The results of an elaborate CPA-sponsored poll taken May 14-23 were reported by Newsweek on Tuesday. They offered scarcely any hope for those who still imagine that there is a constructive role for the U.S. to play in Iraq in the future. -- A link to a .pdf file provides the full results of the survey in a 48-page document. -- It shows that of 14 major political figures in Iraq, Iyad Allawi ranks 11th, with 61% of Iraqis either opposing or strongly opposing him. Moqtada al-Sadr, on the other hand, ranks 2nd, with 67% saying they support or strongly support him. -- Sixty-four percent said they thought "recent events and Fallujah and the acts of Moqtada al-Sadr" had made Iraq "more unified." -- As for the Coalition forces, 92% see them as "occupiers," and 2% saw them as "liberators," and 3% see them as "peacekeepers." -- Seventy-nine percent said there were violent attacks "because people have lost faith in Coalition Forces"; only 25% attributed them to an attempt to restore the old regime; their greatest motivation, according to those polled, was that the Coalition is "trying to steal Iraq's wealth." -- Of the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, 54% agreed with the statement, "All Americans are like this." Only 29% believed that anyone would be punished for what happened at Abu Ghraib....
The War in Iraq
By Michael Hirsh
** A U.S.-sponsored poll shows Iraqis have lost confidence in the occupying authorities -- and that the vast majority of Iraqis want Coalition troops out of the country ‘immediately’ **
June 15, 2004 - 1:55 p.m. PDT
The first survey of Iraqis sponsored by the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal shows that most say they would feel safer if Coalition forces left immediately, without even waiting for elections scheduled for next year. An overwhelming majority, about 80 percent, also say they have “no confidence” in either the U.S. civilian authorities or coalition forces.
Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed also said they believed violent attacks have increased around the country because “people have lost faith in the coalition forces.”
The poll numbers were reflected in the anger seen in the streets of Baghdad after a series of car bombings on Monday. While U.S forces and Iraqi police hung back, crowds set some of the vehicles on fire, threw bricks and shouted insults at U.S. soldiers. According to the poll, a mere one percent of Iraqis now feel that the coalition forces contribute most to their sense of security; only 18 percent described Iraqi police the same way. By contrast, a total of 71 percent said they depended mostly on their family and friends and neighbors for security.
The poll results which have not been released publicly but were obtained by NEWSWEEK, indicate that the April publication of photos depicting the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison accelerated a long-term decline in support for the U.S. occupation. Of the Iraqis surveyed, 71 percent said they had been surprised by the Abu Ghraib revelations. Most, however, said they now believe the abuses were widespread. Fifty-four percent agreed with the statement that “all Americans behave this way,” and 61 percent said they believed no one would be punished for the abuses. A CPA spokesman said Tuesday that he had not yet examined the numbers.
Taken from May 14 to May 23, the survey also shows a sharp rise in the popularity of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, with 81 percent saying they had either a better or much better or better opinion of him than they did three months earlier. Sadr’s Al Mahdi Army has been engaged in a bloody standoff with U.S. forces in the cities of Kufa and Najaf for more than two months. His popularity among leading Iraqi public figures is exceeded only by that of another Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who was “strongly supported” by 51 percent of Iraqis and “somewhat supported” by another 19 percent.
The news for the newly designated Iraqi prime minister, Iyad Allawi, was not as good. While the poll was taken just before he was named to head the new interim government, 61 percent said they either strongly oppose or somewhat oppose Allawi, a former exile once backed by the CIA. Only 23 percent said they somewhat support or strongly support him.
On the positive side, the poll showed that 63 percent of Iraqis believe that installing the interim Iraqi government will make things “better” for Iraq, with only 15 percent saying thing will be worse. The survey also indicated that most Iraqis display continuing confidence in the new Iraqi police and army.
The poll reflects an inexorable decline in support for the U.S. occupation since the fall of Baghdad over a year ago. In November of 2003, 47 percent of those surveyed still expressed confidence in the CPA; those figures plummeted to 9 percent in April and 11 percent in May. In the latest survey, 81 percent of Iraqis also expressed “no confidence” in Coalition forces. Seventy-eight percent expressed the same grim opinion of the outgoing CPA, which is slated to dissolve when sovereignty is handed over to the interim government on June 30. The survey does show a marginal uptick in support for the CPA and coalition forces since April, but that small increase falls within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percent. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed also expressed no confidence in the United Nations.
The survey also shows that coalition forces, which have struggled unsuccessfully to crush an insurgency that has targeted increasing numbers of Iraqis, as well as power lines and other facilities, seem to have lost the faith of most Iraqis. In November of 2003, just 11 percent of Iraqis said they would feel “more safe” if coalition forces left immediately; that number rose to 28 percent in January. Today 55 percent of Iraqis say they would feel safer if coalition forces departed right away, even though the Bush administration has indicated they would stay on at least until the Iraqi elections in 2005. A whopping 69 percent also want the CPA to play no role at all in the selection of an independent election commission.
--The poll consisted of face-to-face interviews with 1,093 people selected randomly in six Iraqi cities and towns: Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Hillah, Diwaniyah and Baquba. It was conducted by the Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies, a CPA- sponsored Iraqi survey group.
Read the full results of the U.S.-sponsored poll [48-page .pdf file]: