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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
Are Iraqis better off now than before the war?
An opinion poll In Iraq suggests that people are happier than they were before the invasion, optimistic about the future and opposed to violence.

57% of Iraqis think their lives have improved since the former president, Saddam Hussein, was deposed.

Almost half (49%) believed the invasion of Iraq by the US-led coalition was right, although 41% felt that the invasion "humiliated Iraq".

The poll, of more than 2,500 adults, was carried out by Oxford Research International between February 10 and 28.

It was commissioned by the BBC in association with other international broadcasters and coincides with the first anniversary of the start of the war that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Is Iraq a better place now? Tell us what you think.

This debate is now closed. The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we received:

Kudos to the US for liberating my country. To all the sceptics; you clearly never understood the plight of Iraqis under Saddam. To all those who are spreading death and destruction under the banner of Islam and Nationalism; Where were you when Saddam killing us and delivering destruction to the Muslims. I pray for you Iraq. I am grateful to you President Bush, PM Blair.
Ahmed Salah, NC, USA

After reading comments from people in Iraq and those who are in contact with them, and seeing the results from this poll, I only hope that the anti-war protestors can sleep well at night. Must not be easy after all the noise you made about keeping these people under tyrannical rule.
Matt, NYC, USA

I believe the people who criticized the war are the same people who criticized the US for "deserting the Shias and leaving them for slaughter by Saddam" in 1991. I think some people just hate what the US does no matter what they do. It funny in a pathetic kind of way.
Tomas, Canada

Yes, because Iraqis have the freedom to say what they want without getting their tongue cut off. Iraqis can watch satellite tv, which was banned under Saddam and can learn the truth about Saddam's regime.
Dianne, USA

Everyday, we see hundreds of people marching in the streets all over Iraq begging for the return of Saddam Hussein and the Baathist Party.
Mark, USA

Quoting Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero "The occupation is a fiasco. There have been almost more deaths after the war than during the war. The occupying forces have not allowed the United Nations to take control of the situation." This doesn't sound like a great improvement to me
Sandy Walker, Scotland

Iraqis are definitely better off now than before
Pattie M, Pennsylvania, USA
I have asked my son who is a soldier stationed in Baghdad this question. He said since meeting the people of Iraq and speaking to them, He is certain we did the right thing and even though it will take time, Iraqis are definitely better off now than before.
Pattie M, Pennsylvania, USA

In my experience of speaking to the Iraqis at work, I would think the poll was pretty accurate. Most, if they have a job and are earning money, like the western goods that are now available. Unfortunately that appears to be it. They complain correctly about the state of the basic infrastructure, and the horrendous lack of security. More tellingly they refer with sarcasm at the ubiquitous American term 'Iraqi Freedom'.
Alasdair Gilchrist, Baghdad

I met people from all walks of life in Iraq while serving there until recently, from Governors of Provinces down to all levels. All of them were so pleased we came and "rescued them from Saddam" and his regime. Our achievements are fantastic and we have made a difference from providing power and water right through to reforming education.
Iain Phillips, Marlow, Bucks

Many Iraqis are most likely better off, but at what cost to the thousands dead and a divided world? Could not a more peaceful solution have been found? And what of the occupation? How long will Iraqis work with the forces and when will the prolonged US presence become too much?
Ryan, Odenton, Maryland, USA

My son who is serving in Kirkuk says the Iraqis are glad we are there. When bad men hurt innocent people no-one should be content to let it happen, that is why we are have responded in suit.
Caroline Cartin, Statesville, North Carolina, USA

It will take time, patience and resolve from the Iraqi people
Rebecca, Chicago, Illinois, USA
I think this poll shows that there is some hope for a democratic, free prosperous future in Iraq. However, we are not there yet. It will take time, patience and resolve from the Iraqi people and it will require help (without meddling) from the international community. Let's not let them down.
Rebecca, Chicago, Illinois, USA

I am not justifying war or any attacks done in Iraq, but it is important for people to understand that in any change for better, there must be a pain. So whether the situation is better now or not, it will finally be better, I hope.
Aikande Kwayu, Tanzania

