Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Opinion Poll of Iraqis

In mid-March 2009 the BBC, ABC, and NHK news departments released their latest public opinion poll of Iraqis. This was the seventh one they have conducted. A Turkish and an American company interviewed 2,228 Iraqis in person in February 2009. The questions were about security, services, the government, society, sectarianism, and the recent January 2009 provincial elections. A majority of Iraqis thought that security and life in general were improving, but still had questions about the country such as the economy, services, and the competence of the government.

Life In General

The poll began by asking people what they thought about their life and community. 65% said they thought their life was good compared to 35% that said it was bad. That was a slight increase from the last survey conducted in March 2008 when 54% said things were good and 45% said they were bad. During 2007 60% of respondents thought life was going badly in Iraq, while in 2004 and 2005 70% or more thought things were well. When broken down by group Shiites and Kurds had the most positive outlook on their lives, while Sunnis were split 50-50. That was an improvement however, because in the March 2008 poll only 34% of Sunnis said things were good.

When asked how Iraq in general was doing 58% had a positive view saying things were going well, compared to 40% that thought not. That was the best response since the question was asked over five polls beginning in 2005. Similarly when questioned about how things had changed in the country in the last six months 52% said things had gotten better, 39% said things were the same, with only 8% saying it had gotten worse. That was a dramatic turnaround from March 2008 and August 2007 when the same question was asked. In March only 36% said things were better. In August 2007 only 11% felt that way, while 61% thought things were worse.

When asked about the future, the majority of respondents had a favorable view as well. When questioned about how their area would be a year from now 65% said it would continue to be good, compared to 35% that said it would be bad. That was a huge increase from March 2008 when only 44% thought things would improve, but not up to the 2004 and 2005 levels when 70% and 71% respectively said things would be positive. When asked how their children's live would be, respondents weren't as optimistic with 44% saying it would be better, 26% saying it would be worse, and 29% claiming it would be about the same. Thoughts about the country overall were positive with 60% saying Iraq would be doing better within a year compared to 26% who said it would be the same, and only 12% who believed things would turn for the worse. Responses like that hadn't been seen since 2005 when 69% thought things would be better in a year, 11% though it would be the same, and 11% said the country would be worse off.


How are things in your life?

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

Very Good

21%

13%

8%

8%

22%

13%

Quite Good

44%

41%

31%

31%

49%

57%

Quite Bad

19%

29%

34%

32%

18%

14%

Quite Bad

16%

16%

26%

28%

11%

15%

Refused/Don't know

-

-

-

-

1%

1%

By community comparing Feb. 09/March 08

Kurds

Shiite

Sunni

Very Good

32%/24%

25%/14%

8%/7%

Quite Good

41%/49%

46%/48%

42%/27%

Quite Bad

23%/20%

16%/27%

23%/38%

Very Bad

4%/7%

13%/11%

28%/28%

How do you think Iraq is doing today?

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

Very Good

20%

7%

3%

4%

14%

Quite Good

38%

36%

19%

31%

30%

Quite Bad

25%

36%

40%

35%

23%

Quite Bad

15%

20%

38%

31%

30%

Refused/Don't know

-

1%

-

-

3%

In the last six months how has the situation in Iraq changed?


Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Became better

52%

36%

11%

Became worse

8%

26%

61%

Stayed the same

39%

37%

28%

What is your expectation for how things overall in your area will be a year from now?

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

Very Good

21%

13%

8%

8%

22%

13%

Quite Good

44%

41%

31%

31%

49%

57%

Quite Bad

19%

29%

34%

32%

18%

14%

Quite Bad

16%

16%

26%

28%

11%

15%

Refused/Don't know

-

-

-

-

1%

1%

How will your children's life be?


Feb. 09

March 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

Better

44%

39%

33%

42%

Worse

26%

28%

42%

37%

About the same

29%

31%

25%

21%

Refused/don't now

2%

1%

-

-

How do you think Iraq will be doing a year from now?

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

Much Better

30%

14%

4%

14%

41%

Somewhat Better

30%

32%

19%

26%

28%

About the Same

26%

33%

35%

26%

11%

Somewhat Worse

10%

13%

25%

21%

6%

Much Worse

2%

7%

17%

13%

5%

Refused/Don't know

2%

2%

-

-

-


Security

The positive view of life in Iraq and its future is largely due to the improved security situation. 85% of Iraqis said they thought security in their area was good. That was a huge increase from 62% in March 2008 and 43% in August 2007. Most thought that security had also improved or stayed the same in their area over the last six months. When asked about their personal safety in their neighborhoods 59% said they felt very safe, 35% said not very safe, and 6% said not safe at all. That was a reversal of the March 2008 numbers when 37% said they felt very safe, and 53% said not very safe. Positive numbers had not really been seen since 2005 when 63% said they felt very safe, and 30% said not very safe.

