Researchers from Oxford Research International, a private organisation affiliated with Oxford University, worked alongside researchers from Baghdad and Kirkuk University to produce the most widespread survey of Iraqi public opinion since the invasion of Iraq.

A team of 46 researchers interviewed 3244 Iraqis across the country over the age of 15, the overwhelming majority of whom said they were happy Saddam Hussein had been removed, but not in the way that he was removed.

Democracy

Dr Christoph Sahm, Director of Oxford Research International told Aljazeera.net that Iraqis were thirsty for democracy, but not the model the US was keen for Iraq to follow.

"The people have a strong commitment to democracy, but not necessarily in the western sense. Iraqi people have a clear idea of how they want their country to be run, and that's in a fair way where people have a choice and where the country is run by the people for the people."

Dr Sahm told Aljazeera.net many policy makers were concerned Iraqis would want to establish an Islamic government, similar to the government in neighbouring Iran. But the results of the survey revealed this fear to be unfounded.

" Iraq is a secular country and even though 70% of Iraqi's surveyed said that they had confidence in the country's religious leaders, the overwhelming majority were not interested in the establishment of a Islamic state."

Media

Dr Sahm criticised media coverage relating to Iraq, saying that the country was often painted in an untrue light, perpetuating stereotypes of Muslims and Arabs.

Dr Sahm told Aljazeera.net he hoped the findings of the survey would help the media to understand Iraqi people better.

US troops have been met with
fierce resistance in Iraq

"There was a fear factor that came through a lot in media coverage relating to the war. Many journalists held the view that Iraq was a country at rock bottom, and that these crazy Iraqi Arabs would elect another bunch of crazy Muslims to represent them on the governmental level."

Lack of trust

Among those Iraqis surveyed 73% said they lacked trust in the US occupiers, and 73% had a similar lack of trust in the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), led by Paul Bremer.

More than half of those surveyed said there was no room for the CPA in any future Iraqi government and the establishment of security in the country was their main concern.

The findings of the survey indicate that the US led occupation forces currently in control of Iraq are failing to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis nearly nine months after the US-led invasion of the country.

"The very troops which liberated Iraqis from Saddam are the most mistrusted in Iraq today", says Dr Sahm.