The Iraqi experience is what it is. Since day one of the Syrian revolution, footage of Syrians smashing statues of Hafez and Bashar al-Assad reminded us of the toppling of Iraq's tyrant Saddam Hussein and the scenes of Iraqis destroying his statues.
It has been maliciously overlooked that Syrians broke statues and took to the streets to end chronic injustice against them without American intervention. It is easy for those in support of the resistance and their allies to undermine the ongoing angst in Syria.
The Syrian regime has prevented the media from covering events in the country. As a result, the Syrians were forced to report on their deaths themselves. But, unfortunately for the Syrian people, the bitterness felt towards Iraq war was stronger among the Western and Arab public. The Syrian regime and its allies' propaganda machines did their all to spread the belief that the regime is facing a foreign conspiracy.
The Iraqi experience has swallowed the Syrians' pain and it will swallow even more if the international community continues to hesitate.Diana Moukalled
And so, Iraq has overshadowed Syria's cries for help since day one of their protests.
The greater the number of Syrian deaths, the more the world reminded itself of the Iraq war. This turned us all into silent observers of a massacre which has been ongoing for two and a half years. Even when we cry in pain, we do so in silence out of fear that the victims of the Iraq war will appear before us to remind us how we cheered when their tyrant was toppled.
The Western and Arab public opinion has reacted to the news of gunfire, detention, slaughter, Scud missiles and chemical weapons used in Syria. But it has reacted with inability to address the situation.
“Remember Iraq?” “Do you want a repeat of Iraq?”
These are phrases which have been repeated over and over again in recent days. Everyone is afraid of a hypothetical war, as if what has been going on for over two years has not been a war.
All discussions over a possible strike against the Syrian regime have been held captives of the Iraq war, quickly turning the daily deaths in Syria into distant memories.
Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. Iraq has now become an echo of all massacres in Syria.
No one is making an effort to convince the Western public that Syria isn't Iraq and that the price Syrians are paying due to the Iraqi experience will be higher if we continue to overlook it.
A strike on Syria has been exhausted even before it is potentially carried out. The Syrian regime has already prepared its victims and U.S. President Barack Obama is hesitant. The Iraqi experience has overshadowed the Syrian angst and it will overshadow it even more if the international community continues to hesitate.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on September 2, 2013.
Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in Asharq al-Awsat. She also wrote for al-Hayat Newspaper and al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled