Violence in Iraq continues to escalate in this first week of Ramadan. This comes as new polls reveal more about Iraqi public opinion.
The surge in violence continued Thursday in Baghdad, as 15 people were killed in a string of attacks across the city. Four died and 12 were wounded in two simultaneous bombings along busy Sadoun Street. Officials also reported finding more victims of sectarian death squads. And according to U.S. military officials, illegal militias are beginning to return to neighborhoods previously cleared by U.S. forces.
The surge in violence comes as a new poll conducted by Worldpublicopinion.org found that 7 in 10 Iraqis want U.S. forces to leave Iraq within a year. And an overwhelming majority believe the U.S. presence in the country is provoking more conflict than it is preventing.
Steven Kull is editor of Worldpublicopinion.org. He says, "The confidence in U.S. military forces is quite low. Overall, 84 percent say they have none or just a little confidence in U.S. military forces. With the Shia and the Sunni overwhelmingly having this feeling. The Kurds though, a modest majority [are] expressing still some confidence in U.S. forces."
A similar poll conducted by an American University showed the same findings.
The Bush administration has repeatedly stressed that victory in Iraq will not be easy and there will be setbacks along the way. But it says success in Iraq is critical to the overall war on terror.
Meanwhile, in a Washington Post article published Thursday, a U.S. inspector general has recommended the $75 million Baghdad police academy be closed. Officials say it is so poorly constructed it poses health risks to students. The training of a professional police force and army is considered essential, so that U.S. forces can hand over security responsibilities to the Iraqis and withdraw from the country. The Army Corps of Engineers says the Iraqi subcontractors who built the academy will be forced to fix the problems as part of their warranty work.
The continued violence and recent setbacks came as the month-long Islamic holiday of Ramadan began this week -- a time when U.S. officials were hoping there would be a decrease in violence.