News / Middle East

US Fears Spillover of Syrian Conflict Into Lebanon

Sectarian violence in Syria is spilling across the Lebanese border with new clashes Friday in Tripoli.  Friday's fighting in Tripoli broke a fragile cease-fire between Sunni Muslim and Alawite neighborhoods. The violence mirrors battles across the border in Syria where mainly-Sunni militia are fighting forces of President Bashar al-Assad, an Alawite.  The United States fears the spillover of violence from Syria into Lebanon could further destabilize the region.

"We are obviously trying to be supportive of the Lebanese Armed Forces as they try to bring order and consulting with Lebanese colleagues on the situation, but it is extremely concerning," said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

Many Sunni Lebanese still resent nearly 30 years of Syrian occupation during Lebanon's civil war.  Since Syrian troops withdrew in 2005, the Iranian-backed militant and political group Hezbollah has boosted its standing among Lebanese Shi'ites.

Cato Institute Middle East analyst Malou Innocent says that could be threatened by the spread of violence from Syria.

"I think we would see an erosion of political support, especially within the largely-Shi'ite constituency of Hezbollah if we see more violence," said Innocent.  "It simply gives more credence to the notion that Hezbollah cannot create a great deal of stability within the state."

Innocent adds that violence on both sides of the border may undermine Iran's ability to resupply its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.

"The Assad regime does remain pivotal for Iran's continued support to Hezbollah," explained Innocent.  "So if Assad goes, you really see a pillar of support for Iran plummet."

Lebanese security forces have tried to separate Sunni and Alawite rivals.  Paul Salem directs the Carnegie Endowment's Middle East Center in Beirut.  He says that while the violence is likely to continue in the north, it may not spread elsewhere in Lebanon.

"I think it will remain within these limits of escalation then calming down, escalation and then calming down, for the foreseeable future," said Salem.  "But it's certainly one of the indications of the inter-connectedness between the crisis in Syria and the situation in Lebanon."

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati is working with local religious leaders and lawmakers in Tripoli to stop the fighting after 15 people died in similar sectarian violence in June.  But some Lebanese say he is not doing enough.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
August 25, 2012 10:24 AM
Okay... So if Assad claims these are terrorists causing this terrible situation (Which we all know they are not.). Then why isn't he paying Turkey to accomodate the refugees that have fled the violence? Displacing people, destroying their lives, their homes, killing, all should equate to a death sentence for Assad (Which he should have to pay the bill for too).

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 25, 2012 7:30 AM
It is now clear why Ahmadinejad see his support for Assad as a juggernaut. Now is the time to see how pragmatic Tehran can be as a regional player. If its pragmatism ends up resolving the Syrian crisis in favor of Assad, Iran will have established itself as the regional leader. If it fails, then Hezbollah might as well start counting its days. But that is not to say it will spell the demise of the terrorist group, after all al qaida and such other groups still receive their supplies from Iran without apparent borders.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs