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Syria And The Risk Of Regional War

The conflict in Syria is pulling in its neighbors, and spreading.  We look at the risk and scenarios of regional war in the Middle East.

Lebanese, Mohammad Awad, 16, is seen through destruction, after a rocket fired by Syrian rebels hit their home and killed his older brother, Loulou Awad, 20, according to villagers, in Hermel town, northeast of Lebanon, Wednesday, May 29, 2013. Shells fire from Syria regularly strike the Lebanese northeastern town of Hermel, a predominantly Shiite town. (AP)

Lebanese, Mohammad Awad, 16, is seen through destruction, after a rocket fired by Syrian rebels hit their home and killed his older brother, Loulou Awad, 20, according to villagers, in Hermel town, northeast of Lebanon, Wednesday, May 29, 2013. Shells fire from Syria regularly strike the Lebanese northeastern town of Hermel, a predominantly Shiite town. (AP)

Syria goes from bad to worse.  Most Americans have been prepared to think of it as the Syrian’s problem – and it certainly is that.  But what if the fight goes regional?

It’s spilling out and over already.  Open fighting in Lebanon.  Turkey pulled in.  Jordan swamped with refugees.  Iraq sending in fighters and getting a backwash of violence.  Israel leaning in, alarmed.  Iran and Saudi Arabia going beyond proxy.  Ancient Shiite, Sunni tensions erupting.

This hour, On Point:  What if?  What if Syria’s fight blows into regional war?  And is it happening already?

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Roula Khalaf, Middle East editor for the Financial Times. (@khalafroula)

Andrew Tabler, senior fellow in the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he focuses on Syria. His forthcoming article in Foreign Affairs is “Syria’s Collapse And How Washington Can Stop It.” Author of “In the Lion’s Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington’s Battle with Syria.” (@andrewtabler)

Ryan Crocker, served as United States ambassador to Afghanistan (2011-2012), Iraq (2007 to 2009) Pakistan (2004 to 2007), Syria (1998 to 2001), Kuwait (1994 to 1997) and Lebanon (1990 to 1993). Currently a Senior Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times: As Syrians Fight, Sectarian Strife Infects Mideast — “Renewed sectarian killing has brought the highest death toll in Iraq in five years. Young Iraqi scholars at a Shiite Muslim seminary volunteer to fight Sunnis in Syria. Far to the west, in Lebanon, clashes have worsened between opposing sects in the northern city of Tripoli.”

CNN: ‘Open-ended’ Syrian conflict draws in region — “Rocket attacks in Lebanon. Car bombs in Turkey. Israeli airstrikes in Syria. In the two-plus years since President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on “Arab Spring” demonstrations, observers say the civil war that grew out of it has now become a multi-sided conflict that threatens to set the wider Middle East ablaze.”

BBC News: France’s Fabius ‘confirms sarin use’ by Syria regime — “There is no doubt Syria’s government has used sarin during the country’s crisis, says France’s foreign minister. Laurent Fabius said lab tests in Paris confirmed numerous uses of the nerve agent, adding that those who resort to chemical weapons must be punished.”

 

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