Nearly 3 Million Iraqis, Sunni and Shiite, Approve of attacks on Americans
An opinion poll taken in late February showed that 10 % of Iraq’s Shiites say attacks on US troops are “acceptable.” But 30% of Sunni Arabs say such attacks are acceptable, and fully 70% of Anbar province approves of attacking Americans. (Anbar is where Ramadi, Fallujah, Hadithah and Habbaniyah are, with a population of 1.25 million or 5% of Iraq–those who approve of attacks are 875,000).
But simple statistics don’t tell the story. If there are 25 million Iraqis and Shiites comprise 65%, that is about 16 million persons. Ten percent of them is 1.6 million, which is a lot of people who hate Americans enough to approve of attacks on them. If Sunni Arabs comprise about 16% of the population, there are 4 million of them. If 30% approve of attacks, that is 1.2 million. That is, the poll actually shows that in absolute numbers, there are more Shiites who approve of attacks on Americans than there are Sunni Arabs. The numbers bring into question the official line that there are no problems in the South, only in the Sunni Arab heartland.
The other problem is that attitudes change, and sometimes they change rapidly. The US cannot count on the percentage of Shiites who approve of attacks on its troops remaining at 10% if it is strafing Sadr City in Baghdad. Every 1% increase in the number of Shiites who approve of attacks equals 160,000 new enemies.