Iraqis' Own Surge Assessment: Few See Security Gains

Clearly there are concerns -- varying sharply by population group -- about the implications if the U.S. does withdraw without first restoring civil order. Nearly half of Iraqis, 46 percent, foresee Shiite-dominated Iran taking control of parts of Iraq. As many foresee parts of Iraq becoming bases of operation for international terrorists. Fewer, just over a third, think U.S. withdrawal would lead to full-scale civil war in Iraq, but with big differences: Two in 10 Shiites foresee full-scale civil war, but that rises to four in 10 Sunni Arabs and six in 10 Kurds.

Paradoxically, Sunni Arabs -- who dislike the United States most intensely and are most apt to favor its immediate withdrawal -- also are most apt to foresee a takeover of parts of Iraq by Shiite-dominated Iran if the United States does pull out. This apparent lack of palatable alternatives underscores Sunni Arabs' quandary, leaving them, in particular, so discontented with conditions in Iraq today.

Al Qaeda in Iraq

While U.S. efforts are viewed resoundingly negatively, this does not translate into support for activities of al Qaeda in Iraq. Disturbingly, nearly half of Iraqis (predominantly Sunni Arabs) say it's acceptable for al Qaeda in Iraq to attack U.S. and coalition forces. But Iraqis -- Sunni and Shiite alike -- almost unanimously reject other activities of al Qaeda in Iraq -- attacking Iraqi civilians (100 percent call this unacceptable), attempting to gain control of some areas (98 percent) and recruiting foreign fighters to come to Iraq (97 percent).

Other Local Conditions

Overall, of 13 local conditions tested in this poll, just one is reported to have improved -- ratings of local schools, eight points better to 51 percent positive. All the rest are stable or slightly worse, and all are rated poorly, ranging from views of local security (rated negatively by 57 percent) to the supply of electricity and fuel (both 92 percent negative). All are devastatingly bad in Baghdad, where in most cases every single respondent rated local conditions negatively, as was the case in March.

Segregation and Violence

Segregation of Iraqis -- both forced and voluntary -- continues to occur. Across the country, one in six Iraqis -- 17 percent -- report the separation of Sunni and Shiite Arabs on sectarian lines, including 11 percent who describe this as mainly forced. In Baghdad, it soars: Forty-three percent report the separation of Sunnis and Shiites from mixed to segregated areas, and 27 percent say it's mainly forced -- similar to the 31 percent who said so in March.

Ethnic cleansing clearly is not isolated in Baghdad. The forced separation of Iraqis along sectarian lines is reported by 39 percent in Basra city, in the mainly Shiite south; and by 24 percent -- one in four -- across all major metropolitan areas.

In a continued sign of hope, this separation is enormously unpopular: Ninety-eight percent, with agreement across ethnic and sectarian lines, oppose it.

Related results underscore the difficulty of life in Iraq: Seventy-seven percent rate their freedom to live where they want without persecution negatively; 74 percent rate their freedom of safe movement negatively. Both are essentially unchanged from March.

Ethnic cleansing is far from the only violence being visited upon Iraqis. As noted, 42 percent report car bombs and suicide attacks nearby; that includes 26 percent -- one in four -- who say these have occurred in the past six months.

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