A survey for the BBC, ABC News and NHK of more than 2,000 people across Iraq shows that about 70% of Iraqis believe security has deteriorated in the area covered by the US military “surge” of the past six months. The relative optimism registered in November 2005 has deteriorated to the gloom of this year’s polls.
Between 67% and 70% of the Iraqis polled believe the surge has hampered conditions for political dialogue, reconstruction and economic development. Only 29% think things will get better in the next year, compared to 64% two years ago. The number of people wanting coalition forces to leave immediately rose since February’s poll but more than half – 53% – still said they should stay until security improved. It also suggests that nearly 60% see attacks on US-led forces as justified, which rises to 93% among Sunni Muslims compared with 50% for Shia revealing a principal finding of the research – the great divide between the Sunni and Shia communities. While 88% of Sunnis say things are going badly in their lives, 54% of Shia think they are going well.
It is clear that a softer approach is needed and further underlies the rationale for investing in social infrastructure rather than spending on armaments. Iraq needs peace makers not war-mongers.