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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid