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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.