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A Six Country Study: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia (KSA), and UAE

by edwin Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 03:11:16 PM EST

I was over at Abu Aardvark and saw an article to a new Telhami/Zogby Arab public opinion survey.

Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development University of Maryland/Zogby International 2006 Annual Arab Public Opinion Survey (pdf)

A Six Country Study: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia (KSA), and UAE

If one were to summarize in a sentence, it would be France is good, the US is bad, and the UAE sometimes marches to a beat of an American drummer.

At 108 pages it may seem daunting. In fact it is page after page of graphs. Dive in.


Clearly, there is strong western influence, and support for the western life style. The US is now seen as a villain, but people still haven't given up on the west. France has taken over as the beacon of light. In some ways my feeling is that Democracy is more important than the survey seemed to suggest.

Here are some of the statistics that interested me:

Osama Bin Laden is not popular. His support ranges from 0 in Lebanon to 5% in Egypt. Chirac and Hassan Nasrallah are the most popular leaders listed. Over 50% of the population liked leaders that were not listed in every country except the UAE.

Interestingly, on disliked world leaders, Bush is the most disliked by a sizable number of people, ranging from 34 to 57%. There were two choices for Israel. In no country were the two leaders combined equal to Bush. In the UAE Sharon and Olmert count for 5%. Over half the people in Egypt picked someone else. In all countries the "other" was higher than the dislike for Israel.

For there to be one super power, what country should that be produced the interesting result of  - drum roll - France- except in the UAE where the Stars and Stripes still rule.

The effect of politics on purchases is not as great as I would have expected. By far most people look at the price and quality of an item. Politics of where the product was made are definitely secondary, with a high of 33% in KSA, and a low of 5% in the UAE.

Under what steps would improve your views of the US most? (Multiple answers must have been allowed) the two big ones are Palestinian state with capital in East Jerusalem (62%), and the US leaving Iraq (33%). Stopping economic and military aid to Israel is third (22%).

The Palestinian issue has indeed become a cause celeberte in the Middle East. Israel is not as big an issue as one might expect, outside of the issue of the Palestinian people. 88% consider Palestine in their top 5 issues. 5% not in their top five issues. The lack of concern - at 33% had concern over the invasion of Iraq was surprising. Oh yes - 8% want even more pushing to spread democracy in the Middle East. Certainly there is a hunger for democracy.

Not to surprising is the attitudes to the US: ranging from a low of 5% (Jordan) who are either very favourable or somewhat favourable to the US to a high of 35% (UAE).

When it comes to democracy 65% of the people do not believe that democracy is the real objective of the US. Only in the UAE was the US given the benefit of the doubt, where 62% believed that the US was trying to spread democracy - and 46% feeling the US was doing it the wrong way.

There was strong identification that what was important in judging the US was not values, but policy. The policies of the US are perceived to be:

Controlling oil (83%)
Protecting Israel (75%)
Weakening the Muslim World (69%)
Desire to Dominate the Region (68%)
Preventing the spread of WMD (39%)
Promoting Peace and Stability (10%)
Spreading Human Rights (10%)
Spreading Democracy (9%)

When it comes to Democrats and Republicans 16% believe that the Democrats are better than the Republicans, 8% think that the Democrats are worse, and 58% believe that there is no difference.

The war in Iraq has brought Less Peace 81%, more terrorism 80%, and less democracy 69%. There seems to be unreal expectations over the Iraq war with 44% believing that if only the US will leave Iraqis will find a way to bridge their differences - with Lebanon being an exception. For the vast majority (77%) the execution of Sadam Husain will either have no effect or make things worse.

Some mild surprises in regard to Iran as well. 61% favour the Iranian nuclear program. 51% believe that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. In every country except the UAE more people believe that Iran is trying for nukes than is engaging in peaceful purposes.

On the Israel/Lebanon war Hizbullah was considered more positively by 50% or more of the population in every country except - you guessed it Lebanon. 37% of the population viewed them more positively, 33% less positively.

Identity was in particular interesting.

When you think about yourself, which of the following is your most important identity?

As a Muslim (45%)
As a citizen of your own country (29%)
As an Arab (20%)
As a citizen of the world (3%)
As a Christian (1%)

This has changed radically from 2004. Identity as a Muslim as gone way up, and citizen has gone way down. This becomes even more interesting with a few more questions. Nationalism still holds for the types of decisions that a government should make - 42% say a government should make its decisions based on what is best for the country. Only 6% are internationalists - favouring decisions on what is best for the world.

Lebanon (72%) and the UAE (81%) are definitely at odds on this question. Citizenship is far more important than Muslim or Arab identity.

People feel that Arab governments have less in common with each other than 5 years ago. This is true in all the countries. Also, Arab people have less in common with each other than 5 years ago. So while the identification as a Muslim as gone up, there appears to also be the belief that people have less in common with each other than 5 years ago - recognizing that Arab and Muslim identity are not quite the same thing.

Lastly, Al Jazeera is king. 51% watch Al Jazerra for their news.

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maybe they love us for our freedom...
by oldfrog on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 06:11:57 PM EST
Thanks, excellent summation.

Interesting that the islamic identity has won so much on different nationalisms, considering this question:

In comparison with five years ago, do you feel the Arab people have more in common or less in common with eachother, or have things remained about the same?

More in common 19
Less in common 43
Remained about the same 34



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by A swedish kind of death on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 06:34:33 PM EST
Thanks for the link. One quibble - you interpret some of the attitudes about Iraq as follows:

There seems to be unreal expectations over the Iraq war with 44% believing that if only the US will leave Iraqis will find a way to bridge their differences - with Lebanon being an exception.

Seems to me this is pure editorializing. Why is it unrealistic, for instance, to think that the situation won't get better until the US gets its sorry ass out of Iraq?

This seems to me, on the contrary, to be a quite reasonable expectation, one in fact which has been expressed by many "serious" people, and notably Dominique de Villepin quite recently. You might note that Villepin, the French conservative, got it right about more than just this viz. Iraq, and also that Villepin was far from alone in his assessments.

Maybe that's why, according to that poll, most polled found that:

...for there to be one super power, what country should that be produced the interesting result of  - drum roll - France.

One thing's sure. On the basis of the results of a past half-century of world leadership, I'd say the so-called Arab street, as evidenced by Zogby's poll, certainly have a point.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 08:12:00 AM EST
I think that you are right that it is editorializing. For me the question is does the civil war have a life of it's own or is the US keeping it going.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 01:56:34 PM EST
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