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[casi-analysis] New poll: 57% of Iraqis want US to leave

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Dear folks,

Interesting new poll from Iraq (though personally I'm somewhat sceptical
about the results of *all* of the polls).

Apparently 57% say that foreign troops should leave, despite the fact that
53% believe that this will make them 'less secure'. The poll was conducted
*before* the siege of Fallujah so if this poll was accurate the
corresponding figures now would almost certainly be higher.

Juan Cole notes that 'is one of the first polls in Iraq that seems to me
well weighted statistically.'

Best wishes,


Poll: Iraqis out of patience
By Cesar G. Soriano and Steven Komarow,USA TODAY
28 April 2004

BAGHDAD — Only a third of the Iraqi people now believe that the American-led
occupation of their country is doing more good than harm, and a solid
majority support an immediate military pullout even though they fear that
could put them in greater danger, according to a new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup

The nationwide survey, the most comprehensive look at Iraqi attitudes toward
the occupation, was conducted in late March and early April. It reached
nearly 3,500 Iraqis of every religious and ethnic group.

The poll shows that most continue to say the hardships suffered to depose
Saddam Hussein were worth it. Half say they and their families are better
off than they were under Saddam. And a strong majority say they are more
free to worship and to speak. (Related item: Key findings)

But while they acknowledge benefits from dumping Saddam a year ago, Iraqis
no longer see the presence of the American-led military as a plus. Asked
whether they view the U.S.-led coalition as "liberators" or "occupiers," 71%
of all respondents say "occupiers."

That figure reaches 81% if the separatist, pro-U.S. Kurdish minority in
northern Iraq is not included. The negative characterization is just as high
among the Shiite Muslims who were oppressed for decades by Saddam as it is
among the Sunni Muslims who embraced him.

The growing negative attitude toward the Americans is also reflected in two
related survey questions: 53% say they would feel less secure without the
coalition in Iraq, but 57% say the foreign troops should leave anyway. Those
answers were given before the current showdowns in Fallujah and Najaf
between U.S. troops and guerrilla fighters.

The findings come as the U.S. administration is struggling to quell the
insurgency and turn over limited sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government
by the end of June. Interviews this week in Baghdad underscored the

"I'm not ungrateful that they took away Saddam Hussein," says Salam Ahmed,
30, a Shiite businessman. "But the job is done. Thank you very much. See you
later. Bye-bye."

'I would shoot ... right now'

Bearing the brunt of Iraqis' ill feeling: U.S. troops. The most visible
symbol of the occupation, they are viewed by many Iraqis as uncaring,
dangerous and lacking in respect for the country's people, religion and

The insurgents, by contrast, seem to be gaining broad acceptance, if not
outright support. If the Kurds, who make up about 13% of the poll, are taken
out of the equation, more than half of Iraqis say killing U.S. troops can be
justified in at least some cases. But attacks against Iraqi police officers,
who are U.S.-trained, are strongly condemned by the Iraqi people.

The Bush administration has contended that the growing resistance, which has
killed at least 115 Americans this month, is the work of isolated cells of
former regime members or religious fanatics, often from outside Iraq.

Iraqis interviewed in Baghdad say ordinary people have lost patience with
the U.S. effort to crush the insurgency and rebuild Iraq.

"I would shoot at the Americans right now if I had the chance," says Abbas
Kadhum Muia, 24, who owns a bicycle shop in Sadr City, a Shiite slum of 2
million people in Baghdad that was strongly anti-Saddam and once friendly to
the Americans. "At the beginning ... there were no problems, but gradually
they started to show disrespect (and) encroach on our rights, arresting

Sabah Yeldo, a Christian who owns a liquor store across town, says American
failures have left the capital with higher crime and less-reliable services,
including electricity. That is "making everybody look back and seriously
consider having Saddam back again instead of the Americans."

In the multiethnic Baghdad area, where a Gallup Poll last summer of 1,178
residents permits a valid comparison, only 13% of the people now say the
invasion of Iraq was morally justifiable. In the 2003 poll, more than twice
that number saw it as the right thing to do.

Americans regard their men and women in uniform as liberators who are trying
to help Iraq. But the Iraqis now see them as a threat and focus their anger
on them.

"When they pass by on the street, we are curious, so we go out to look and
they immediately point their gun at you," says Muia, the bicycle shop owner.

Except for the Kurds, such feelings are widely held. For example:

Two-thirds say soldiers in the U.S.-led coalition make no attempt to keep
ordinary Iraqis from being killed or wounded during exchanges of gunfire.

58% say the soldiers conduct themselves badly or very badly.

60% say the troops show disrespect for Iraqi people in searches of their
homes, and 42% say U.S. forces have shown disrespect toward mosques.

46% say the soldiers show a lack of respect for Iraqi women.

Only 11% of Iraqis say coalition forces are trying hard to restore basic
services such as electricity and clean drinking water.

The Defense Department, which was shown the survey results Wednesday, said
it doesn't respond to polls. But in a statement, it noted that Iraqis say
their lives are getting better and said that the fact the poll could be
taken indicated increased freedom in Iraq.

Secondhand information

That negative opinion of the behavior of the troops rarely is based on
direct contact. Iraq is a country the size of California with a population
of 25 million. Many areas are sparsely patrolled. Only 7% in the poll say
they based their opinions on personal experience.

