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BBC News poll: Optimism fades in Iraq

Politics / Iraq War Mar 20, 2007 - 11:54 PM GMT

By: John_York

Politics

A nationwide opinion poll in Iraq conducted by BBC News suggests that people feel more insecure and increasingly pessimistic about the future of the country since a similar poll was conducted in 2005.

However, most do not believe that there is civil war in Iraq and only 17% of households polled had family members who were direct victims of violence.

Some key findings are:


  • Seventy one per cent thought things were good in their lives in 2005; in 2007 that figure is 39%;
  • Seventy per cent are happy with their current location – only 30% want to leave Iraq;
  • A majority (56%) do not believe that Iraq is in a state of civil war, and there remains a majority (58%) in favour of maintaining a unified Iraq;
  • In 2005, 64% said their lives would be better in 12 months; only 35% think so now;
  • In 2005, 69% said the general situation in Iraq would be better in 12 months; in 2007 that has fallen to 40%;
  • Asked whether they felt safe in their own neighbourhoods, 40% said yes in 2004, 63% in 2005 but only 26% in 2007.

This is the third such poll in which BBC News has been involved. The previous two were conducted in February 2004 and November 2005.

The 2007 results suggest that Sunnis and Shias hold opposing views on a large number of issues. Sunnis are markedly more pessimistic and regionally, the greater pessimism is in the central belt (which includes Baghdad) where Sunnis are most numerous.

It seems support for, or opposition to the execution of Saddam Hussein is divided almost entirely along religious lines, with Sunnis thinking the manner of it inappropriate and unlikely to help the cause of reconciliation, and Shias taking the opposite view.

Among all Iraqis, support for the coalition forces is low: 82% expressed a lack of confidence in them (a little higher than 2005), 78% opposed their presence and 69% thought they had made the security situation worse. Just over half (51%) thought politically–motivated attacks on coalition forces were acceptable (17% in 2004).

Asked how long coalition forces should remain in Iraq, only 35% said they should leave at once, while 63% said they should go only after security was better and the capacity of the Iraqi government and security forces had improved.

People were asked what they felt about the availability of jobs, electricity, clean water and fuel. The numbers that follow are the percentages of people who responded with answers of "quite bad" or "very bad":

  • Availability of jobs = 79%
  • Availability of electricity = 88%
  • Availability of clean water = 69%
  • Availability of fuel for cooking or driving = 88%

In part, people blame Iraqi politicians. Fifty three per cent were dissatisfied with the way the Iraqi government was performing, compared with 33% in 2005. Fifty eight per cent thought the National Assembly was not willing to take the steps needed to deliver peace and security.

In spite of this, when asked who currently controls things in Iraq, only 34% named the Iraqi government, while 59% named the United States. Most people think Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia are actively engaged in encouraging sectarian violence.

There has been an 8% rise (to 34%) since 2005 in support for a "strongman" to run Iraq, an 8% (to 22%) rise in support for an Islamic state, and a 14% fall in support for democracy (to 43%).

However, asked what form of government would be best for Iraq in five years time, support for a "strongman" goes down and that for democracy goes up

See the complete poll results at: bbc.co.uk/news.

MB


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