LONDON (AFP) — Iraqis are more optimistic about their lives and the violence-scarred country's future than at any time in the last three years, an opinion poll indicated Monday.
Fifty-five percent of those questioned for the poll said their lives were good against 39 percent in the last poll in August 2007, although there were big differences in satisfaction levels among Sunnis, Shias and Kurds.
"Broadly, people think life in the country will continue to improve, although there are still problems with the supply of basic facilities such as electricity and water and the availability of jobs," said the authors of the poll, taken a little over a year after the start of the US troop "surge" in Iraq.
Commissioned by the BBC and US television channel ABC News along with NHK of Japan and ARD of Germany, the survey found that 62 percent thought security in their own area had improved, compared to 43 percent the previous year.
Most Iraqis believe the US military presence makes the security situation worse, albeit down from 72 percent last year to 61 percent, while the number who want an immediate US pullout has gone down nine points to 38 percent.
The survey reflected a clear sectarian divide, with Sunnis noticeably less happy than their Shia countrymen.
Sixty-two percent of Shias said their life was good, up 12 percent on last year, while only 33 percent of Sunnis said the same, a 21 percent increase.
The Kurds are the happiest, with 73 percent saying life is good.
The poll, the fifth such survey, questioned more than 2,000 Iraqis across the country in February.
The previous poll, last August, came just after the "surge" reached full strength in July, having started in February.
In other findings:
- 45 percent think their lives will be better next year, against 29 percent last year; 51 per cent of Shias think so, compared to 29 percent of Sunnis.
- 46 per cent believe things will be better for Iraq overall next year, against 23 percent who thought that in 2007; 59 percent of Shias are optimistic but only 17 percent of Sunnis.
A separate poll published Monday for Britain's ORB/Channel 4 television found more than two-thirds of Iraqis believe US-led coalition forces should leave.
Still, more than a third said they wanted the US and Britain to play a bigger role in rebuilding Iraq and 55 percent said they were optimistic about the future.
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