Iraqis' Own Surge Assessment: Few See Security Gains

In terms of national politics, 65 percent disapprove of the way the Iraqi government has carried out its responsibilities, while just 35 percent approve. Disapproval of the Shiite-dominated government is up by 15 points, to 47 percent, among Shiites themselves; and up by 24 points among Kurds. It remains nearly unanimously negative among Sunni Arabs.

Similarly, disapproval of Maliki's performance as prime minister is up by nine points, to 66 percent. His approval rating, 33 percent overall (very similar to George W. Bush's), has fallen by 10 points since winter, including by 13 points among Shiites and by 27 points among Kurds.

Glimmers?

In one slim glimmer of political improvement, half of Iraqis now say members of parliament are "willing to make necessary compromises" for peace; that's up by nine points from 41 percent last winter. But while most Shiites and Kurds say so (66 and 55 percent, respectively,) far fewer Sunni Arabs -- 24 percent -- agree. (The day before interviews began, Maliki and Iraq's Kurdish president announced a new alliance of moderate Shiites and Kurds; Sunni moderates, however, refused to join.)

There are a few other whispers of possible gains. There's been a scant five-point drop in the number of Iraqis who report unnecessary violence against citizens by the Iraqi army occurring in their local area; notably that includes a 26-point decline among Sunni Arabs (but a 10-point rise among Shiites, albeit just to 17 percent). There have been five- and six-point gains in the level of confidence in the Iraqi army and police, to sizable majorities of 67 and 69 percent, respectively. (This confidence still is vastly lower, albeit somewhat improved, among Sunni Arabs.) And there's been a 12-point drop, to just 24 percent, in confidence in local militias, including a 19-point decline among Shiites.

Another hopeful sign -- and a remarkable one given its troubles -- is the continued preference for Iraq to remain a single, unified state with a central government in Baghdad. Sixty-two percent favor that outcome, about the same as in March (albeit down from 79 percent in February 2004).

Support for a single, centrally governed state has risen among Shiites, but fallen among Kurds, who've moved more toward favoring separation of the country into independent states. Separation now gets 49 percent support among Kurds, up 19 points; an additional 42 percent of Kurds favor the Swiss-like solution of a group of regional states with a federal government in Baghdad. A single state retains most support among Sunni Arabs.

The War and U.S. Forces

Other assessments of the United States are overwhelmingly negative. As noted, nearly two-thirds of Iraqis now say it was wrong for the United States and its allies to have invaded Iraq -- 63 percent, up from 52 percent six months ago and from 39 percent in the first Iraq poll by ABC, the BBC and NHK (and the German broadcaster ARD) in February 2004.

Even among Shiites, empowered by the overthrow of Saddam, 51 percent now say the invasion was wrong, up sharply from 29 percent in March. (Further deterioration may be ahead; among Shiites who still support the invasion, the number who call it "absolutely" right has fallen from 34 percent in March to 14 percent now.) Only among the largely autonomous Kurds does a majority still support the invasion, and even their support, 71 percent, is down by 12 points.

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