#1 Posted on 20.5.04 1138.16 Reposted on: 20.5.11 1141.07
One of the lynchpins of many arguments in favor of the Iraq War and our post-war actions has been basically "the majority of Iraqi people are very happy with us and support our actions." However, this article from The Financial Times (news.ft.com), a paper which it will be hard for anyone to say is simply trying to prop up liberal ideology, casts some serious doubt on that mindset. Two key numbers are 68% of Iraqis somewhat or strongly support Moqtada Al-Sadr, and 88% of Iraqi's see Coalition troops as an occupying force.
Iraq's rebel cleric gains surge in popularity By Roula Khalaf in Baghdad Published: May 19 2004 21:49 | Last Updated: May 19 2004 21:49
An Iraqi poll to be released next week shows a surge in the popularity of Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical young Shia cleric fighting coalition forces, and suggests nearly nine out of 10 Iraqis see US troops as occupiers and not liberators or peacekeepers.
The poll was conducted by the one-year-old Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies, which is considered reliable enough for the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority to have submitted questions to be included in the study.
Although the results of any poll in Iraq's traumatised society should be taken with caution, the survey highlights the difficulties facing the US authorities in Baghdad as they confront Mr Sadr, who launched an insurgency against the US-led occupation last month.
Conducted before the Abu Ghraib prisoners' scandal, it also suggests a severe erosion of American credibility even before Iraqis were confronted with images of torture at the hands of US soldiers.
Saadoun Duleimi, head of the centre, said more than half of a representative sample - comprising 1,600 Shia, Sunni Arabs and Kurds polled in all Iraq's main regions - wanted coalition troops to leave Iraq. This compares with about 20 per cent in an October survey. Some 88 per cent of respondents said they now regarded coalition forces in Iraq as occupiers.
"Iraqis always contrast American actions with American promises and there's now a wide gap in credibility," said Mr Duleimi, who belongs to one of the country's big Sunni tribes. "In this climate, fighting has given Moqtada credibility because he's the only Iraqi man who stood up against the occupation forces."
The US authorities in Baghdad face an uphill battle to persuade Iraqis that the transfer of sovereignty on June 30 will mark the end of the US occupation. The removal of US troops was cited in the poll as a more urgent issue than the country's formal status.
Respondents saw Mr Sadr as Iraq's second most influential figure after Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country's most senior Shia cleric. Some 32 per cent of respondents said they strongly supported Mr Sadr and another 36 per cent somewhat supported him.
Ibrahim Jaafari, head of the Shia Islamist Daawa party and a member of the governing council, came next on the list of influential Iraqis. Among council members, Adnan Pachachi, the Sunni former foreign minister, came some distance behind Mr Jaafari. Mr Pachachi is regarded as the apparent favourite for the ceremonial post of president when a caretaker government takes over.
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