I distinctly remember feeling relief when I first heard about President Obama's decision to arm Syrian rebels - finally there will be a stop to all this bloodshed. Research has led me to think otherwise, however, and I am now skeptical of the President's decision.
David Rohde of Reuters calls Obama's decision to arm the rebels the "best of several bad choices in Syria." He supports his claim by explaining, "Arming one side in a conflict can help produce a diplomatic settlement." In fact, a study on civil war found that conflicts are shorter when there is military intervention on the rebel side.
Unfortunately, that analysis does not apply to the situation in Syria. Obama's decision to arm the rebels in Syria means that bothsides of the conflict are receiving foreign military aid, as Russia is currently supplying weapons to Assad's regime despite condemnation by the international community. In a survey of civil wars that took place between 1945 and 1997, when both sides of a conflict receive foreign military aid, civil wars lasted almost 250% longer than those in which neither side received external support. Arming Syrian rebels will likely only perpetuate the conflict.