News / Middle East

Syrian PM Survives Bomb Attack

This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian fire fighters extinguishing burning cars after a car bomb exploded in the capital's western neighborhood of Mazzeh, in Damascus, Syria, April 29, 2013.
This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian fire fighters extinguishing burning cars after a car bomb exploded in the capital's western neighborhood of Mazzeh, in Damascus, Syria, April 29, 2013.
Elizabeth Arrott
Syrian state media say Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi escaped unharmed from an assassination attempt Monday in Damascus.  The attack came as violence, especially sectarian-motivated, appeared on the rise across the region.

A bomb exploded as Halqi's convoy passed through the Mazzeh district, a normally well-fortified neighborhood, according to Syrian state media.  An interview of an unscathed Halqi was shown on state television later in the day. In his remarks, said to be made after the attempted assassination, he made no mention of the attack.

The strike follows other high-profile bombings in the capital, including at the interior ministry in December. Initial reports from state media said the interior minister was not hurt in that attack, reports that later proved untrue.

Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, says Monday's bombing is not likely to change the equation overall despite the bomb hitting at the heart of the Syrian capital.

“The situation seems open to a long and unfortunately very bloody, devastating stalemate between the regime - which is not about to be defeated, but cannot win also - and the rebel groups which are very disunited, but at the same time have taken large control of parts of the country," said Salem.  "They are not going to be defeated either.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday's bombing.

  • This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian fire fighters extinguishing burning cars after a car bomb exploded near the prime minister's convoy in Mazzeh, Damascus, April 29, 2013.
  • This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows burning cars after a car bomb exploded in Mazzeh, Damascus, April 29, 2013.
  • A man holding a water cooler runs to avoid a sniper in Aleppo's Salaheddine neighborhood, April 28, 2013.
  • A view of a street filled with rubble and damaged buildings in Aleppo's Salaheddine neighborhood, April 28, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters take up firing positions in the Khan al-Assal area, near Aleppo, April 27, 2013.


Previous such attacks have been linked to the jihadist al-Nusra Front, part of the armed, mainly Sunni opposition seeking to oust the government of President Bashar al-Assad, whose inner circle is dominated by members of the Shi'ite offshoot Alawite sect.

The increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict, which began two years ago as peaceful anti-government protests, was alluded to by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of neighboring Iraq on Saturday.  

In a televised address, Maliki warned of spreading sectarianism, referring to it as an “evil” moving from one country to another.  He added there is a “wind behind it, and money and plans,” though he did not indicate who might be fomenting the strife.
 
Sectarian violence continued Monday across Iraq, with at least five deadly bombings in predominantly Shi'ite areas. The country has been rocked by numerous bombings in recent weeks.

The Carnegie Center's Salem said religion-based violence is a problem for the whole region, but there are elements specific to Iraq for which Maliki is responsible.  

"Instead of consolidating national unity and reinforcing it, the Maliki government and Maliki himself moved against some leading Sunni politicians and immediately the level of sectarian tensions escalated,” he added.

But Salem argues that the violence is linked, adding that Iraq's Sunni opposition is increasingly mobilized by the fact that Sunnis in Syria are also fighting a non-Sunni leader.  

Salem also points to the geographic ties between eastern Syria and western Iraq, and in a more deadly link, to the transnational nature of such extremist Sunni groups as al-Qaida.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs