The fact that rebel groups enjoy military support from third parties has become more common across the world, researcher Niklas Karlén of the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University stated.
"We see it in, among others, Syria and Yemen," Karlén told the Swedish research portal Forskning.se.
Karlén's research focuses on various aspects of biased third-party interventions. By his own admission, Karlén has used global statistics to analyze general trends, but also included research on the US' commitments to insurgent groups in Nicaragua during the 1980s and in Syria during the 2010s. Employing both quantitative and qualitative methods to explore the decisions by outside states to provide and terminate material support to belligerents, Karlén has arrived at the conclusion that outside military interventions do not facilitate the peace process.
"Politicians often claim to put pressure on governments via military support to get them to the negotiating table. For example, the US has repeatedly expressed this as an important reason to support the armed opposition in Syria. However, my research based on global statistics shows, that such action, on the contrary, makes it less likely that negotiations begin," Karlén explained.
"Another important conclusion that can be drawn from the research is that once support has been initiated, it is difficult for other states to influence it by measures such as sanctions, especially if the supportive government and rebels belong to the same ethnic group. It is thus important to strive to influence governments at an early stage not to send military resources to war zones," Karlén concluded.
Karlén's thesis is called "Sponsors of War: State Support for Rebel Groups in Civil Conflicts" and was defended in December 2017.