Poll: Arabs discouraged by US policies, back nuclear-armed Iran

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A new poll by Zogby International and the University of Maryland has found that Arabs in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are discouraged by US policies, have little confidence in US president Barack Obama and for the first time, a majority of poll respondents support a nuclear-armed Iran.

The poll results are a "stark contrast" from last year's results, according to USA Today. Last year 51% of respondents were "optimistic" about US policy in the Middle East; this year only 16% are optimistic and 64% are "discouraged". Also, two-thirds of poll respondents disapproved of the job Barack Obama is doing. Last year, his approval ratings were high.

Though most poll respondents still say that they suspect that Iran is attempting to get weapons of mass destruction, for the first time a majority say that it would be a good thing for Iran to get them. University of Maryland Professor Shibley Telhami says that most Arabs think that Iran won't use the weapons and the professor, who headed the poll, also said that "when [Arabs are] optimistic about American foreign policy, they are much tougher on Iran. So a year ago, in 2009, when you had a majority being optimistic about American policy in the Middle East, only 29 percent said Iran having nuclear weapons would be positive for the Middle East. This year, when you have two-thirds being pessimistic about American foreign policy, you have a larger percentage saying maybe it will be better if Iran has nuclear weapons."

Are you "optimistic" or "discouraged" about US policy in the Middle East?

The new poll also reveals that the United States and Israel are also viewed as bigger threats to the Middle East than Iran.

Telhami also said that "what this poll reveals is a backlash against the United States, reflecting the loss of hope that people had in what they thought were to be the policies of the new President Obama. It's really people venting by supporting 'the enemy of my enemy.'"

The poll also found that most watch Al Jazeera for their international news, and that over half of the respondents also watch American or European movies, shows or music videos daily.