Monday, April 14, 2008

Arab world sees U.S. in poor light, poll shows

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Eight out of 10 Arabs have an unfavorable view of the United States and only six percent believe the U.S. troop build-up in Iraq in the last year has worked, said a poll of six Arab countries released Monday.

The poll by the University of Maryland and Zogby International, also found most Arabs did not see U.S. foe Iran as a threat and they sympathized more with Hamas in the Palestinian Territories than U.S.-backed Fatah.

"There is a growing mistrust and lack of confidence in the United States," said Shibley Telhami, a University of Maryland professor in charge of the annual poll.

The survey canvassed the opinions of about 4,000 people over the past month in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. It has a margin of error of about 1.6 percent.

Of those polled, 83 percent had an unfavorable view of the United States and 70 percent had no confidence in the superpower.

"You see this (mistrust) in the number of people who are more comfortable with the US withdrawal from Iraq," said Telhami, noting that more people in this year's annual survey wanted the United States to leave Iraq.

Last year, 44 percent believed Iraqis would find a way to bridge their differences if the United States pulled out but that figure rose to 61 percent this year.

Only six percent of the respondents believed the U.S. boost of troop levels in Iraq last year by 30,000 had worked to reduce the conflict and one in three mistrusted news reports that violence had declined at all.

Eight in 10 Arabs believed that Iraqis were worse off than they were before the U.S. invasion in March 2003, while 2 percent thought they were better off.

The biggest concern was that Iraq would remain unstable and spread instability in the region, with 59 percent voicing this worry over 42 percent last year.

In contrast to U.S. government views, most Arabs did not see Iran as a major threat and 67 percent considered Tehran had the right to a nuclear program.


Over 80 percent of respondents identified the Arab-Israeli conflict as a key issue but just over half -- 55 percent -- did not believe there would ever be a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians despite U.S. efforts to broker a deal between the two by the end of this year......"

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