Syria’s violence Spills over borders

 
For more than a year, and particularly in recent months, the “Syrian crisis” has dominated Middle East news.  Recent violence in the areas of  Lebanon, Israel, and Turkey which border Syria, shows that the “Syrian crisis” may become a crisis for the entire region.  Even in areas which are not physically affected by the Syrian conflict, analysts and government worry that the political and sectarian issues stirred up in Syria at could spread to other states. Hilal Khashan, professor of political science at the American University of Beirut has said that “A collapse of the Syrian regime is a doomsday scenario for the entire Middle East.”
 
On April 9th, two Turkish officials were among four people wounded when clashes between Syrian government forces and rebels spilled across the Turkish-Syrian border and into a refugee camp.  21 combatants were also killed in fighting outside the camp. On the same day, a cameraman for a Lebanese television station was shot while filming in near the Syrian border.  Outraged by these incidents, and concerned over the ever increasing flood of Syrian refugees into the country, Turkey is considering creating a “buffer zone” between itself and Syria.
 
Another country deeply concerned by the “spillover” from Syria is Israel, whose Golan Heights region borders Syria. Israeli chief of staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz said that instability in the Golan Heights “is on the rise.” Although he did not give details about the current instability, Gantz expressed concern that if the Assad regime falls, Al Qaeda could take control of the Golan Heights.  Since it is been confirmed that Al Qaeda is operating in Syria now, it seems possible they could take control of the area even if Assad remains in power.
 
The Lebanese villages near the border with Syria have seen not only shootings similar to what happened in Turkey, but also cross-border kidnappings allegedly carried out by an militants associated with Syria’s government.  What is most troubling, however, is the recent violence in Lebanon and set the largest city of Tripoli, in which Lebanese Shiites who favor the Assad regime fight Sunnis who support the opposition.   Jabal Mohsen, one of Tripoli’s neighborhoods, is a stronghold of Alawite Islam, the minority sect to which Assad and many members of his government belong.  These conflicts are particularly worrisome to observers because neither Syrian government forces, nor opposition militants are directly involved.  Lebanese citizens divided along sectarian lines are inspired by the Syrian conflict to fight each other.
 
Many analysts are concerned by the impact in that the religious dimension of Syrians unrest could have on other countries in the region if Shiites in other countries support Assad and Shiites support the opposition as they have in Lebanon.  Iraq, for example is already suffering sectarian violence in the form of bombings of Shiite landmarks and institutions by Sunni extremists.  Iraq’s Shiite government worries that if Syria’s opposition takes control of their country they might support Sunni extremism in Iraq.
 
For these and other reasons, experts such as  Hilal Khashan say that the fall of the Assad regime would result in so much chaos that the international community should work to keep him in place.  However, given the current violence in Syria, and the troubling way it is spreading across the country’s borders, it is clear that in the Syrian regime is and not maintaining stability.  This raises the question: work a long period of unrest and repression due to Syria and to the region.