The vice president of Iraq is calling out the United States for creating a terrorist group, and then claiming victory over it, as U.S. officials brag about gains in Mosul, Iraq, over the Islamic State.
Nouri al-Maliki said in an interview with the RIA Novosti news agency, that he believes the Iraqi people should be the ones receiving credit for defeating ISIS, not the United States.
“Yes, they supported us with aviation, but the main credit goes to the Iraqi soldiers, people’s militia, Iraqi air force,” al-Maliki said, noting that he “regrets and denies [Americans] claiming the victory [in Mosul] is their achievement… In reality, this is the victory of the Iraqi army.”
The U.S. declared victory over ISIS in Mosul on July 10. Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of the anti-ISIS Operation Inherent Resolve, released a statement calling the achievement a “decisive blow” against the group.
“Make no mistake; this victory alone does not eliminate ISIS and there is still a tough fight ahead,” Townsend said. “But the loss of one of its twin capitals and a jewel of their so-called caliphate is a decisive blow.”
President Trump applauded the achievement in an official statement, calling it a “victory over terrorists who are the enemies of all civilized people.”
“We have made tremendous progress against ISIS—more in the past 6 months than in the years since ISIS became a major threat,” Trump said in the statement. “The victory in Mosul, a city where ISIS once proclaimed its so-called ‘caliphate,’ signals that its days in Iraq and Syria are numbered. We will continue to seek the total destruction of ISIS.”
Big wins against ISIS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2017
As the U.S. celebrated its “big win” over ISIS, many on the internet were quick to note that the destruction that has led up to this point is anything but a victory.
According to reports, during the 9-month campaign, nearly 1 million civilians were forced to evacuate their homes in Mosul, and with 120 miles of roads destroyed and the majority of the buildings now uninhabitable, the cost to repair the city’s basic infrastructure is over $1 billion.
In addition to advisers and a presence on the ground, the effects of U.S. involvement were mostly felt through the airstrikes it launched. As The Free Thought Project reported in March, local media reports claimed that “up to as many as 230 innocent civilians slaughtered in US coalition airstrikes—in a single night.”
While the U.S.-led coalition insists that around 600 civilians were killed in Mosul, intelligence officials claim the death toll is actually around 66 times higher, with more than 40,000 civilian casualties.
Al-Maliki told the RIA Novosti news agency that the Iraqi military’s goal was never “to destroy the city more than it was necessary in the circumstances of war,” and that “We could have surrounded the city, but then its residents would have suffered from famine.”
In his statement from the White House, Trump acknowledged the grave death toll, and the price Iraq has paid as a result of the power gained by the Islamic State.
“We mourn the thousands of Iraqis brutally killed by ISIS and the millions of Iraqis who suffered at the hands of ISIS,” Trump said. “We grieve with the Iraqi people for the loss of the heroic soldiers and Peshmerga who gave their lives to restore life to their country, and we honor their sacrifice.”
However, despite comments on the campaign trail holding the U.S. accountable for its roll in creating ISIS, Trump’s statement failed to mention the fact that much of the power ISIS has gained in the last few years has come as a result of the assistance the group has received from the United States and its allies.
Al-Maliki called out the U.S. for its hypocrisy, and said he believes the creation of the Islamic State has been used by the U.S. as a tool to increase U.S. presence and involvements in Iraq and Syria.
“IS resembles the Taliban which was created by the US administration to counter the USSR in Afghanistan,” Al-Maliki said. “The same way, IS was created to counter the Iraqi stance, which did not agree to blockade Syria, was against no-fly zones in Syria and against American military bases.”