Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Brookings' yearly Arab survey: Turkey gave the best example

 NATO intervention in libya, 46% thought it was the wrong thing to do.

Jim Lobe of IPS reviews the annual "Arab Public Opinion Survey" conducted by Shibley Telhami of the Brookings Institution, which, as he reports,  concludes that Turkey is viewed as having played the "most constructive" role in the past year's events. Its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, emerged as the most admired leader by far in the region. 
The 2011 edition of this annual annual survey, which was conducted during the last half of October, was based on detailed interviews of some 3,000 respondents from urban centres in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It also included Saudi Arabia, the results from which, however, arrived too late to be weighted with the other five countries. 
Most Arabs, according to the new poll, continue to believe that Washington's policies in the Middle East are mainly driven by its desire to control oil and protect Israel from its Arab neighbours. Only five percent said they believe the U.S. is driven by the desire to spread human rights or democracy.
As in previous surveys, Israel and the United States are also seen as posing by far the greatest foreign threats to Arabs – at least several times greater than Iran despite the fact that a majority believe Tehran is trying to develop nuclear weapons and that its success in that effort would have a "negative" impact on the region.
The poll also found overwhelming support for opposition forces battling autocratic governments in Syria (86 percent) and Yemen (89 percent), as well as strong support in the region for the opposition in Bahrain (64 percent), although majorities in the two Gulf countries – the UAE and Saudi Arabia – said their sympathies lay more with the Al-Khalifa monarchy, according to Telhami.
It also showed a striking ambivalence about the foreign intervention in Libya that contributed to the eventual ouster – and killing – of Col. Muammar Gaddafi. Asked to assess, in retrospect, the intervention, 35 percent of respondents said it was the "right thing to do", while 46 percent said it was the "wrong thing to do". 

Of the Egyptians, when asked about their perceptions of the intention of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), 21 percent said it was to "advance the gains of the revolution", while more than twice that number (43 percent) said it was to "slow or reverse" the revolution's gains. Fourteen percent said the SCAF was "indifferent". And when Egyptians were asked what foreign country they wanted their political system to most closely resemble, 44 percent chose Turkey, followed by France at 10 percent, and Saudi Arabia, China, and Germany at eight percent each.
(Click here for IPS's complete article, and here for the complete Brookings survey)

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