I swap e-mails regularly with a relative working in Iraq as a security consultant. He's on the ground dodging bombs and bullets every day and he says that whilst some parts of Iraq are quiet and normal, the important bits (like all of Baghdad apart from the four square miles of the Green area where the US base is) can be fairly described as a no-go area, like the old wild west, where innocent people are being shot on a very regular basis. How does that square with a poll that says things are basically OK?
John Farmer, Henley-on-Thames, UK

Saying the Iraqis lives have improved since the departure of Saddam is not saying much. After Saddam the only way for the Iraqis is up. But this does not mean that the Americans are doing a good job there.
Rami, USA

I think that this poll is very interesting. It would be good to see another poll like this one carried out on a much bigger scale. And I also think the talk about this poll being politically motivated is rubbish, you only have to look at the people who carried it out to discover that!
Rhodri, Wales

I am against the war but I believe the poll
Sian, London, UK
I am against the war but I believe the poll. There are after all no sanctions any more, which must make a huge difference. However, I also remember how I felt about kicking out the Tories in 1997 and how I overlooked many obvious faults of New Labour.
Sian, London, UK

I was surprised by the results of the poll, because it seems to me that the US has gone into Iraq and unleashed complete chaos. However, I think whatever the cost, in blood or money, it is imperative that we stay the course. We have a great debt to repay the Iraqi people. Right now the situation seems impossible, but I hope for the sake of all involved things turn around quickly.
Mary, California, USA

Iraq, and the world, are safer with Saddam Hussein in custody. I think the average Iraqi citizen, in the long run, will be better off. Now I think the Americans have done their job and should leave Iraq. Maybe if Bush loses the election then that might happen.
Charles, Montreal Canada

If most of the Iraqis think their lives have improved, who are we to sit arrogantly in judgement that the situation is otherwise? The poll says that most are happier than before the invasion. What, honestly, is there to debate here? By disagreeing with the Iraqi majority, we are questioning their intelligence and resolve, which is demeaning and poorly done.
Lisa, USA

I'm not going to believe the few Iraqis well-off enough to have an Internet connection
I'm not going to believe the few Iraqis well-off enough to have an Internet connection. I would speak with their neighbours who can't even afford palpable drinking water. I have doubts about this poll's demographic diversity. Ask people in the poorer districts how many family members they lost to U.S. bombings since 1991, to U.S. destruction of water supplies and water purification, to radiation from depleted U.S. weapons.

How can people outside Iraq sitting at their keyboards possibly have a view on something like this that unless they have first-hand experience of what is going on there now? I would like to know more about how the poll was constructed and conducted, who was targeted, under what circumstances, and whether the responders were a representative cross-section of the Iraqi civilian population.
Jon Holland, Redruth UK

I'll ask another question - would the Iraqis be better off if the sanctions were lifted a year ago instead of the invasion? It would be interesting to hear what the Iraqis have to say.
Sergei, Russia

Oh great, the BBC just can't win, can they? I seem to recall that 6 weeks ago everyone was accusing the BBC of having an anti-war vendetta against the Government. Now that the BBC has carried out an opinion poll which suggests the war may have had a good side to it after all, people are now accusing the BBC of fabricating the result. Why are people so afraid of factual information that doesn't suit their opinions?
Chris Neville-Smith, Durham, England

The anti-war lobby responses demonstrate that they care more about being proved right than they do about the Iraqis
Andy, Annandale, USA
The anti-war lobby responses to this poll demonstrate that they care more about being proved right (i.e. the war was wrong and the whole concept doomed to failure) than they do about the Iraqis' well-being. What really takes the cake, though, is their purported humanitarian motivation behind this anti-war stance. Shouldn't a real humanitarian who did not believe it was right to go to war actually be pleased to be proved wrong?
Andy, Annandale, USA

I strongly believe that Iraqi people are better now because they have now freedom. It may be possible that many of them could not understand what is freedom for, but their children will learn what it's for and how to use it for their good. I heard many voices outside Iraq which accuse the US for this war. I think those people never lived in a country which is run by a dictator.
Cristina, Constanta, Romania

