Syria – to arm or to embargo?

Young members of the Free Syrian Army show off their weapons, araquib city

The moral arguments for intervention to put an end to human suffering are well made and by this stage well rehearsed.

The strategic arguments for not intervening are similarly well trodden. And there are equally well worn reasons for not sending arms to a country when you can’t be sure whose hands they will end up in.

But does lifting arms embargoes work? This is not something, that I at least, have heard so much of.

So today I set myself the challenge of finding a country in similar circumstances where the supply of arms to one side or another proved decisive.

Somalia  – is the most obvious parallel I found where a decisive intervention was made, and the report I did for Drivetime can be downloaded here. But there is just as much evidence there to make equally decisive arguments for the other side. Ultimately in 2009 US guns and ammo ended up being sold on the side of the streets in Mogadishu and presumably went to those who were never intended to get them.

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