The improved security situation was also shown when Iraqis were asked whether they had personally encountered violence in their life. Overall, around 40% of respondents from 2007 on had some kind of situation happen in their area. By February 2009 the number were down in every category. 18% for example had seen a car bomb or suicide attack compared to 35% in March 2008 and 32% in September 2007. 18% had witnessed sectarian fighting, compared to 35% in March 2008, and 27% in September 2007. What was still high was kidnappings, which were usually done for profit with 32% saying they had seen it, down from 45% in March 2008 and 40% in September 2007, but up from 25% in February 2007. Seeing abuses by Iraqi and American forces were also down.

The two slight exceptions were when Iraqis were asked about the future of the security situation, and their freedom to move and live where they wanted. On those questions people seemed a little apprehensive, but still positive. 74% of those that said the security situation was better thought that it would stay that way in the future, compared to 21% that were not confident. That was down however from March 2008 when 82% said they were confident. When asked could they go where they wanted 74% said they felt safe, and 25% said not. That trend began in March 2008 when 44% said the situation was good, and 56% said it was bad. In February and August 2007 the answers were only 24% and 25% good respectively. When Iraqis were questioned about whether they thought they could live where they wanted without persecution however, things were more mixed. 43% said they felt good, compared to 56% who felt bad. That was only a slight change from March 2008 when 40% felt good about being able to live where they wanted, compared to 60% who felt the situation was bad. That was a big improvement from 2007 however when only 23% felt good.

Security in your neighborhood

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

Very good

46%

20%

15%

17%

31%

20%

Quite good

39%

42%

28%

30%

30%

29%

Quite bad

14%

27%

24%

21%

17%

21%

Very bad

1%

12%

32%

32%

21%

29%

Refused/Don't know

-

-

1%

1%

Last six months has the security situation in your area changed?


Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Became better

50%

46%

24%

Became worse

3%

17%

31%

Stayed the same

47%

36%

45%

Refused/Don't know

-

1%

-

How safe do you feel in your neighborhood?

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

Very safe

59%

37%

26%

26%

63%

40%

Not very safe

35%

53%

47%

41%

30%

40%

Not safe at all

6%

10%

28%

33%

6%

18%

Refused/Don't know

-

-

-

-

1%

3%

Which of the following have occurred near you?


Car bombs/suicide attacks

Have occurred near you

Have not occurred by you

Feb. 09

18%

82%

March 08

35%

64%

Sep. 07

32%

68%

Sniper, crossfire

Have occurred near you

Have not occurred by you

Feb. 09

21%

79%

March 08

34%

66%

Sep. 07

30%

70%

Feb. 07

30%

70%

Sectarian fighting

Have occurred near you

Have not occurred by you

Feb. 09

18%

82%

March 08

35%

64%

Sep. 07

27%

72%

Feb. 07

25%

75%

Kidnapping

Have occurred near you

Have not occurred by you

Feb. 09

32%

68%

March 08

45%

54%

Sep. 07

40%

59%

Feb. 07

25%

75%

Fighting between government and insurgents

Have occurred near you

Have not occurred by you

Feb. 09

20%

79%

March 08

37%

62%

Sep. 07

34%

66%

Feb. 07

34%

66%

Unnecessary violence against citizens by U.S. of Coalition

Have occurred near you

Have not occurred by you

Feb. 09

25%

74%

March 08

42%

57%

Sep. 07

41%

57%

Feb. 07

44%

55%

Unnecessary violence against citizens by Iraqi police

Have occurred near you

Have not occurred by you

Feb. 09

17%

83%

March 08

20%

79%

Sep. 07

21%

79%

Feb. 07

24%

76%

Unnecessary violence against citizens by Iraqi Army

Have occurred near you

Have not occurred by you

Feb. 09

18%

81%

March 08

20%

79%

Sep. 07

19%

81%

Feb. 07

24%

76%

Unnecessary violence against citizens by militias

Have occurred near you

Have not occurred by you

Feb. 09

18%

81%

March 08

36%

63%

Sep. 07

30%

70%

Feb. 07

31%

69%

Assassination or attempted assassination

Have occurred near you

Have not occurred by you

Feb. 09

22%

78%

If the security situation has improved do you think it will stay that way?

