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Iraqis: Things Are Going Great, So How About Leaving?

This is the most stunning poll I’ve seen from Iraq since the war began — not just because so many Iraqis think things are improving, but because the wide margins who think things are improving don’t translate into greater approval for the U.S. occupation. In fairness, ever since ABC started polling in Iraq in 2004, their polls have shown Iraqis to be a confident people, even during the 2005 through mid-2007 depths of hell. But even so, Iraqis think things are a lot better than they were a year or two ago. But that doesn’t mean they like the United States any better. Click through to the PDF for the good stuff if you’re disinclined to trust my summary.

Plus ca change: In February 2008 about 10 percent in Sunnis had favorable things to say about Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. That’s up to 30 percent now — a pretty dramatic swing, and probably attributable to Maliki’s clumsy (but real!) attack on Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr’s forces a year ago. Two years ago, 40 percent of Iraqis had confidence in the government; now 60 percent do. Feelings of personal security aren’t great — 67 percent for Shiites, 33 for Sunnis (!), 85 percent for Kurds — but they are up from last year. Sectarian harmony between Sunnis and Shiites is up 11 points to 58 percent over last year; though among Arabs and Kurds they’re mostly flat at 44 percent. The improved security has made economic concerns rise to 17 percent from nine percent last year as a proportion of what Iraqis believe is their greatest current problem. Two-thirds of respondents believe “a system of freely voting for leaders” can work in Iraq.

Plus ca meme chose: Someone forgot to tell the Iraqis to be grateful to the United States for invading and destroying their country before turning things around somewhat in 2007 to mitigate the initial destruction. This year, 69 percent of Iraqis said the United States is doing a poor job in Iraq; it was 70 percent last year. And all the good will that does exist pretty much owes to the Kurdish love affair with America, which rivals that of Norman Podhoretz: 90 percent of Sunnis say the United States is doing a bad job — so much for the idea that the post-Awakening Sunnis are U.S. allies — 67 percent of Shiites say the same thing, and those numbers are pretty much unchanged from last year. And despite the security gains, *more *Iraqis this year say the United States was wrong to invade — 56 percent compared to 50 percent last year. Asked about the Status of Forces Agreement’s timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces by 2011, only four percent of Sunnis and 16 percent of Shiites want the United States to stay longer; 61 percent of Sunnis and 47 percent of Shiites want the United States out faster. Fifty-seven percent aren’t concerned that security will spiral downwards after a U.S. withdrawal.

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