ORB/IIACSS poll in Iraq and Syria gives rare insight into public opinion

Despite the chaos, majority of Iraqis and Syrians still believe in peace New research from ORB International and IIACSS (Baghdad) has found that despite a rapid deterioration in the security situation over the last 12 months, three in four (75%) say it is ‘very/somewhat likely that Iraqis can put their differences aside and live side by side again”. Despite a four year revolution in Syria, 65% agree with the same statement.

There is also little support for either dividing the country and creating a federal system.  74% disagree that the solution in Iraq is to divide the country into autonomous regions.  In Syria, 70% oppose dividing the country up.

These are the findings of a survey conducted in nine governorates of Iraq and all fourteen governorates in Syria, including those under the control of ISIL.  ORB has been tracking public opinion in Iraq since 2004 and in Syria since 2013.  IIACSS have completed more than 2 million face-to-face interviews throughout Iraq over the previous 11 years.

 The survey reveals opinions are divided on support for the coalition airstrikes that are currently taking place.  While 47% Syria/44% Iraq support them, 49% Syria and 56% Iraq oppose them.  It is interesting to note that opinion between sunnis and shias in Iraq here is largely similar – while 52% of sunnis oppose them, 61% of shias think the same.

The poll also confirms a deteriorating environment.  A majority in both countries say things are heading in the wrong direction (66% Iraq, 57% Syria),  while in Iraq 67% that they preferred their life two years ago before the conflict started, increasing to 71% among those from ISIL majority controlled governorates of Anbar, Ninevah and Salah al-din.  In Syria, just 21% prefer life now to what life was like under the full control of Bashar al Assad – 40% preferred life four years ago, 35% saying life is essentially the same. 

Across the entire sample, just 5% in Iraq say that ISIL is having a positive influence on the matters in Iraq today, significantly lower than any other institution.  However, in Syria 22% say they are having a positive influence.  As well as ISIL there is also widespread disillusionment with the impact the Iraqi Parliament is also having – 81% saying they are having a negative impact.

The advance of ISIL In Iraq has many seeking reasons for their presence in Iraq.  81% Syria/85% Iraq believe that ISIL is a foreign/American made group, while in Iraq with the larger split in sunni/shia population 75% also agree that it is a result of sectarian problems across the region.  Previous Prime Minister al-Maliki is also blamed by 71% as a driving force in the creating of the terror group.  A majority (51%) also believe that “getting rid of ISIL is not possible without solving the problems in Syria also”

Johnny Heald, Managing Director of ORB International said:

“These results show that the situation on the group for ordinary Syrians and Iraqis is deteriorating.  This data and other qualitative insight suggest to me that some kind of concerted effort to undermine ISIL needs to gather momentum.  The current airstrike campaign lacks majority support in both countries, while opinion in both countries prefers a political rather than military solution to the crisis.  What also seems clear is that both Iraq and Syria can not be dealt with in isolation, that ISIL will not be defeated in Iraq without jointly solving the Syrian challenge”.

Dr Munqith Dagher, Managing Director of IIACSS said”

These results confirm that Sunni’s in Iraq including those who are living under ISIL control are looking at Daesh as a terrorist organization and want their communities to be free as soon as possible. Yet they want the Iraqi army, coalition forces and their tribes to participate in the removal of Daesh and have deep concerns about the participation of Shia’s militias or Popular mobilization forces.  Current findings bring some good news for Prime Minister Al-Abadi as he received a very high level of  trust from the sunni population; this is the first time since 2003 that 70% of Sunni’s show trust in their prime minister. Yet Al-Abadi must be very smarter than his predecessor who was also popular among Sunnis in thee early stages of his first term when he attacked Shia’s militias in Basrah but then turned his back on public opinion and implemented sectarian policies which have fuelled the current crisis we see today.

Notes to editors:-

Sample Size and Mode of Field Work:

ORB and IIACSS interviewed a representative sample of 1,234 adults across across 9 governorates throughout Iraq – Ninevah, Kirkuk, Salah al-din, Anbar, Diyala, Baghdad, Babil, Wasit and Basrah.  The survey therefore in not nationally representative as it did not cover the three Kurdish regions, nor six predominately Shia southern regions of Iraq.  Fieldwork took place June 4th - 22nd 2015.  

In Syria, ORB interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1365 adults across all 14 governorates throughout Syria – including those under the control of ISIL in Raqaa, DerZor and Hasakeh.  Rather than using an outdated census, ORB has weighted the data to the average unweighted demographic profile from its previous three surveys conducted throughout Syria.  Fieldwork took place June 10th – July 2nd 2015.  

About ORB International

Established in 1994,ORBhas grown to become one of the UK's leading bespoke corporate and issues-led market research companies.  It is the UK sole representative of WIN/Gallup International.  IIACSS is the Iraq sole representative of WIN/Gallup International.

ORB International has been polling in fragile and conflict states regularly since 2004.  Our work has covered Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Mali etc.  We have worked successfully with over 150 clients in the private, public and voluntary sectors in over 80 countries. Driven by a team of highly experienced market research professionals with specialist knowledge across a wide breadth of sectors, we are proud to deliver both qualitative and quantitative research at the highest level.

We not only understand how best to research stakeholder attitude, behaviour and opinion, but also how clients can best use our analysis and findings both strategically (in developing policy and communications) and tactically (for advertising, generating media interest and building a winning argument across the stakeholder community).

About WIN/Gallup International

WIN/Gallup International is the leading association in market research and polling and is made up of the77 largest independent market research and polling firms in their respective countries with combined revenue of over €500 million and covering95%of the world’s market.

For more than 60 years WIN/Gallup International Members have demonstrated their expert ability to conduct multi-country surveys on a comparable basis and deliver the highest quality. Their Members are leading national institutes with a profound local knowledge of research methods and techniques, statistical sources, customs and culture differences of its own country and carefully selected by the Association Board. With only one Member agency per country, Members work together on a daily basis to share knowledge, new research techniques and tools, as well as to provide the most appropriate solutions to international research projects and service our clients to the best of our abilities.

Disclaimer:Gallup International Association or its members are not related to Gallup Inc., headquartered in Washington D.C which is no longer a member of Gallup International Association. Gallup International Association does not accept responsibility for opinion polling other than its own. We require that our surveys be credited fully as Gallup International (not Gallup or Gallup Poll). For further details see website: www.wingia.com

For more information:


Johnny Heald

ORB International


+44 207 611 5270

Dr Munqith Dagher

+962 799 672 229

Zack King

Madano Partnership


+44 20 7593 4000

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