Feb. 09

March 08

Very confident

30%

32%

Somewhat confident

44%

50%

Not so confident

19%

15%

Not all confident

2%

-

Freedom of movement in your neighborhood

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

Very good

28%

21%

8%

8%

Quite good

46%

23%

17%

16%

Quite bad

19%

29%

32%

40%

Very bad

6%

27%

42%

35%

Refused/Don't know

1%

-

-

-

How do you feel about your freedom to live where you want without persecution in your neighborhood?

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

Very good

12%

16%

8%

8%

Quite good

31%

24%

15%

15%

Quite bad

36%

32%

32%

39%

Very bad

20%

28%

45%

38%

Refused/Don't know

1%

-

-

-


Economy and Services

When asked what was the biggest problem facing them in their own lives, economic issues outweighed security ones, something that was noted in the March 2008 poll. The top five personal concerns in the recent survey were high prices 9%, no jobs 9%, crime 5%, terrorist attacks 5%, economic problems 5%, lack of services 5%, and poor electricity 5%. That compared to the March 2008 survey where the top concerns were electricity 11%, no jobs 10%, high prices 6%, lack of security 6%, social disintegration 5%, fuel shortages 5%, and the U.S. occupation 5%. Some of the top concerns were thus the same, but just changed in importance, and security and the U.S. were more important.

What is the biggest problem you face?

February 2009 – Top 5

1.

High prices

9%

2.

No jobs/unemployment

9%

3.

Common crime

5%

3.

Terrorist attacks

5%

3.

Economic problems

5%

3.

Lack of goods and services/problems with food rations

5%

3.

Poor electricity supply

5%

March 2008

1.

Poor electricity supply

11%

2.

No jobs/unemployment

10%

3.

High prices

6%

3.

Lack of security

6%

5.

Can't trust people/social disintegration

5%

5.

Fuel shortages

5%

5.

U.S. occupation

5%

When asked about individual issues in their neighborhood, the situation was mixed. Jobs, electricity, water, and health care were felt to be inadequate, while education, basic needs, crime prevention, general economic situation, and fuel supply were good. 34% said access to jobs in their area was good, compared to 66% who thought it was bad. That was up from the March 2008 and 2007 polls, but not as high as 38% recorded in 2005. Similar numbers were found for electricity supply with 37% saying it was good, and 62% saying it was bad. That was the best response since 2005 however. In August 2007 positive responses were in single digits. 38% said the water situation was good, compared to 61% who said it was bad, which was similar to March 2008 responses. Medical care was also seen as inadequate with 40% saying it was good, 60% saying it was bad. Schools were seen as doing much better with 64% saying they were good, and 35% saying they were bad. Basic needs were also being met with 62% saying the situation was positive, 39% saying it was negative. 78% said they felt protected from crime, 60% said their family's general economic situation was good, and 67% said they had good access to fuel. Those were all improvements from March 2008 with the last having the largest increase.

Iraqis were also divided on how things had gone over the last six months. 33% said things had gotten better for their family economically over that period, 23% said things were worse, and 44% said things had stayed the same. Only 14% said the job situation had changed for the better, compared to 35% who said it was worse, and 50% who said it had stayed the same. Those were almost the exact same responses found in March 2008.

