A widespread belief among Iraqis is that the United States is secretly in league with Islamic State, as many believe the only explanation for abysmal foreign policy failures is an alliance with ISIS.
That belief has taken root in both Sunni and Shia sects, The Washington Post reports.
Part of the reason for alternative explanations, according to Mustafa Alani, director of the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center, is that Iraqis don’t believe it’s possible for American foreign policy to be so entirely incompetent and ineffectual. Instead, many Iraqi civilians on the ground believe the U.S. lent a helping hand to ISIS for the purpose of furthering control in the Middle East and solidifying access to oil.
“The reason is that the Americans aren’t doing the job people expect them to do,” Alani tells The Washington Post. “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.”
Since outcomes consistently run contrary to America aims, Iraqis started looking for other more plausible reasons for the apparent failures, namely that they’re not failures at all, but part of a calculated strategy to support ISIS. As a prime example, the abject failure of the $500 million dollar program to train and equip “moderate” Syrian rebels did not inspire much confidence.
Naseer Nouri, spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, says the government doesn’t buy the argument that the United States supports ISIS. Nevertheless, the belief is understandable.
“It’s because America is so slow that most people believe they are supporting Daesh,” Nouri tells The Washington Post.
Iran is the source of many of the rumors of U.S.-ISIS cooperation, specifically Hezbollah, a Shia militia. According to Kata’ib Hezbollah, video evidence exists showing a U.S. Chinook helicopter supplying weapons to ISIS militants.
While the Russians held back from accusing the U.S. of overt cooperation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted lackluster airstrikes from the U.S. air force are likely indicative of a strategy to keep ISIS alive enough to take down the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria.
In an interview with Rossiya 1 channel, Lavrov says that “the analysis of those [US-led] airstrikes during over a year lead to conclusion that they were hitting selectively, I would say, sparingly and on most occasions didn’t touch those IS units, which were capable of seriously challenging the Syrian army.”
“They want IS to weaken Assad as soon as possible to make him leave somehow, but at the same time they don’t want to overly strengthen IS, which may then seize power,” Lavrov adds.
Col. Steve Warren, the Pentagon’s spokesman in Iraq, says the allegations aren’t even worthy of a response.
“There’s clearly no one in the West who buys it, but unfortunately, this is something that a segment of the Iraqi population believes,” Warren tells The Washington Post.
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