Forty-one percent report unnecessary violence against Iraqi citizens by U.S. or coalition forces (26 percent say this has occurred in the last six months). Four in 10 also report kidnappings for ransom in their areas; notably that soars to 82 percent in Kirkuk and 68 percent in Basra, vs. 44 percent in Baghdad.
Other forms of violence are also troublingly high: Thirty-four percent of Iraqis report fighting between government and insurgent forces in their local area (two in 10 in the last six months), 30 percent report snipers or crossfire; as many report unnecessary violence by local militias, 27 percent report sectarian fighting and two in 10 report unnecessary violence by the Iraqi army or police.
The number of Iraqis who believe Iran is encouraging sectarian violence in Iraq, 79 percent, is up by eight points since March, chiefly because a majority of Shiites now share this view (62 percent, up 15 points). There's also been a nine-point rise, to 65 percent, in the number who believe mainly Sunni Saudi Arabia is encouraging violence. (Just 28 percent of Sunni Arabs hold this view, but that's up by 17 points, and it's risen among Kurds as well.) As many, 66 percent, also suspect Syria of encouraging violence.
A final point is a key one in Iraq's political equation: the makeup of the country by ethnic and religious groups. Iraq commonly is described as a majority Shiite nation, apparently on the basis of an undated and unsourced reference in the CIA's "World Factbook" proposing that 60 to 65 percent of Iraqis are Shiites.
In this survey, instead, Shiite Arabs comprise just under half of the population, 48 percent, as they did in the March poll, 47 percent.
Sunni Arabs account for 33 percent in this poll, again very similar (and within sampling tolerances) to their 35 percent in the March poll. Kurds accounted for 16 and 15 percent, respectively, in the two surveys; with three percent "other" in both. Together these two surveys consist of more than 4,400 interviews from 915 sampling points, a large combined sample with an unusual level of geographical coverage.
This poll for ABC News, the BBC and NHK was conducted Aug. 17-24, 2007, through in-person interviews with a random national sample of 2,212 Iraqi adults, including oversamples in Anbar province, Basra city, Kirkuk and the Sadr City section of Baghdad. The results have a 2.5-point error margin. Field work by D3 Systems of Vienna, Va., and KA Research Ltd. of Istanbul.