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

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent — Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
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.

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