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Opinion: Iraq overshadowing Syria’s cries for help | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A U.S. Marine watches a statue of Saddam Hussein being toppled in Firdaus Square in downtown Baghdad on April 9, 2003 file photo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

The consequences of the Iraqi experience are what they are.

Since day one of the Syrian revolution, images of Syrians defacing statues of Hafez and Bashar Al-Assad immediately brought to mind the toppling of Saddam Hussein and scenes of Iraqis pulling down statues of the dictator.

Something that has been overlooked is the fact that the Syrian people took to the streets to end the chronic injustice against them by the Assad regime alone, without US intervention. On the other hand, it has been easy for those who support the resistance (against Israel) and their supporters 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 have been forced to report the ever-increasing death toll themselves. Unfortunately for the Syrian people, the Western and Arab public are overcome with a sense of bitterness towards the Iraq war and its consequences. While the Syrian regime and its allies’ propaganda machine has done its best to promote the belief that Damascus is facing a foreign conspiracy.

Therefore, Iraq has overshadowed Syria’s cries for help since the first protests.

The more people are killed in Syria, the more the world reminds itself of the lessons of the Iraq war. This has resulted in all of us becoming silent observers of a massacre which has now been going on for more than two and a half years. Even when we are overcome by what is happening in Syria, we make sure to remain silent out of fear that the victims of the Iraq war will appear before us to remind us how we initially cheered when their tyrant was toppled.

Western and Arab public opinion has reacted to the news of gunfire, detention, slaughter, Scud missiles, and chemical weapons in Syria. However it’s reaction has been muted, and characterized by a general inability to address the situation.

“Don’t you remember Iraq?” “Do you want to see 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 in Syria is not a war.

Any and all discussions regarding a possible strike against the Syrian regime have been held captive by the Iraq war.

Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. Iraq has become an echo of all massacres in Syria.
No one is making any effort to convince the Western public that Syria isn’t Iraq and that the Syrian people will pay a far higher price than that of Iraq if we continue to overlook what is happening there. In addition to this, we have also ignored the role that the Assad regime placed in Iraq, ensuring the failure of the Iraqi experience. Syria played a crucial role in pushing Iraq towards the abyss.

Therefore, getting rid of the Assad regime would also mean getting rid of the regime that ensured the subsequent Iraqi crisis.

However the issue of a possible strike on Syria was exhausted long before this could be carried out. The Syrian regime has already killed its victims while US president Barack Obama remains hesitant.

The Iraqi experience has overshadowed the Syrian crisis and it will continue to overshadow it as the death toll rises and the international community remains hesitant and cautious.