Jobs in your neighborhood

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

Very good

7%

7%

4%

3%

11%

7%

Quite good

27%

22%

17%

17%

27%

19%

Quite bad

32%

35%

37%

44%

23%

23%

Very bad

34%

35%

43%

35%

34%

46%

Refused/Don't know

-

1%

-

-

5%

6%

Electricity in your neighborhood

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

Very good

7%

1%

2%

2%

11%

8%

Quite good

30%

11%

6%

11%

35%

27%

Quite bad

32%

43%

35%

37%

30%

28%

Very bad

30%

45%

58%

51%

25%

37%

Refused/Don't know

-

-

-

-

1%

1%

Clean water in your neighborhood

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

Very good

13%

8%

9%

9%

19%

20%

Quite good

25%

23%

16%

22

39%

31%

Quite bad

29%

37%

35%

35%

27%

22%

Very bad

32%

31%

40%

34%

15%

26%

Refused/Don't know

-

1%

-

-

-

1%

Medical care in your neighborhood

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

Very good

14%

10%

9%

8%

27%

17%

Quite good

26%

27%

23%

23%

35%

34%

Quite bad

28%

32%

37%

35%

23%

24%

Very bad

32%

30%

30%

34%

13%

22%

Refused/Don't know

-

-

-

-

2%

3%

Schools in your neighborhood


Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

Very good

18%

15%

15%

12%

43%

37%

Quite good

46%

48%

36%

31%

31%

35%

Quite bad

28%

29%

30%

35%

17%

15%

Very bad

7%

8%

19%

21%

7%

11%

Refused/Don't know

-

1%

-

-

1%

3%

Availability of basic needs in your neighborhood

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

Very good

18%

19%

9%

8%

22%

18%

Quite good

44%

46%

30%

30%

38%

38%

Quite bad

25%

27%

34%

39%

23%

24%

Very bad

14%

8%

27%

23%

15%

17%

Refused/Don't know

-

-

-

-

2%

2%

Protection from crime in your neighborhood

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

Very good

24%

19%

13%

14%

33%

21%

Quite good

54%

35%

22%

26%

33%

31%

Quite bad

17%

28%

28%

32%

19%

20%

Very bad

4%

18%

37%

28%

14%

23%

Refused/Don't know

-

-

1%

4%

Family's economic situation

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

Very good

19%

15%

7%

7%

22%

Quite good

41%

42%

30%

29%

48%

Quite bad

23%

27%

37%

41%

20%

Very bad

17%

16%

26%

23%

10%

Refused/Don't know

-

-

-

-

1%

Availability of fuel for cooking and driving

Feb. 09

March 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

Very good

26%

2%

1%

1%

Quite good

41%

17%

8%

11%

Quite bad

24%

40%

33%

40%

Very bad

8%

41%

59%

48%

Refused/Don't know

-

-

-

-

In the past six months how has your family's economic situation changed?


Feb. 09

March 08

Became better

33%

31%

Became worse

23%

24%

Stayed the same

44%

45%

Refused/Don't know

-

1%

In the last six months how has the job situation changed?

Feb. 09

March 08

Became better

14%

18%

Became worse

35%

35%

Stayed the same

50%

46%

Refused/Don't know

-

1%


The government was seen as the main provider of services compared to others, but they were not believed to be competent. Only 16% said the national government was doing a good job providing services, compared to 67% who said they were doing something to little. 17% said they were doing nothing at all. The provincial governments did a little better with 15% saying they did a great deal, 73% saying they did something to a little, and 11% saying nothing at all. After that the Sons of Iraq, Awakenings, foreign aid groups, and the U.S. and Iraqi security forces were grouped together. For all those 9% said they were doing a great deal. Last were mosques and religious charities at 6% who thought they were doing a lot, and militias at 5%.

How is each group doing providing services to your neighborhood?

National Government

Provincial Government

Sons of Iraq/

Awakening

Militia

Mosque/

Religious charity

Foreign aid

U.S.-Iraqi security forces

A great deal

16%

15%

9%

5%

6%

9%

9%

Some

37%

39%

18%

11%

24%

11%

24%

A little

30%

34%

24%

17%

30%

25%

27%

Nothing at all

17%

11%

45%

64%

38%

53%

38%

Refused/Don't know

-

1%

4%

4%

2%

2%

2%

When questioned about the biggest problems facing the entire country, security and the U.S. presence were still at the top of the list, the same as in March 2008. The top issues were lack of security 8%, terrorist attacks 7%, the U.S. occupation 7%, civil war 6%, ethnic/religious tensions 6%, economic problems 6%, high prices 6%, and a weak government/political instability 6%. Those closely followed the March responses, which were lack of security 13%, terrorist attacks 12%, sectarian violence 7%, civil war 6%, ethnic/religious tensions 6%, and the U.S. occupation 6%.

What is the biggest problem Iraq is facing?

Feb. 09

1.

Lack of security

8%

2.

Terrorist attacks

7%

2.

U.S. occupation

7%

4.

War/civil war

6%

4.

Ethnic/religious tensions

6%

4.

Economic problems

6%

4.

High prices

6%

4.

Political instability/weak government/bad leaders

6%

March 08

1.

Lack of security

13%

2.

Terrorist attacks

12%

3.

Sectarian violence

7%

4.

War/civil war

6%

4.

