Iraqis' Own Surge Assessment: Few See Security Gains

While fewer in Baghdad now feel "not safe at all," it's hard to tell if that reflects better conditions, or more people accommodating themselves to existing conditions -- the "new normal." Indeed, another result finds a 20-point drop in the number in Baghdad who rate local security positively.

In Anbar, as noted, 38 percent now rate local security positively -- none did in March. But there's been no improvement in the number who feel entirely unsafe (44 percent, compared with 38 percent in March).

There's one further, disquieting result on security: Asked which group is in command of security in their village or neighborhood, 16 percent of Iraqis -- up 11 points since March -- reply that no one commands security in their area. Across Iraq's major metropolitan areas, that rises to 30 percent. In Baghdad alone, it's 36 percent. This may be less a direct assessment of local command than an expression of frustration with ongoing lawlessness.

More Baghdad and Anbar

There's particular interest in conditions in the focal points of the surge. In his visit to Anbar last week, Bush declared, "normal life is returning." Yet most Anbar residents seem not to see it that way.

Forty-six percent in Anbar say lack of security is the biggest problem in their own lives, as many as say so elsewhere (it's 41 percent nationally). Seventy-four percent expect their children's lives to be worse than their own -- nearly double the national figure. On the plus side, as noted, 38 percent rate local security positively, while none did in March; and half as many now call it "very bad," 32 percent. But still 62 percent in Anbar rate local security negatively overall. And reports of factional fighting there are up.

Further, there have been increases in the most negative ratings ("very bad") on a variety of other issues in Anbar -- including the availability of jobs (now rated as very bad by 62 percent, nearly double the March figure), local schools, the supply of clean water and the availability of household goods, among others. Sixty-three percent say their freedom of movement is very bad; 73 percent say that about the availability of fuel.

Baghdad has its own continued problems. There have been 13- and 14-point drops in the number of Baghdad residents who report snipers or crossfire and kidnappings for ransom nearby; but still 43 and 44 percent, respectively, report these as occurring in their own areas. Sixty-eight percent call local security "very bad" -- actually up from March. One reason may be that even apart from sectarian violence, sharply more give a "very bad" rating to their family's protection from crime -- 66 percent, up from 44 percent in March. Again, as these are attitudinal measures, the drivers can be less crime protection -- or simply less patience among a wearied and dispirited population.

Reconstruction and Politics

Nor, in the eyes of Iraqis, have reconstruction efforts or political leadership improved. As noted, only 23 percent of Iraqis report effective reconstruction efforts in their local area -- down by 10 points in the past six months. It's down by 25 points among Kurds, another of many signs of increasingly negative views in that once-positive group.

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