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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid