News / Middle East

US Motives in Iraq Raise Suspicion Across Sectarian Divide

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, right, at the Prime Minister's office in Baghdad on Monday, June 23, 2014
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, right, at the Prime Minister's office in Baghdad on Monday, June 23, 2014
Any American assistance to the beleaguered government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki needs to take into account widespread suspicion of U.S. motives across the country’s sectarian divide, analysts say.

Given the unpopularity of the U.S., its actions will be “suspect from either the Sunni or Shia standpoint”, warns Mansoor Moaddel, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, who has surveyed Iraqi opinion polls stretching back to 2004.

Speaking Tuesday in Irbil, the capital of semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry repeated President Obama’s insistence that American support for the Iraqi government would be limited.

“The support will be intense, sustained and if Iraq’s leaders take the necessary steps to bring the country together, it will be effective,” America’s top diplomat said after meeting with Kurdish leaders.

On his second day in Iraq, Kerry said al-Maliki should step aside if he is unable to forge a political solution and unify the Iraqi people. Sunni insurgents – and U.S. officials – have accused al-Maliki of pursuing exclusionary pro-Shia policies.

U.S. efforts to bolster the Iraqi government include sending 300 military advisers to help train Iraqi security forces. But an appeal by Iraqi officials for U.S. airstrikes against Sunni insurgents, who are being led by al Qaida offshoot the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, have so far been rebuffed. U.S. officials say airstrikes could cause high civilian casualties.

But even limited U.S. intervention – including encouraging the formation of a new government—is fraught with danger. According to Moaddel’s analysis, Americans remain highly unpopular in Iraq.

“Among the Sunnis, the percentage of those who did not wish to have Americans as neighbors fluctuated between 92 percent in 2011 and 99 percent in 2006,” he said.  “Among Shia between 86 percent in 2011 and 98 percent in 2006; and among the Kurds between 46 percent in 2006 and 69 percent in 2011.”

In an interview with CNN, Kerry acknowledged the difficulty the U.S. faced in trying to staunch the sectarian bloodshed in Iraq. He said forming a new government that represents all of Iraq’s ethnic and religious groups is a crucial step to whatever the Obama administration might do to intervene in the unfolding crisis.

“The key is, if you don’t have a viable government that is a unity government that is not going to repeat the mistakes of the last few years, whatever we might choose to do would be extraordinarily hampered,” Kerry said.

The U.S. is not the only country whose reaction to the crisis could be hampered by Iraqi distrust. Iran is held in equal suspicion, according to polling data – overwhelmingly so when it comes to Iraqi Sunnis. But a majority of Iraqi Shia Muslims would also prefer if Iran were not a neighbor.

Just a few days ago, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned against U.S. intervention in Iraq. “The U.S. aims to bring its own blind followers to power since the U.S. is not happy about the current government in Iraq,” he said.

Iran has been a backer of the al-Maliki government and has offered military support.
Analysts say surveys suggest that the majority of Iraqis don’t want the country to divide into ethnic enclaves and that most Sunnis would like to see a separation of politics and religion – but that was before the recent sectarian violence.  It is unclear how the conflict triggered by jihadists seizing Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, will shift opinion.

Sectarian bloodletting risks pushing religious and ethnic groups to the extremes and erasing the middle ground – a dynamic hard to stop once set. 

Jihadists in Mosul claimed they killed 1,700 Shia Muslims since taking control of the city. Shia villagers near Mosul told VOA last week that they had heard that 300 Shia and Christian inmates of the city jail had been executed. And Shia Turkmen Monday claimed that al Qaida-inspired Sunni militants carried out a “savage massacre” in four villages near the city of Kirkuk.

The United Nations reported Tuesday that more than 1,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed so far in June violence in Iraq.  U.N. human rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said that figure “should be viewed very much as a minimum.”

Kurdish leaders say they would prefer the country hold together but remain uncertain that is now possible. “We are facing a new reality and a new Iraq,” Iraqi Kurdish President Massoud Barzani told Mr. Kerry today.

