Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Iraqi Survey On Security

The latest edition of the Pentagon’s Measuring Stability and Security In Iraq report to Congress includes a public opinion poll of Iraqis done in April 2009 on security. The results showed that Iraqis felt that security in their neighborhood was good, but that they had apprehensions about the rest of the country, and that the Iraqi Security Forces had widespread support.

A majority of respondents said they felt secure in their neighborhoods and provinces, but less so in Iraq in general. 76% said security was calm in their neighborhood, and 60% said the same about security in their province. 90% said that security was the same or better in their neighborhood over the last six months. These numbers were relatively unchanged since August 2008. When asked about Iraq in general however, only 31% said security was calm. This was a 10% increase from August 2008. In November 2007, 23% felt that security was calm in the country. When asked whether they felt safe traveling outside their neighborhood only 42% said yes, largely unchanged since November 2007 when 39% said yes. A majority however, 56%, said they felt that the country was stable. These numbers reflect the new status quo in Iraq. The sectarian war ended in 2007, and the crackdown against the Shiite militias was over by the fall of 2008. That has led to relative stability in most Iraqis’ lives. There is still violence though, which could be the reason why so many are unsure of the security situation across the entire country, and have reservations about leaving their immediate area.

Said security was calm in neighborhood

April 09 76%
Jan. 09 77%
Oct. 08 76%
Aug. 08 73%

Said security was same or better in neighborhood over last 6 months

April 09 90%
Jan. 09 90%
Oct. 08 89%
Aug. 09 91%
Nov. 07 82%

Said security in province was calm

April 09 60%
Jan. 09 57%
Oct. 08 57%

Said security in Iraq was calm

April 09 31%
Jan. 09 29%
Oct. 08 28%
Aug. 08 21%
Nov. 07 23%

Said security was the same or better in Iraq in last 6 months

April 09 86%
Jan. 09 86%
Oct. 08 79%
Nov. 07 81%

Said Iraq was stable

April 09 56%
Jan. 09 51%
Oct. 08 45%
Nov. 07 38%

Said felt safe traveling outside of neighborhood

April 09 42%
Jan. 09 42%
Oct. 08 42%
Aug. 08 37%
Nov. 07 39%

One of the main changes in the security situation in Iraq has been the increasing size and abilities of the Iraqi security forces to conduct day-to-day operations, and the public’s confidence in them. In all the questions about the Iraqi Army and police, respondents had positive views. The same could not be said of the U.S. military that seemed to be considered in low regard, and tribes, militias, and other groups were largely not considered relevant to providing security. 72% said they felt secure around the army, and 75% said they were winning the war against terrorists. In contrast, in November 2007 only 51% said they felt safe around the army, and 52% said they were winning. 66% said they felt secure around the police, and 65% said they were winning against crime. 79% responded that the either the army or police were responsible for security in their neighborhood. The security forces were also trusted more than the local, provincial or national governments. A major change between the April 2009 survey and the October 2008 one was the complete disappearance of trust in militias and armed groups. This is important not only for the development of the Iraqi forces, but for the U.S. withdrawal as well, as security will eventually be turned completely over to Baghdad’s control, and they need the support of the public to operate effectively.

Said they felt secure around Iraqi Army

April 09 72%
Jan. 09 70%
Oct. 08 65%
Nov. 07 51%

Said Iraqi Army was winning battle against terrorists

April 09 75%
Jan. 09 72%
Oct. 08 70%
Nov. 07 52%

Said felt secure around police

April 09 66%
Jan. 09 62%
Oct. 08 61%
Nov. 07 53%

Said police winning against crime

April 09 65%
Jan. 09 61%
Oct. 08 61%
Nov. 07 60%

Who was responsible for security in your neighborhood?

Police 40%
Army 39%
Tribes 6%
Sons of Iraq 3%
Neighbors 2%
Religious leaders 2%
U.S. 2%
Militias 0%

Who did you trust to protect you? – April 09

Army 87%
Police 83%
Provincial government 74%
National government 72%
Local government 66%
U.S. 27%

Who did you trust to protect you? – October 2008

Army 85%
Police 81%
Provincial government 68%
National government 66%
Local government 64%
U.S. 26%
Armed groups 12%
Militias 12%

The Pentagon’s April 2009 survey had roughly the same results as a poll conducted by the international news agencies the BBC, ABC, and Japan’s NHK from March 2009. Both groups found an overwhelming majority of Iraqis felt safe and secure in their neighborhoods, but had questions about the situation in the rest of the country. Respondents in both surveys also said they had confidence in the Iraqi security forces to do their jobs, and felt that they were winning. Both of these polls were taken before the recent wave of bombings however. While overall deaths have gone up and down, the constant attacks and publicity take a psychological toll and could change perceptions. Those create reality for people, and could change opinions about the security situation. If it does, the first victim could be Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who is running in the 2010 parliamentary election on the claim that he has brought security and stability to Iraq.


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

Department of Defense, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” June 2009
- “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” December 2008
- “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” September 2008

1 comment:

amagi said...

The numbers are tending in the right direction... let's hope the August 19th bombing doesn't erase all that.

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