A Middle East Media Research Institute Report (MEMRI)
January 15, 2014
The U.S.'s announcement that it supports the Iraqi government's campaign against the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Al-Anbar governorate in western Iraq, and that it would supply Iraq with missiles and drones for this purpose, sparked harsh criticism by columnists and newspaper editors in the Gulf.
According to the writers, the war being waged by Iraq's Shi'ite prime minister, Nouri Al-Maliki is not just against Al-Qaeda but against Sunnis in general – and therefore the U.S.'s support for him is support for the Shi'ite axis, led by Iran, which also includes the Assad regime in Syria and Hizbullah in Lebanon, at the expense of the Sunnis.
This criticism is another expression of the disappointment in Arab countries in general and in the Gulf States in particular with U.S. policy in the region in recent months, and their feeling that they have been abandoned to Iranian hands. This feeling intensified following the U.S.-Russia agreement on the dismantling of Syria's chemical weapons and after the deal between the superpowers and Iran over the latter's nuclear dossier.
Below are excerpts from articles published in the Gulf press in the past week claiming that the U.S. sides with the Shi'ite axis.
Al-Quds Al-Arabi: Al-Maliki Is Slaughtering Sunnis with International Support
The daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, which is funded by Qatar and published in London, argued that while the U.S., Iran, France, and Russia support the struggle against ISIS, they intentionally ignore the fact that Al-Maliki is using ISIS to wage a sectarian war against Sunnis. In an editorial titled "A Sectarian Massacre With U.S. Backing!", the daily claimed that ISIS is the response to understandings between Iran and the U.S., and is the mirror image of the "wild animal" Al-Maliki: "...Iraq intends to hold new parliamentary elections while its army is advancing on the towns of Al-Ramadi and Fallujah in order to surround them and storm them. One security official announced that ten thousand volunteers are prepared to fight alongside the Iraqi army to liberate the towns of Al-Anbar from ISIS. This is a recipe for a total sectarian war between Sunnis and Shi'ites – a state of affair excites the U.S.
"The U.S., which sees nothing in the Islamic world aside from the danger posed by Al-Qaeda and the need to protect Israel's security, was quick to provide [Iraq] with military gear and weapons such as Hellfire missiles and Eagle and Raven drones [Boeing Insitu ScanEagle and Aero Vironment RQ-11 Raven respectively]. The American vice president phoned Iraqi Premier Nouri Al-Maliki and expressed 'support of Iraq's efforts in its war against Al-Qaeda.' Furthermore, its Baghdad embassy is working together with Iraq's security forces and military.
"The international umbrella of support for Iraq's military action also includes Russia, Iran, and France, whose governments have expressed support of the fighting against the 'terrorists.' But the question that nobody asks is: 'What terrorists?’...
"Nouri Al-Maliki's propaganda apparatus exploits the war against Al-Qaeda to justify his attacks on Iraqi governorates demanding legitimate rights and struggling in civil, nonviolent ways. The Al-Maliki government, like its Arab sisters, is tightening its grip on nonviolent and civil struggle and is trying to turn it violent in any way possible in order to justify the oppression of the residents and to continue on its natural path that thrives on corruption, tyranny and collaboration with foreign elements.
"Nouri Al-Maliki's game joins actions in the region and the world [that are meant] to resolve the Syrian crisis, and which forced ISIS out of Syria and caused it to concentrate in Iraq in order to strike it in Iraq. The countries of the world and region deliberately ignore the fact that Al-Maliki had a hand in creating the circumstances that gave rise to [ISIS, and that he did this] in order to spark sectarian conflict in Iraq. This is the drug that sustains the Al-Maliki government and its corrupt associates.
"The world ignores the role of Al-Maliki and his [cronies] in causing serious damage to the situation in Iraq, [damage] that would not have been possible without the marriage of convenience between the U.S. and Iran, whose goal is to harm the immunity of the Iraqi people by exposing it to murder, slaughter, humiliation, and sectarian discrimination on a daily basis.
