82% of Iraqis oppose U.S.
Poll ‘trend is downward,’ official says
E. Ricks: The Washington Post; May 13,
WASHINGTON - Four out of five Iraqis
report holding a negative view of the U.S. occupation authority and of coalition
forces, according to a new poll conducted for the occupation
In the poll, 80 percent of Iraqis surveyed reported a lack
of confidence in the Coalition Provisional Authority, and 82 percent said they
disapprove of the United States and allied militaries in Iraq.
Although comparative numbers from previous polls are not available, "generally
speaking, the trend is downward," Said Donald Hamilton, a senior counselor to
civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer. The occupation authority has been
commissioning such surveys in Iraq since late last year, he said. This one was
taken in Baghdad and several other Iraqi cities in late March and early last
month, before the surge in anti-coalition violence and the detainee-abuse
The findings appeared consistent with a poll taken about the
same time by USA Today, CNN and Gallup, which found that 57 percent of Iraqis
wanted foreign troops to leave immediately.
The new poll, which has
not been released publicly, is a concern among occupation authority officials
and in Washington, D.C., because the data provide evidence that the U.S. effort
is not winning over Iraqi public opinion
"How to ...win the hearts and
minds of the people (in Iraq) is one of the things that we really have to work
at," Army Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, head of Army intelligence told the Senate
Services Committee this week. “I mean, that this is the key to solving not only
that problem but the rest of the problems in the Middle East.”
Hamilton, who said he over-sees public-opinion issues for Bremer, declined to
provide the number of Iraqis surveyed or other methodological details but said
in an e-mail that "polls here are generally reliable" and that the new findings
were consistent with those of other polls.
The new data reflect the
fact that "the occupation, and the occupation forces, are getting increasingly
unpopular," said Jeffrey White, a former Middle East affairs analyst for the
Defense Intelligence Agency. "A lot of people, including me, have been getting
Reflecting that trend, the proportion of Baghdad
residents who reported worries about safety has increased steadily: 70 percent
named security as the "most urgent issue," up from 50 percent in January, 60
percent in February and 65,percent in March.
Overall, 63 percent of
those polled said security was the most urgent issue facing Iraq. In addition to
Baghdad, the poll was conducted in the northern city of Mosul and the southern
cities of Basra, Nasiriyah and Karbala. Some questions were asked in the
troubled western Ramadi.
There were a few bright spots. Iraqi police
received a 79 percent positive rating, the best of seven institutions about
which questions were asked. The reformed Iraqi army was not far behind, with a
61 percent positive rating.
Those polled were broadly divided on who
should appoint the interim government that is supposed to take over limited
power at the end of next month. The largest group, 27 percent, said the Iraqi
people should appoint the new leaders, while 23 percent said judges should. Only
one-tenth of 1 percent said that the U.S. -appointed Iraqi Governing Council
should name the government, which is supposed to run Iraq, until elections are
held next year. None said the occupation authority should.
a general skepticism of foreign involvement in their political future, 83
percent of those polled said that only Iraqis should be involved in supervising
the 2005 elections.