The need for closer monitoring and control of U.S. transfers to the region is underscored by recent cases such as the use of U.S.-supplied weaponry to put down the democracy movement in Bahrain and the surrender of large quantities of U.S.-supplied weaponry to ISIS by U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces. But despite these warning signs, it is likely that U.S. transfers to the region will continue to grow in the context of building and sustaining a coalition against ISIS.
U.S. transfers of arms and training to the region must also be seen in the context of the activities of other suppliers. In the midst of the violence rocking the region, is there a room for a policy of greater restraint in arms transfers on the part of its major arms suppliers, or will such efforts have to await a resolution of major ongoing conflicts like the Syrian civil war?
William Hartung is Director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy.