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US electorate's oversight: Iraqi opinions as to their condition and their perceptions of US/Coalition occupation
- Gordon Housworth [ 10/29/2005 - 18:33 ] #
A review of Iraqi opinions as to their condition and their perceptions of US/Coalition occupation was merited as it is this writer's opinion that our position in an Iraqi hearts and minds campaign is perilous yet those opinions are remote from what is generally reported in the US high street press.
Having last covered Iraqi opinion surveys in May 2005 in Tribal and religious impacts among Iraqi and foreign Muslim elements, continued which reached back to a CSIS poll and its update, and an ICRSS poll of June 2004, the driver for this review of 2003-2005 polls was a secret UK Ministry of Defence poll executed nationally by an "Iraqi university research team [in August 2005] that, for security reasons, was not told the data it compiled would be used by coalition forces." Shattering any illusion of a successful hearts and minds campaign, the poll's most arresting conclusion was that "up to 65 per cent of Iraqi citizens support attacks" against British forces and that less "than one per cent think Allied military involvement is helping to improve security":
The Tory shadow defence minister, Andrew Robathan, said that "the poll clearly showed a complete failure of [UK] Government policy." Other points from the poll:
Responses on infrastructure reconstruction were no better:
One of the few Iraqi polls to gain lay coverage in the UK and US, it comes as little surprise to seasoned poll watchers. As this UK poll has not been formally released, unlike other polls over a three year period, we do not know sample size and demographics, exact dates and precise questions, but comparison to other polls show remarkable continuity. As Juan Cole noted, an April 2004 USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll showed similar results - and it was taken before the fighting in Fallujah and Najaf between insurgents and US forces. The question was:
Back to Cole: Then, 57 percent of Iraqis wanted coalition troops out immediately, and about half said that there were circumstances in which it was legitimate to attack US troops. Attitudes now are more negative, but the attitudes revealed in the British Ministry of Defense poll have been there for some time on about the same orders of magnitude.
Let's walk from 2003 forward, keeping in mind Ackerman's caveat that caution should be attached to "Iraqi polling [that] occurs in a climate of chaos, so its results should be understood as impressionistic rather than precise."
The last poll that was modestly favorable to US forces (then the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)) was an October 2003 Department of State Office of Research opinion analysis, Iraqi Public Has Wide Future Political System, which commissioned the Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies (ICRSS) - a group approved by the CPA - in Baghdad to carry out the fieldwork. ICRSS polls, pro and con, have gravitas as they were led by now Minister of Defense, Sadoon al-Dulaimi, a Sunni native of Ramadi, a former officer in Hussein's General Security Directorate, fled to the UK where he earned a PhD in socio-psychology, joined the Iraqi opposition, returning to Iraq to run ICRSS in 2003. Much of the ICRSS polls have shown "Iraqis' unfavorable views of the U.S. presence in their country."
On 5 April, 2004, the AP reported out a poll conducted by Oxford Research International as Poll: Most Iraq Shia Arabs Oppose Attacks which allows the casual observer to think things are going well, but Juan Cole dug deeper:
Given that Iraq's 25 million people are 65% Shiites and 16% Sunni, the number of those who dislike Americans enough to approve of attacks are 2.8 million, with Shiites leading in absolute numbers by virtue of their numbers. That is substantive support from which Baathists, jihadists, nationalists and religious actors can draw upon for their attacks.
By April-May 2004, ICRSS polls such as Results of Public Opinion Poll #3 were summarized as:
Conetta's May 2005 Vicious Circle: The Dynamics of Occupation and Resistance in Iraq from the Project on Defense Alternatives has not gotten enough attention in my estimation as Conetta deals with drivers of popular oppositional sentiment, variations in public opinion by region and community, coercive occupation practices, presence and behavior of foreign forces, opposition by Sunni and Shia sects, patterns of Coalition activity during and after "major" combat operations. There is thoughtful poll analysis and copious footnoting.
Opposition sentiment is driven by:
Conetta's opinion is that the insurgency "is now driven substantially by the occupation, its practices, and policies" and that results of repeated polling of Iraqi attitudes have been ignored in the US "public discourse on the Iraqi mission" such that it "imperils US policy. His analysis is that:
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