As the US rallies its allies to launch an all-out war on the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), conspiracy theories are running deep in Iraq, with Iraqis believing that the rebel group is an invention of the CIA to allow the US interference in the area.
“The Islamic State is a clear creation of the United States,” Haidar al-Assadi, 40-year-old Iraqi Shiite, told New York Times on Sunday, September 21.
“The United States is trying to intervene again using the excuse of the Islamic State,” he added.
The opinion expressed by al-Assadi was shared by a large number of Iraqis, stretching from the highest offices in the Iraqi government to the streets of Baghdad.
“We know about who made Daesh [Islamic State in Arabic],” said Bahaa al-Araji, a deputy prime minister in the newly formed Iraqi government at a protest rally organized by the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr to oppose the possible deployment of American ground troops in Iraq.
Al-Araji’s opinion was shared by most of the few thousand people at the demonstration, including dozens of members of Parliament.
Sadr has previously blamed the CIA for creating the Islamic State in a speech last week.
The deep-rooted conspiracy theory underscored the deep suspicions of the American military’s return to Iraq more than a decade after its invasion, in 2003.
Saturday’s rally followed several warning from Shiite leaders of militias, considered close to Iran, to the US not to put its soldiers back on the ground.
Earlier in September, President Barack Obama declared that he has authorized US airstrikes for the first time in Syria and more attacks in Iraq.
He ordered an additional 475 U. service members to assist the beleaguered Iraqi and Kurdish forces and asked Congress to move quickly to approve hundreds of millions of dollars to increase funding for training and equipping Syrian fighters.
Though Obama pledged not to send combat troops, few Iraqis seemed to believe him.
“We don’t trust him,” said Raad Hatem, 40.
Rejecting the deployment of American troops, Iraqis answered the call from Shiite religious leaders to defend Iraq from the Islamic State without foreign help.
“This is how we do it,” al-Assadi said, adding that the same forces would keep American troops out.
“The main reason Obama is saying he will not invade again is because he knows the Islamic resistance” of the Shiite militias “and he does not want to lose a single soldier.”
Iraqis have also vented anger on the Shiite-dominated government of the former prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, for failing to build a more dependable army.
“We had a good army, so where is this army now?” asked Waleed al-Hasnawi, a Shiite, 35.
“Maliki gave them everything, but they just left the battlefield.”
Omar al-Jabouri, 31, a Sunni Muslim from a predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad who attended the rally and said he volunteers with a Shiite brigade, argued that Maliki had alienated most Iraqis, regardless of their sect.
“He did not just exclude and marginalize the Sunni people; he ignored the Shiite people, too,” Mr. Jabouri said.
“He gave special help to his family, his friends, people close to him. He did not really help the Shiite people, as many people think.”
But the Islamic State was a different story, Jabouri said. “It is obvious to everyone that the Islamic State is a creation of the United States and Israel.” ONISLAM