Monday, March 16, 2009
In Safer and More Optimistic Iraq, Support for Democracy Climbs
Monday, March 16, 2009 By Patrick Goodenough, International Editor (CNSNews.com) – Iraqis are significantly more optimistic about the future, less concerned about security and increasingly supportive of democracy, according to a new poll gauging Iraqis’ attitudes six years after the U.S.-led invasion. Asked about security in their neighborhood, 85 percent of respondents rated it as “very good” or “quite good,” up from 62 percent one year ago and 43 percent in August 2007. The proportion of those describing security as “quite bad” or “very bad” dropped to 15 percent, down from 39 percent in 2008 and 56 percent in 2007. The poll, conducted for ABC News, the BBC and Japanese broadcaster NHK, saw 2,228 Iraqis surveyed in all 18 provinces. It was the sixth in a series that began in March 2004. A total of 52 percent of those polled said security had improved over the last year. In March 2008, only 16 percent said security had improved over the previous year. Asked about the single biggest problem they faced, respondents rated unemployment and high prices above security concerns, war, sectarian violence or terrorist attacks. And questioned on how they felt things were going for Iraq as a whole – rather than for themselves personally – 58 percent selected “very good” or “quite good,” up from 43 last year and 22 percent in 2007. Growth in support for a democratic political system rose to 64 percent, up 21 points since 2007. Support for an Islamic state declined slightly, down three points to 19 percent. The third option given for a preferred form of political administration – “government headed by one man for life” – stood at 14 percent, down 20 points since 2007. Despite the rising optimism and improving conditions evident in the results, 64 percent of respondent regard the role of the U.S. in Iraq to be negative, versus 18 percent positive. Still, the same question in 2007 saw 77 percent answer negative, and 12 percent positive. Respondents were also negative in their assessment of the role of Iran in Iraq, but in that instance the trend went the other way – 12 percent positive in 2009, compared to 17 percent positive in 2007; 68 percent negative now compared to 67 percent negative in 2007. Among other noteworthy findings, the number of respondents expressing confidence in the U.S. forces rose to 26 percent from 20 percent in 2008 and 15 percent a year earlier. Confidence in the Iraqi government rose to 61 percent, from 48 percent in 2008 and 39 percent in 2007. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s approval rating climbed to 55 percent, up 15 points since last year and 22 points since 2007.