The international community hoped that it would not come to this, but the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has proven that it is unreformable, unbendable, and unrelenting in its desire to kill all civilians to ensure survival.

The international community has run out of adjectives to describe its disappointment, disgust, and now horror with Assad's actions and policies. Enough is enough. The international community needs to stop the sideshow of empty words and soft-spoken diplomats to reason with this barbaric regime. There is no amount of international pressure that will bend Assad's back.

Even blaming Russia, Iran, and China for military, logistical, and moral support of Assad will not redeem the rest of the international community for allowing this regime to continue murdering its people.

Let's cut to the chase. NATO partners do not want to enter another war to overthrow another Arab dictator where an end-game is not clear. The West is cash-strapped and has Arab Spring fatigue.

The only regional powers with militaries are useless: Egypt needs to feed its own people and has yet to stabilize internally; and while we've heard much of Turkey, the truth is that the country is happy to talk about brotherhood, but there is no public interest in a military intervention. Not to mention that its military is weak after an antagonistic relationship with the government.

The Arab Gulf states have money and no army. They have promised to send weapons and support to the Syrian rebels, but we are not even sure if this has made it through. It seems that light weapons have made it onto pickup trucks, but it is not enough to fight a Syrian army continuously replenished by the Russians. Russia, without flinching, vetoes UN Security Council attempts to sanction the Syrian regime by saying the situation is a legal right of both parties.

The Syrian rebels say they are no longer bound by the peace plan ceasefire put together by UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria Kofi Annan.

So what is the international community to do? What is Canada to do?

Let's start an overt and sincere effort to arm the Syrian rebels, who have so far replenished their light arms from smuggling routes through Iraq and to a lesser extent Turkey.

With all Syrian neighbours refusing to get involved, Arab and Turkish armies are patrolling their own borders and stopping arms shipments from sympathetic Syrian diaspora as well as Arab and Turkish business people. This has had the effect of increasing the black market price of weapons and has made smuggling routes few and far between.

Syrian rebels need more small arms, tanks, anti-tank missiles, surface-to-air missiles for the aerial drones used by Assad's army, bullet proof vests, armour, rocket-propelled grenades, and anti-landmine detection devices. Overt Western support for the Syrian rebels will help decrease the price of the needed weapons.

We also need to convince Turkey and Jordan to allow weapons to come through their borders. Both Lebanon and Iraq are too mired by their own sectarian conflicts to help. Israel should not be a route option, as this will only complicate regional alliances and feed into the false narrative that this is a Zionist plot.

Finally, while both Jordan and Turkey are reluctant to officially interfere, we need to press upon them that the continued failure of Syria will add to the already 150,000 refugees waiting inside their borders.

A failed Syria will also have enormous economic implications for both Jordan and Turkey, as Turkey used the country as its main trade route with the Arab world and Jordan, rocked by inflation, relies on extensive trade with Syria.

We need to stop the niceties. We need to stop pretending that diplomacy will change the status quo.

Either we are prepared to give the Syrian rebels the real weapons they need to defeat this regime, or admit that we were complicit in the next massacre of Syrian people. Standing by and doing nothing will not absolve us of the guilt we will carry.

Bessma Momani is a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The international community has run out of adjectives to describe its disappointment, disgust, and now horror with Assad's actions and policies. Enough is enough.
The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.
  • CIGI Senior Fellow Bessma Momani has a Ph.D. in political science with a focus on international political economy and is full professor and interim assistant vice‑president of international relations at the University of Waterloo.