Poll says Iraqis now want US out now
Partial results of a new poll commissioned by the Coalition are leaked
this Knight Ridder article. They indicate that most Iraqis now want
troops to leave. A year ago, only 17% felt that way. Sixteen hundred
adults in seven cities were polled in mid-April (before the abuse
broke, no doubt accentuating this sentiment). -- Another surprise:
al-Sadr is the second most respected person in Iraq....
This article also reports that on Saturday, a diverse
group 2,000 Iraqi intellectuals and activists met at a Baghdad hotel to
an anti-American political bloc. They rejected the legitimacy of the
ironically named Governing Council, saying that its members arrived in
"on American tanks," and took the position that even civil war was
to the present situation. --Mark Jensen [United for Peace of Pierce
IRAQIS' DOUBTS OF U.S. DEEPEN
By Hannah Allam
** New poll says majority wants Americans gone **
Knight Ridder Newspapers
May 10, 2004
BAGHDAD -- Sadoun Dulame read the results of his latest poll again and
He added up percentages, highlighted sections and scribbled notes in the
No matter how he crunched the numbers, however, he found himself in the
uncomfortable position this week of having to tell occupation
the report they commissioned paints the bleakest picture yet of the
coalition's reputation in Iraq. For the first time, according to
poll, a majority of Iraqis said they'd feel safer if the U.S. military
A year ago, just 17 percent of Iraqis wanted the troops gone, according
Dulame's respected research center in Baghdad. Now, the disturbing new
results mirror what most Iraqis and many international observers have
months: Give it up. Go home. This just isn't working.
The prisoner-abuse scandal is only the latest in a string of serious
to the U.S. administration's ambitions for democracy in Iraq. Before
one essential political ally was lost -- the country's Shiite Muslim
-- and another discredited -- Ahmed Chalabi and other members of the
U.S.-appointed governing council.
A persistent guerrilla campaign is sending dozens of U.S. troops home in
flag-draped coffins, and more than half the country is unemployed.
projects the coalition started and then abandoned because the worsening
security drove away contractors only add to the country's dismal
dim hopes for the future.
There's little to suggest conditions will improve, at least not before
scheduled June 30 hand-over of limited authority to Iraqis. The
occupation has failed to provide security, overhaul the economy, quell
tension or introduce a legitimate government in the year it's been in
Still, American officials give confident, optimistic assessments of the
situation from Baghdad. "The area of operations remains stable" goes
opening line to almost every news conference, regardless of whether
have captured government buildings in the south or another morning car
has jarred the capital awake.
L. Paul Bremer III, the top U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, has yet
announce an interim Iraqi government to attempt to rule until the
stable enough for elections. Bremer has said the June 30 transfer of
sovereignty is on track, despite an announcement last week that the
U.S. troops in Iraq probably will remain at 135,000 even after a
independent Iraqi government is elected next year.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said at a recent appearance in
that the next Iraqi government would decide to keep U.S. troops in
"Obviously, because a large foreign military presence will still be
under U.S. command, some would say, well, then you are not giving full
sovereignty," Powell said. "But we are giving sovereignty, so that
sovereignty can be used to say: 'We invite you to remain. It is a
Outside of officialdom, there is little appetite for allowing Americans
stay. Anyone still talking about liberation is shushed as disingenuous,
especially now that the image of a Saddam Hussein statue crashing to the
ground is no longer symbolic of the coalition's intentions. Instead,
Iraqis said, today's American presence is best summed up in photos of a
laughing female American soldier leading a nude Iraqi prisoner by a dog
Dulame's grim poll doesn't even take in the prisoner scandal's effects.
was conducted in mid-April in seven Iraqi cities. A total of 1,600
were interviewed, and the margin of error is 3 percentage points. The
findings, which must go first to coalition authorities, have not yet
According to Dulame, director of the independent Iraq Center for
Strategic Studies, prisoner abuse and other coalition missteps now are
a dangerous blend of Islamism and tribalism. For example, while
officials insist that only fringe elements support the radical Shiite
Muqtada al-Sadr, a majority of Iraqis crossed ethnic and sectarian lines
name him the second most-respected man in Iraq, according to the
"I don't know why the (Coalition Provisional Authority) continues in
misguided decisions," Dulame said last week. "But if they pack and
it's a disgrace for us as Iraqis and for them as Americans. Their
will be destroyed in the world, and we will be delivered to the
The coalition's options are dwindling. The Washington-based Center for
Strategic and International Studies, an independent think tank, released
study last week that found there is no other way to ease the mounting
in Iraq "than to turn as much of the political, aid and security effort
to moderate Iraqis as soon as possible, and pray that the United Nations
create some kind of climate for political legitimacy."
Under the current conditions, however, any government installed by an
entity will not be recognized as legitimate -- no matter how diverse it
promises to be. That reflects experience with the reigning governing
at best a smart group of politicians whose visions for Iraq languished
American oversight. At worst, they are power-grabbing exiles who have
to American demands at the expense of their constituents' beliefs.
The council triumphantly rolled out a new flag while hundreds of Iraqis
dying in the U.S. siege of the flash-point city of Fallujah and in
battles with U.S. forces in a Shiite rebellion in the south.
move drew criticism for both the insensitive timing and the pale-blue
reminiscent of the Israeli flag.
Doubts about the governing council's competence and legitimacy
Saturday when about 2,000 of Iraq's top scholars and activists gathered
Babylon Hotel in Baghdad to form an anti-American political bloc. A
diverse crowd of Islamists, Christians, secular nationalists, Baathists
communists listened as speakers demanded an immediate withdrawal of
forces and the dismantling of the governing council, whose members rode
Iraq "on American tanks." Even the prospect of civil war sounded better
them than a prolonged occupation.
"We'd like the Americans to go, even if that means a sectarian war,"
al-Baghdadi, a Shiite cleric, told the cheering crowd. "It would be a
among our boys, and old guys like us would be able to settle it
Others take the prospect of a civil war much more seriously. While the
coalition is busy with insurgents in Fallujah and al-Sadr's forces in
south, Kurdish parties in the north are inflaming rivals Arab and
angling for more and more power. In most northern cities, they've taken
the police forces, city councils and oil fields. Arabs passing through
northern areas report increased harassment from Kurdish authorities and
As the most pro-American group in Iraq, Kurds face more attacks to go
their growing influence. Last week alone, a car bomb exploded at a
office north of Baghdad, and a Kurdish agriculture department official
assassinated in Kirkuk.
Iraqi scholars say the coalition increased ethnic tension by rolling out
political plans that treated Iraq as a monolithic nation. American
they said, came without even a working knowledge of age-old ethnic and
Some observers have likened the embattled U.S. campaign in Iraq to a
clash of colossal proportions. A major shift in strategy now, they
probably too little, too late.
"The Americans have to understand -- we are a country with more than
years of history," said Hadi K. Attar, an Iraqi economist visiting
this month after 24 years of exile in Britain. "We are many communities
in one. This is not Afghanistan. This is Iraq."