Ethnic/religious tensions

6%

4.

U.S. occupation

6%


Government, Groups, and Provincial Elections

As shown in the recent provincial elections, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is riding on a wave of popularity. 55% said they approved of his performance, his highest rating over four surveys. Views on him amassing power were mixed however with 41% saying he had too much, 25% saying he had too little, and 31% thinking he had the right amount. Opinions of the Iraqi parliament weren't as positive, and actually declined from the March 2008 poll. 47% said the parliament was willing to pass an oil law, down from 53% in March 2008, 46% said they were promoting reconciliation, down from 48%, and 38% said they were willing to fight corruption, down from 46%. Local governments were seen in a much better light with 59% saying they were doing a good job, compared to 40% saying they were bad. That was the highest rating since ABC, BBC, and the NHK started conducting the polls.

Thoughts on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki?

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

Approve

55%

40%

33%

43%

Disapprove

43%

58%

66%

57%

Refused/Don't know

2%

2%

1%

-

What do you think about Maliki's power?


Feb. 09

Too much power

41%

Too little power

25%

Right amount of power

31%

Refused/Don't know

3%

Opinions of Iraqi parliament

Sharing oil wealth with all parts of the country

Feb. 09

March 08

Willing

47%

53%

Not willing

51%

46%

Refused/Don't know

2%

1%

Promoting reconciliation

Feb. 09

March 08

Willing

46%

48%

Not willing

53%

51%

Refused/Don't know

1%

1%

Fighting corruption

Feb. 09

March 08

Willing

38%

46%

Not willing

61%

53%

Refused/Don't know

1%

1%

Government in your neighborhood

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

Very good

16%

11%

11%

12%

21%

18%

Quite good

43%

35%

28%

31%

30%

32%

Quite bad

25%

33%

32%

31%

24%

20%

Very bad

15%

21%

29%

26%

18%

18%

Refused/Don't know

-

1%

-

-

7%

12%


When asked their opinions on groups in Iraq, the security forces rated the best, with militias doing the worst. 73% said they had confidence in the Iraqi Army, and 74% said the same about the police. That was followed by the legal system 68%, the national government 61%, community leaders 44%, and Awakening councils 43%. The U.S. at 26%, and local militias with 18% were at the bottom. 67% also said that the security forces were loyal to the country. 30% said they followed individual factions. There was also suspicions about religious groups with 44% said they had too much power.

How do you feel about each group?

Iraqi Army

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

2003

Great deal of confidence

37%

28%

23%

24%

36%

18%

13%

Quite a lot of confidence

36%

37%

43%

37%

31%

38%

25%

Not very much confidence

24%

24%

21%

25%

18%

25%

29%

None at all

3%

11%

12%

14%

12%

10%

16%

Refused/Don't know

-

-

-

-

3%

9%

17%

Iraqi police

Feb. 09

March 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

2003

Great deal of confidence

36%

33%

33%

32%

38%

26%

18%

Quite a lot of confidence

38%

34%

36%

32%

31%

41%

28%

Not very much confidence

20%

20%

17%

16%

18%

20%

30%

None at all

5%

13%

15%

20%

12%

8%

15%

Refused/Don't know

-

1%

-

-

2%

4%

10%

U.S. military

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

2003

Great deal of confidence

12%

4%

4%

6%

7%

8%

7%

Quite a lot of confidence

14%

16%

11%

12%

11%

17%

12%

Not very much confidence

28%

33%

27%

30%

23%

23%

20%

None at all

45%

46%

58%

52%

55%

43%

52%

Refused/Don't know

1%

1%

-

-

5%

8%

9%

Community leaders


Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

2003

Great deal of confidence

10%

12%

11%

11%

17%

17%

19%

Quite a lot of confidence

34%

35%

36%

34%

23%

34%

26%

Not very much confidence

33%

32%

34%

34%

29%

22%

21%

None at all

23%

20%

20%

21%

21%

16%

17%

Refused/Don't know

1%

1%

-

-

10%

12%

18%

National government

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

Great deal of confidence

26%

17%

11%

18%

23%

Quite a lot of confidence

35%

31%

28%

31%

30%

Not very much confidence

26%

26%

31%

27%

25%

None at all

13%

25%

30%

24%

16%

Refused/Don't know

1%

1%

-

-

6%

Local militia

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

Great deal of confidence

4%

7%

11%

16%

Quite a lot of confidence

14%

15%

13%

20%

Not very much confidence

25%

24%

26%

26%

None at all

56%

47%

43%

38%

Refused/Don't know

1%

8%

8%

-

Awakening Council


Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Great deal of confidence

15%

16%

Quite a lot of confidence

28%

40%

Not very much confidence

28%

27%

None at all

25%

9%

Refused/Don't know

4%

7%

Legal system

Feb. 09

Great deal of confidence

28%

Quite a lot of confidence

40%

Not very much confidence

24%

None at all

8%

Refused/Don't know

1%

Who are the Iraqi security forces loyal to?

