Monday, December 12, 2005
Notably, a plurality of Iraqis (61%) expressed confidence in their new government, saying it had done either a "very good" or "quite a good" job.
An opinion poll suggests Iraqis are generally optimistic about their lives, in spite of the violence that has plagued Iraq since the US-led invasion. But the survey, carried out for the BBC and other media, found security fears still dominate most Iraqis' thoughts.
Their priority for the coming year would be the restoration of security and the withdrawal of foreign troops. Interviewers found that 71% of those questioned said things were currently very or quite good in their personal lives, while 29% found their lives very or quite bad.
When asked whether their lives would improve in the coming year, 64% said things would be better and 12% said they expected things to be worse.
However, Iraqis appear to have a more negative view of the overall situation in their country, with 53% answering that the situation is bad, and 44% saying it is good.
More than 2/3 of Iraqis remain optimistic about the future of their country, saying Iraq will be better off in a year. The central region was the least positive, though small sample sizes may have affected the survey results.
This news is most alarming, following as it does on the heels of another poll showing Afghanis displaying similar unfounded feelings of hope:
Four years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghans express both vast support for the changes that have shaken their country and remarkable optimism for the future, despite the deep challenges they face in economic opportunity, security and basic services alike.
Poverty is deep, medical care and other basic services lacking, and infrastructure minimal. Nearly six in 10 have no electricity in their homes, and just 3 percent have it around the clock. Seven in 10 Afghan adults have no more than an elementary education; half have no schooling whatsoever. Half have household incomes under $500 a year.
Yet despite these and other deprivations, 77 percent of Afghans say their country is headed in the right direction — compared with 30 percent in the vastly better-off United States. Ninety-one percent prefer the current Afghan government to the Taliban regime, and 87 percent call the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban good for their country. Osama bin Laden, for his part, is as unpopular as the Taliban; nine in 10 view him unfavorably.
Progress fuels these views: Despite the country's continued problems, 85 percent of Afghans say living conditions there are better now than they were under the Taliban. Eighty percent cite improved freedom to express political views. And 75 percent say their security from crime and violence has improved as well. After decades of oppression and war, many Afghans see a better life.
This really is most distressing. If things don't improve, we may have to send an emergency delegation to the region to restore a proper sense of perspective.