Tysons Corner, Virginia, January 27, 2014 — Increasing levels of violence in Iraq bring a familiar fear that the already fractured country is headed towards civil war. In 2013, hardly a week passed without sectarian violence targeting civilian populations, killing 8,000 people and making it the deadliest year since 2008. Two years after the U.S. withdrawal, Iraqis fear that war is far from over.
The likelihood of sectarian war has increased since fighting broke out in Fallujah over the past few weeks. Al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been steadily tightening its control of the Sunni-dominated Anbar province. Results from the most recent national survey of Iraq indicate that Iraqis expect conditions in their country to get worse before improving, with perceptions differing considerably across ethnicity and sect.
According to a national survey conducted by KA Iraq and KA Belgium for D3 Systems in January 2014, majorities of Shi’a Arabs (58%), Kurds (70%), and Sunni Arabs (86%) all think that things in their country are generally headed in the wrong direction. While 44% of Iraqis believe that it is likely (“somewhat likely” or “very likely”) that a civil war will start in Iraq over the next year, Sunnis are more likely (47%) than Shias (38%) to believe a civil war is likely to start over the next year, reflecting the more pessimistic outlook of Sunnis who have seen their influence shrink in Iraq’s post-invasion politics. Kurds (54%) are the most pessimistic about the chances of civil war in the next year.
The United Nations says that today more than 14,000 families have been displaced from Anbar. Not surprisingly, respondents in Anbar province have especially negative views of security. An overwhelming majority (95%) of respondents living in Anbar province (n = 104) describe the level of security in their neighborhood as bad (“very bad” or “somewhat bad”).100% of respondents in Anbar describe the level of security in Iraq as bad.
National perceptions of security are increasingly negative across the country, with 79% of Iraqi respondents saying that Iraq’s level of security is bad. While only 31% of Iraqis agree that ethnic groups in Iraq are getting along well, the percentage of Sunnis who agree (20%) is markedly smaller compared to Shias (34%) and Kurds (39%). Indeed, while the majority of Shias (65%) and Kurds (82%) describe the level of security in their neighborhood as good (“very good” or “somewhat good”), more than three in four (77%) Sunnis describe their neighborhood’s security as bad (“very bad” or “somewhat bad”), pointing to deepening divisions in Iraqi society. Furthermore, only 16% of Sunnis agree that the Iraqi Security Forces are doing a good job in providing all of Iraq’s security, in contrast to 57% of Shia and 25% of Kurds who think the same. This insecurity among Sunnis suggests that as Iraq takes another violent turn, Sunnis will place little faith in national political institutions to guarantee their safety.
KA Iraq and KA Belgium, in cooperation with D3 Systems, has conducted a series of seven nationally representative face-to-face surveys in Iraq to gather data on public opinion, behaviors, and attitudes from July 2012 to January 2014. Wave 7 was conducted from January 8th to January 14th, 2014 by trained and experienced interviewers and supervisors. The total sample size is 2,200 adults, aged 18 years and older. The total sample consists of a nationally-representative, probability sample of 2,000 individuals across eighteen provinces in Iraq, and 200 Kurds in a probability booster sample across seven predominately Kurdish provinces in Northern Iraq. Results reported here are weighted to correct for the intentional over-sampling of Kurds. Assuming a simple random sample, with p=0.5, n=2,200, at a 95% level of confidence, a margin of error is estimated to be +/-2%.