There were two Iraq polls released on Sunday. One is guaranteed to be headline news. The other will likely be totally ignored.
Know what the difference is between these surveys, both of which rather compelling as they asked questions of Iraqi citizens? Well, one painted a rather dire picture of conditions in the embattled country, while the other found a very optimistic people who don’t believe their nation is in a civil war.
As the American media will likely focus all of its attention on the more pessimistic survey, here is the contrary view nobody other than Fox News is likely to cover as reported by the Sunday Times (emphasis added throughout):
DESPITE sectarian slaughter, ethnic cleansing and suicide bombs, an opinion poll conducted on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq has found a striking resilience and optimism among the inhabitants.
The poll, the biggest since coalition troops entered Iraq on March 20, 2003, shows that by a majority of two to one, Iraqis prefer the current leadership to Saddam Hussein’s regime, regardless of the security crisis and a lack of public services.
The survey, published today, also reveals that contrary to the views of many western analysts, most Iraqis do not believe they are embroiled in a civil war.
Is it becoming clear why you are unlikely to hear anything about this poll? Yet, that was only the beginning of the startling findings:
The 400 interviewers who fanned out across Iraq last month found that the sense of security felt by Baghdad residents had significantly improved since polling carried out before the US announced in January that it was sending in a “surge” of more than 20,000 extra troops.
49% of those questioned preferred life under Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, to living under Saddam. Only 26% said things had been better in Saddam’s era, while 16% said the two leaders were as bad as each other and the rest did not know or refused to answer.
And, there was even more good news:
The poll suggests a significant increase in support for Maliki. A survey conducted by ORB in September last year found that only 29% of Iraqis had a favourable opinion of the prime minister.
Another surprise was that only 27% believed they were caught up in a civil war. Again, that number divided along religious lines, with 41% of Sunnis believing Iraq was in a civil war, compared with only 15% of Shi’ites.
One question showed the sharp divide in attitudes towards the continued presence of foreign troops in Iraq. Some 53% of Iraqis nationwide agree that the security situation will improve in the weeks after a withdrawal by international forces, while only 26% think it will get worse.
“We’ve been polling in Iraq since 2005 and the finding that most surprised us was how many Iraqis expressed support for the present government,” said Johnny Heald, managing director of ORB. “Given the level of violence in Iraq, it shows an unexpected level of optimism.”
Despite the sectarian divide, 64% of Iraqis still want to see a united Iraq under a central national government.
Rather unfortunate that Americans will likely hear very little about this survey, wouldn’t you agree?
What a disgrace.