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Iraqis divided about invasion
By (Agencies)
Updated: 2004-03-16 14:28

Most people of Iraq have high hopes for the future and say their lives are going well, but they have mixed feelings about the U.S.-led invasion of their country, according to a nationwide poll of Iraqis.

Iraqis are divided over whether the invasion by U.S. and British troops a year ago humiliated their country or liberated it, according to the poll conducted by ABC News and several other media organizations and released Monday.

They have considerable worries about joblessness, security and basic services like electricity, according to the first nationwide poll in Iraq done by news organizations.

"The positive attitudes and the high expectations and optimism are quite striking, with majorities telling us their lives are going well," ABC polling director Gary Langer said. "Expectations carry risks, however. If these are unmet, there could be political consequences."

On a personal level, seven in 10 Iraqis said things are going well for them and more than half 56 percent said their lives are going better than before the war, compared with 19 percent who said things are worse.

Seven in 10 said they expect their lives will be better a year from now, with more than one-third saying much better.

But the Iraqis have concerns about the current conditions in their country: Seven in 10 say the availability of jobs is poor and nearly that many said the same about electricity. Almost three-fourths gave a positive rating to local schools, however.

The biggest overall concern nationally was regaining public security named as the top concern by almost two-thirds in the poll, 64 percent. That was far higher than any other priority.

About half said they oppose the presence of coalition forces, but few want those troops to leave now wanting soldiers to stay until the Iraqi government is in place or until security is restored.

Only 25 percent said they had confidence in coalition forces to deliver their needs. There were far higher levels of confidence in Iraqi religious leaders, 70 percent; local police, 68 percent; and the new Iraqi army, 56 percent.

Four of five said they want a unified country with a central government in Baghdad. Kurds, an ethnic minority in northern Iraq who make up about one-third of the total population in Iraq, were less likely to feel that way. By a 2-1 margin, Kurds favored the formation of regional states with a federal government. Kurds have been seeking autonomy in Iraq.

The number who think Iraq needs "a single strong Iraqi leader" in the next year increased from 27 percent in November, when the polling firm Oxford Research International last asked the question, to 47 percent now.

When asked what Iraq needs in five years, people were more likely to say an Iraqi democracy, 42 percent, followed by "a single strong leader," 35 percent.

The poll was conducted by the Oxford Research International of Oxford, England, for ABC News, the British Broadcasting Corp., the German broadcasting network ARD and the Japanese network NHK.

The poll of 2,737 face-to-face interviews was conducted in Iraq from Feb. 9-28 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

ABC's Langer said the interviewers faced difficulties conducting the poll because of the security situation in Iraq.

The polling firm "reported a car wreck, interviewers detained by coalition forces, interviewers detained and questioned by Iraqi police, and some who had to detour around a bombing site," he said.

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