September 27, 2006


All Iraqi Ethnic Groups Overwhelmingly Reject al Qaeda (World Public Opinion, September 27, 2006)

Al Qaeda is exceedingly unpopular among the Iraqi people.

Overall 94 percent have an unfavorable view of al Qaeda, with 82 percent expressing a very unfavorable view. Of all organizations and individuals assessed in this poll, it received the most negative ratings. The Shias and Kurds show similarly intense levels of opposition, with 95 percent and 93 percent respectively saying they have very unfavorable views. The Sunnis are also quite negative, but with less intensity. Seventy-seven percent express an unfavorable view, but only 38 percent are very unfavorable. [...]

Some observers fear that with the ascension of Shias to a dominant role in Iraq, there is potential for the formation of an alliance between Iraq and Shia-dominated Iran. In this poll, though, Shias show only mildly positive attitudes toward Iran, while Kurds and Sunnis are quite negative. Asked whether Iran is having a mostly positive or negative influence on the situation in Iraq, just 45 percent of Shias say it is having a positive influence (negative 28%, neutral 27%), while Iran’s influence is viewed a mostly negative by large majorities of Kurds (71%) and Sunnis (94%).

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad does a bit better among Shias, with 64 percent having a very (28%) or somewhat (36%) favorable view. But Kurds have a largely unfavorable view (very 43%, somewhat 34%) and the Sunnis an exceedingly unfavorable view (very 80%, somewhat 17%).

While some have expressed fears of Syria being a link in an emerging Shia crescent (though very few Syrians are Shia), public opinion in Iraq would hardly be the cement. Most Shias (68%) think Syria is having a negative influence on Iraq’s situation, as do most Kurds (63%). Sunnis are only mildly positive, with 41 percent having a favorable view (17% negative, 43% neutral).

Hezbollah elicits highly polarized views. An overwhelming 91 percent of Shias have a very (50%) or somewhat favorable (41%) view of Hezbollah, while an equally large 93 percent of Kurds have a very (64%) or somewhat (29%) unfavorable view. Sunnis are also fairly negative, with 59 percent having a very (10%) or somewhat (49%) unfavorable view.

Always amusing to listen to analysts try to dissect minutiae to determine whether the Civil War has begun in Iraq and how much we're to blame when it's actually been going on across the Middle East for 1400 years.

Talking with the Saudis (THE JERUSALEM POST, Sep. 26, 2006)

An increasingly belligerent Iran, with growing military capabilities, is a menace to both Jerusalem and Riyadh.

Encouraging signs that the Saudis are willing to speak out about a Muslim country threatening regional stability, irrespective of Israel's position in the conflict, deserve recognition.

Indeed, even as Olmert denied having met with the Saudi king, he rightly praised his government's criticism of Hizbullah, the Shi'ite militia that receives weapons and spiritual guidance from Iran, for provoking this summer's bloody war. As two countries with some influence in the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia could work together diplomatically to encourage US leadership regarding Iran.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 27, 2006 11:56 PM

Here is a good review of what sounds like a must-read for all you Shi'a fans.

Posted by: Peter B at September 28, 2006 8:15 AM

Yes, in the history books Mr. Bush will be understood to have been the great Shi'a liberator, regardless of whether he understood that's what he was doing.

Posted by: oj at September 28, 2006 8:29 AM