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australia_koala
(09/07/07) -

Australians Ponder Iraq, Afghanistan Missions

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – Many people in Australia believe their country should end its military commitment to the coalition effort in Iraq, according to a poll by AMR Interactive released by the Lowy Institute for International Policy. 57 per cent of respondents think Australia should not continue to be involved militarily in Iraq.

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – Many people in Australia believe their country should end its military commitment to the coalition effort in Iraq, according to a poll by AMR Interactive released by the Lowy Institute for International Policy. 57 per cent of respondents think Australia should not continue to be involved militarily in Iraq.

In addition, 46 per cent of respondent would bring an end to Australia’s military involvement in Afghanistan, while 46 per cent disagree.

The coalition effort against Saddam Hussein’s regime was launched in March 2003. At least 4,051 coalition soldiers—including two Australians—have died during the military operation. Australia originally committed 2,000 troops to the war, and now keeps about 1,600 soldiers there.

Afghanistan has been the main battleground in the war on terrorism. The conflict began in October 2001, after the Taliban regime refused to hand over Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Al-Qaeda operatives hijacked and crashed four airplanes on Sept. 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people.

At least 673 soldiers—including one Australian—have died in the war on terrorism, either in support of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom or as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). There are currently about 1,270 Australian troops serving in Afghanistan, most of them involved in reconstruction efforts.

On Sept. 5, Australian prime minister John Howard vowed to keep the troops serving in Iraq for as long as needed, saying, "We believe that progress is being made in Iraq, difficult though it is. And we do not believe this is the time to be setting any proposals for a scaling down of Australian forces."

Yesterday, opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP) leader Kevin Rudd said he would pull all Australian troops out of Iraq if he forms the government after this year’s parliamentary election, saying, "(U.S. president George W. Bush and I) discussed Iraq and Labor’s position. That is, a negotiated, staged withdrawal of combat troops starting the middle of next year."

Polling Data

Should Australia continue to be involved militarily in Iraq?

Yes

37%

No

57%

Don’t know

6%

Refused

1%

Should Australia continue to be involved militarily in Afghanistan?

Yes

46%

No

46%

Don’t know

8%

Refused

1%


Source: AMR Interactive / Lowy Institute for International Policy
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,003 Australian adults, conducted from May 21 to Jun. 2, 2007. Margin of error is 3.1 per cent.