Sunday, October 01, 2006

# Posted 1:17 PM by Patrick Porter  

IRAQI OPINION: Two prophecies about the Iraq war are being confounded by current trends in Iraqi opinion.

First, the Iraqi population is not overwhelmingly supportive of US troops staying until Al Qaeda and the insurgents are defeated.

According to a recent opinion poll, 71% of Iraqis want US troops to withdraw within a year, and 61% support resistance attacks on US troops, though half of the latter claim their support of resistance attacks would fall if the US announced a commitment to withdraw.

But secondly, Al Qaeda are not winning the bulk of 'hearts and minds' in Iraq either. Overwhelming majorities of Shias and Kurds, and large majorities of Sunnis, reject Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden : 94% expressed an "unfavourable" view of Al Qaeda, with 82% expressing a "very unfavourable" view.

Apparently, exposure to suicide bombings, executions, beheadings and infrastructure destruction does not automatically persuade a population to align itself with the perpetrators.

In fact, in the results of the poll, 100% of Iraqis now oppose attacks on civilians. A higher result than opinion polls in, say, Britain.

Does this suggest some hope that, if and when the US withdraws most of its forces, the Iraqi people themselves, with security forces that increasing numbers say they trust, will stand a fighting chance of resisting Al Qaeda themselves?

This would partly depend on the population's view of the new state's legitimacy. Almost two-thirds now say that it is indeed legitimate, though one third of a population rejecting the legitimacy of a state is still pretty dangerous.

This is not to suggest that other predators or dangers will not assert themselves - Al Qaeda are not the only imperialist force looking to capitalise on the conflict and chaos in Iraq, and the threat of escalating sectarian and ethnic civil war fragmenting the country is still serious.

Finally, despite everything, despite the violence and anarchy and sectarian conflict, majority opinion says by decisive margins (61%) that removing Saddam Hussein from power was worth all the strife that came after it.

What life under Saddam was like is unimaginable.
(7) opinions -- Add your opinion

I should think that Shi'ites oppose Al Qaeda considering that Al Qaeda wants them all dead. And as for the Sunnis, of course a majority don't support Al Qaeda. But then again, we all like to delude ourselves with Mao's guerrilla armies swimming in the sea of a supportive peopole, failing to account for the fact that, in most guerrilla conflicts, insurgent forces gain the people's "approval" through intimidation, not through consent.
The link to the actual poll says that access is forbidden.

I'd like to see it; any chance you could provide a working link?

Thanks much.
Hi Peg,

sorry, here's the poll itself:


"not overwhelmingly supportive" strikes me as a curious way of saying "massively opposed to".
I'm not worried about a third of the Iraqi population responding negatively about the "legitimacy" of their government. You've got pretty close to half of the folks in this country frothing at the mouth about our "selected, not elected" pResident, blablabla.

I used that phrase to contrast it with some of the more optimistic predictions about Iraqi opinion towards US troops

I think they wanted us to leave so that they could fight it out on their own. They can't stand dragging the thing on any more than we can. May the best (most violent?) one win.
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