We are so far away from the stated objectives for selling the war that the poll appears as a bad joke. A divided country on the verge of civil war, occupied by foreign troops, shaken by daily terrorist acts, where people and women particularly do not dare to walk outside, fed by foreign aid, stolen from all sides, how can they say there are better off? Communication, manipulation, types of questions? I do not know; the country was no heaven before; it looks like hell today with little room for short term improvement.
Michel, Geneva Switzerland

It's very interesting to see all of the anti-war "we know better than you do" people posting all the negative messages on here. Why is it so difficult to believe what the Iraqi people say?
Gregg Otten, Alexandria, VA, USA

I am surprised that only about half of Iraqi population is happier now
Kamal J, New Jersey, USA
I am surprised that only about half of Iraqi population is happier now than under Saddam. We were led to think that the whole country was suffering miserably. But the main question should have been: Are Americans and British happier now than before the Iraq war?
Kamal J, New Jersey, USA

This forum is funny. Iraqis more or less say yes. Liberal Europe says No because war doesn't acheive anything, some Arab nations say no because the West is self righteous and doesn't understand the middle East/Islam and the Americans are either yes our way is best or Only time will tell. This poll shows what our indoctrinations are more than anything, be it cynicism, blind patriotism or hate. Sad.
Gaz, Earth!

In some ways they are, some Iraqis are better off, others worse off. As an Iraqi Arab, I can never be better off as a result brought to me by the very same power that put Saddam in power.
Ahmad Hmoud, Jordan, Amman

My Iraqi neighbour and friend just came back from Baghdad and what he saw was daily humiliation and fear.
Nami Umali, Montreal, Canada

I think the future will be very bright for the nation if the people manage to resist the various factions
Joe Wilkinson, Whitehaven

I'm amazed by the fortitude and patience of the Iraqi people. I think the future will be very bright for the nation if the people manage to resist the various factions that want to either splinter the country or bend it to a very narrow vision that is non-inclusive. So far civil war and sectarianism have been avoided, hopefully it will stay that way and a vacuum isn't created when the occupying forces leave.
Joe Wilkinson, Whitehaven, UK

I think it's very difficult for non-Iraqis to answer this question. What Iraqis endured throughout 35 years of horror was a nightmare they did not believe would be over. Freedom of speech without fear of prosecution is a bounty Iraqis are willing to sacrifice for. Living under occupation is a short-term sacrifice for a long term life of democracy and stability.
Mohammed Hilli, London, UK

Reading the posters is quite interesting. Almost every post from Iraq says yes, but all the posts from the west say no. It really makes one wonder if we are getting the truth in the reporting from Iraq or the half truth that the anti-war crowd wants to report. Nobody other than Iraqis have a right to answer this question because they are the only ones that know the truth.
Bjorn Sundstrom, Oregon, USA

I will believe the posters on this forum who sign themselves as from Iraq
Bob, UK

I will believe the posters on this forum who sign themselves as from Iraq. Isn't it surprising to a lot of you who are thousands of miles away, disagreeing with the poll, that those posters are giving us true stories of the true situation which is good. Not the fevered anti-American claptrap of the stop the war coalition who are still spouting rubbish on here even when the Iraqis are handing us proof here and now? Those people should be ashamed of themselves and should show some respect to the Iraqi posters.
Bob, UK

I strongly doubt about the result of this poll.
Nabil Abdel Ahad Abdel Baky, Cairo, Egypt

Sure, it's true that only Iraqis can answer this question. And daily attacks on coalition forces tell me a lot about their answer.
Mustafa Yorumcu, UK/Turkey

I've not made any money off the war, and my cousin died in the bombings. And I say yes we are better off. I've lost three sons to Saddam, but my remaining two boys are back in school, which UK soldiers rebuilt and supplied. They paid our teachers; they did more than Saddam ever did.
Ahmed Dosum, Basra

This poll doesn't prove either the pro- or anti-war case. What it shows is that opinion is as sharply divided in Iraq itself as everywhere else. 48% thought the invasion was right, 43% thought it wrong: very close, in fact within margins of error on any such poll. I think we would also do well to note that 72% said Iraq needs democracy. Don't they deserve free elections?
Ben Drake, York, UK

