Iraq Poll Analysis

There is a new poll of Iraqis concerning what they think about the United States, other coalition forces and desired future end states. The poll was commissioned by World Public Opinions.

Here are the highlights:

  • 80% of the country thinks that the US wants long term bases
  • 76% of the country thinks that the US would not withdraw even if it was asked by the Iraqi government to do so.
  • 70% of the country wants the US out in 2 years or less.
  • 47% of the country, including 88% of Sunnis approve of attacks against US forces

There are a couple of things that I want to tease out of this poll. The first one is that this is another point in polling that should allow us to establish trend lines. These trendlines are not perfect as the polls that I am using are using different questions, and interview methodologies, but assuming that all of the polls are done professionally, broad generalizations can be derived from the data. I wrote in October 2005 about two other polls that had the following information in them:

British military sponsored poll — 2005:

• Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American
troops are justified – rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan

• 82 per cent are “strongly opposed” to the presence of coalition

• less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are
responsible for any improvement in security;

• 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less
secure because of the occupation;

• 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for
peace and stability have worsened;

• 72 per cent do not have confidence in the
multi-national forces.

Now there is also an April 2004 USA Today poll that had the following highlights:

  • 30% believed that attacks against US or British troops could at least occassionally be justified
  • 25% believed they were worse off while 51% believed they were better off
  • 57% wanted immediated withdrawal, and excluding the Kurds, the Arabs wanted withdrawal totalled 62-65%.
  • So what are the pull points here. There is a strong increase in the percentage of Iraqis who believe that attacks against US and UK forces are justifiable when compared against 2004 (pre-Fallujah). There has been no significant change in opinion on this matter between the British poll and the most recent post-election poll. The insurgency has a very strong base of support within the Sunni Arab population. Remember most insurgencies can continue to survive and cause damage if they can gain support from 10% of a population group; the Iraqi insurgency has had that figure covered for quite a long time now.

    Withdraw now has gone down a bit, but the withdrawal sentiment is extremely high. Timetables also seem to be very desirable feature of any American withdrawl. At the same time, I would be worried becaues in both the British poll and the WPO poll, there is very, very little trust in the word of the US or UK on major issues.

    Now moving onto the second point, I want to steal quite a bit of good short bit of analysis from Swopa at Needlenoes: Same country, different worlds

    The most noticable thing about all of the polling is that the Sunni Arab alienation and differentiation from the rest of Iraqi public opinion. Even in cases where the majority of opinion agrees with Sunni Arab majority opinion, Sunni Arab majority opinion is significantly higher than Kurd or Shi’ite Arab opinion. We already know that the Iraqi Kurdish population sees themselves as distinct and unique from the rest of Iraq, and now the Sunni Arab population is undergoing the same type of transformation and internal cohesion building that helps define a group of people of their internal likeness and external dissimiliarities.

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