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Poll: Most Iraqis Oppose Troops' Presence

Associated Press/WILL LESTER | December 12 2005

WASHINGTON - Most Iraqis disapprove of the presence of U.S. forces in their country, yet they are optimistic about Iraq's future and their own personal lives, according to a new poll.

More than two-thirds of those surveyed oppose the presence of troops from the United States and its coalition partners and less than half, 44 percent, say their country is better off now than it was before the war, according to an ABC News poll conducted with Time magazine and other media partners.

But Iraqis are surprisingly upbeat on many fronts, the poll suggests.

Three-quarters say they are confident about the parliamentary elections scheduled for this week. More than two-thirds expect things in their country to get better in the coming months.

Attitudes about Iraq's future were sharply different in the Sunni provinces and other parts of Iraq, however. Only a third in the Sunni regions were optimistic about their country's future. Shiites, who with the Kurds dominate the current parliament, had a much more positive view than the Sunnis of their own personal safety and whether their own lives are going well.

A majority of both the Sunni and Shiite population say they favor a unified country, however.

In other poll findings:

_Two-thirds express confidence in the Iraqi army and in police.

_Half now say the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was wrong, up from 39 percent in February 2004.

_More than six in 10 say they feel safe in their neighborhoods, up from 40 percent in June 2004.

_Six in 10 say local security is good, up from half in February 2004.

But the national concern mentioned most often is security, named by 57 percent.

A fourth of those surveyed, 26 percent, say U.S. forces should leave now, and another 19 percent say troops should leave after those chosen in this week's election take office. The other half say U.S. troops should stay until security is restored, 31 percent, until Iraqi forces can operate independently, 16 percent, or longer, 5 percent.

The poll was conducted by Oxford Research International face-to-face with 1,711 Iraqis age 15 and over from Oct. 8 to Nov. 22. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

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