Obama’s Popularity in Arab World Now Lower than Bush’s
Alana Goodman 07.13.2011 - 1:29 PM
James Zogby, the anti-Israel pollster who released these findings today, blames the drop in support for Obama in the Arab world on Obama’s failure to put the amount of pressure on Israel the Arab world wanted and expected. But according to the poll, the Arab world doesn’t seem to be happy with any of America’s foreign policy positions. Respondents rated Obama’s policies as the least popular, when compared with other leaders, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Killing Osama bin Laden also contributed to the Arab world’s negative views of Obama. In all six countries surveyed – Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia – the majority of respondents said killing bin Laden made them “less favorable toward the U.S.” Notably, in Egypt, only 2 percent said the al Qaeda leader’s death made them view America more positively.
Most surprisingly, Obama’s approval ratings are even lower than President Bush’s before he left office in 2008. They dropped from 26 percent to 12 percent in Morocco, 9 percent to 5 percent in Egypt, 16 percent to 10 percent in Jordan and 22 percent to 12 percent in the UAE (though they did improve in Saudi Arabia, and tick up slightly in Lebanon).
Obama’s unique background was supposed to make him a prime candidate to improve the relationship between the U.S. and the Arab world. But more than halfway through his first term, not only has there been no progress, it looks like relations are worse than before.
President Obama, whose standing abroad helped earn him a Nobel Peace Prize in his first year in office, has declined in popularity in the Arab world since his Cairo speech in the summer of 2009. From an American Arab Institute poll conducted by Zogby International:
With the 2008 election of Barack Obama, favorable attitudes toward the U.S. more than doubled in many Arab countries. But in the two years since his famous “Cairo speech,” ratings for both the U.S. and the President have spiraled downwards. The President is seen overwhelmingly as failing to meet the expectations set during his speech, and the vast majority of those surveyed disagree with U.S policies.
In five out of the six countries surveyed, the U.S. was viewed less favorably than Turkey, China, France—or Iran. Far from seeing the U.S. as a leader in the post-Arab Spring environment, the countries surveyed viewed “U.S. interference in the Arab world” as the greatest obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East, second only to the continued Palestinian occupation.