A strong majority of Iraqis want U.S.-led military forces to immediately
withdraw from the country, saying their swift departure would make Iraq more
secure and decrease sectarian violence, according to new polls by the State
Department and independent researchers.
In Baghdad, for example, nearly three-quarters of residents polled said
they would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign forces left Iraq, with 65
percent of those asked favoring an immediate pullout, according to polling
results obtained by the Washington Post.
Another new poll, scheduled to be released today by the Program on
International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, found that 71
percent of Iraqis questioned want the Iraqi government to ask foreign forces to
depart within a year. By large margins, though, Iraqis believe the U.S.
government would refuse the request, with 77 percent of those polled saying the
United States intends to keep permanent military bases in the country.
The stark assessments, among the most negative attitudes toward U.S.-led
forces since they invaded Iraq in 2003, contrast sharply with views expressed
by the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Last week at the United
Nations, President Jalal Talabani said coalition troops should remain in the
country until Iraqi security forces are "capable of ending terrorism and
maintaining stability and security."
"Only then will it be possible to talk about a timetable for the
withdrawal of the multinational force from Iraq," he said.
Recent polls show many Iraqis in nearly every part of the country
"Majorities in all regions except Kurdish areas state that the
Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) should withdraw immediately, adding that the
MNF-I's departure would make them feel safer and decrease violence," concludes
the 20-page State Department report, titled "Iraq Civil War Fears Remain High
in Sunni and Mixed Areas." The report was based on 1,870 face-to-face
interviews conducted from June 26 to July 6.
The Program on International Policy Attitudes poll, which was conducted
over the first three days of September for WorldPublicOpinion.org, found that
support among Sunnis for a withdrawal of all U.S.-led forces within six months
dropped to 57 percent in September from 83 percent in January.
"There is a kind of softening of Sunni attitudes toward the U.S.," said
Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes and
editor of WorldPublicOpinion.org. "But you can't go so far as to say the
majority of Sunnis don't want the U.S. out. They do. They're just not quite in
the same hurry as they were before."
The Program on International Policy Attitudes poll, which has a margin of
error of 3 percent, was carried out by Iraqis in all 18 provinces who conducted
interviews with more than 1,000 randomly selected Iraqis in their homes.
Using complex sampling methods based on data from Iraq's Planning
Ministry, the pollsters selected streets to conduct interviews. In urban areas,
they then contacted every third house on the left side of the road. When they
selected a home, the interviewers then collected the names and birthdates of
everyone who lived there and polled the person with the most recent birthday.
Matthew Warshaw, a senior research manager at D3 systems, which helped
conduct the poll, said he did not think Iraqis were any less likely to share
their true opinions with pollsters than Americans. "It's a concern you run up
against in Iowa or in Iraq," he said.
The State Department report did not give a detailed methodology for its
poll, which it said was carried out by an unnamed Iraqi polling firm.
The director of another Iraqi polling firm, who spoke on condition of
anonymity because he feared being killed, said public opinion surveys he
conducted last month showed that 80 percent of Iraqis questioned favored an
"The very fact that there is such a low support for American forces has to
do with the American failure to do basically anything for Iraqis," said Mansoor
Moaddel, a professor of sociology at Eastern Michigan University.
©2006 San Francisco Chronicle