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Iraqis 'more upbeat about future'

Pie chart on attitudes to British presence in Basra

Violence and insecurity are no longer the main concern of most Iraqis, for the first time since the 2003 US-led invasion, an opinion poll suggests.

It says Iraqis are much more hopeful about the future and are increasingly pre-occupied with more conventional worries like the economy and jobs.

But Iraqis remain unhappy about the role foreign powers play in their country, notably Iran, the US and UK.

The survey was carried out for the BBC, ABC News and NHK in February.

A total of 2,228 Iraqis were questioned across all 18 provinces. The margin of error is 2.5%.

Security

The poll is the sixth in a series of surveys stretching back to March 2004 and shows a marked overall improvement in perceptions, the BBC's Adam Mynott says.

infograph

Its findings show striking shifts in opinion since the last poll in March 2008.

On security, 85% of all respondents described the current situation as very good or quite good - up 23% on a year ago:

a total of 52% say security has improved over the last year, up 16% on March 2008

  • only 8% say it is worse - against 26% last year
  • 59% feel safe in their neighbourhoods, up 22% from 37% last time.

Supplies improving

The numbers of people who report direct experience of car bombs, suicide attacks, sectarian fighting, kidnappings and assassination in their areas are much lower than last year.

Iraq Poll 2009

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Those who say their lives are going very well or quite well are now 65% of the total, up 9%. And there is a 14% increase - to 60% - of those who think things will be better in Iraq as a whole in a year from now.

The survey shows that some aspects of everyday life are improving, too.

The availability of power has been a major issue in the past six years, with only about 10% of the population saying in previous polls that they have had reliable supplies. In the latest poll, that figure has leapt to 37%.

And the number of those who say that availability of fuel for cooking or driving is now very good or quite good has also shot up to 67%, a 48% rise on the 19% of March 2008.

Sunni shift

As with previous findings, it is possible to distinguish between the responses of Shias and Sunnis.

All earlier polls have shown stark differences between them, with the Sunni minority profoundly more pessimistic than Shias about the current situation and Iraq's prospects.

These differences persist, but the new poll poll shows a pronounced shift in Sunni opinion towards a more optimistic view:

  • overall, there is a 9% increase among those who think their lives are going very well or quite well (Shias +8%; Sunnis +16%)
  • 14% more think things will be better for Iraq in a year's time (Shias +13%; Sunnis +29%)
  • there is a 23% increase in those who say their local security situation is very/quite good (Shias +21%; Sunnis +32%)
  • 21% more support democracy as the preferred model of government for Iraq compared with a strong leader or Islamic state (Shias +21% , Sunnis +27%).

Regional differences

Asked whether foreign countries are playing a positive or negative role in Iraq, Britain, the US and Iran get the most negative scores.

Overall, 59% of those questioned think Britain's role is negative, 22% positive; 64% say the US is negative, 18% positive; 68% view Iran negatively, 12% positively.

Also, 56% think the 2003 invasion was wrong (up 6%), while 42% say it was right (down 7%).

Only 30% think coalition forces are doing a good job, 69% a bad job - more or less the same as a year ago.

In the light of an imminent withdrawal of British troops from southern Iraq, Iraqis were asked about the value of the British presence since 2003.

The responses were mixed on this issue: 36% call it generally positive, 42% generally negative.

The poll also suggests that there are some marked differences in responses between the northern, central and southern regions of Iraq.

Overall, respondents in central Iraq, which includes Baghdad, are significantly less positive about how well things are currently going in their lives.

Pie charts showing preferred political system

Graphic showing Iraqi perception of improving security



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