Anti-American sentiment in Iraq remains strong, a State Department report revealed this week, to the point of widespread belief in conspiracy theories.
One-third of Iraqis believe that the US "supports terrorism in general or ISIL [ISIS] specifically," the report, based on information from October and November 2015, reveals. About 40% believe that the US is "working to destabilize Iraq and control its natural resources."
Overall, the US “image among Iraqis has fallen from 38% favorable in December 2014 to 18% in August 2015.”
Moreover, "conspiracy theories" regarding the US's involvement in Iraq run rampant throughout official media, the report noted. The State Department blamed the phenomenon on “active disinformation campaigns” and lingering suspicions about US motives.
Incredibly, many Iraqis believe the US created ISIS to plunder Iraqi oil, as John Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, stated to ABC News.
Another cause: disapproval for US backing of a Sunni-Shia inclusive government in Iraq.
“What they see is the U.S. government saying ‘Stay open to the Sunnis’ and the U.S. government keeps talking about having more troops in Iraq," he said. "There are people who argue … that means the U.S. is creating this environment to serve its own interests.”
As it is, the presence of American soldiers in Iraq – where the US fought a nearly nine-year war – remains a very sensitive issue, especially for politicians with close ties to Iran who have a strong presence in parliament and the government.