By Jim Lobe
"Attitudes toward the United States reached new lows through most of the Arab world over the past year, according to the findings of a major new survey [.pdf] of five Arab countries released here Thursday by Zogby International and the Arab American Institute (AAI).
Based on 3,500 face-to-face interviews of randomly selected adult respondents in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon, the survey found that the continuing deterioration in Washington's image was due primarily to U.S. policies in the region, particularly with respect to Iraq, Palestine, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Lebanon.
But it also found that attitudes toward U.S. cultural and political values have also become increasingly negative, compared to previous years' surveys, although not nearly as negative as Arab views of specific policies.
Particularly remarkable, negative opinions toward the United States have skyrocketed in two key Arab monarchies long considered close allies of Washington, according to the survey. Nine of 10 Jordanian respondents said they held predominantly negative views of the U.S., up from only 32 percent on early 2005. Likewise 87 percent of Moroccans said their views of the U.S. were unfavorable, up from 64 percent last year.
At least as worrisome to U.S. policymakers, a major beneficiary of growing Arab anger at Washington appeared to be Iran, according to AAI president James Zogby, who also acted as a consultant to Zogby International. "As America's numbers go down, Iran's goes up," he told reporters. "That's the reality, and we're playing right into it."
While Arab leaders, including those with predominantly Sunni populations, "are very much concerned [about rising Iranian influence], the Arab public has a very different view," he said, noting that the survey results showed that most respondents were not worried about Iran's nuclear program, particularly compared to Iraq and Palestine. More than seven in 10 respondents in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Morocco, as well as a majority in Lebanon, said U.S. efforts to curb Iran's nuclear program contributed to their negative views of Washington.......
"What this poll says to me is that Baker-Hamilton are right," he said. "If we want to salvage our credibility in Iraq, we have to address issues of concern to our [Arab] allies," he said. "It's risky for [Jordan's] King Abdullah to meet with George Bush when 90 percent of his population feels negatively toward America." .......
Overall, negative views of the U.S. were highest in Jordan (90 percent) and Morocco (87 percent), followed by Egypt (83 percent), and Saudi Arabia (82 percent).
In Lebanon, where opinions on a range of issues were highly polarized between Shi'a and Christian respondents, in particular, 68 percent of respondents said their views toward the U.S. were unfavorable, an increase from 60 percent in early 2005.....Continued."