Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify the Israeli government’s position on Syria.
Lebanon: Security tight amid fears Western strikes in Syria will destabilize country
Israel: Scared residents line up at gas-mask distribution centers; Israeli PM 'ready for anything'
Jordan: Despite world's military officials meeting there, country says it won't be launching pad
Saudi Arabia: Many want Assad gone, but believe airstrikes will make Syrian suffering worse
Syria’s neighbors are preparing for the worst as the specter of potential Western airstrikes hang heavily over a nervous Middle East.
As U.S. President Barack Obama makes his case to Congress and the international community for a military response to an alleged chemical attack by Syrian regime forces in a Damascus suburb, CNN explores how the countries bordering war-torn Syria feel about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the possibility of foreign intervention in the bloody conflict there.
Security is tightening and there is a mood of growing worry and angst in the streets of Beirut, where many are convinced that strikes on Damascus, less than 70 miles from the Lebanese capital, will further destabilize the country that, aside from Syria, has suffered the most as a result of the war.
Tiny Lebanon is inextricably linked to its larger neighbor, and sectarian divisions there mirror those in Syria. But while politicians who support al-Assad say the proposed airstrikes are reminiscent of the lead-up to the war in Iraq, those who oppose him are playing it safe for now.
Talal Arslan, the Lebanese Democratic Party leader and a supporter of al-Assad, said accusations of chemical weapons use by regime forces in a Damascus suburb were “a reminder of (America’s) previous lies to invade Iraq. No one buys these lies any longer.”
Lebanese MP Walid Jumblatt, a staunch ally of the Syrian rebels who previously accused the Assad regime of killing his father in the early years of Lebanon’s civil war in the 1970s, said strikes would not deal a fatal blow to the Syrian regime: “The action will not be decisive, particularly in the absence of international consensus on strike or on the post-strike era.”
Ahmad Fatfat, an anti-Assad member of the Lebanese parliament, said the ramifications of airstrikes would probably depend on the reaction of Hezbollah, the Beirut-based Shiite militant group that has joined Syria’s civil war on behalf of its patrons in Damascus and Iran.
The government has mostly tried to stay out of the conflict, but that hasn’t stopped the bloodshed – and those fleeing the fighting – from spilling over Lebanon’s borders. One in six people in Lebanon is now a Syrian refugee, and tensions between Lebanese and Syrians are rising.