Most Iraqis Favor Immediate U.S. Pullout, Polls Show
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
BAGHDAD, Sept. 26 -- 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 State Department polling results obtained by The Washington Post.
Another new poll, scheduled to be released on Wednesday 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 believed that the U.S. government would refuse the request, with 77 percent of those polled saying the United States intends 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 putting an end to terrorism and maintaining stability and security."
"Only then will it be possible to talk about a timetable for the withdrawal of the multinational forces from Iraq," he said.
Recent polls show many Iraqis in nearly every part of the country disagree.
"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 late June to early July.
The Program on International Policy Attitudes poll, which was conducted over the first three days of September for WorldPublicOpinion.org, found that support among Sunni Muslims 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 PIPA 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 PIPA 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 on which to conduct interviews. 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 birth dates 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 didn't 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. "But for the most part we're asking questions that people want to give answers to. People want to have their voice heard."