Friday, September 26, 2003

Finally another poll conducted on what the Iraqi public thinks, well according to a poll. Polls are interesting and do not always tell the true story, but sometimes they can tell some of it. This is a Gallop Poll, which has a positive reputation. Also to be noted, this poll was only taken in Baghdad.

Yahoo news has the story.

I think overall the news are good.

Here is some interesting tasters:

Two-thirds, 67 percent, say they think that Iraq (news - web sites) will be in better condition five years from now than it was before the U.S.-led invasion. Only 8 percent say they think it will be worse off.

But they're not convinced that Iraq is better off now — 47 percent said the country is worse off than before the invasion and 33 percent said it is better off.

The survey found that 62 percent think ousting Saddam was worth the hardships they have endured since the invasion.

Six in 10 said they have a favorable view of the new Iraqi Governing Council, but most see its priorities as set by coalition authorities. Half said the coalition authorities are doing a better job now than two months ago, while 14 percent said they were doing a worse job.

Compare this with the other Poll:

Although this did not make a lot of noise, the first poll was taken in Iraq. The results are surprising and will likely be contested by people who cannot contradict them with facts. Polls should be taken lightly, but nevertheless be considered. They are a factor. You can tilt polls, but you can only tilt them so far. I am waiting for someone on the left to perform their own poll, it would be interesting to not only compare, but to see if there are any similarities.

Here are the mayor findings of the poll:

Iraqis are optimistic. Seven out of 10 say they expect their country and their personal lives will be better five years from now. On both fronts, 32 percent say things will become much better.

The toughest part of reconstructing their nation, Iraqis say by 3 to 1, will be politics, not economics. They are nervous about democracy. Asked which is closer to their own view--"Democracy can work well in Iraq," or "Democracy is a Western way of doing things"--five out of 10 said democracy is Western and won't work in Iraq. One in 10 wasn't sure. And four out of 10 said democracy can work in Iraq. There were interesting divergences. Sunnis were negative on democracy by more than 2 to 1; but, critically, the majority Shiites were as likely to say democracy would work for Iraqis as not. People age 18-29 are much more rosy about democracy than other Iraqis, and women are significantly more positive than men.

Asked to name one country they would most like Iraq to model its new government on from five possibilities--neighboring, Baathist Syria; neighbor and Islamic monarchy Saudi Arabia; neighbor and Islamist republic Iran; Arab lodestar Egypt; or the U.S.--the most popular model by far was the U.S. The U.S. was preferred as a model by 37 percent of Iraqis selecting from those five--more than Syria, Iran and Egypt put together. Saudi Arabia was in second place at 28 percent. Again, there were important demographic splits. Younger adults are especially favorable toward the U.S., and Shiites are more admiring than Sunnis. Interestingly, Iraqi Shiites, coreligionists with Iranians, do not admire Iran's Islamist government; the U.S. is six times as popular with them as a model for governance.

Our interviewers inquired whether Iraq should have an Islamic government, or instead let all people practice their own religion. Only 33 percent want an Islamic government; a solid 60 percent say no. A vital detail: Shiites (whom Western reporters frequently portray as self-flagellating maniacs) are least receptive to the idea of an Islamic government, saying no by 66 percent to 27 percent. It is only among the minority Sunnis that there is interest in a religious state, and they are split evenly on the question.

Perhaps the strongest indication that an Islamic government won't be part of Iraq's future: The nation is thoroughly secularized. We asked how often our respondents had attended the Friday prayer over the previous month. Fully 43 percent said "never." It's time to scratch "Khomeini II" from the list of morbid fears.

You can also cross out "Osama II": 57 percent of Iraqis with an opinion have an unfavorable view of Osama bin Laden, with 41 percent of those saying it is a very unfavorable view. (Women are especially down on him.) Except in the Sunni triangle (where the limited support that exists for bin Laden is heavily concentrated), negative views of the al Qaeda supremo are actually quite lopsided in all parts of the country. And those opinions were collected before Iraqi police announced it was al Qaeda members who killed worshipers with a truck bomb in Najaf.

And you can write off the possibility of a Baath revival. We asked "Should Baath Party leaders who committed crimes in the past be punished, or should past actions be put behind us?" A thoroughly unforgiving Iraqi public stated by 74 percent to 18 percent that Saddam's henchmen should be punished.

There second poll seems to be less general and more focused. Both point to good news more than bad news. But Polls are Polls.

Somehow I do not think this Iraq story will get reported much:

Influx of goods, cash puts Iraqis in buying mood Hoarded dollars, U.S.-paid wages go for once-unobtainable items
By Glen C. Carey
Special to USA TODAY

BAGHDAD -- When Massoud Mazouri learned that the U.S.-led coalition had ousted Saddam Hussein from power on April 9, he hurried to Baghdad from his home in northern Iraq to set up an electronics business.

Now the 28-year-old Kurdish merchant is selling televisions and satellite receivers at a brisk pace to gadget-starved shoppers. It's among the first signs that Iraq's larger economy is coming to life.

Iraq's new finance minister, Kamil Mubdir al-Gailani, announced sweeping economic changes this week that will allow foreign ownership of companies in every industry except oil and other natural resources. The 25-member Iraqi Governing Council hopes that Iraq's 24 million people will be an attractive market and workforce for global businesses willing to invest in the country.

But merchants such as Mazouri already are cashing in. Television sets, refrigerators and boxes of satellite receivers are stacked 10 feet high on the sidewalks of Baghdad's shopping districts. Shoppers who have waited for years to be able to spend their hoarded dollars are out in force.

''When I started in late April, I was receiving one container of DiStar goods per month,'' Mazouri says. ''Now, I am getting five to six containers.'' Each container holds about 270 television sets or 3,800 satellite receiver units. He says he is grossing $20,000 a day. ''All the sales are done in cash.''

and most interesting....

The U.S.-led provisional authority has increased salaries twice for government workers, spreading disposable income around. It is paying $150 million per month for salaries from $1.7 billion in Iraqi assets seized by the U.S. government at the time of the 1991 Gulf War, a coalition official says.

Louay Rasheed, 46, director of the Ministry of Planning's trade statistics department, says he made the equivalent of $15 a month before the war and now earns $400 a month.

Hassan al-Dinwani, 53, owner of al-Yussir Trading Shops in Baghdad's Karada neighborhood, says one of his new customers was a policeman. ''This was a surprise to me,'' he says. In the past, officers couldn't buy goods at his shop because their salaries were too low.

I guess part of oppresing the Iraqi people is doubling government salaries.

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