Good News in Iraq–Which Arab Street?

This article is a couple of weeks old, but I figured I would share with those of you who do not read National Review. I excerpted, but since it is mostly statistics, it is hard to cut.

The article’s premise is that although the Iraqi war may seem to be a public affairs failure on the “Arab Street,” Iraqis actually have a more positive view.

This is consistent with what my DH has been telling me.

Anyway, I’ll let the article speak for itself for those of you who are interested.

The Word on the Street: What do Arabs think? by RICHARD NADLER

The reaction of the Arab street to the war in Iraq is well documented. But what the street says depends on which side of it is polled […] Iraqis, with their newfound freedom of expression and wide array of media, are getting a broader and more accurate view of the world than their politically oppressed neighbors, who hear a steady barrage of anti-American vitriol.

Surveys conducted by Zogby International between 2002 and late 2005 record opinion in six Arab countries: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates. The post-war opinions of Iraqis have been measured by the International Republican Institute, the Gallup Organization, and Oxford Research International. The differences are stark. […]

In the six-nation sample, respondents consider Iraqis “worse off after the war” by a margin of 77 percent to 6 percent.

But Iraqis disagree. Most applaud the destruction of the Baathist regime. By 52 percent to 29 percent they rate their lives as better post-Saddam, and by 48 percent to 18 percent they expect their lives to improve over the next year. Asked, “Thinking about any hardships you might have suffered since the US-Britain invasion, do you personally think that ousting Saddam Hussein was worth it or not?” 77 percent answer “worth it.” This includes 91 percent of the Kurds surveyed and 98 percent of Iraqi Shiites.

[…] a plurality of Iraqis consider their situation to have improved from Baathist days in terms of overall security, safety from crime, and freedom of speech. Pluralities also cite improvement in the availability of education, medical care, and basic household necessities.

he Arab street outside of Iraq considers the post-Saddam government illegitimate and undemocratic. […] Sixty-five percent said the transfer was “cosmetic”; only 4 percent regarded it as “positive change.” […] Arab respondents characterized the war as bringing less democracy rather than more by 58 percent to 9 percent. […]

By contrast, most Iraqis consider the new regime both legitimate and democratic. The idea of democratic government wins the assent of 74 percent of Iraqis polled. Sixty-six percent of Iraqis, including 89 percent of the majority Shiites, characterize the December parliamentary elections as “free and fair.” Sixty-eight percent of Iraqis, including 81 percent of Kurds and 90 percent of Shiites, consider their parliament “the legitimate representative of the Iraqi people.”

The surveys show that Iraqis want Coalition forces to leave — but no time soon. In a January 2006 poll, Iraqis preferred a withdrawal framework lasting two years or more to one of six months or less by 64 percent to 35 percent. Seventy-eight percent of Shiites and 85 percent of Kurds preferred the slower timetable. […]

According to Zogby International, the primary font of information in the region is “Arab commentaries in Arab media.” Among these, al-Jazeera, the Arabic TV-news station broadcast from Dubai, dominates the market.

In post-war Iraq, on the other hand, al-Jazeera’s worldview has some competition. Iraqis are able to see the progress their country is making firsthand, even as it goes largely unreported in the pan-Arab media. In addition, Iraqi media are much more diverse than those of other states in the region. They have swelled from three TV stations, three radio stations, and ten newspapers — all state-owned — to 44 commercial TV stations, 72 commercial radio stations, and over 100 independent newspapers. Opinion ranges from apocalyptic Shiism to classical liberalism to Marxism-Leninism. Some of these papers are friendly to the Coalition forces; others publish screeds blaming the U.S. for any and every problem. In short, the Iraqi press is free. […]

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.