Friday, 17th August 2012
Syria: Prospects for Intervention
Source: Chatham House (UK)
Foreign intervention is already occurring, semi-covertly, in the form of weapons supply and training to the FSA, logistical and communications support, and non-military actions such as sanctions, together with diplomatic support (if not full recognition) for opposition groups such as the Syrian National Council (SNC).
The choice is no longer one of intervention versus non-intervention, but rather between maintaining or increasing existing levels of external intervention and allowing the conflict to drift. Intervention is occurring at a number of levels and there is a need for the international community to consider carefully both the consequences of the ongoing semi-covert intervention and the possible consequences of more overt military intervention.
The decision over whether to escalate intervention should rest on a thorough examination of the ‘balance of consequences’ and on other relevant factors including the constraints of international law. The costs and risks of different forms of intervention also
have to be weighed against the risks and costs of non-intervention.
The most likely options for scaled-up intervention are the supply of more and heavier arms to the FSA and an intensification of covert action; punitive air strikes triggered by a major crisis such as a massacre in Aleppo; and an intensification of externally imposed sanctions. The risks associated with the first two scenarios are high and the benefits are not easily quantifiable in view of the inevitable unforeseen consequences.
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By Adrian Janes
Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes is currently an Information Services Librarian with the London Borough of Havering.
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