March 18, 2007

Iraqi Survey Says ...

The Times of London conducted a major poll of Iraqis to determine their state of mind a month after the beginning of the surge, and it finds the Iraqis rather optimistic. Four hundred pollsters went door to door to speak to over 5,000 Iraqi adults, and found that almost a majority of them preferred life now under the democracy of Nouri al-Maliki rather than the oppression of Saddam Hussein:

The poll highlights the impact the sectarian violence has had. Some 26% of Iraqis - 15% of Sunnis and 34% of Shi’ites - have suffered the murder of a family member. Kidnapping has also played a terrifying role: 14% have had a relative, friend or colleague abducted, rising to 33% in Baghdad.

Yet 49% of those questioned preferred life under Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, to living under Saddam. Only 26% said things had been better in Saddam’s era, while 16% said the two leaders were as bad as each other and the rest did not know or refused to answer.

Not surprisingly, the divisions in Iraqi society were reflected in statistics — Sunnis were more likely to back the previous Ba’athist regime (51%) while the Shi’ites (66%) preferred the Maliki government.

Maliki, who derives a significant element of his support from Moqtada al-Sadr, the hardline Shi’ite militant, and his Mahdi army, has begun trying to overcome criticism that his government favours the Shi’ites, going out of his way to be seen with Sunni tribal leaders. He is also under pressure from the US to include more Sunnis in an expected government reshuffle.

The poll suggests a significant increase in support for Maliki. A survey conducted by ORB in September last year found that only 29% of Iraqis had a favourable opinion of the prime minister.

Maliki has gained strength as the US and Iraqi forces have begun to reclaim the streets of Baghdad. No one respects a leader that allows chaos and destruction to prevail, which explains Maliki's low marks last year. Undoubtedly, those played a role in driving Maliki to the position of George Bush, who demanded a free hand to act against the Shi'ite militias as well as Sunni insurgents, al-Qaeda terrorists, and Ba'athist remnants to which Maliki had limited our operations previously.

As Allahpundit at Hot Air notes, the results are not blockbuster material yet:

Another 16% said they both reek. Righties will find cause for hope in those numbers, lefties will wonder why after four years we can’t get a clear majority to prefer life under American occupation to life under the Arab Stalin. Glass half-full, glass half-empty.

The whole poll is like that. You’re better off with the summary at the polling firm’s website than the Times of London article, which misleads a bit in reporting that only 27% of Iraqis say the country is in a state of civil war. That’s accurate as far as it goes, but another 22% say they’re “close” to a civil war but not there yet. TOL neglects to mention that.

Be sure to read the entire Hot Air post for a breakdown of the crosstabs. Allahpundit believes that the Sunnis got oversampled, which would tend to skew the results somewhat, but I'm not sure in which direction. Would that make Maliki's support underreported, or would the surge effort against the Shi'ite militias play towards Sunni desires and therefore inflate Maliki's numbers? Hard to say, but I'd guess the former rather than the latter.

One interesting point about the survey is the difference between Shi'ite and Sunni predictions about the security situation when the US withdraws from Iraq. Most Shi'ites believe it will immediately get better, while Sunnis are split; only 46% think it will get better, while 37% believe it will make matters worse.

I think these numbers are rather encouraging. Within six months, and after a month of intensive clear-and-hold operations, the Maliki government has seen its approval rating almost double. More Iraqis appears optimistic about the future, and even the Sunnis appear more open to optimism. If we can stick to our strategy and stabilize the capital, we can keep momentum on the side of liberty and democracy.

UPDATE: ORB has an interesting set of slides on the survey. One of them notes that a clear majority, 64%, prefer the current political system of a centralized government. That includes a majority of both Shi'ites and Sunnis. Only 21% want a federal system with three autonomous regions, although 72% of the Kurds prefer that, understandably. The Joe Biden model of splitting Iraq only gets support from one in five Iraqis -- perhaps a piece of information Biden should consider.


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Poll: Iraqis prefer life under Maliki to life under Saddam, 49%-26% Allahpundit Another 16% said they both reek. [Read More]

Comments (10)

Posted by Gary Gross [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 18, 2007 9:51 AM

I used that poll to to rip on 'Gen.' Amy Klobuchar's statements during her Baghdad trip. She couldn't even admit in a Pi-Press article that things were improving.

