Secret MoD poll: Iraqis support attacks on British troops
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
Telegraph" -- -- Millions of Iraqis believe that
suicide attacks against British troops are justified, a secret
military poll commissioned by senior officers has revealed.
The poll, undertaken for the Ministry of Defence and seen by The
Sunday Telegraph, shows that up to 65 per cent of Iraqi citizens
support attacks and fewer than one per cent think Allied military
involvement is helping to improve security in their country.
It demonstrates for the first time the true strength of anti-Western
feeling in Iraq after more than two and a half years of bloody
The nationwide survey also suggests that the coalition has lost the
battle to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, which Tony
Blair and George W Bush believed was fundamental to creating a safe
and secure country.
The results come as it was disclosed yesterday that Lt Col Nick
Henderson, the commanding officer of the Coldstream Guards in Basra,
in charge of security for the region, has resigned from the Army. He
recently voiced concerns over a lack of armoured vehicles for his
men, another of whom was killed in a bomb attack in Basra last week.
The secret poll appears to contradict claims made by Gen Sir Mike
Jackson, the Chief of the General Staff, who only days ago
congratulated British soldiers for "supporting the Iraqi people in
building a new and better Iraq".
Andrew Robathan, a former member of the SAS and the Tory shadow
defence minister, said last night that the poll clearly showed a
complete failure of Government policy.
He said: "This clearly states that the Government's hearts-and-minds
policy has been disastrous. The coalition is now part of the problem
and not the solution.
"I am not advocating a pull-out but if British soldiers are putting
their lives on the line for a cause which is not supported by the
Iraqi people then we have to ask the question, 'what are we doing
The Sunday Telegraph disclosed last month that a plan for an early
withdrawal of British troops had been shelved because of the failing
security situation, sparking claims that Iraq was rapidly becoming
"Britain's own Vietnam".
The survey was conducted by an Iraqi university research team that,
for security reasons, was not told the data it compiled would be
used by coalition forces. It reveals:
• Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and
American troops are justified - rising to 65 per cent in the
British-controlled Maysan province;
• 82 per cent are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition
• less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces
are responsible for any improvement in security;
• 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;
• 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability
• 72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.
The opinion poll, carried out in August, also debunks claims by both
the US and British governments that the general well-being of the
average Iraqi is improving in post-Saddam Iraq.
The findings differ markedly from a survey carried out by the BBC in
March 2004 in which the overwhelming consensus among the 2,500
Iraqis questioned was that life was good. More of those questioned
supported the war than opposed it.
Under the heading "Justification for Violent Attacks", the new poll
shows that 65 per cent of people in Maysan province - one of the
four provinces under British control - believe that attacks against
coalition forces are justified.
The report states that for Iraq as a whole, 45 per cent of people
feel attacks are justified. In Basra, the proportion is reduced to
25 per cent.
The report profiles those likely to carry out attacks against
British and American troops as being "less than 26 years of age,
more likely to want a job, more likely to have been looking for work
in the last four weeks and less likely to have enough money even for
their basic needs".
Immediately after the war the coalition embarked on a campaign of
reconstruction in which it hoped to improve the electricity supply
and the quality of drinking water.
That appears to have failed, with the poll showing that 71 per cent
of people rarely get safe clean water, 47 per cent never have enough
electricity, 70 per cent say their sewerage system rarely works and
40 per cent of southern Iraqis are unemployed.
But Iraq's President Jalal Talabani pleaded last night for British
troops to stay. "There would be chaos and perhaps civil war," he
said. "We are now fighting a world war launched by terrorists
against civilisation, against democracy, against progress, against
all the values of humanity.
"If British troops withdrew, the terrorists would say, 'Look, we
have imposed our will on the most accomplished armed forces in the
world and terror is the way to oblige the Europeans to surrender to
• John Reid, the Defence Secretary will announce next week that
3,100 troops are to deploy to Afghanistan next April as a part of
the expansion of the International Sec-urity and Assistance Force.
Their job will be to hunt down the Taliban and to take part in
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