In Iraq, the military and civilians alike believe that somehow, the United States is in collusion with ISIS – providing the terrorist state with supplies and help. Although the theory seems absurd, the suspicion runs deep. As to why the U.S. might be doing so? According to many Iraqis, it is an American effort to create a re-do from what happened in Iraq years ago.
One Iraqi soldier, Mustafa Saadi, emphatically stated that, “It is not in doubt.” He added that ISIS is “almost finished. They are weak. If only America would stop supporting them, we could defeat them in days.”
Obviously, U.S. military officials believe such allegations are way too far-fetched to justify a response. Colonel Steve Warren, the military’s Baghdad-based spokesperson, stated that, “It’s beyond ridiculous. There’s clearly no one in the West who buys it, but unfortunately, this is something that a segment of the Iraqi population believes.”
Kirk Sowell, an analyst and reporter lamented, “What influence can [Americans] have if they think we are supporting the terrorists?”
In one example of how poorly the United States is viewed in Iraq, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi responded swiftly against Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s announcement that an expeditionary force of U.S. troops are headed to Iraq to conduct raids, free hostages and capture ISIS leaders.
Al-Abadi released a statement that, “There is no need for foreign ground combat troops. Any such support and special operations anywhere in Iraq can only be deployed subject to the approval of the Iraqi Government and in coordination with the Iraqi forces and with full respect to Iraqi sovereignty.”
American officials believe that the allegations of collusion between the U.S. and ISIS are so persistent that it appears that Iran and its allies must be launching such a campaign to erode American influence.
Warren noted that, “The Iranians and the Iranian-backed Shiite militias are really pushing this line of propaganda, that the United States is supporting [ISIS.] It’s part of the Iranian propaganda machine.”
Iraqi officials point to the minimal, lackluster U.S. response to the ISIS threat.
Naseer Nouri, spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Defense stated that, “We don’t believe the Americans support [ISIS.] But it is true that most people are saying they do, and they are right to believe that the Americans should be doing much more than they are. It’s because America is so slow that most people believe they are supporting [ISIS.]”
Mustafa Alani, director of the Gulf Research Center pointed out that, “The reason is that the Americans aren’t doing the job people expect them to do. Mosul was lost and the Americans did nothing. Syria was lost and the Americans did nothing. Paris is attacked and the Americans aren’t doing much. So people believe this is a deliberate policy. They can’t believe the American leadership fails to understand the developments in the region, and so the only other explanation is that this is part of a conspiracy.”
On Baghdad’s streets, most Iraqis cannot fathom any other conclusion.