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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
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 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.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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