Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hold the front page

They're busy changing the headline for tomorrow's Independent. Iraq, an apology:

a survey of more than 5,000 Iraqis by Opinion Research Business, a reliable pollster, gives an utterly different view. It shows a country which is far more optimistic than anyone would have expected. By two to one, Iraqis say that life is better under the present system. There is, as might be expected, a clear Sunni-Shi’ite split. But even 29% of Sunnis, who had it pretty easy under Saddam, say things are better now. This result, when you take into account the fear, the bloodshed, the power cuts, the lack of water and the sheer struggle of everyday life, is remarkable. Nor was the poll conducted among people who have been shielded from the worst of the violence. One in four of those questioned has had a member of their family murdered in the conflict and a similar proportion have seen relatives displaced, many of them forced to flee abroad.

There is something else significant in the poll. Only a quarter of Iraqis think their country is in civil war. And they also believe, by two to one, that security will improve once American and British troops withdraw. This is a rejoinder to those who believe withdrawal would unleash an all-out struggle between Shi’ites and Sunnis. The current American troop surge appears to have been a considerable success in reducing levels of violence, again contrary to conventional wisdom.

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