BBC Survey Finds Iraqis Optimistic
A new BBC survey shows surprising optimism in Iraq.
An opinion poll suggests Iraqis are generally optimistic about their lives, in spite of the violence that has plagued Iraq since the US-led invasion. But the survey, carried out for the BBC and other media, found security fears still dominate most Iraqis’ thoughts. Their priority for the coming year would be the restoration of security and the withdrawal of foreign troops. A majority of the 1,700 people questioned wanted a united Iraq with a strong central government.
Although most Iraqis were optimistic about the future, the poll found significant regional variations in responses. The BBC News website’s World Affairs correspondent, Paul Reynolds, says the survey shows a degree of optimism at variance with the usual depiction of the country as one in total chaos. The findings are more in line with the kind of arguments currently being deployed by
US President George W Bush, he says.
However, our correspondent adds that critics will claim that the survey proves little beyond showing how resilient Iraqis are at a local level – and that it reveals enough important exceptions to the rosy assessment, especially in the centre of the country, to indicate serious dissatisfaction. Interviewers found that 71% of those questioned said things were currently very or quite good in their personal lives, while 29% found their lives very or quite bad. When asked whether their lives would improve in the coming year, 64% said things would be better and 12% said they expected things to be worse. However, Iraqis appear to have a more negative view of the overall situation in their country, with 53% answering that the situation is bad, and 44% saying it is good. But they were more hopeful for the future – 69% expect Iraq to improve, while 11% say it will worsen.
While polls taken in societies with little history of free expression, let alone those where terrorists are killing random people on a daily basis, should be viewed with a degree of skepticism, the numbers are at least encouraging. Not surprisingly, the Iraqis are mostly concerned about security. The fact that only 10% putting getting American troops out of Iraq as the top priority would seem further indication that the insurgency’s support base is small and getting smaller.