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Combatting Da’esh: We Are Losing
the Battle for Hearts and Minds
Munqith M. Dagher
IIACSS, Iraq
Dec. 2015
Methodology
• F2F simple random sample in Mosul: 15th June
2014. N=200
• F2F snowballing samples, Mosul and Anbar,
June 20...
Nationwide survey 8th June 2014
Introduction
• For the last two years I have argued that ISIL (Da’esh) is a
symptom rather...
1. Steady increase in support for Da’esh
Why doesn’t the current strategy work ?
Dec. 2015
Thinking about life in general, is it better or worse today than eighteen
months ago?
42%
55%
3%
77%
21%
2%
Wors...
Dec. 2015
In your opinion, to what extent does Da’esh represent the views and interests
of people like you?
10%
26%
39%
72...
Dec. 2015
What is your primary preference for the future of Mosul?
39.2
56.7
.8
3.3
0.0 10.0 20.0 30.0 40.0 50.0 60.0
Da'e...
2. Armed campaign players are neither trusted nor effective
Why doesn’t the current strategy work ?
Dec. 2015
Why do you want to keep the status quo in the city?
13
16
23
16
34
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
An attack on Mosul w...
Dec. 2015
Some say that there has been a conspiracy by the U.S. government to
support ISIL. What do you think?
Agree
Disag...
Dec. 2015
What do you view as the biggest threat to your family’s
security at this time?
45.8
37.5
8.3
5.8
2.5
0.0 5.0 10....
People in Mosul worry about the U.S. airstrikes June 2015
43%
57%
Agree Oppose
Do you agree with or oppose the U.S. airstr...
13%
15%
83%
76%
Religious Shiite militias
Popular Moblization forces
Concerned Not concerned
High concerns about the role ...
3. People clearly don’t trust current alternatives
Why doesn’t the current strategy work ?
Low trust in Iraqi institutions
30%
38%
18%
68%
60%
82%
Iraqi police
Iraqi Army
Iraqi parliament
No confidence Confidence
...
Dec. 2015
In your opinion, do the following represent the views and interests of people
like you?
26%
30%
38%
72%
68%
59%
...
Conclusion
The current data confirm that we are losing the
battle for hearts and minds:
• More Mosul citizens support Da’e...
Combating Da'esh: We Are Losing the Battle for Hearts and Minds
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Combating Da'esh: We Are Losing the Battle for Hearts and Minds

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Veteran Iraqi pollster Munqith M. Dagher presents his findings from public-opinion surveys of Mosul residents since the so-called "Islamic State" - also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Da'esh - seized control of the city.

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Combating Da'esh: We Are Losing the Battle for Hearts and Minds

  1. 1. Combatting Da’esh: We Are Losing the Battle for Hearts and Minds Munqith M. Dagher IIACSS, Iraq Dec. 2015
  2. 2. Methodology • F2F simple random sample in Mosul: 15th June 2014. N=200 • F2F snowballing samples, Mosul and Anbar, June 2015. N=200 • F2F quota snowballing interviews in Mosul, Dec. 2015. N=120
  3. 3. Nationwide survey 8th June 2014 Introduction • For the last two years I have argued that ISIL (Da’esh) is a symptom rather than a disease in itself. My theory to explain the sudden rise of ISIL in Iraq and the region is based on hundreds of thousands of face-to-face interviews that have been conducted over the last decade. • There have long been “red flags” in the Sunni areas controlled by Al Qaeda during the years 2006-2009, and later on by ISIL (Da’esh) from 2014 till now. Deep dissatisfaction with the central government has long been clear in the Sunni triangle. • The survey results suggest that Da’esh is now winning the battle for hearts and minds among people in Mosul, while opinion is turning against those seeking to extricate Da’esh. Now there is a spike in support for Da’esh. • One reason for this uptick in support is the growing cost of collateral damage in the fight against Da’esh, as opposed to anything Da’esh itself is doing to improve peoples’ lives.
  4. 4. 1. Steady increase in support for Da’esh Why doesn’t the current strategy work ?
  5. 5. Dec. 2015 Thinking about life in general, is it better or worse today than eighteen months ago? 42% 55% 3% 77% 21% 2% Worse Better Same June 2015 Dec. 2015 More people say that their current life is better than it was under the Iraqi central government
  6. 6. Dec. 2015 In your opinion, to what extent does Da’esh represent the views and interests of people like you? 10% 26% 39% 72% 67% 57% June 2014 June 2015 Dec. 2015 Yes No Consistent rise in support for Da’esh
  7. 7. Dec. 2015 What is your primary preference for the future of Mosul? 39.2 56.7 .8 3.3 0.0 10.0 20.0 30.0 40.0 50.0 60.0 Da'esh maintains control over the city Da'esh leave Mosul forever Other DK/NA While the majority opposes Da’esh, nearly 40% want them to stay in Mosul
  8. 8. 2. Armed campaign players are neither trusted nor effective Why doesn’t the current strategy work ?
  9. 9. Dec. 2015 Why do you want to keep the status quo in the city? 13 16 23 16 34 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 An attack on Mosul would kill too many innocent people. I do not trust the Kurdish forces. I do not trust the Iraqi Army. I do not trust the Americans. I support the Islamic State’s caliphate. Distrust of those who would counter Da’esh runs deep
  10. 10. Dec. 2015 Some say that there has been a conspiracy by the U.S. government to support ISIL. What do you think? Agree Disagree 41% 50% 60% 37% Dec. 2015 June 2014 Conspiracy theories on the rise
  11. 11. Dec. 2015 What do you view as the biggest threat to your family’s security at this time? 45.8 37.5 8.3 5.8 2.5 0.0 5.0 10.0 15.0 20.0 25.0 30.0 35.0 40.0 45.0 50.0 American and coalition air attacks The security forces of the Islamic State The Iraqi Army and Shiite militia (Popular Mobilization forces) Crime Kurdish forces U.S. airstrikes and the Iraqi Army perceived as a threat to Mosul people’s security
  12. 12. People in Mosul worry about the U.S. airstrikes June 2015 43% 57% Agree Oppose Do you agree with or oppose the U.S. airstrikes ?
  13. 13. 13% 15% 83% 76% Religious Shiite militias Popular Moblization forces Concerned Not concerned High concerns about the role of Iranian-supported Shiite militias in fighting Da’esh June 2015
  14. 14. 3. People clearly don’t trust current alternatives Why doesn’t the current strategy work ?
  15. 15. Low trust in Iraqi institutions 30% 38% 18% 68% 60% 82% Iraqi police Iraqi Army Iraqi parliament No confidence Confidence How confident are you in the following when it comes to improving the situation in Iraq?
  16. 16. Dec. 2015 In your opinion, do the following represent the views and interests of people like you? 26% 30% 38% 72% 68% 59% Iraqi central government Current Sunni politicians Current Mosul politicians No Yes People in Mosul don’t trust their politicians
  17. 17. Conclusion The current data confirm that we are losing the battle for hearts and minds: • More Mosul citizens support Da’esh than before, though the majority still rejects them. • One of the important interpretations of this increase is that people are not sure about the future and are showing a clear lack of confidence in the future. • Iraqi state alternatives for people in Mosul are not considered trustworthy or qualitatively better than Da’esh. • Current military strategy does not work and actually helps Da’esh garner more support. • A new political and communication strategy needs to be implemented to win the hearts and minds of people under control of Da’esh. The Iraqi partners (whether military or political) must be more reliable and trusted by the people.

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