Saturday, April 9, 2016

Report: One-third of Iraqis believe US secretly working with ISIS

The Moderate Voice; see also.

Image (not from article) with caption: U.S army soldiers look at an Iraqi boy selling sweets during a patrol on July 3, 2008 at the Sadr city Shiite district of Baghdad, Iraq.

If there is a looming foreign policy crisis that could shake up the presidential race, it might be suicide attacks aimed at deployed U.S. troops by disgruntled, misinformed Iraqis.

A State Department report that was quietly released online last week revealed some startling information about Iraqi views on the U.S. troops redeployed there to shore up efforts to defeat ISIS.

According to a poll conducted by the department and other information secured in October and November, here is the situation facing U.S. diplomatic and military personnel:

The embassy confronts active disinformation campaigns and residual suspicions about U.S. policy that undermine its messaging. Recent department polling shows that about 40 percent of Iraqis believe that the United States is working to destabilize Iraq and control its (oil), and nearly a third believe that America supports terrorism in general or (ISIS) specifically. About half of Iraqi Sunnis and Shia now say that they completely oppose the global coalition to counter (ISIS).
  • So, one in three Iraqis believe the U.S. is secretly working with the ISIS enemy. But a much larger portion of the population is not happy with U.S. policy in general. As reported by The Huffington Post, the State Department found that Iraqis’ image of the U.S. has “fallen from 38 percent favorable in December 2014 to 18 percent in August 2015.”
  • The U.S. approval rating over there is about as bad as Congress’ approval rating is over here. Yet, the 5,000 troops deployed in Iraq are expected to grow in the coming months.
  • The Iraqis wanted us to leave since the waning days of the Bush administration and they didn’t want us back when ISIS began capturing Iraqi territory.
  • That simmering resentment, combined with conspiracy theories and other misinformation, could present an increasingly dangerous situation for Americans stationed there.
  • According to some reports, the instigator in this situation is Iran.
  • ABC News reported that Iranian officials and news agency make claims about the U.S. dropping supplies and water to ISIS-held positions, which may have happened at least once by accident. In a report about the conspiracy theory phenomenon in December, The Washington Post quoted a Shia militia leader saying “it is not in doubt” that the U.S. is supporting ISIS and that his friend saw an airdrop to ISIS.
  • An Iraqi official told ABC News it was “fair to say that Iran has been pushing the narrative about the U.S. supporting ISIS” and Sunni jihadis.
  • In the meantime, the report by the State Department Inspector General concludes that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad must improve its PR messaging and public diplomacy, in particular by becoming more effective on Facebook and other social media.

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