Thursday, February 18, 2010

Massive 2009 Bombings In Baghdad Only Slightly Change Perceptions of Security In Iraq

The new Department of Defense “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq” report to Congress for the last quarter of 2009 was just released. It contains a new public opinion poll about security in Iraq conducted in November 2009. That was after two of the large bombings of government ministries in Baghdad in August and October of last year. While only rough numbers were reported, the newest survey shows that the attacks were only able to slightly alter the opinions of Iraqis.

As with previous surveys conducted by the U.S. military, Iraqis felt much better about their own local area than the country as a whole when it came to security. About 55% said that their province was calm, compared to only around 25% who said that Iraq was calm, down 3% from the last poll in August 2009. Less than 45% said they felt that Iraq was stable, a 10% drop from August. Almost 90% however said that the security situation in their neighborhood was the same or better in the last six months. Over 75% said that security in the country overall was the same or better for the same time period, a 10% drop from August. Those declines were probably the result of the two massive bombings that had just happened in the country. Because of their apprehensions about the country in general, only around 40% said that they felt safe traveling outside of their area, a small decrease from August.

When asked about who specifically provided security the Iraqi army and police got overwhelmingly positive responses compared to other groups. Around 70% said they felt safe around the Iraqi army and police, just about the same amounts as in August. 60% said that the army was winning against terrorist, and 55% said that the police were controlling crime. Over 45% said that the police were most responsible for providing security in their area, while 35% said the same about the army. That compared to less than 5% who said that the Sons of Iraq, tribes, or neighbors were responsible. Continuing with the positive trend for the Iraqi security forces, 85% said that they trusted the army to protect them, and 80% said that about the police.

There was also a lot of confidence in the government. 50% said that the government was effective in maintaining security. Over 65% had confidence in the provincial government, and over 60% said they had confidence in the local government. More than 70% said that about the central government. In comparison, only 25% said they felt confident about the U.S. forces. The Americans have had similar low marks in other polls

The November 2009 poll showed that despite the mass casualty bombings that struck government buildings in August and October in the nation’s capital, Iraqis were still largely confident in the security situation in their area, and the ability of the government, Iraqi army, and police to protect them. An overwhelming number also said that security had not changed in their area or in the country in the last six months despite the attacks.

When asked about the rest of the country or leaving their neighborhood however, people were much more apprehensive, showing that going elsewhere was still considered a risk. Iraqis also felt that the security forces were much, much better at securing the country than unofficial groups like the Sons of Iraq or the United States. This was true of previous polls as well. Despite fears that the return of large bombings would mark a dramatic change in the security situation, and perhaps a return to civil war, the latest poll numbers show that Iraqis are still pretty confident at the grass roots level, and those positive feelings were only slightly shaken by the acts by Al Qaeda and other militants at the end of last year.

SOURCES

Department of State, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” 2/15/10
- “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” June 2009

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