Friday, March 21, 2008

Iraqi's want the US out

Previously unpublished data from an April 2006 University of Michigan survey of Iraqi public opinion which showed that 91.7% of Iraqis did not support the presence of coalition forces in Iraq. Some debate ensued as to whether the question "do you support the presence of coalition forces" was a viable proxy for "do you want the coalition forces to leave."

That data also showed: The growing sense of insecurity affected all three of Iraq's major ethnic and religious groups. The number of Iraqis who "strongly agreed" that life is "unpredictable and dangerous" jumped from 41% to 48% of Shiites, from 67% to 79% of Sunnis, and from 16% to 50% of Kurds. The most recent survey, done in April this year, also asked for "the three main reasons for the U.S. invasion of Iraq." Less than 2% chose "to bring democracy to Iraq" as their first choice. The list was topped by "to control Iraqi oil" (76%), followed by "to build military bases" (41%) and "to help Israel" (32%).

The Washington Post reports today
on two more surveys of Iraqi opinion. First, State Department polling found that "In Baghdad... nearly three-quarters of residents polled said they would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign forces left Iraq, with 65 percent of those asked favoring an immediate pullout." Second, PIPA has released the results of its latest round of polling today, which will show that "71 percent of Iraqis questioned want the Iraqi government to ask foreign forces to depart within a year. By large margins, though, Iraqis believed that the U.S. government would refuse the request, with 77 percent of those polled saying the United States intends keep permanent military bases in the country." Third, the Post mentions that "The director of another Iraqi polling firm, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared being killed, said public opinion surveys he conducted last month showed that 80 percent of Iraqis who were questioned favored an immediate withdrawal."

So maybe that's the resolution of the earlier debate: there's 15-20% difference between those who say they do not support the presence of coalition troops and those who say they want the coalition troops to leave. Which leaves the core of the original point untouched: a large majority of Iraqis do, in fact, want American troops out as soon as possible.

The PIPA survey also shows that all Iraqi ethnic groups overwhelmingly oppose al-Qaeda, with 94% overall holding an unfavorable view of the jihadists. Those findings further support a point I've been making for a while now, that the prospect of al-Qaeda taking over Iraq in the wake of an American withdrawal is an unrealistic bogeyman pushed by Bush and Cheney and now being touted by John McCain. This false rhetorict should not guide American decisions its Iraq policy.

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