I find this poll a little hard to believe, and it all depends on who you ask and how it was conducted? My guess is the average poor family with bad housing, unsanitary conditions, and violence everywhere affecting their lives would have a different view.
Nabeel Hamarain, Abu Dhabi, UAE

I am an Iraqi living in exile; I have done so for nine years now. I cannot answer the question. As suggested by the Iraqi posters here, ask the Iraqis who are living there now.
Sinan, New Zealand

My family escaped from Iraq to Sweden to find a better life. What we really found was that Swedes were happy to let us sweep floors but not be doctors. The same is true in many countries. I feel that no one has really helped us to move on as the Americans did. Europe says so much, but stops short of doing.
Armen, Baghdad, Iraq

Yes, I agree with the polls
Rabii Ziad, Baghdad

Yes, I agree with the polls. As far as I am concerned, my life has drastically improved and I see the coalition forces doing everything they can to communicate with and understand us. Of course there are a lot of remaining problems, but please give me the name of one democracy that didn't suffer much pain in order to be evolved into a decent and free country.
Rabii Ziad, Baghdad, Iraq

To all those who are being cynical from either side I say respect the views of the Iraqi people even though you may not like what you hear. I can tell from the views of the Iraqis I know inside Iraq that the results of the poll reflect their opinions.
Haider Mohammed, Bristol, UK

I do not believe any of these polls or most of the media. What the media is trying to show us is very clearly politically motivated.
Basel S, Syria

It's obvious that Iraq now is a complete mess - much more than it was in Saddam's regime. But I'm sure that it'll be much better after the end of occupation and after it's ruled by Iraqis.
Mostafa Kassem, Cairo, Egypt

It is interesting that all the few Iraqis commenting here certainly believe that they are better off. Outsiders have split opinions. So who do we believe, the one experiencing the improved situation or the one who has no idea what he is talking about?
Jamil Baroody, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Iraq will grow to be a better place
Jon Jannicola, NYC, USA

Whether or not Iraq is a better place now, just one year after the start of a war to remove a murderous tyrant from power there is no question that Iraq will grow to be a better place than it ever was or ever could have been under Saddam Hussein.
Jon Jannicola, NYC, USA

It is too early to answer that question. But when democracy and free markets are firmly established in Iraq, their natural resources will make the whole country rich (not just a privileged few). I think then they will be better off.
Les, Houston, USA

Yesterday Spain's newly elect leader declared the Iraq war a disaster and announced his intention to pull out Spanish forces from Iraq. Today the coalition propaganda machine came out with this sham fabricated survey that people in Iraq are better off. What a load of rubbish to convince world that occupied forces are doing wonderful job that people in Iraq feel secure and happier. A load of rubbish.
Adam, Oslo, Norway

I should hope that the Iraqi people are feeling that they are better off now. It was not only the blood of the Iraqi people shed in an effort to free these people. Time will tell in the long run. Change doesn't happen over night.
Margaret, Portland, USA

Even under occupation, things are better
Hamza, Baghdad, Iraq
So why ask non-Iraqis? Do you not believe the poll? Even under occupation, things are better. When I was roughly searched by a soldier and complained, his officer came to my house to apologize, and did it in my language. I'd be dead for even complaining under Saddam. How dare foreigners tell us we are not better off? Do you think we are children who can't see what's around us?
Hamza, Baghdad, Iraq

Such changes are not commendable if better lives for some people are achieved at the expense of worsening others.
Wu Yuan, Singapore/China

Yes, civilians died, but far fewer than in the same time under Saddam. We are definitely better off.
Ibrihim, Basra, Iraq

I doubt those widowed, or orphaned throughout history, have ever felt the cause, however it might be perceived, to be worthy of the life of their loved ones. It was their sacrifice, however, that gave promise to future generations. The loss of life in Iraq - on all sides - is tragic, but to live in eternal fear under a regime responsible for the systematic murder of hundreds of thousands, is no life at all. Iraq is better off today, and the occupation has not even ended. My guess is that they will flourish under their own rule and history will judge this to have been liberation.
Billy, Houston, USA

The only people who can answer that question are the Iraqis!! Comments from anyone outside Iraq, or who have no direct personal contact with Iraqis, is pointless in my view.
Dave , Reading

