Iri Suppresses Key Data Muqtada As

IRI Suppresses Key Data
Muqtada as Popular as Allawi

In my posting on Sunday, I complained that the International Republican Institute rather unrealistically put a happy face on the results of its most recent poll in Iraq. It is worse. First, the poll is being greeted as a huge joke in Iraq, both because it is widely felt that its methodology was deeply flawed (even a local Baghdad IRI official admitted as much) and because its more positive findings are contradicted by local Iraqi polling. They left out any question about the country’s most popular politician, Ibrahim Jaafari!

Second, they have actively suppressed at their web site slides Q27, which reveal the popularity and recognition ratings of major political figures. Here are some selected findings, arranged according to level of support. (Note, I just don’t have time to type it all up, but am presenting all the top figures along with some others who are important but scored lower).


Abdul Aziz al-Hakim 51.27%

Ayad Allawi 47.01

Muqtada al-Sadr 45.82

Muhammad Bahr al-Ulum 37.51

Hussein Hadi al-Sadr 35.70

Adnan Pachachi 33.09

Fuad Masoum 31.63

Masoud Barzani 31.06

Jalal Talabani 30.49

Salamah al-Khafaji 28.23

Hareth al-Dhari 25.26

Abdul Karim al-Muhammadawi 17.95

Ahmad Chalabi 15.07

Raja al-Khuzai 11.18

This list is remarkable for the number of clerics at the top. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, Muqtada al-Sadr, Muhammad Bahr al-Ulum, and Hussein al-Sadr are all Shiite clergymen. The most popular Sunni aside from Adnan Pachachi on this list (why didn’t they ask about President Ghazi al-Yawir? It is bizarre.) is Hareth al-Dhari, the Sunni cleri who leads the Association of Muslim Scholars. AMS is leading a boycott of the elections, though, otherwise al-Dhari is a shoo-in for a seat in parliament.

The other thing that is remarkable about the list is how it is split between anti-American and pro-American figures. Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and his arch nemesis radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are in a virtual tie for second place, behind al-Hakim. Although al-Hakim earlier cooperated with the Americans, he is increasingly bitter. He spoke out against the US attack on Tel Afar, and today al-Jazeerah reports that he is threatening to reveal the details of Iraqi government torture of prisoners. Al-Dhari is anti-American, as well, though Hussein al-Sadr had dinner with Colin Powell and is a moderate, and Bahr al-Ulum served on the Interim Governing Council.

Anyway, for Muqtada al-Sadr to have a higher recognition rate than Iyad Allawi, and to have about the same level of support, is surely highly embarrassing to the Bush administration. For so many Shiite clerics to be at the top of the list is, likewise. These results were reported in the press (Robin Wright of the Washington Post clearly got access to all the slides or at least to people who had seen them). But it is highly unprofessional that IRI did not post the slides about the relative ranking of politicians to its web site (or at least not to the obvious part of its web site).

Since I am a fan of Dr. Raja’ al-Khuzai, I am sorry to see her numbers so low. Less than half of respondents recognized her name, and she did not place well (though perhaps well enough for a seat in parliament). These results are not surprising, since she led the charge last winter to stop the implementation of Islamic law in personal status matters in Iraq. Apparently that stand, though successful on the IGC, wasn’t very popular. (She is an obstetrician and headed a women’s hospital in Diwaniyah).

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