Thursday, December 21, 2006

Zogby: Arab Attitudes 2006

Zogby International has just released the latest annual installment in its five nation surveys of Arab public opinion. The results won't surprise anyone, but they are still depressing.

Favorable attitudes towards the United States now stand at 12% in Saudi Arabia, 14% in Egypt, 7% in Morocco, 5% in Jordan, and 28% in Lebanon. In Jordan, the 5% represents a major decline (although it is worth noting that the Zogby numbers - 34% favorable in 2002 and 33% favorable in 2005 - were consistently much higher than the Pew survey results taken at comparable intervals).

62% of Saudis, 72% of Egyptians, 57% of Moroccans, 76% of Jordanians, and 47% of Lebanese said that their attitudes towards the US had gotten worse compared to a year ago. American policies in Iraq and Palestine were far and away the dominant issues driving negative views: 80% each in Saudi Arabia, 60% for Iraq and 55% for Palestine in Egypt, 72% and 78% for Morocco, 63% and 70% for Jordan. Lebanese focused more on Lebanon.

Arabs in these five countries continue to admire American education (in no country are negative views higher than positives), but otherwise the political hostility to the US seems to be bleeding over into cultural and economic realms more powerfully than in the past. That's something which Pew also found in its major 2006 study. Indeed, this is the first year that Zogby has found that negative views of "the American people" outweighed positive views (only Lebanon still has a net positive rating for the American people, although Jordan (31 fav/33 unfav) and Morocco (28/29) are close.

The one bright spot: the most important factor driving more positive views of the US was "American democracy", at least in Saudi Arabia (68%), Egypt (39%), and Lebanon (24%). That's noteworthy because the surveys were done in the middle of November, shortly after the Democratic sweep of Congressional elections. That finding could, perhaps, speak for itself.

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