While Syria has taken a bit of a back seat to the domestic developments of last week, the questions surrounding the use of chemical weapons there remain as pressing as ever. Last Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a landslide 15-3 vote, to arm the Syrian rebels.
Dr. Gregory Koblentz, Council on Foreign Relations Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow and GMU Biodefense Deputy Director, has discussed the implications of this vote and the ongoing situation in Syria in numerous news pieces and interviews. In a recent Reuters piece on the decision to arm the rebels, Dr. Koblentz argued that while it would be possible for the United States to selectively choose which groups to arm, doing so requires a thorough, US-conducted assessment of the situation on the ground.
Dr. Koblentz also recently published a piece in the Atlantic, America’s Best Options in Syria, from which our favorite excerpt is below:
“In combination, however, they could have a significant impact on the conflict over the longer term. Combining stronger efforts to train and equip the rebels with sanctions that cut off Damascus from importing more weapons would help level the playing field between rebel and government forces. As better-armed rebels make gains on the battlefield against increasingly stretched government forces, the prospect of a negotiated settlement that provides amnesty for lower-ranking Baath Party officials and officers in the military might gain more traction. If even after adopting these measures, the stalemate between the rebels and regime forces continue, political efforts to halt the conflict are stymied, and the government continues using chemical weapons, then the United States and international community will be better able to argue that they have exhausted all non-military means of halting the conflict. At that point, it might be necessary to turn to the ultimate game changer — the United States military.”
In addition to this numerous contributions to various news pieces on Syria (VOA, Radio Free Europe, DPA, and USA Today), Dr. Koblentz has also appeared in a number of television interviews with international news organizations, including a recent interview with CCTV: