Fued on the Fire: The Case Against Arming Nonstate Actors in Intrastate Conflicts

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2017-12
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Hall, Thomas
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
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The wave of nonviolent campaigns known as the Arab Spring had come to Syria in March of 2011. In spite of 50 years of violent government repression under the state of emergency law, protesters opposed to the government remained, by and large, peaceful in their pursuit of change for the first three months of opposition. In June 2011 groups of soldiers who refused to continue firing upon citizens began defecting to join the protesters, fleeing or taking up arms against the government. Small arms and light weapons were beginning to flow into Syria from abroad both through overt means and covert sponsorship by foreign governments. Defected soldiers and some protesters utilized these weapons to engage in hostilities against the Assad administration. Using at various times both covert and overt means, the United States was among the nations which supplied these militant opposition groups, providing the necessary means to perpetuate the civil war which has now lasted for, at the time of writing, six years and claimed no fewer than 400,000 lives by February of 2016.1 In July of 2017, headlines declared that the United States had announced that it would discontinue its program to train and arm Syrian rebels.2 Whether this discontinuation will end all US funding to Syrian rebels, or push them into covert program is questionable, since the similar announcements were made in 20133
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126 pages
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