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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid