September 28, 2011


Iraqis more unhappy over economy, jobs

BAGHDAD: Iraqis are the most dissatisfied they have been in three years with their economy and are increasingly worried about government corruption and poor living standards as the country pulls itself back from years of war, according to a poll released on Tuesday.

The survey by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center underscores the struggle Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki's government still faces providing basic services and jobs for Iraqis more than eight years after the US invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

"We can clearly see a high level of public dissatisfaction with important aspects related to Iraq's economy," said Dalia Mogahed, the center's director. "There are concerns with regards to the ability to find employment, a decline in the standard of living, and corruption within the government."

The poll found growing pessimism among Iraqis about the direction in which their country is moving, concerns about providing for their families, the availability of jobs, and their general lack of confidence in governmental institutions.

More than half of Iraqis are dissatisfied with their standards of living, 65 percent said it was a bad time to find a job in their area and three quarters of those surveyed said they believed corruption was widespread in the government.

According to the poll, 36 percent of Iraqis have experienced a time in the last year when they did not have sufficient money to provide adequate shelter for themselves and their families.

Violence in Iraq has eased since the height of sectarian slaughter four years ago, but bombings and assassinations occur almost daily.

Iraqis frequently say one of their chief concerns remains poor basic services and the government has been slow to rebuild the country's battered infrastructure. The national power grid still provides only a few hours of electricity a day.

Inspired by the Arab Spring, hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Baghdad and other cities earlier this year demanding the government step up reforms and improve basic services such as electricity, water supplies and food rationing.

Al-Maliki's government has taken steps to ease public anger, boosting the national food ration program and pledging free power. But Iraqis say there has been little real improvement since February when the premier gave his ministers a 100-day ultimatum to meet the demands or face the sack.

The United States is scheduled to fully withdraw its military from Iraq by the end of the year when a security agreement ends. But Iraq's government is currently debating whether to keep some US troops on as trainers.

The Abu Dhabi Gallup Center results were based on face-to-face interviews in Iraq with 9,435 adults from 2004 to 2011.