Saturday, December 9, 2023

Muslim nations don’t trust US on its democracy pledge

A large concentration of people in Iraq and 12 other Muslim-majority countries are sceptical of the United States’ commitment to democracy-building, according to the findings of a Gallup poll.

The survey, which was published by Gallup on Friday, also showed that most people in those countries doubt Washington’s commitment for them to forge their own political futures without some level of democracy-promotion oversight from the US.

The poll was released around the 20-year anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom; the US-led campaign to topple Saddam Hussein from power which began in 2003.

The administration of then-President George W. Bush launched the operation on the false assertion that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction, which could potentially be used against the US and its allies. The move is generally considered to be among the worst foreign policy blunders in US history.

Two decades later, just over one-quarter of Iraqis believe that the US is committed to its proposal to establish democracy in the country, according to the poll. Conversely, some 72% say they disagree that the US is ‘serious’ about encouraging open and free elections in the country.

Despite holding democratic elections in 2005 while under US and British occupation, Iraqi democracy has been mired in instances of violence, fraud and protests amid disputes between Sunni and Shiite factions.

According to Lily Hamourtziadou, senior researcher for Iraq Body Count (IBC), which tracks civilian deaths in the country, the US invasion in 2003 has “produced a dystopian economy and a failed state.”

Hamourtziadou also argued in an op-ed published by Open Democracy in 2021 that “the US and its allies could never have produced a Western-style democracy, or the outcomes expected in a developed nation.”

The Gallup poll also found that Iran – at 81% – is the most distrusting of US intentions in the region. Tunisia, Türkiye, Palestine, as well as Iraq, complete the top five, with each between 78 and 75%. However, just 38% of Moroccans and 42% of Kuwaitis disagreed with the contention that the US is serious about establishing democratic systems of government in Muslim regions.

Gallup also polled citizens in the same nations to ask if they felt that the US was committed to assisting in their economic development. Iran, Türkiye and Tunisia heavily disagreed – between 82 to 74% – though, again, Kuwait and Morocco displayed the least amount of disagreement at 41% and 34% respectively.

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