Iraqi Shiites oppose Iran, poll finds

PRINCETON, N.J., May 5 (UPI) — Only 18 percent of Iraqi Shiites surveyed have a favorable view of the Iranian role in Iraqi political affairs, a survey of 3,000 Iraqis indicated.

A poll conducted by Pechter Middle East Polls in Princeton, N.J., found that 43 percent of the Iraqi Shiites interviewed in April held a negative view of Iranian ties to their political leaders. Only 18 percent of the Shiites interviewed held a favorable view, the poll found.

Shiite Islam is the official religion of Iran while Iraq’s Muslim population is about 60 percent Shiite, Sunnis, who comprise about 35 percent of the population, ran the country while Saddam Hussein was in power.

The survey, conducted for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the findings run counter to the “conventional wisdom” regarding Iraqi opinions of Iranian political influence.

The poll found, meanwhile, that 17 percent of those interviewed had a favorable opinion of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. More than half — 52 percent — had a negative opinion of the Iranian president.

The Pechter survey indicated that around 66 percent of the Sunnis interviewed expressed dislike for Iranian influence.

“As the jockeying to form a new government continues in the weeks ahead, Iraqi and American leaders would do well to consider the Iraqi public’s surprisingly broad opposition to Iranian interference,” writes David Pollock, a senior fellow at WINEP.

Pechter lists the margin of error for the poll at 2 percentage points.

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