Feb. 09

Loyal to individual factions

30%

Loyal to Iraq

67%

Refused/Don't know

2%

Opinion on role of religious groups in society

Feb. 09

Too much

44%

Too little

29%

The right amount

26%

Refused/Don't know

2%


When asked about Iraq's governmental system, a strong central authority and democracy seem to have taken hold. 70% said Iraq power should be centered in the capital. 20% believed in regional governments, while 7% thought Iraq should break apart into separate states. Since 2004 Iraqis have said they support power being based in Baghdad. A democratic system also received the highest mark with 64% supporting it. That was a large jump from February 2007 when only 43% believed in it. Next was an Islamic state at 19%, then a strongman at 14%. Regardless of what type of government they wanted, a majority also believed in voting.

How should Iraq be governed in the future?

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

Unified Iraq under a central government

70%

66%

62%

58%

70%

79%

Regional governments

20%

23%

28%

28%

18%

14%

Separate independent states

7%

9%

9%

14%

9%

4%

Refused/Don't know

3%

1%

1%

-

3%

3%

Which political system would be best for Iraq?

Feb. 09

Feb. 07

2005

2004

Strong leader for life

14%

34%

26%

28%

Islamic state

19%

22%

14%

21%

Democracy

64%

43%

57%

49%

Refused/Don't know

3%

-

3%

4%

Regardless of type of government you prefer, are you confident that voting can work in Iraq?

Feb. 09

Very confident

28%

Somewhat confident

38%

Not so confident

25%

Not confident at all

7%

Refused/Don't know

2%


The January 2009 provincial elections also seem to have had a positive affect on the public. 43% said the election increased their confidence in voting. 47% also said they felt that they were free and fair, as opposed to 37% who said they were not. When asked how the elections would affect a variety of issues, all the results were positive. 56% said it would make the political situation better, 40% said it would improve cooperation amongst sectarian groups, 48% said it would help with security, 44% believed it would improve services, 45% thought it would improve the economy. The only issue that most did not think the elections would change were rights for women with 44% saying it would have no effect. One big change in the 2009 voting was that more Sunnis participated compared to the last ones in January 2005. Over two-thirds thought this was a positive development.

How did the Jan. 09 provincial elections affect your view of voting working in Iraq?

Feb. 09

Increased confidence

43%

Decreased confidence

18%

Made no difference

37%

Refused/Don't know

2%

Opinion of Jan. 09 provincial elections

Feb. 09

Were free and fair

47%

Were not free or fair

37%

Depends on province

14%

Refused/Don't know

3%

Effect of provincial elections on the following

Political situation

Feb. 09

Better

56%

Worse

12%

No real effect

29%

Refused/Don't know

3%

Cooperation amongst sectarian groups


Feb. 09

Better

40%

Worse

27%

No real effect

31%

Refused/Don't know

1%

Security

Feb. 09

Better

48%

Worse

22%

No real effect

28%

Refused/Don't know

1%

Public services

Feb. 09

Better

44%

Worse

26%

No real effect

28%

Refused/Don't know

2%

Economic opportunity

Feb. 09

Better

45%

Worse

22%

No real effect

31%

Refused/Don't know

1%

Rights for women

Feb. 09

Better

27%

Worse

26%

No real effect

44%

Refused/Don't know

3%

Opinion on more Sunnis participating in Jan. 09 provincial elections than Jan. 05 vote

Feb. 09

Positive

67%

Negative

10%

No real effect

20%

Refused/Don't know

3%


Many Iraqis believed that the sectarian and ethnic tensions were improving in the country. 60% said relations between Shiites and Sunnis were excellent to good. 79% believed that Sunnis and Shiites would reconcile, with only 17% believing that they would separate.

Thoughts on Arab-Kurdish relations were not as positive, but still good with 53% believing in reconciliation, compared to 43% who believed separation was in the future. 44% thought relations between the two groups were excellent to good. Iraqis tended to oppose the Kurds' aspirations however. 78% for example said Kirkuk should not become part of Kurdistan. 58% thought that the Kurds would eventually declare independence, an idea that only 23% would support.

How are relations between Shiites and Sunnis today in Iraq?

Feb. 09

March 08

Excellent

27%

9%

Good

33%

38%

Not so good

21%

33%

Poor

18%

19%

How are relations between Arabs and Kurds in Iraq today?

Feb. 09

March 08

Excellent

20%

11%

Good

24%

31%

Not so good

29%

33%

Poor

26%

24%

What is in Iraq's future between Sunnis and Shiites?

Feb. 09

Reconciliation

79%

Separation

17%

Refused/Don't know

3%

What is in the future for Arabs and Kurds?

Feb. 09

Reconciliation

53%

Separation

43%

Refused/Don't know

4%

Should Kirkuk become part of Kurdistan?

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Should

20%

27%

Should not

78%

72%

Refused/Don't know

1%

1%

How likely is it that Kurdistan will declare independence?

Feb. 09

Very likely

31%

Somewhat likely

27%

Somewhat unlikely

23%

Very unlikely

17%

Would you support or oppose Kurdish independence?

Feb. 09

Support strongly

11%

Support somewhat

12%

Oppose somewhat

27%

Oppose strongly

48%


Finally, opinions on whether Iraq's refugees should return reversed from the earlier March 2008 poll. Then 45% said it as not time to return, as opposed to 54% who thought it was. In the newest poll 57% believed it was time, compared to 40% who said it was not.

Should Iraqi refugees return

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Yes

57%

45%

No

40%

54%

Refused/Don't know

3%

1%


Opinions Of The U.S. And Coalition

Iraqis did not have a positive view of the U.S. or the Coalition. The low opinion of the American presence has been recorded in other polls. The Pentagon's quarterly report to Congress on Iraq for example, has consistently reported that few Iraqis are willing to give the U.S. military credit for security in their area.

In the ABC, BBC, NHK poll 53% said that the Americans controlled Iraq compared to 32% who said it was the government. When asked about the job the U.S. and other Coalition forces had done in Iraq only 30% said it had been good, with 69% saying they had done a bad job. That was the highest positive mark since 2005 however. Opinions of the U.S. invasion are also mostly negative with 56% saying it was wrong, compared to 42% who thought it was right. That was a decrease from the March 2008 poll. In February 2007 and 2004 however, there were higher positive marks. This might be the reason why 62% believed that journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi was a hero for throwing his shoes at President Bush. Iraqis didn't seem impressed by new President Obama either with only 35% saying he would have a positive effect on Iraq. 19% thought he would make things worse, while 38% said he would make no difference.

Who controls things in Iraq?

Feb. 09

Feb. 07

2005

Iraqi government

32%

34%

44%

U.S.

53%

59%

24%

Somebody else

9%

4%

17%

No one

3%

3%

6%

Refused/Don't know

3%

-

9%

Opinion on how the U.S. and other Coalition forces have done in Iraq

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

A very good job

11%

6%

3%

6%

10%

Quite a good job

19%

23%

15%

18%

27%

Quite a bad job

30%

35%

32%

30%

19%

A very bad job

39%

35%

48%

46%

40%

Refused/Don't know

1%

1%

1%

-

5%

Opinion of U.S. invasion

Feb. 09

Mar. 08

Aug. 07

Feb. 07

2005

2004

Absolutely Right

19%

21%

12%

22%

19%

20%

Somewhat Right

23%

28%

25%

25%

28%

29%

Somewhat Wrong

28%

23%

28%

19%

17%

13%

Absolutely Wrong

28%

27%

35%

34%

33%

26%

Refused/Don't know

2%

-

-

-

4%

13%

What is your opinion of journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi who threw his shoe at President Bush

Feb. 09

A hero

62%

A criminal

24%

Both equally

10%

Refused/Don't know

4%

How will President Obama affect Iraq

Feb. 09

Better

35%

Worse

19%

No difference

38%

Depends

5%

Refused/Don't know

3%


Iraqis are also waiting for the U.S. to leave. 46% said the U.S. should leave before the 2011 deadline set by the Status of Forces Agreement. 59% thought that Iraqi forces were ready now to take over from the U.S. as well. Even so, there were some Iraqis who were worried about security after the U.S. left. 42% said they were concerned, compared to 57% who said they were not.

