Saturday, August 7, 2010

USATODAY:Poll: Arabs sour on Obama, back nuclear-armed Iran

Poll: Arabs sour on Obama, back nuclear-armed Iran

In a landmark speech in Egypt last summer, President Obama vowed "a new beginning" between the United States and Muslims worldwide. Now, 14 months later, a poll finds opinion in the Arab world has turned strongly against the president, mainly because there's been no breakthrough on Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Another key finding: For the first time, a majority of Arabs believe a nuclear-armed Iran would be a good thing.

Zogby International polled 3,976 people in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In last year's survey, conducted in April and May 2009, 51% of respondents expressed optimism about U.S. policy in the Middle East. This year's poll finds a stark turnaround: 64% were "discouraged" and only 16% were "optimistic."

The United States and Israel are viewed as far bigger threats to the region than Iran.

"What this poll reveals is a backlash against the United States, reflecting the loss of hope that people had in what they thought were to be the policies of the new President Obama," said Shibley Telhami, a University of Maryland Middle East expert, who conducted the poll with Zogby. "It's really people venting by supporting 'the enemy of my enemy.'"