Polls show Iraqis live surrounded by violence, distrust US
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The BBC reports that the number of Iraqis who describe their lives as "good" has dropped from 71 percent three years ago to 40 percent today. But like the ORB poll, the BBC also notes the survey results show a large sectarian divide about the prospects for the future of Iraq.Skip to next paragraph
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The poll paints a picture of an increasingly polarised Iraq, with acutely diverging views between Sunni Arabs and Shias - Sunnis appearing more pessimistic.
There are also regional differences, with pessimism most keenly felt across central Iraq, including Baghdad, where Sunni Arabs are most numerous.
USA Today, another sponsor of the second poll, reports that although a majority of Iraqis view life as better now than before the invasion (although by a lesser extent than the ORB poll indicated), the numbers reflect a drop in optimism.
The Sunday Times in London published a poll Sunday of 5,019 Iraqis taken by a British firm, Opinion Research Business, from Feb. 10-22. It found that Iraqis by 49%-26% preferred life under the new government to life under Saddam.
In the USA TODAY/ABC News Poll, Iraqis by 43%-36% said life was better than before the invasion. That's a decline from the optimism in the November 2005 survey, however, when by 51%-29% Iraqis said life was better.
However, the USA Today/BBC/ABC News/ARD poll results still indicate a slight majority of Iraqis are optimistic that things will be better a year from now, although those results, like the ORB results, show a deep sectarian split. While 40 percent of Iraqis think their lives will be "somewhat better" or "much better" in a year, only five percent of Sunnis think that, while 67 percent of Sunnis (34 percent of Iraqis overall) think their lives will be "somewhat worse" or "much worse" in a year.
One apparent shared opinion between Sunni and Shiite Arabs is their negative view of US-led forces in Iraq.
The United States gets much of the blame. As noted, in the most troubling result from an American perspective, the number of Iraqis who call it "acceptable" to attack U.S. or coalition forces has soared from 17 percent in early 2004 to 51 percent now.
The main source of this antipathy is disaffected Sunni Arabs, the group that lost power with the overthrow of Saddam. Ninety-four percent of Sunni Arabs call attacks on U.S. forces acceptable. That compares with 35 percent of newly empowered Shiites (still a large number to endorse violence), vs. 7 percent of Kurds, who are far more favorably inclined toward the United States.
Even among Shiites, eight in 10 disapprove of the way the United States and other coalition forces have carried out their responsibilities in Iraq. More than eight in 10 Shiites (as well as 97 percent of Sunni Arabs) oppose the presence of U.S. and other forces in their country. (Kurds, again, differ powerfully; 75 percent support the U.S. presence.) More than seven in 10 Shiites – and nearly all Sunni Arabs – think the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq is making security worse.
The two polls had different numbers when it came to assessing whether Iraqis thought the country was in a civil war or close to one, USA Today reports, although in both polls, Sunnis were much more likely to call it a civil war than Shiites.
In the Opinion Research Business survey, 27% of Iraqis said their nation was in a civil war and 22% said it was "close" to one. In the USA TODAY/ABC News survey, 42% said Iraq was in a civil war and an additional 25% said civil war was likely.
The ORB poll was conducted between Feb. 10-22, 2007, and involved "face-to-face interviews amongst a nationally representative sample of 5,019 adults aged 18 years + throughout Iraq." The USA Today/BBC/ABC News/ARD poll was conducted from Feb. 25-March 5, 2007, and involved interviews "among a random national sample of 2,212 Iraqis aged 18 and up."