As the fighting in Syria’s endless civil war continues to escalate, fear of the conflict turning regional has been replaced with a recognition that the conflict is already spreading across the border, and it’s only going to get worse.
Lebanon is feeling the most immediate effects, with Syrian rebels openly promising to invade Lebanon outright, and the Hezbollah militia sending large numbers of fighters to Syria to fight the rebels there. Lebanese President Michel Suleiman has urged Hezbollah to withdraw, fearing that if they continue their involvement it will just suck Lebanon even deeper in.
Iraq is feeling it on both sides too, with its own sectarian fighting straying back and forth across the border and both Shi’ite and Sunni militias head to Syria to get in on that war, in between fighting one another in Iraq. Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari warns the war is tearing the whole region apart, while reiterating his government’s attempts to stay neutral.
In both cases, the government’s desire to stay neutral is not universally shared, with Syria remaining a big “prize” that is up for grabs in the region, and the results of its war bound to have long-term, dramatic effects on its neighbors and everyone else in the Middle East.