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

Diplomats Work to Extend Israeli-Palestinian Cease-Fire

US Secretary of State John Kerry, diplomats from France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Qatar gathered in Paris Saturday to discuss crisis More

Photogallery US Defense Department Warns of Arms to Eastern Ukraine

‘Imminent’ delivery of Russian rocket launcher poses threat to civilians, US says More

Video Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering

GM crops offer best hope of increasing productivity and coping with climate change in Africa, according to co-author of Chatham House report More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid