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Don’t Arm The Syrian Rebels

There is little political appetite in Britain for arming the Syrian rebels. Not that there is much doubt about the brutality of the Assad regime. But the rebels’ ranks are swollen by terrorist groups: arming them would do little to bring about the peace talks which G8 leaders want. Indeed such British intervention, would not just be wrong, but dangerous – for the unfortunate minorities, the region itself and the west.

In the West and in the Middle East alike, opinion polls show large majorities against military involvement in Syria, directly or by proxy.

These majorities are correct. Taking sides in what has become an all-out civil war is always problematic. Supplying arms to rebels, who are divided, and over whom we have little influence and no control, is plainly irresponsible. Ignoring the consequences for non-Sunni minorities — not least the Christian minority — in Syria and the countries surrounding it of letting jihadist-led forces win is almost criminally culpable. And regarding the alleged use of some chemical weapons by agents of the Assad regime as an international casus belli, and so creating the conditions for such stockpiled weapons to pass into the hands of al-Qaeda-linked groups, suggests the strategy of the madhouse.

This is an extract from Robin Harris’ piece in the July/August Standpoint. To read the full piece click here. We are grateful to Standpoint for permission to reproduce these extracts from the July/August issue.

*Dr Robin Harris is author of The Conservatives: A History (2011) and Not for Turning: The Life of Margaret Thatcher (2013) and, for Politeia, Why Britain Needs a Foreign Policy.

Robin Harris

Robin Harris is an author and journalist. He served as special adviser at the Treasury (1981-83) and at the Home Office (1983-85) and was subsequently Director of the Conservative Research Department (1985-88) and a member of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Policy Unit (1989-90). His recent publications include The Conservatives - A History (Bantam, 2011), Not for Turning: The Life of Margaret Thatcher (Bantam, 2013). For Politeia he has authored Why Britain Needs a Foreign Policy (2004) and Criminal Negligence: How Current Policies Towards Crime, Policing and Punishment Fail the Nation (2003).

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