"ISIS is a wild and irrational response to this American-Iranian agreement to break Iraq's back, ruin it, and empty it of its minds and knowledge and of its Arab spirit. ISIS is also the mirror image of the wild animal [Al-Maliki]. This leads us to understand how Al-Maliki and his associates' plan cannot be realized without ongoing terrorist attacks, murder, bombings and sectarianism. The only conclusion is that the Iraqi people's only way to rid itself of this reflection [ISIS] is to eliminate the savage himself [i.e. Al-Maliki].
"Al-Maliki is leading his army and so-called 'volunteers'... towards a massacre fuelled by Sunna and Shi'a alike. This massacre, like Assad's mass extermination in Syria, is now supported by both global superpowers – Russia and the U.S. – while Israel and Iran joyously watch the Arabs' destruction."
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Columnist: The U.S. Is Supporting The Shi'ite War Against The Sunnis
Huda Al-Husseini, a columnist for the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, claimed in an article that the struggle in Iraq is a sectarian struggle and that, by supporting Al-Maliki, the U.S. is supporting Shi'ite extremism. Al-Husseini stated further that the U.S. is deluding the Shi'ite extremists into thinking that they can defeat the Sunnis, who constitute a majority in the Muslim world, in order to prepare the ground for a bloody war instead of calling on Al-Maliki to talk to the Sunnis, just as it called upon the Egyptian military to talk to the Muslim Brotherhood.
She wrote: "...There is a Sunni Iraqi revolution against Al-Maliki's dictatorship. This is a known and documented fact. The surprising thing is that the U.S. is equipping Al-Maliki's government with Hellfire missiles and drones that will arrive in Iraq this March, in order to fight Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Even Iran expressed its willingness to send troops – possibly from the Basij's Qods Force – to assist Al-Maliki in confronting the Sunnis in Al-Anbar, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in response that if Iran dispatched forces, his country would do the same...
"The Sunnis in Iraq are rebelling against Al-Maliki's discrimination [against them]. Even [Shi'ite leaders] 'Iyad 'Allawi [a secular Shi'ite and the former interim prime minister] and Muqtada Al-Sadr [an influential Shi'ite cleric and politician] have urged Al-Maliki to meet the Sunni demands. The head of the Al-Dulaim tribe, 'Ali Hatem Al-Suleiman, said: 'neither ISIS nor its ilk – it is we who are fighting Al-Maliki. All Sunni politicians in Iraq form a single front against the sectarian, discriminatory Al-Maliki regime.' The Iraqi government is despised in Sunni areas and so is Al-Qaeda. Sheikh 'Abd Al-Malik Al-Sa'di, an influential Sunni cleric, has accused Al-Maliki of bringing sectarianism and poverty to Iraq and called on tribal leaders to fight him.
"No element in the region is neutral. The U.S.'s decision to arm the Al-Maliki government, which [in turn] arms the Syrian regime with militias and enables Iranian planes laden with arms [for the Syrian regime] to pass through its airspace, means that [the U.S.] has decided to support sectarian extremism, which in this case is Shi'ite...
"The Americans should have told Al-Maliki what they told the Egyptian military: Speak to the Sunnis, formulate a policy that includes all sects of society, and grant them their rights. This is what the Americans tell all countries. In Egypt they suspended military aid [following the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood regime by the military], while in Iraq they armed Al-Maliki. The U.S. State Department has not issued any call to Al-Maliki to change his policy. On the contrary, Secretary of State John Kerry said that his country would help Al-Maliki fight Al-Qaeda. However, how many Al-Qaeda [activists] are there, relative to the size of Al-Anbar's population? Al-Maliki says that [he is fighting] Al-Qaeda and the Americans believe him, but in reality [he is fighting] the Sunni Arabs.
