I’ve really enjoyed watching the warbloggers clutch the Anbar province to their collective bosoms (an act that has gone surprisingly unnoticed by Anbar Althouse), overjoyed that finally here were some Iraqis who could see that deep down we are really nice guys who don’t just want to sleep with them, steal their oil and then never call again. Unfortunately, it seems that the Anbaristas (Muslims who serve coffee) just aren’t that into us:
Al Qaeda, it should be said, is overwhelmingly â€” almost unanimously â€” unpopular in Anbar, as it is in the rest of Iraq. But our enemiesâ€™ enemies are not necessarily our friends. The United States, it turns out, is equally unpopular there.
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 â€” up from 49 percent when we polled there in March, and far above the national average.
Withdrawal timetable aside, every Anbar respondent in our survey opposed the presence of American forces in Iraq â€” 69 percent â€œstronglyâ€ so. Every Anbar respondent called attacks on coalition forces â€œacceptable,â€ far more than anywhere else in the country. All called the United States-led invasion wrong, including 68 percent who called it â€œabsolutely wrong.â€ No wonder: Anbar, in western Iraq, is almost entirely populated by Sunni Arabs, long protected by Saddam Hussein and dispossessed by his overthrow.
There are critical improvements in Anbar. Most important have been remarkable advances in confidence in the Iraqi Army and police. In ABCâ€™s survey in March, not a single respondent rated local security positively â€” now 38 percent do. Nonetheless, nobody surveyed in Anbar last month gave the United States any credit. Ratings of living conditions remain dismal: respondents were deeply dissatisfied with the availability of electricity and fuel, jobs, medical care and a host of other elements of daily life. And the violence, while sharply down, has hardly ended: One in four reported that car bombs or suicide attacks had occurred near them in the last six months. Last weekâ€™s murder of Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi, an Anbar sheik who had allied himself with the United States, only underscored this grim reality.
I see a walk of shame in General Petraeus’ future.