News / Middle East

Syria War, Sectarian Rivalries Fuel Violence in Middle East

Syria War, Sectarian Rivalries Fuel Violence in Middle Easti
X
January 10, 2014 11:12 PM
An explosion of bloodshed continues in the Middle East as the civil war in Syria spreads violence and extremism to neighboring countries. Sectarian rivalries are fueling instability and radical Islamist militants are battling for influence and territory across the region. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Meredith Buel
An explosion of bloodshed continues in the Middle East as the civil war in Syria spreads violence and extremism to neighboring countries.  Sectarian rivalries are fueling instability and radical Islamist militants are battling for influence and territory across the region. 

Ambulances rush to the scene of another bombing in Lebanon, as Beirut is hit by attacks linked to sectarian tensions over Syria’s civil war.

Thousands of foreign jihadists turn their guns on each other in Syria as the bloody civil war reaches its third year.

And the Iraqi military battles radical militants who stage the most brazen takeover of neighborhoods in western Anbar province since the withdrawal of U.S. troops two years ago.

Analysts say al-Qaida-linked groups see the region as one big battlefield, an arena for the most extreme Sunni version of radical Islam.

“The threat to American interests and to American allies is growing.  It is time to face up to that reality right now," said analyst David Pollock.

Analysts say the conflicts are stoked by the sectarian split and bitter regional rivalry of Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Iran backs Hezbollah and other Shi’ite fighters, while Saudi Arabia spends millions arming Sunni rebels.

“Saudi Arabia plays this game because it has to, because it is going up against Iran which is backing Hezbollah," said analyst Bill Roggio. "So Saudi Arabia says well we will find our Salifists, our radicals and we will go ahead and arm and back them, so it increases the chance of a widening regional war as well as state sponsorship of terrorist groups."

The current fighting in Iraq underscores the sectarian divide.

Al-Qaida extremists are backing some Sunni tribesmen who feel marginalized by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite-led government.

"I call upon all those who were involved or have been lured to take part in the terrorism machine led by al-Qaida to return to reason and we will open a new chapter to settle their cases," said Maliki.

But analysts say Maliki’s poor treatment of his Sunni opponents has led to the resurgence of al-Qaida.

“There are extremists from al-Qaida and affiliated groups that are now collaborating with more moderate Sunni tribal elements because all of them hate Maliki," said Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution. "All of them feel that Maliki has turned against the Sunni population."

And that, analysts say, is helping al-Qaida-linked groups recruit and raise money.

“So the situation is just about as bad as it has ever been," said Bill Roggio. "Al-Qaida has expanded, it has grown, and this is all happening as the U.S. and the West are withdrawing."

The United States has rushed missiles to the Iraqi government to help fight the jihadis.  

But American officials have made clear no U.S. troops will join the battle.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
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 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 Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
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 S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
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.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs