Iraqis Don't See Washington as 'Being Serious' about Defeating ISIS

Iraqis Don't See Washington as 'Being Serious' about Defeating ISIS
Sun Apr 10, 2016 17:20:09

A recent poll conducted by the US State Department shows that nearly a third of Iraqis believe that Washington supports terrorism in general or ISIS in particular, while approximately 40 percent think that the US is trying to "destabilize Iraq." These findings are hardly surprising, political analyst Hiwa Osman told Radio Sputnik.

It all comes down to priorities and the message. The US, according to, the former advisor to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, has failed to properly address both of these issues. Washington has chosen an incorrect strategy that focuses on a limited military response to ISIS and has failed to craft a correct message explaining its campaign to the Iraqis.

The US has not focused on "creating political stability in the country or forging a new political path" following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he explained. Washington has also failed to "come up with a proper alternative" to the Saddam regime after destroying it.

Instead, US leadership chose to engage with what Osman described as "the government of the day," often viewed by ordinary people as sectarian and not representative of all communities living in the country. In addition, the US-led anti-ISIS campaign has been conducted in a way that does not address core issues.

As a result, Washington's counterterrorism efforts have been seen "as America not being very serious" about degrading and destroying ISIS. It is hardly surprising then that the US image among Iraqis fell from 38 percent favorable in December 2014 to 18 percent in August 2015, a State Department inspector general report has shown.

US State Secretary John Kerry visited Iraq earlier this week in what could be seen as an attempt to improve Washington's tarnished image in the country. Kerry hailed Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for his efforts to create a strong representative government, but critics point to the fact that the reshuffle is unlikely to take place and Iraq will continue to be plagued by instability.

Osman also offered Washington's relations with Turkey as an example of sending the Iraqis a wrong message when it comes to dealing with ISIS. On the one hand, Washington claims that it is determined to tackle ISIS. On the other, the US views Ankara as one of its key allies in the region and does not try to pressure Erdogan to stop supporting radicals, the analyst added.

Moreover, Washington, according to Osman, is "turning a blind eye" on Turkey's crackdown on the Kurds, who are one of the few ground forces capable of fighting against ISIS, Sputnik reported.


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