Wouldn't it be great to find a Democrat that supported the mission for a change?

Posted by RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 18, 2007 10:11 AM

Re: Gary Gross at March 18, 2007 09:51 AM

I saw Sen. Klobuchar too. I got the impression that if they wanted to, they could've taken "General" Klobuchar to Kuwait instead and just told her she was in Iraq, and she still would've dutifully reported being "disturbed by the lack of progress she saw." What a buffoon.

Posted by Keemo [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 18, 2007 10:35 AM

What I hear from my family members serving (or did serve) in Iraq & Afghanistan, is that what used to be hope that a Democrat would come, visit, see the facts, return to the States and report the facts; turned into "oh great, another Democrat is coming here for photo ops and will only return to the States and report what was already predetermined before they even got on the damn plane"...

How frustrating this must be for our soldiers fighting overseas. "We support the troops, but not the mission" is pure BS to our soldiers; these warriors have watched as all of the leading Democrats have come to visit; they know what these folks are seeing, as they are the one's leading them around. Then they watch as these people return to the States and give speeches that go directly against what the actual sights revealed. Our soldiers know exactly what these folks are made of; it must be painful for them as they try to accept the truth about this breed of character.

Posted by SwabJockey05 [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 18, 2007 11:19 AM


It is. Enough to make one wonder if most of these "Americans" are worth fighting for...

Risking life and limb for what...?

I don't expect the "American People" to say "Thanks" when we get back...but does it have to be a stick in the eye?

Nope, definitely not worth it.

Posted by AnonymousDrivel [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 18, 2007 11:34 AM

Swabbie: "I don't expect the 'American People' to say 'Thanks' when we get back..."

I do. Repeatedly.

Posted by SwabJockey05 [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 18, 2007 11:41 AM


So do I. But the ever-present stick is sharp.

Posted by Keemo [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 18, 2007 1:07 PM


A few things to remember:

It must be "Country" that makes the fight so righteous; fighting for a people is really tough.

Americans do love and appreciate our warriors. Liberals and Liberalism are confined to big cities for obvious reasons; HANDOUTS. For example; in Montana you will find Liberals in the normal places; big cities. Throughout the rest of the State, I have found Democrats and Republicans to share much of the same values and feeling towards our military personal. The people of Montana vote for a person rather than a party. If the person turns into a scumbag, the person gets sent down the road; not the party. Liberals are Liberals; a complete waste of time and energy. The media is made up of mostly Liberals, therefore it looks like Americans are more like them, when that really is not the case. I have met Democrats in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, & Utah that aren't that different than you or I. Unions are pushing a radical breed of Liberal; Unions dominate big cities and what's left of docks (shipping) in this country. Unions push fear into the employee; big bad Republicans will close down all Unions if elected; that sort of BS... I'm guessing here Swabbie, but I believe Liberals only make up about 20-25 % of this country; the rest of us are something other than that; the rest of us do love our country and have great respect for the brave men/woman that make up the greatest military force on Earth....

Posted by Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 18, 2007 1:38 PM

It sounds like it is going in the right direction. To be honest, I think it will be a long time before you get a majority of people to say they prefer this system, but only 26% said they liked Saddam better. That maybe why some people think Sunnis were oversampled.

One thing is true, these people are not easy to please.

Posted by Frank Warner [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 18, 2007 10:17 PM

The weirdest thing about the poll is that the pollsters failed to ask the Iraqis if they wanted the U.S.-led coalition to leave immediately.

They simply asked if security would get better when the coalition left. Well, when is when? Now? Or after the Iraqi government decides its army can handle security on its own?

In any case, 75 percent of the Kurds and 54 percent of Baghad residents are happier than they were with Saddam. Considering the continuing violence, that's encouraging.

Posted by CayuteKitt [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 18, 2007 10:50 PM

Those Iraqis who haven't made up their mind yet, and those in the MSM who haven't got a clue yet, should re-read this portion:

"Four hundred pollsters went door to door to speak to over 5,000 Iraqi adults..."

Only in a free and democratic society could such an event ever occur.