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Comments page of 2
by: Jon from: USA
June 26, 2014 9:01 AM
As an American I do not feel this is our war to fight. The arabs are doing a good enough job of fighting each other and are better off without our presence to distract them from the ongoing slaughter. They don't want us interfere and it looks like the map of the arab world is about to be redrawn anyway.
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
June 27, 2014 9:13 AM
If only the US and NATO countries hadn't interfered in the politics of the Islamic countries of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and Syria, and now spreading like a cancer, to other bordering Islamic countries now, (and like (3) of the (4) horseman of the Apocalypse), bringing unimagined violence, killings, destruction and wars, that continue on to this day....

Because of the US and NATO countries interference in these Islamic countries politics, millions of innocent people are displaced and homeless, and hundreds of thousands of innocent people are injured or wounded, and hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed, and the innocent people homes, towns, cities, and countries destroyed... (and now tell me, who's to blame for all these Apocalyptic acts?).

by: Randy Horton
June 26, 2014 8:59 AM
The US has, for better or worse, invested a decade in Iraq and accomplished what it could. Now is the time for the US to step aside and let Iraq decide, by force of arms, its own direction. Our only interest should be to ensure that Iran and Syria don't interfere.

June 26, 2014 8:50 AM
I normally never comment on this things but i cant help it this time . let me first start by saying if you don't love or country please leave because when Americans turn on there own country who needs terrorists your doing there jobs for them. spreading hate for the very country that gives you the freedom to speak your mind in the first place . listen we don't have to like our politicians but turning on your own country ??
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
June 27, 2014 9:18 AM
My father, brothers and I, all served in the US Infantry in war and peace, and I and my brothers and father (if he was still alive) earned our right to speak our opinions on America, on everything and anything.

by: R Delima from: Tanah Melayu
June 25, 2014 8:05 AM
US intervention is quite appropriate 'bcoz those rival tribes in Iraq just could not stare into each other eyes. They have no appreciation towards mutual peaceful coexistence amongst themselves. Their concept of peace is very weird. Shooting & killing among themselves is "peace". This sort of behaviour is totally not in conformity with the standard as prescribed in the Quran. All Mukmin are Muslims BUT Not All Muslims are Mukmin. Perhaps US can transform them from being muslim to mukmin. Then, it's going to be a win-win situation for both US & Iraq politically & economically.
In Response

by: reaper7 from: Texas
June 26, 2014 8:59 AM
Stay out! If they will not fight for there own country, why should we?
In Response

by: Naksuthin
June 26, 2014 8:23 AM
"Then, it's going to be a win-win situation for both US & Iraq politically & economically. "

Yeah. That's the lie they tried to sell the first time Bush Cheney Pushed for an invasion of Iraq

"The bulk of the funds for Iraq's reconstruction will come from Iraqis -- from oil revenues, recovered assets, international trade, direct foreign investment, as well as some contributions we've already received and hope to receive from the international community." In October 2003, Rumsfeld


And not a dime of it came from Iraqi oil...just like THIS TIME

by: ali baba from: new york
June 25, 2014 2:39 AM
if Iraq feel uncomfortable for US to intervene, how they feel about ISIS. Isis has slaughtered people as a sheep. they are raping woman. million flee of the country. they burn churches and ask christen to pay ransom which they call it JAZIA. they ask the driver to pay $200. they establish Sharia court to issue a verdict of stoning or cut hands. still Iraq are suspicion about American motive. it seems to me that it is ok that Muslim kill muslim. It is not ok that American intervene to stop the madness of Isis . It is logic based on Islamic ideology which explain that Muslim can not trust infidel.
In Response

by: Naksuthin
June 26, 2014 8:26 AM
Well, that's why we poured billions of dollars into training and arming the Iraqi Defense know...the guys who are shedding their uniforms and abandoning their weapons and fleeing in the face of the advancing ISIS forces.

It's their job to defend their country.


If they want our help

1. THEY SHOULD PAY FOR IT in oil reserve money
2. THEY SHOULD FIGHT for their country themselves.

by: Igor from: Russia
June 25, 2014 2:07 AM
What is happening in Iraq is the result of the USA and its allies' policy towards Syria. They would rather overthrow the lawful government in Syria than prevent the spread of terrorists and extremists in the region. They have even encouraged different groups of terrorists to overthrow Assad. Now others have to pay the toll for them.
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
June 26, 2014 2:53 AM
Right on Igor! You are so right in so many ways, that I cannot count. America would rather overthrow a lawful government in Ukraine................ooooops, where are my manners. Sorry, you were talking about what America is doing to Syria, not what YOUR country is doing to bad. Hurray for your anti-American comments! Three cheers! You the man! By the way, what's the number of Americans that defected to Russia versus the number of Russians that defected to America. .............hmmmmmmm..............oh how rude of me! I just had to go there, didn't I? Oh to long for the good ole Soviet Communist Empire, those were the good old days, weren't they? Well, at least you guys helped the Sunnis take back Crimea away from Ukraine, I guess you guys feel safe from the storm of the coming 'Sunni world cleansing.' That's prudent planning, right? OK, Igor, ready for more of your American insults, this is fun, isn't it?

by: enmukee from: San Jose, CA
June 25, 2014 1:26 AM
There is no cause for suspicion. The motive is and always has been OIL.
In Response

by: rrahh from: usa
June 26, 2014 8:30 AM
It's not about the oil. Any person with half a brain will see that it's not about the oil. What's it's really about is propping up the dollar as the world's hegemonic reserve currency. Take that away and the US loses most of its power-base. Those who control the means, production and issuance of a currency, hold the real power.

Before you espouse your oil rhetoric, think about how the US has become the most powerful nation on the planet. It's not through military might, as you may think. It's about its economic model and the policies that shaped it.
In Response

by: chris shanbau from: UK
June 26, 2014 8:18 AM
Hmm. I dont think that applies any longer since Maliki was shifting all US oil contracts (up for renewal) to the Chinese who only wanted the oil and no % ownership. Thats the irony of it all.
In Response

by: Raymond Lee Moser from: Columbus
June 25, 2014 10:24 AM
Agreed. It is only about the oil. The political rhetoric is to persuade the gullible public. Let's get on with renewable energy.

by: naksuthin
June 25, 2014 12:23 AM
71 percent of Americans now say that the war in Iraq “wasn’t worth it,” a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll shows.

Republicans are slowly realizing that the 4500 lives , 9 years and 2 trillion plus dollars WAS NOT WORTH IT.

He was hoping to become the next Roosevelt. Instead he became America's worst President
In Response

by: Jon from: USA
June 26, 2014 9:12 AM
There were allot of joke about how many times higher the murder rate in just one American city or another was higher than our losses were for all the years we were in Iraq and how according to the logic of America's bleeding heart liberals all of the cities our government needed to abandon because of it. In comparison our losses were over 10 times higher back in Vietnam. Its no wonder America has a reputation around the world of have of our country running away with its tail between its legs like a cowardly dog when we barely get scratched. meanwhile our enemies are willing to sacrifice millions of their own lives to fight for something they believe in.
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
June 25, 2014 10:22 PM
Wow, Naksuthin, nice analogy with the Roosevelt reference. I can tell this is not a Bush hating comment, since Obama is the one who took over the responsibility of ending the war and ensuring Iraq's security and peace process. What? Obama didn't, you mean he just pulled out, period, "left them hanging" "see you later SUCKERS", I guess that was Bush’s fault for the way the omnipotent Obama handled ending that war (REGARDLESS OF WHO STARTED IT!!!)
George Bush, hmmmm, Roosevelt, hmmmmm, let's think about this, shall we? Yeah, both GWB and FDR did not win any war. OK. Well, that's all I can think of to compare these two.
Yep, FDR did not win either side of WWII in Germany nor Japan. Truman did. Sooooooooo, here we go. FDR made it a standing policy that Negros (he never called them African-Americans) were to be segregated in the military. Check out how many Medals-of-Honor were given posthumously to African-Americans because FDR didn't do it for them, but he did for his own race, and mostly for registered Dems, go ahead, take a peek at this, you did say Bush was trying to be the next FDR. The same goes for Native-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, ???????-Americans, etc. Oh come on! You mean to tell me no one was curious about why so many (non-white) heroes of WWII were given Medals-of-Honor decades after the war? Oh the shameful Democratic past. Roosevelt pushed hard for the creation of the world's most deadliest (evilest) WMD, the good ole atomic bomb, which we didn't need it by the end of WWII, many military analysts agreed that there was no need to pursue this kind of weapon because the tide of the war was completely in our favor, on both sides, Germany and Japan, in 1945. Oh this is fun, isn't it?

Well, if GWB was hoping to be the next FDR, I am so glad he didn't. Oh wait, that's right, I almost forgot that Bush was a racist. He did place arrows in the Gulf of Mexico so that Katrina would know where New Orleans was. And it is confirmed that Bush gave Katrina Google Map copies of JUST the African-American neighborhoods in and around New Orleans. After all, not a single white dominated neighborhood was damaged by Katrina. Oh Katrina, you racist bee!
In Response

by: daffy duck from: USA
June 25, 2014 9:58 PM
No, you are totally wrong! The worse President, unfortunately, is currently holding office! He is tied with Jimmy ("Peanuts") Carter!
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
June 25, 2014 9:44 PM
May if you were to contact a psychic that can tap into the spirit world, you could personally tell those 4,500 souls that "your service to my country was a waste of time. What you did was not worth anything nice for me to say about you 4,500 souls. So there! Nan-a-nan-a boo-boo!" Good job, Naksuthin, so nice of you to respect the dead. Oh I'm sorry, was that too harsh? Do you want some cookies and milk to make it all better?
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
June 25, 2014 9:37 PM
Naksuthin, 71% of Americans now say the war in Iraq "was worth it," a new Fox News poll shows. Oh wait, let me change the channel to CNN, hold on. Yep, there it is, 87% of Americans say the Iraq war "was a total waste of time, and Big Macs are still better than Whoppers." Let me check MSMBC, yep, 88% of Americans say the Iraq war "was fought when? Whoppers are better than Big macs." Yeah right, polls, OMG I believe every poll that is done because ALL polls are non-biased? I am a Reagan conservative who can happily give kudos for Clinton doing a fine job, even though he wasn't what I would consider a Commander-in-Chief of the military, but as far as running the country, I would give him a 91%, with a happy face sticker on his forehead! The point is, polls, who cares! Even as the Reagan conservative I like to believe I am, even when Fox News (which I don't care to watch) posts ANY of their polls, You already know it favors Reps or slights Dems. SO WHAT!!!! You should be on board as well, try it. Say it with me.....SO WHAT!

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
June 24, 2014 10:51 PM
Meanbill, I like your title TRUTH BE TOLD. Sounds like a good magazine or website you can start up. I may not agree with a lot of your points-of-view, but you do make valid points, nonetheless. It sure does seem like the Muslims have much more control over the world than we are aware of. I mean, even the Russians just helped the Muslims retake Crimea!!!! And yes, we cannot EVER pick a side of which Muslim group is fighting which Muslim group that will protect America's interests. ALL Muslim groups want the end of America and Western Cultures, NOW! I swear you remind me of a guy named Larry. A little note on the side: isn't it funny that these Muslims want 'death to America, or reject Western influences' while using media devices (like television, radio, microphones, speakers) to spew that propaganda, are ALL Western, non-Muslim, inventions? I know, hypocracy is a dead issue.

by: Charles J. Budde from: Stl
June 24, 2014 12:50 PM
Suspicious, well you can't really blame them. They hate us. We hate them. They hate each other. I think that is a very fair, though unfortunate characterization. Plenty of hate, suspicion and hyperbole to go around and around and around. You can jihad till the cows come home but it won't educate your children, employ your people or create an equitable society. I am suspicious of anyone who thinks religion justifies violence.
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
June 24, 2014 10:37 PM
Well said. Though it does seem hopeless, Christianity did evertually purge itself from killing in the name of Jesus (Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, Salem witch trials, etc). But at least there wasn't any references of justifiable inhumane acts allowed in the New Testament, in the name of Jesus. But you would be correct that the Koran does not give a Muslim the option to convert or kill the unbelievers, it is their Allah-given duty, and it doesn't matter if the victims are babies or elderly. No matter what the US does, or doesn't do, this will not change nor improve. But it sure does seem to be getting steadily worse, in all Islamic nations, except one. Indonesia. Wasn't that where the leader of the free world was schooled, raised, and indoctrinated a Sunni Muslim? shhhhhhh. Don't say that around Obama, he gets a little touchy if you mention that.
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