Instead, Iraqis get their information from others. For about a third, it's
pan-Arabic television such as the Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya satellite news
channels. The networks frequently show scenes of U.S. forces shooting into
Iraqi neighborhoods in hot spots such as Fallujah, an anti-American
stronghold in the center of the country. (Related poll results: Baghdad:
Then and now)

Although most Iraqis watch the local, U.S.-sponsored broadcast television
station, which doesn't require a satellite dish, Iraqis in the poll say the
Arab satellite networks are the most trusted and break the hottest stories.
Few Iraqis trust Western networks such as CNN and the BBC.

More news is spread through that oldest delivery system: marketplace
chatter. In the rumor mill, interviews indicate, every confrontation between
Americans and Iraqis is portrayed as an assault on the Iraqi people, not on
just a few lawless insurgents.

Jalal Abbas, 20, a student in Baghdad, says it's widely believed "that when
soldiers search houses, they steal gold and money. And in our houses, people
are taking special (precautions) to hide their money and gold for fear of
them being stolen by U.S. soldiers."

Najem Aboud Debib, 37, like many Shiites, says he feels deep disappointment
now. The Shiites opposed Saddam, whose regime was dominated by Sunnis. A
year ago, they welcomed the Americans and the freedom to exercise their
brand of Islam without repression. Now, Aboud Debib says, "I'm sure they
have no morals. ...They are something like Saddam Hussein. We are suffering
under the same situation."

He'd welcome an American withdrawal but says he's sure U.S. troops will
remain in Iraq for a long time. "The trouble is they (U.S. forces) cannot
leave now and leave the job undone. They must go and complete the job and
try to win the people again."

The negative opinion of the occupation does not mean most Iraqis want to see
Saddam back in power. He is in U.S. custody, and four out of five Iraqis
view him negatively, according to the poll. A little more than half have a
negative view of President Bush.

Marines patrolling around Fallujah this week say they can feel the Iraqi
anger every day, even when the two sides aren't shooting.

Marine Lance Cpl. Wes Monks, 23, of Springfield, Ore., says that as he
drives around the restive, mostly Sunni city, he sees Iraqis with a knowing,
"sarcastic smile. You see it every day. ... We're always the last one to
find out when we run over a mine."

"I can see their point of view," says Marine Lance Cpl. Mathew Leifi, 20, of
Orange, Calif. "If anyone rolled up on my street, I'd be pissed, too."

Kurds, the ethnic minority most closely allied with the United States, show
strong support for Americans in the poll. About 97% say the invasion did
more good than harm. And their pro-U.S. stance is obvious on other issues.

Everywhere else in Iraq, it's a different story. Not surprisingly, the Sunni
strongholds that benefited most from Saddam's regime are the most negative
in their opinion of the new Iraq. Fewer than 20% of people in those areas
call the war's outcome positive.

Iraqis expected huge improvements in all aspects of their economy within
weeks of Saddam's overthrow, and most say there have been at least some
improvements. But a year after Bush declared major hostilities in Iraq over,
the poll shows:

Nearly half of Iraqis still report long, frequent power blackouts.

Nearly a third lack clean drinking water much of the time.

Almost everywhere except in the Kurdish north, most people are afraid to
leave their homes at night.

'You can't buy love'

In Baghdad, which has seen the most change — good and bad — since the war,
residents say they can feel the boost to the economy that has come from
foreign aid and the opening of the country's borders. While many say that
they are earning far more than they did before the invasion, they yearn for
the safety and stability of the past.

"The freedoms they gave us are satellite television, Thurayas (satellite
telephones) and mobile telephones. And you can drive a car without a
license," says Resha Namir, 20, a computer science major at Baghdad
University. But "I can't even go out because I'm afraid that any minute we
will die. The war was not worth it."

Some are more positive. Lauran Waliyah, 46, a restaurant manager and
Christian who supported Saddam, says her experience with the Americans has
been good. Once, when a madman with a knife entered her business, soldiers
came to help, she says.

"It is unfair to ask for the departure of the U.S. troops," she says.

But the hostility reflected in the poll is a message that the troops
understand, says Monks, the Marine lance corporal. "They don't want us
here," he says. "They want to rebuild their own country. We're trying to
Americanize their life. You can't buy love."

Soriano reported from Baghdad, Komarow from Washington.

Contributing: Jim Michaels in Fallujah



The USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll of 3,444 Iraqis, the largest and most
comprehensive poll in Iraq since last year’s invasion, was administered by
the Pan Arab Research Center of Dubai.

Interviews were conducted between March 22 and April 2, with the exception
of the governate of Sulaymaniya where interviews ran through April 9. All
interviews were conducted in person in the respondent’s home, with an
average interview length of 70 minutes. The cooperation rate — the
percentage of those contacted who agreed to be interviewed — was 98%.

Two of the three governates in the predominantly Kurdish region, which has
its own administrative agencies and has been largely independent from
Baghdad for the past decade, did not participate in the poll. To have a full
representation of Kurdish views in the poll, additional interviews in the
third governate, Sulaymaniya, were conducted.

The margin of sampling error for the poll is +/- two percentage points.

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