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Survey Shows Arabs Discouraged About US Policies

An opinion poll of six Arab countries shows that optimism about U.S. policies in the Arab world has fallen sharply in the past year, and approval of President Barack Obama has dropped significantly.

The 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll, released Thursday, shows that 63 percent of Arabs surveyed are discouraged about American policies in the Middle East, with only 15 percent saying they are hopeful. In 2009, about half of those surveyed (51 percent) were optimistic about American policies.

When asked about President Obama, who has made it a priority to reach out to the Muslim world, the poll shows 63 percent disapproved of the president in 2010, compared to 23 percent last year.

In another significant change, the 2010 poll shows 77 percent of those surveyed believe Iran has a right to develop nuclear weapons, compared to just over half (53 percent) last year. This year, 57 percent believe a nuclear armed Iran would be a positive development for the Middle East, compared to 29 percent in 2009.

The Arab Public Opinion Poll was conducted by the University of Maryland and the Zogby International polling group. The survey was taken in June and July of this year and 3,976 people were polled in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

It has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.6 percent.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.