News

    Arabs More Responsive to President Obama  

    Multimedia

    As President Obama prepares to address Muslims around the world, questions about the mood and opinions of Arabs are surfacing. A new poll on attitudes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates shows that the election of President Obama is fueling hopes about U.S. Middle East policy. But it also reveals that most Arabs hold unfavorable views of the United States.

    Attitudes in the Arab world toward the United States are still negative, according to the 2009 poll conducted by the University of Maryland with Zogby International.

    Seventy-seven percent of those polled say the United States is the second-greatest threat after Israel, still an improvement compared to the 2008 poll. Forty-five percent of Arabs polled have a favorable view of President Obama.

    University of Maryland Professor Shibley Telhami commissioned the survey.

    "They like him. They are open to him. They are hopeful," he says. "The majority is expressing hopefulness toward American foreign policy since he has become the president, but that has not yet been translated into profound change in attitudes toward American foreign policy."

    Arab-Israeli peace, troops in Iraq key issues

    More than 4,000 people in six Arab states were canvassed in April and May. An overwhelming majority identified the Arab-Israeli conflict as a key issue, and 41 percent said a peace agreement brokered by Washington would change their view of the United States.

    If American troops are withdrawn from Iraq by the year 2011, 51 percent said they will hold favorable views of the United States.

    Telhami says, for Arabs, actions speak louder than words.

    "In the end, they are going to judge on the basis of actions, and I think the president himself in his first interview with Al-Arabiya said, 'I know you are not going to judge me by what I say. In the end, you are going to judge me by what I do,' and I think the administration understands this."    

    The poll also inquired about which news networks Arabs watch, with Al Jazeera, funded by Qatar's government, coming out on top, and the U.S.-government-financed Alhurra finishing near the bottom.

    However, a spokeswoman for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the U.S. agency that oversees Alhurra, says the Zogby poll gauges audience preference. But Letitia King says her agency measures audience reach, which shows the U.S. government channel reaches nearly 27 million people each week across the Middle East. 

    Obama's election inspires hope

    Zogby International conducted a separate poll in the same Arab countries on President Obama's first 100 days in office.

    In four of the countries - Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Lebanon - a majority said Barack Obama's election as president boosted their approval of the United States.

    President Bush, by contrast, was disliked in the Arab world because of the Iraq invasion and the widely held view that his administration launched a war on Islam.

    James Zogby is president of the Arab American Institute and a senior analyst for Zogby International, headed by his brother, John Zogby. He says the polls indicate President Obama's plan to withdraw from Iraq and build better relations with the Muslim world will likely improve U.S.-Arab ties.

    "I think he already has begun to do that. The question is he has a little more work to do to continue to deliver on that, but banning torture and changing the direction already in terms of the rhetoric that has been used, his speech in Turkey, what he will do when he goes to Cairo, all of these things will contribute to that."

    The unfavorable views of the United States are not based on religion or values but on U.S. policies in the Middle East, Zogby says the surveys show.

    He says Arabs are expecting President Obama to address critical issues like the Arab-Israeli conflict during his upcoming address to Muslims around the world.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora