A Shiite commander in northern Iraq says the Islamic State is "almost finished" and could be defeated in days "if only America would stop supporting them." Wait, what? The Washington Post reports many Iraqi fighters and civilians in fact believe that the US is helping ISIS, even airdropping weapons and bottled water to the militants, so the US can assert control over Iraq, the Middle East, and perhaps the area's oil. "It's beyond ridiculous," says military rep Col. Steve Warren. "There's clearly no one in the West who buys it, but unfortunately, this is something that a segment of the Iraqi population believes." The Post reports the idea isn't just shared by a few; it's widespread based on circulated stories and videos allegedly showing sympathetic acts by the US military. "It is not in doubt," says the Shiite commander.
Many civilians don't understand the US' "minimalist approach" to the war when they consider us to be a great military power, an expert explains. But the allegations of a conspiracy even pop up in Iraq's parliament. One lawmaker actually appears in a video showing US military MREs (meals ready to eat) apparently seized from a captured ISIS base in Baiji, calling it proof of a US collusion. US officials suggest Iran's allies in Iraq are pushing the idea in an attempt to eat away at American influence—"It's part of the Iranian propaganda machine," says Warren—and the scheme may be working. After Ashton Carter announced on Tuesday that US troops would be dispatched to Iraq to fight ISIS, Iraqi PM Haidar al-Abadi responded that they weren't needed. Iraqi government officials, however, say they don't believe the allegations. More at the Post. (Read more Iraq stories.)