Should the U.S. leave before the 2011 deadline?

Feb. 09

Leaver sooner than 2011

46%

Stay longer than 2011

16%

The timetable for withdrawal is right

35%

Refused/Don't know

2%

Are the Iraqi forces ready now to take over from the U.S.?

Feb. 09

Ready

59%

Not Ready

40%

Refused/Don't know

1%

How concerned are you that security will worsen after the U.S. leaves?

Feb. 09

Very concerned

7%

Somewhat concerned

35%

Not so concerned

36%

Not concerned at all

21%

Refused/Don't know

1%


The British who controlled southern Iraq fared no better with a few exceptions. 42% said they had a negative affect, compared to 36% who thought they were a positive influence. 19% said they did both good and bad. 57% said the Iraqi forces were ready to take over from the English. 57% also thought that the security situation would not change much after the British left. When asked about the British impact upon the south overall, there were mixed reviews. 47% thought they helped with long-term security compared to 49% who thought they were a hindrance. 51% did say that the British helped rebuilding the government and police of the region, but only 42% said they helped with reconstruction.

Opinion of British forces in the south

Feb. 09

Generally positive

36%

Generally negative

42%

Some of both

19%

Refused/Don't know

3%

Are Iraqi forces ready to take over security in Basra from the British?

Feb. 09

Ready

57%

Not ready

38%

Refused/Don't know

5%

How concerned are you that security in Basra will worsen after British leave

Feb. 09

Very concerned

12%

Somewhat concerned

28%

Not so concerned

37%

Not concerned at all

20%

Refused/Don't know

2%

Opinion of British impact on each of the following:

Long-term security

Feb. 09

Help

47%

Hindrance

49%

Refused/Don't know

4%

Rebuilding government and police in the south

Feb. 09

Help

51%

Hindrance

47%

Refused/Don't know

3%

Rebuilding infrastructure

Feb. 09

Help

42%

Hindrance

55%

Refused/Don't know

4%


Foreign Relations

Iraqis didn't seem to have a positive few of very many countries overall. Only Turkey garnered a positive view with 35%. Even then 30% had a negative view of it. All of the other countries asked about were seen as negative. Those included Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and England. The U.S. at 64% and Iran at 68% had the most negative responses.


Opinion of role of each country

Russia

Feb. 09

Feb. 07

Positive

18%

15%

Neutral

57%

72%

Negative

22%

13%

Saudi Arabia

Feb. 09

Feb. 07

Positive

21%

20%

Neutral

45%

28%

Negative

32%

52%

Iran


Feb. 09

Feb. 07

Positive

12%

17%

Neutral

19%

16%

Negative

68%

67%

Syria

Feb. 09

Feb. 07

Positive

23%

7%

Neutral

38%

30%

Negative

38%

63%

Turkey

Feb. 09

Feb. 07

Positive

35%

10%

Neutral

34%

44%

Negative

30%

46%

U.S.

Feb. 09

Feb. 07

Positive

18%

12%

Neutral

17%

11%

Negative

64%

77%

Britain

Feb. 09

Feb. 07

Positive

22%

11%

Neutral

18%

14%

Negative

59%

75%


Conclusion

This poll represents the new status quo in Iraq. The sectarian war of 2006-2007 is over. Violence is down. Iraqis feel much safer in their own neighborhood, although they are more apprehensive about the situation across the entire country. Still, the survey shows that many Iraqis feel that the situation is sustainable, and that the future holds promise. Economic issues have now eclipsed security as the most important issues for individuals when asked about their own neighborhoods. The U.S. and England have also set a date for withdrawal, something that is widely popular. Belief in a strong central government, and voting also appeared to have taken hold in the country. The two major complaints now appear to be about the government's inability to provide services, the economic outlook, and the claims of the Kurds for Kirkuk and possible independence.

SOURCES

BBC, ABC, NHK, “Iraq Poll February 2009,” 3/16/09

Department of Defense, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” December 2008

2 comments:

Iraq PRT said...

I shared the ABC poll with Iraqi friends living in the Red Zone and asked them about the security aspects of the polling results. They concurred that the security situation is vastly improved. As a result of that there is a new sense of hope.

motown67 said...

Thanks for passing that along. I think you began to see a real change in Iraqi opinion in the second half of 2008, that represented the post sectarian war status quo.

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