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What do Iraqis want?

Iraqi attitudes on occupation, US withdrawal, governments, and quality of life

Project on Defense Alternatives
Compiled by Carl Conetta
01 February 2005

(This is a free-standing version of Appendix 1 from PDA Briefing Report #17, January 2005: The Iraqi election "bait and switch": faulty poll will not bring peace or US withdrawal.)

1. When Should Forces Leave?

February 2004: 33 percent want withdrawal within a year; 40 percent, withdrawal once an Iraqi government is in place; 27 percent, a longer or more open-ended stay. (Oxford Research International)

March-April 2004: 57 percent, "leave immediately"; 36 percent, "stay longer". (Gallup)

June 2004: 41 percent, "immediate withdrawal"; 45 percent, withdrawal after election of a permanent government; 10 percent, 2 years or longer. (Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society/CPA).

June 2004: 30 percent desire immediate withdrawal, 51 percent want withdrawal after a government is elected, 13 percent said that Coalition forces should remain until stability was achieved. (Iraq Centre for Research & Strategic Studies)

June 2004: 53 percent say leave now or "within a few months" or "until an Interim Government is in place" or "in six months to a year"; 33.5 percent allow "more than one year" or "until permanent government is in place"; 13.6 percent, even longer if necessary. (Oxford Research International)

January 2005: 82 percent of Sunni Arabs and 69 percent of Shiites favor US withdrawal „either immediately or after an elected government is in place.š (Zogby)

2. Attitudes toward US forces

February 2004: 56.3 percent of Iraqis somewhat or strongly oppose the presence of Coalition forces in Iraq. "Strongly oppose" versus "strongly support" is 2.5-to-1. (Oxford Research International)

March-April 2004: 58 percent say US forces have behaved very or fairly badly; 34 percent say US forces have behaved very or fairly well. The ratio between those saying "very bad" and those saying "very well": 3-to-1. (Gallup/CNN/USA Today)

March-April 2004: 30 percent say that attacks on US forces were somewhat or completely justified; another 22 percent said they were sometimes justified. (Gallup/CNN/USA Today)

May 2004: 87 percent express little or no confidence in US coalition forces; 92 percent view coalition forces as occupiers, rather than liberators or peace keepers. (Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society/CPA)

June 2004: 67 percent of Iraqis strongly or somewhat oppose the presence of Coalition troops; 30 percent support. (Iraq Centre for Research & Strategic Studies)

June 2004: 58 percent of Iraqis somewhat or strongly oppose the presence of Coalition forces in Iraq. Strongly oppose versus strongly support is 3-to-1. (Oxford Research International)

June 2004: 70 percent say Coalition troops are an occupying or exploiting force; 30 percent say a liberating or peacekeeping force. (Oxford Research International)

June 2004: Invasion of Iraq was absolutely right say 13.2 percent; somewhat right, 27.6 percent; somewhat wrong, 25.7 percent; absolutely wrong, 33.5 percent. (Oxford Research International)

January 2005: 53 percent of Sunni Arabs say ongoing attacks are a legitimate form of resistance. (Zogby)

3. Attitudes toward the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi government

February 2004, Oxford: 31 percent express confidence in CPA, 69 percent do not. 43 percent express confidence in Iraqi government, 57.3 percent do not. (Oxford Research International)

March-April: 42 percent of Iraqis judge CPA behavior to be fairly or very bad; 25 percent say it was fairly or very good. The ratio between those saying "very bad" and those saying "very good" is 4-to-1. (Gallup/CNN/USA Today)

May 2004: 85 percent of Iraqis express little or no confidence in the CPA; 66 percent express little or no confidence in the Iraqi Governing Council. (Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society/CPA)

June 2004: 25.6 percent express confidence in CPA, 74.4 percent do not; 42.7 percent express confidence in IGC, 57.3 percent do not. (Oxford Research International)

October 2004: 55 percent say Interim Government does not represent the interests of people like them "very much" or "at all". Nearly 50 percent find the government to be ineffective; 43 percent find it to be effective - a sharp decline since the government took office in June 2004. (International Republican Institute.)

4. Is life better or worse?

March-April 2004: 46 percent say the US invasion has done more harm than good; 33 percent say more good. (Gallup)

March-April 2004: 42 percent say Iraq is better off today than before the invasion, 39 percent say worse, 17 percent say the same. (Gallup)

August 2004: 46 percent of Iraqis say their situation has improved since the fall of Hussein, 31 percent say it has grown worse, and 21 percent say it is unchanged. (International Republican Institute)


Principal Polls:

Press Release, Survey Finds Deep Divisions in Iraq; Sunni Arabs Overwhelmingly Reject Sunday Elections; Majority of Sunnis, Shiites Favor U.S. Withdrawal, New Abu Dhabi TV - Zogby Poll Reveals (Utica, NY: Zogby International, 28 January 2005), available at:

International Republican Institute polls: Survey of Iraqi Public Opinion, September 24 - October 4, 2004 (Washington DC: International Republican Institute, October 2004), available at:;Survey of Iraqi Public Opinion, July 24 - August 2, 2004 (Washington DC: International Republican Institute, August 2004), available at: (Download PowerPoint presentation)

Oxford Research International polls: National Survey of Iraq, February 2004 (Oxford, UK: Oxford Research International); National Survey of Iraq, June 2004 (Oxford, UK: Oxford Research International)

Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society/CPA poll: Public Opinion in Iraq: First Poll Following Abu Ghraib Revelations 14-23 May 2004 (Baghdad: CPA, May 2004), available at:

Gallup poll conducted with USA Today and CNN: Cesar G. Soriano and Steven Komarow, "Poll: Iraqis out of patience," USA Today, 28 April 2004; "Key findings: Nationwide survey of 3,500 Iraqis," USA Today, 28 April 2004, available at: Also see: Richard Burkholder, Gallup Poll of Iraq: Liberated, Occupied, or in Limbo? (Princeton, NJ: Gallop Organization, 28 April 2004).


Juan Cole, "Spinning Iraqi Opinion at Taxpayer Expense,", 25 October 2004, available at:

Robin Wright, "Religious Leaders Ahead in Iraq Poll; U.S.-Supported Government Is Losing Ground, Washington Post, 22 October 2004, p. 1;

Mark Turner, "80% of Iraqis want coalition troops out," Financial Times, 7 July 2004;

Michael Hirsh, "Grim Numbers," Newsweek, 16 June 2004;

John Lemke, "Poll: Security, unemployment major problems, UPI, 25 May 2004.

Poll summaries and collections:

"Opinion Polls in Iraq,",

Iraq Index: Tracking Reconstruction and Security in Post-Saddam Iraq (Washington DC: Brookings Institution), section on public opinion polls; available at:

Frederick Barton and Bathsheba Crocker, project directors, Progress or Peril? Measuring Iraq's Reconstruction (Washington DC: CSIS, September 2004), available at:

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