US standing plunges across the Arab world

The United States’ popularity in the Arab world has plummeted to levels lower than the last year of the George W Bush administration, according to a new survey of public opinion in six Arab countries released in Washington on Wednesday.

The “Arab Attitudes” survey found that favourable ratings of the United States have fallen by nine per cent or more in Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over the past two years.

In Egypt, they fell from 30 per cent to a meagre five per cent. Only in Lebanon did positive views of the US (23 per cent) remain consistent.

Consisting of 4,000 face-to-face-interviews conducted by the Zogby International firm between mid-May and mid-June, the survey also found that 10 per cent or less of Arabs in all the countries polled approve of President Barack Obama’s policies.

Obama’s favourable ratings were the lowest by far among the five national leaders covered in the survey. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi King Abdullah ibn Abdul Aziz were the most highly regarded of the five, who also included Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

The decline in the ratings for both the US and Obama stems primarily from disappointment in the failure to meet the high expectations created by Obama’s election in 2008, according to James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), which sponsored the annual sur…

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