The voice of the people of Iraq has been heard and we should respect that
Gary Maddox, Chicago US
It's funny how quickly the readers here downplay the results of an independently run poll. It's almost as if they know what's better for the Iraqi's than the Iraqi's do themselves! The voice of the people of Iraq has been heard and we should respect that. Unless you live there, how can you imagine to know what they are going through?
Gary Maddox, Chicago US

How was the poll done? If you were accompanied by soldiers to ask people in street, then you may expect the outcome.
Flynn, Canada

How can we tell from the outside, we only know what we are being told by our media. People have died that is true but I believe it is better to live a day in freedom than a life time in slavery.
Paul Mc, Ealing London

So even though Iraqis are allowed to answer freely and anonymously (something they would not be able to do if the anti-war mob had its way), they are merely sheep who provide answers to please their current 'masters'? The anti-war demagogues here betray their dismissive attitude towards the Iraqi people yet again, same as before the war.
Randall, Annandale USA

The comments posted thus far prove one thing, that people have a fixed perception regarding this war, and no facts will ever be allowed to get in the way of their political agenda. What are the anti-war activists afraid of, peace and prosperity? Those opposed to the war are as intractable and dogmatic as the war supporters, proving "spin" flourishes on both sides. People can disagree, what I can't stand is the hypocrisy. My prayers and good wishes go to the Iraqi people.

Whether ordinary Iraqis are better off is a moot point. So far, the only groups to definitely benefit from the war are Islamic terrorists.
Jon E, France

Since they were not forced to say their opinions, I think they see the light
Kajobinyi Alex, Egypt/Sudan
The Iraqis have spoken, since they were not forced to say their opinions, i think they see the light. No one stood as Saddam bullied them. More were killed by Saddam. Now at least there is hope. If indeed the war was profitable time will tell.
Kajobinyi Alex, Egypt/Sudan

Don't let your political view distort the truth. The lives of all those killed by Saddam have not died in vain. By their blood, Iraq is free.
Penny, USA

The poll asked 1000 or so people. Out of millions in the country. Where was the poll held? Who was asked? Like all other polls, for instance the one held before the Spanish election, it is all total tommyrot.
Trevor, Wales

Well, Ahmed Chalabi's a lot better off! Oh, wait, he's an American...
Marc Brett, Richmond, UK

I don't think this is the time to ask this question. In every democratic country, there was a destabilisation period before democracy finally got established: it is almost "natural" to have destabilisation to have change. Iraq is going through such an instable period between two regimes. The issue is not really if right now things are better, but if the current instability will succeed into establishing democracy. Let us hope so.
Maria, Greece

Going from a state ravaged by twelve years of UN sanctions, military sorties and a parasitic dictator there's only one way and that's up! Ask the question in 5-10 years' time.
JohnM, LyneMeads, UK

Are they masochist?
Murat Demir, France
It is unbelievable that 57% of Iraqis think their lives have improved. Are they masochist? What do they want to be happier? More bombs...
Murat Demir, France

Instead, ask the families who had relatives that went missing in the middle of the night under Saddam's reign of terror. Hopefully one day their bodies will be found in one of the many still hidden mass graves. How many have been saved from the same fate now that Saddam is gone?
Tom E., Dallas, USA

Dead people can not talk but their relatives can. There is probably no way that these relatives of the innocent people killed by the USA military firepower would say they are better off - widows, orphans, and others who have lost relatives. If the Iraqis become better off it will only be because of the strength and fortitude of the Iraqi people themselves and it will not be because of the USA.

The opinion poll is affected by the fact that while Iraqis may be seething underneath they are smart enough to know that they must at least act as though they are grateful to the USA to get the USA to leave.
Norman Harper, Newberg, Oregon USA

Iraqi people should be looking forward to a future of freedom and prosperity
Adam C, Australia
Let's hope the people of Iraq can now unite and defeat terrorism. For Iraq is a nation of great potential and the people should be looking forward to a future of freedom and prosperity.
Adam C, Australia

Ask those whose family members and friends have died, rather than those who have made financial gains from the war. Many Iraqi's have profited immensely from this war, both financially and politically, we should never forget that.
Isa, UK

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