Iraq War Increases the Threat of Terrorism in the World: Survey

A majority of Britons -- 64 percent -- continue to think the March 2003 invasion was a mistake, according to a Populus poll in February. Britain has the largest troop contingent in Iraq after the United States, with some 8,000 soldiers on the ground.

A demonstrator during a rally against the US-led war in Iraq in front of the US embassy in Caracas (AFP Photo)

But three years into the conflict, the 100th British troop death in Iraq on January 31 attracted only a brief flurry of newspaper headlines and public reaction was limited.

War-fatigue is also evident in the public reaction to British hostages held in Iraq.

Though Norman Kember, 74, is being held in captivity along with three other Christian peacemaker colleagues, rallies demanding his release attract just a few dozen people.

Back in late 2004, strong public emotion was aroused in Britain by the capture and killings of Ken Bigley and Margaret Hassan in Iraq.

The announcement Monday by Britain Defence Secretary John Reid that 800 British troops  -- 10 percent of the total contingent -- would be withdrawn from Iraq by May was met with little emotion by either advocates or opponents of the war.

British public opinion seems resigned to a long-term presence in the country, partly because Iraq faces the risk of descending into greater chaos should the foreign forces pull out.

The same poll found that a majority in 33 of the 35 countries surveyed thought that the invasion had increased the threat of terrorism in the world.

The last Polish survey found that 72 percent were against Polish troops being in Iraq.

In Denmark, public opinion is turning against the presence of Danish troops in Iraq. The last survey showed 61 percent opposition, up from 43 percent in July 2005.

Iraq is a hot topic in Italy, not least because of the forthcoming elections in April, where if the centre-left opposition take power, as opinion polls suggest is on course to happen, Italian soldiers will be pulled out of Iraq.

There as elsewhere in Europe, public opinion is largely opposed to the war which has cost the lives of 25 Italian troops.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced in January that Italy's entire force of some 2,600 soldiers would be pulled out by the end of the year.



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