U.S. Troop Levels And Iraqi Perceptions of the United States
July 22, 2008
Americans tend to see US troop levels in Iraq as being shaped by a US-domestic political debate. Polling by ABC News and other groups, however, tells another side of the story. Iraqis may be deeply divided along sectarian, ethnic, tribal, and factional lines. At least Iraqi Arabs, however, have a national consciousness, a great deal of national pride, and they do not want to be "occupied" or have a US presence any longer than is necessary. At the same time, most Iraqis saw a need for the US to stay long enough to allow them to stabilize their security situation and achieve a workable modus vivendi in terms of political accommodation.
The attached report draws on ABC polling data to provide a snap shot of Iraqi attitudes towards the surge, US occupation, and continuing US troop levels. It also does much to explain why Maliki and other Iraqi politicians are willing to push for early US withdrawals, or at least the appearance of policies that give them political cover without necessarily binding them in any way as events unfold.