Published on Sunday, January 25, 2004 by the Agence France Presse
Only About Half of Iraqis Believe US Will Give Up Power by June 30: Poll
BAGHDAD - Only about half of Iraqis believe the US-led coalition will give up power in six months, according to an opinion poll which also showed widespread distaste for the military occupation.
Only 52 percent of Iraqis said they believed the United States would stick to a November 15 agreement to transfer power to an appointed Iraqi body on June 30, according to the results of the poll which were distributed to journalists by coalition authorities.
While more than 60 percent are also aware that direct elections are due to be held in 2005 under a coalition agreement with the interim Governing Council, only 54 percent believe they will materialize, it said.
The coalition-commissioned poll was carried out by an Iraqi firm in Baghdad and other cities across the country, including the main southern hub of Basra, the holy city of Karbala and Mosul and Samarra, both in the north, during the week ending January 7.
It was also carried out in Ramadi, part of the so-called Sunni Triangle northwest of the capital, where US forces have come under regular attack.
However, a third of respondents listed sectarian violence as the most dangerous type of unrest that could befall Iraq (news - web sites).
Ethnic tensions have escalated as Sunni Muslim and Kurdish minorities watch apprehensively as the Shiite majority flexes its political muscle.
Shiite leaders have been insisting on direct elections before the June 30 deadline which would reflect their demographic weight after being long repressed under Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).
Although 45 percent of respondents thought that "conditions for creating peace and stability" had improved in the last three months, a third thought things had gone downhill.
A separate poll in December showed that three-quarters of Iraqis believed it was dangerous to work for the coalition, according to the coalition authorities.
The latest poll follows a week of grim attacks which claimed the lives of dozens of Iraqis working for the US-led forces.
Five Christian died after gunmen sprayed their minibus with bullets Wednesday morning as they traveled to do laundry work at a US base west of Baghdad.
Last Sunday, at least 24 people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated a massive truck bomb outside the coalition headquarters in Baghdad, most of them queuing to work inside the sprawling complex.
The dire security situation was Iraq's most urgent issue in the minds of 62 percent of respondents, far outstripping concerns about the economy, which came in at 18 percent, and the war-ravaged infrastructure, 14 percent.
But the poll noted small improvements in security in Baghdad, British-controlled Basra and even Ramadi.
Opposition to the US-led occupation varied from city to city, but 60 percent of those polled were against the continued occupation of Iraq.
A total of 44 percent said they were "strongly opposed" to the foreign military presence and another 16 percent said they were "somewhat opposed".
Only 12 percent said they "strongly supported" their presence.
On the other hand, nearly half of those polled had a "great deal" of confidence in the new Iraqi police, while less than 12 percent felt the same about coalition forces.
"We see an enormous faith in the Iraqi police and the Iraqi army, but this theme of Iraqis being in charge runs through almost everything we see," said the coalition official who presented the results.
The poll carries an overall margin of error of 3.9 percent while the December survey had one of three percent.
The name of the Iraqi polling firm was not released for security reasons.
Copyright 2004 AFP