Would Arming The Syrians Even Help?

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 9 2012 @ 5:05pm

by Zack Beauchamp

Dan Drezner nods:

[T]he Syrian population wants regime change. What’s going on inside of Syria is a civil war, and the government is clearly receiving ample support from both Russia and Iran. Arming the opposition at least evens the odds on the battlefield. The sad truth is that there is no good outcome, only different shades of terrible. Arming the Syrian resolution won’t bring a speedy, peaceful resolution, but it will make it harder for Assad’s military to systematically annihilate the opposition. In the short term, that appears to be the best one can hope for inside of Syria’s borders.

Marc Lynch is appalled:

[H]ow will Asad and his allies respond to the arming of the opposition?  Perhaps they will immediately realize their imminent defeat and rush to make amends.  But more likely, they will take this as license to escalate their attacks, to deploy an ever greater arsenal, and to discard whatever restraint they have thus far shown in order to stay below the threshold of international action.  It would also be very difficult to stop Russia, Iran or anyone else from supplying fresh arms and aid to Asad once the opposition's backers are openly doing so.  Providing arms to a relatively weak opposition will not necessarily close the military gap, then — it might simply push the same gap up to a higher level of militarized conflict. 

Drezner's piece is part of a broader symposium on what to do about Syria.