their corridor into Lebanon for their support of Hezbollah," he said. "And I think the Iraqis as well are kind of pulled into two different directions trying to sort of support the Assad regime while they have Sunni fighters going in across the borders in Syria.”

All these players are now calculating the aim of any U.S. strike: from the stated punitive action for alleged chemical weapons use, to attempted regime change.  

"I think Iranians will be cautious to see how far Americans will go against Bashar al Assad and then to decide eventually about retaliations," said Mustafa Labbad, the director of the Al Sharq Center for Regional and Strategic Studies.  "And they have Hezbollah in Lebanon for indirect retaliations.  But in this case Israel will be involved.  And if Israelis are involved, Iran will be involved and maybe Israel will launch an air strike against Iran.”

Israel's concerns over Iran stem mainly from Tehran's nuclear program, not the war in Syria.  But Professor Donath says a U.S. strike could give Israel cover.

"The Israelis have been really vocal for some years now about potential strikes against Iran and I think one of the things that the administration, the U.S. administration has done, has tried to restrain the Israelis and make it clear that this is not something that the U.S. wants to continue to pursue diplomatic initiatives and I think there would be, I think the U.S. would be very, very nervous to allow the Israelis to strike against Iran,” he said.

Political analyst Labbad points to apparent behind-the-scenes diplomacy between Iran and the U.S. via the Sultan of Oman, to assure Iran that any strike is not aimed at toppling Assad.

"If you look at the surface we can see an agreement between Saudi Arabia and USA on doing something against Bashar [al-Assad], " he said.  "Deep inside you will see U.S.-Iranian agreement of no intention from the U.S. to topple Bashar al Assad.”

Labbad argues that despite the uncertainty, regional powers are calculating their response, for now, on a limited U.S. airstrike.  If not, he says, all bets are off, and the possibility of “regional chaos” he says, grows.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

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