World Poll: Arabs Believe Israel, U.S. Are Biggest Threat to the Region

03:20  12 april  2017
03:20  12 april  2017 Source:   U.S. News & World Report

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About 82 percent of survey participants in 12 Arab countries said they believed the U . S . poses a threat to stability in the region , according to a poll unveiled in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. About 90 percent of survey respondents reported that Israel is a threat to the region 's stability.

Israel and the US are the greatest threats to the Arab region , its stability and security, a poll by the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies revealed yesterday. The findings of the 2016 Arab Opinion Index revealed that 89 per cent of Arabs agreed Israel is a threat to the stability of the Arab

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The U.S. has a long way to go in terms of persuading Arabs that it plays a positive role in the Middle East.

About 82 percent of survey participants in 12 Arab countries said they believed the U.S. poses a threat to stability in the region, according to a poll unveiled in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. The 2016 Arab Opinion Index, conducted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Doha, Qatar, found that among foreign powers, only Israel was perceived to be a bigger threat. About 90 percent of survey respondents reported that Israel is a threat to the region's stability.

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"They see them rather through the lens of Israeli -Palestinian issues and anger with U . S . policy (in the region ). Israel , backed by the US, is the immediate and most dangerous threat to the Arab world. This way of thought, I believe , is paralleled among most of those Arabs polled . 0 0.

The Index, an annual survey first conducted in 2011, comes on the heels of the U.S. bombing of Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Of the 18,310 survey respondents contacted in 2016, 77 percent said they had negative views of U.S. foreign policy toward Syria. Imad Harb, director of research and analysis at the Arab Center Washington DC, an affiliate of the Doha-based group, said he couldn't predict how the recent U.S. military action would change regional opinion. "This is garnering some positive views," he said, adding that there is also plenty of anxiety in the Arab world about what comes next.

U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East remained unpopular across the board, with 80 percent of respondents reporting negative views of U.S. actions in Palestine, and more than 70 percent reporting negative perceptions of U.S. involvement in Iraq, Yemen and Libya.

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Despite Condi Rice's talk of a "Sunni Crescent," a large poll conducted across the Middle East shows that 80 percent of Arabs consider Israel and the U . S . the two biggest external threats to "They see them rather through the lens of Israeli -Palestinian issues and anger with U . S . policy (in the region ).

The poll found that two-thirds of the Arab public (67 percent) believes Tehran has The new survey also found that fears regarding both US and Israeli designs in the region have also increased Asked to name two countries that, in their view, posed the “ biggest threat ” to them, a whopping 95 percent

Iran and Russia also didn't fare well in terms of public opinion. Of all respondents, 73 percent said Iran posed a threat to the stability of the region, and 69 percent believed Russia did so.

Arab public opinion toward the Islamic State group also is negative. Of all respondents, 89 percent had poor perceptions of the terrorist organization, while 2 percent had "very positive" views and 3 percent reported perceptions that were "positive, to some extent." Favorable views of the Islamic State group did not correlate with religion.

Respondents had various takes on the rise of the Islamic State group. About 60 percent attributed the group's existence to the policies of foreign powers, while 29 percent attributed it to internal conflicts in the Middle East. When asked whether the group's rise is a product of "religious extremism and fanaticism in the Middle East," 43 percent reported yes, while 35 percent blamed the policies of Arab governments.

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According to our polling , a majority of Arabs do not believe Iran' s claim that it is merely pursuing a peaceful nuclear program. In an open question asking about the two countries that pose the biggest threats to their security, 88% of respondents identified Israel , 77% identified the United States, and

The poll also indicated that 57% believe the region would be a more safe place if Iran had nuclear weapons. (As with Israel /Palestine, the regimes are Iran is the biggest single threat to the peace of the region and the world and not only because the Israelis say so. Arab leaders agree with them.

The poll found a decline in positive attitudes toward the Arab Spring. In 2012-2013, 61 percent of respondents had positive views of the Arab Spring, while in 2016, 41 reported positive views. Egypt and Tunisia had the most positive views, with 78 and 71 percent of the public expressing positive impressions, respectively.

Experts said they were surprised to find that 55 percent of Saudi Arabians and 65 percent of Kuwaitis had positive views of the Arab Spring, despite events since 2011. "There is a lot of talk going on in Saudi and Kuwaiti society," Harb said. "Democracy and freedom of speech can appear in different ways."

Other survey findings:

  • Only 41 percent of respondents viewed the political situation in their country positively.
  • Of all respondents, 77 percent reported that democracy was the most appropriate system of government for their countries; whereas 34 percent considered a government built on Sharia law to be the most appropriate.
  • Out of all respondents, 70 percent disagreed that democracy is incompatible with Islam.
  • A small majority, or 53 percent, believed it was best to separate religion from politics.
  • A majority, or 86 percent, of respondents disapproved of their countries' recognition of Israel, citing Israeli racism toward Palestinians and the country's "colonialist, expansionist" policies.

The Index, the largest of its kind in the world, surveyed people in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Tunisia. Those countries are home to 75 percent of the Arab population, and are therefore a representative sample, said Soleman Abu-Bader, a methodology consultant for the survey. Efforts to collect data in other countries was complicated by political barriers or instability, he said.

The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies is an independent research institute that examines the key issues afflicting the Arab world, governments, and communities.

Copyright 2017 U.S. News & World Report

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