What They’re Saying in Anbar Province
IN his address to the nation on Thursday, President Bush singled out progress in Anbar Province as the model for United States success in Iraq. The president’s claims echoed those made earlier in the week by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, in his Congressional testimony. And they raised a question worth examining: Do United States military alliances with Sunni tribal leaders truly reflect a turning of hearts and minds away from Anbar’s bitter anti-Americanism?So what are they saying in Anbar?
The data from our latest Iraq poll suggest not.
In a survey conducted Aug. 17-24 for ABC News, the BBC and NHK, the Japanese broadcaster, among a random national sample of 2,212 Iraqis, 72 percent in Anbar expressed no confidence whatsoever in United States forces. Seventy-six percent said the United States should withdraw now — up from 49 percent when we polled there in March, and far above the national average.Anti-Americanism is on the rise in an area Petraeus and the Bush administration are claiming is a success story. You have to wonder what it's like in areas they admit are still a problem.
Withdrawal timetable aside, every Anbar respondent in our survey opposed the presence of American forces in Iraq — 69 percent “strongly” so. Every Anbar respondent called attacks on coalition forces “acceptable,” far more than anywhere else in the country. All called the United States-led invasion wrong, including 68 percent who called it “absolutely wrong.” No wonder: Anbar, in western Iraq, is almost entirely populated by Sunni Arabs, long protected by Saddam Hussein and dispossessed by his overthrow.
This was good solid reporting not an opinion piece. When the Times buries real journalism on the opinion page they are still part of the administration spin machine.