Note: this graph has been annotated by myself, and the original image can be seen here.
(Click image to enlarge)
Let’s just accept that the trends the graph represents are broadly accurate. You can see that there were three spikes in the number of people being killed, one clearly noticeable, one massive, one clearly noticeable. The first starting in January 2012, the second in May 2012, and the third in February 2013.
According to The New York Times, the first arms shipments to Syrian rebels from states like Qatar started on January 3rd, 2012.
By May 15th 2012, The Washington Post were reporting that ‘Syrian rebels battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad have begun receiving significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks, an effort paid for by Persian Gulf nations and coordinated in part by the United States’.
After a lull in the supply starting in the late summer and early Autumn of 2012 – following which the level of casualties started to decline – the NYT times reported on March 24th 2013 that ‘With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months’.
While correlation obviously doesn’t imply causation, there is a very definite correlation between the level of monthly casualties in Syria, and the shipping in of arms by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the U.S.. Namely, that the number of people being killed rose dramatically in the weeks immediately following the onset of their gun running operation in the January of 2012, rose dramatically again during the period when that operation is reported to have been significantly expanded circa May 2012, declined when the supply was said to have been reduced starting late summer and early autumn 2012, and rose yet again as the supply was once more stepped up circa February 2013.
And this graph is perhaps indicative that those who’ve alleged that the funneling of arms into Syria is simply exacerbating the conflict and so by extension killing more people – Oxfam, the UN Secretary General, the UN Human Rights chief – have a point.
Worth remembering the next time Hague and Cameron, backed by a chorus of media cheer leaders, call for yet more arms to be sent to the rebels to ‘save lives’.