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

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    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.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora