March 16th, 2004

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Here's something you don't see reflected in the news

Majority of Iraqis See Life Better Without Saddam

LONDON (Reuters) - A majority of Iraqis believe life is better now than it was under Saddam Hussein (news - web sites), according to a poll released on Tuesday.

A total of 2,500 Iraqis were quizzed for a group of international broadcasting organizations including the BBC in a poll to mark the first anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion.

Almost half (49 percent) of those questioned believed the invasion of their country by U.S. and British troops was right, compared with 39 percent who said it was wrong, the poll commissioned by the BBC and other broadcasters found.

Some 57 percent said that life was better now than under Saddam, against 19 percent who said it was worse and 23 percent who said it was about the same.

Iraqi people appeared optimistic about the future, with 71 percent saying they expected things to be better in a years time, six percent predicting it will be worse and nine percent the same.

Overall, 70 percent said that life was good now, compared with 29 percent who said it was bad.

Some 85 percent identified restoration of public security as a major priority, against 30 percent who wanted elections for a national government and 28 percent an economic revival.

Just a quarter said they had confidence in U.S.-led occupation forces to deliver their needs. There were far higher levels of confidence in Iraqi religious leaders (70 percent), local police (68 percent) and the new Iraqi army (56 percent).

Fifty-one percent were opposed to the continued presence of foreign forces in Iraq (news - web sites), against 39 percent who supported it.

Almost a fifth of those questioned said that attacks on foreign forces were acceptable, while 14 percent said the same about attacks on the civilian administrators of the Coalition Provisional Authority and 10 percent on foreigners working with the CPA.

Asked what political system they believed was needed in their country, 86 percent said they wanted democracy, but 81 percent said a single strong Iraqi leader was needed.

Opinion was evenly split on whether the invasion of Iraq. The poll found that 41 percent believed that the invasion humiliated Iraq while 42 percent said it liberated the country.


BRITONS DIVIDED

A separate poll of British people suggested that a slim majority -- 48 percent to 43 percent -- supported UK involvement in the war.

Some 40 percent of respondents to the UK poll for the BBC2 "Newsnight" program said that British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites) and his government exaggerated the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to war, and 22 percent that they lied about WMD, against 29 percent who said they told the truth.

But the survey found that more Britons would trust Blair (32 percent) to take a decision on future military action than Conservative leader Michael Howard (22 percent) or the Liberal Democrats Charles Kennedy (17 percent).

Pollster ICM interviewed 1,014
Oxford Research International interviewed 2,500 Iraqis between February 10 and 28 for the broadcasting organizations BBC, ABC News, ARD and NHK.
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