News / Middle East

Syrian Strife Spilling Over, Infecting Region

Syrian Strife Spilling Over, Infecting Regioni
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May 16, 2013
The conflict in Syria is taking a steep toll on its neighbors. VOA's Jeff Seldin takes a look at how Syria's conflict has slowly but steadily engulfed a region.
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The conflict in Syria is taking a steep toll on its neighbors.

Videos from Syria being posted to the Internet show a now-familiar theme - a country ripping itself apart - neither side willing to give in.

Syria's neighbors are reeling from the fallout and spillover... a point driven home by two car bombs in southern Turkey, leaving more than 40 dead.

Middle East analyst Steven Heydemann says the Syria impact is reverberating.

“Different kinds of regional conflict and competition are all being intensified, amplified by what’s happening in Syria," he said. "We could find ourselves facing an extended period of turmoil and instability.”

Syrian-inspired feuds have turned the streets of the Lebanese port city of Tripoli into a war zone - pitting Sunnis against the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam that includes members of Syria's inner ruling circle.

In Beirut, supporters of Iranian-backed Hezbollah, a Syrian ally, rally to the cause of the Syrian regime.. drawing in Israel, which allegedly launched recent airstrikes in Syria to prevent Hezbollah fighters from receiving Iranian-shipped weaponry.

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Regional diplomacy has not produced a solution. 

“There can’t be just a solely regional solution to this," Salman Shaikh of the Brookings Doha Center speaks via Skype. "There’s too many rivalries and too many interests now that are sort of being sucked into the vacuum of Syria.”

While world powers like the United States and Russia push for a Syrian peace conference in June, pressure in the Middle East is building.

Thousands of refugees pouring across the Syrian border into Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

"We are lost," says this woman, one of an estimated 448,000 Syrian refugees overwhelming Jordanian resources.

Conditions are crowded and tempers are flaring.

Turkish military police resorted to water cannons and tear gas to subdue rioters at this camp in March.

One country's strife playing out across an entire region.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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