"Everyone is warning of a Sunni-Shi'ite war. In its staunch support of Al-Maliki, the U.S. is supporting Shi'ite extremism and taking part in this war. It is deluding the Shi'ite extremists [into believing] they can confront the many Sunnis, in a way that creates danger and chances of a harsh bloody war – for it is impossible for [the Shi'ites, who constitute] 10% [of the Muslim world] to challenge [the Sunnis, who constitute] 90% if you include Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, etc.
"The U.S. wants to please Iran, because it believes this will lead to stability in the Middle East [by causing] Iran to stop working on a nuclear bomb. [However,] the problem is not the bomb in itself, but rather the control and influence that Iran strives to gain.
"Some say that the U.S. will soon turn its back on the Middle East. [But] it will turn its back [only] on the Sunni part of the region. The Arab Gulf oil will be replaced by Iranian oil. It seems that Obama wants the U.S. of today to be different from the U.S. of the past...
"The U.S. has reached out to the Muslim Brotherhood under the pretext that it is preferable to Al-Qaeda. It has reached out to the ongoing Khomeini revolution and turned its back on the Green Movement's 2009 revolution, despite the fact that most of the [Green Movement] rebels are liberal youths who want to break free of the tangle of revolutions and religions. According to the U.S. administration's view, the Iranian [are represented by] Supreme Leader [Khamenei], not by the Green Movement. The Egyptian, in its eyes, [are represented by] the Muslim Brotherhood and not the military and secularists. With this path, the U.S. is foregoing its allies, who protected the pro-Western agenda. But it will gain nothing: The Iranian leadership will never be a friend of the U.S., since this contradicts the very tenets of its revolution. The U.S. administration stubbornly believes that it can acquire new allies to help it in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and it believes that this will bring stability. But turning its back on its old allies will [only] push Al-Qaeda and ISIS to act more violently... The Iranians believe that the Americans will not permit the Arab Sunnis to confront [them] and will therefore continue attacking and assisting the Houthis in Yemen, Al-Maliki in Iraq, and Assad in Syria... The Sunni extremists will respond by perpetrating horrifying acts, which will bring about a long, difficult war, since political logic dictates that it is impossible for 10% [the Shi'ites] to control 90% [the Sunnis]."
Saudi Columnist: The Entire World Is Supporting the Sectarian Struggle
Mutlaq Al-Mutairi, a Saudi columnist, wrote in an article in the official Saudi daily Al-Riyadhthat, by supporting Iraq's struggle against terrorism, the U.S. has in fact authorized the transformation of the Iraqi and regional struggle into a sectarian one: "After the Al-Maliki government got the green light from Washington to strike the terrorist groups in Iraq, it used this international license in its struggles against its [Sunni] political rivals and began eliminating them with weapons and arrests. [This marks] the start of a sectarian and international alliance meant to empty Arab arenas of any oppositionist voices calling to consolidate national sentiment so that it trumps sectarian sentiment...
"It is not just the Arab world that has been transformed into sectarian groups that kill one another. The [entire] world has begun supporting sectarianism and defending it with arms and decision-making, since Washington equips the Al-Maliki government with jets to eliminate terrorism and his nonsectarian political rivals, and so does Russia."
 Nytimes.com, December 25, 2013.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5536, Reactions In The Arab Press To The Geneva Agreement: Some Call It An Historic Agreement Leading To Greater Security And Stability – While Others Claim It's A Bad Agreement Leading To Regional Arms Race, November 25, 2013; MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No. 1032, Saudis Infuriated, Insulted By U.S. Efforts At Rapprochement With Iran, November 1, 2013; and MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5462, Editorials In Gulf Press Criticize American-Russian Deal, U.N. Resolution On Syria's Chemical Weapons: A Defeat For U.S.; Assad Can Continue Slaughtering Syrians Using Conventional Weapons, October 1, 2013.
 Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), January 7, 2014.
 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 9, 2014.
 Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), December 30, 2013.