News / Middle East

Arabs Have Negative View of United States

Recent poll shows most Arabs hold strongly unfavorable views of US policy in Middle East

A new poll of the Mideast finds that 63 percent of respondents hold unfavorable views of the United States.
A new poll of the Mideast finds that 63 percent of respondents hold unfavorable views of the United States.

Multimedia

Audio
Mohamed Elshinnawi

A recent poll of public opinion in the Middle East shows that most Arabs hold strongly negative attitudes toward the United States and U.S. policies in the Middle East.

The annual opinion poll, conducted during July by the University of Maryland and Zogby International, surveyed about 4,000 respondents living in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

Negatives views

It found that 63 percent of respondents hold unfavorable views of the United States.

University of Maryland professor Shibley Telhami, the principle investigator for the survey, notes that just one year ago, more than half of the respondents in a similar Zogby poll were hopeful about American policy in the Middle East.  
This year's survey indicates that only 15 percent of Arab citizens are hopeful. Telhami says the survey also reveals that President Barack Obama's disapproval rating among Arabs shot up from 23 percent in 2009 to 62 percent last month.

"They are frustrated because the settlement issue which the president raised early resulted only in a partial settlement freeze, not a full settlement freeze," says Telhami. "They are frustrated because so far the negotiations have been not really tackling the core final status issues in the way that the public expected, and I think that if an agreement is reached, public opinion will completely be transformed."

Public opinion of President Obama has dropped in the Arab world.
Public opinion of President Obama has dropped in the Arab world.

Disappointment

The Zogby International poll found 61 percent of the Arab public consider the Israeli-Palestinian conflict their greatest disappointment, while 27 percent cite Iraq.  

Despite Arab pessimism about an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, 86 percent of those surveyed said they are prepared to accept a two-state solution based on 1967 borders. But the number of Arabs who believe that Israel will never accept such a solution has increased from 45 percent in 2009 to 56 percent this year.

Kenneth Pollack, director of the Saban Center for Middle East policy at the Brookings Institution, believes growing Arab mistrust of the U.S. and of President Obama is due to the gap between his promises over the past year and his actual handling of the Palestinian - Israeli conflict.

"One of the obvious things that the president could do is to make a much bigger effort to try to mediate between Israelis and Palestinians, to try to bring them together, to try to push on both sides, to try to find ways to bridge differences and get a real peace process moving," says Pollack.

He believes the incremental approach Mr. Obama has pursued over the past year is not moving the peace process forward as quickly as Arabs in the region would like.

Nuclear Iran

Another significant change in this year's Mideast opinion survey is that 77 percent of Arabs now believe Iran should have the right to develop its nuclear capabilities and should not be pressured to stop its program.

"They do not see Iran as the biggest threat and they are more worried about Israel and about American foreign policy when you ask them to name the two countries that are the most threatening to you," says Telhami. "So Iran is evaluated in the context of the two bigger threats. When they are optimistic about our American foreign policy they are much tougher on Iran."

Telhami says 20 percent of the Arabs surveyed identify U.S. attitudes toward Islam as the issue about which they are most pleased.

Asked to name which world leader they admire most, respondents for the first time favored Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan.

"Because of his positions supporting Palestinians in Gaza war and after the incident of Gaza flotilla," says Telhami. "For that reason he rises to the top, so all these choices are really a function of who is playing the biggest role on the issues they care most about."

President Obama's name didn't even show up on this year's most-admired leaders list.

More Web use

The University of Maryland/Zogby International poll also looked at media consumption trends among Arabs. The survey found the use of the Internet continues to rise across the region. Forty percent of respondents say they use the web several times a week but the vast majority - 73 percent - visit mainly Arab websites.

The Qatar-based Aljazeera TV channel continues to lead viewers' preferences in the Arab world as the main source for reliable news.

Pollack of the Brookings Institution notes that ever since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, American policy makers have paid much closer attention to the undercurrents in the Arab world. He believes they understand that the anger and frustration captured in this new poll can have a very real and significant impact on American national security.

But Pollack believes Arab public opinion is just one piece of a complex mix of factors U.S. officials must weigh in formulating America's policy in the region.

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

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.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs