Pew: U.S. image largely unimproved in Middle East after 'Arab Spring'
President Barack Obama is scheduled to make a major address Thursday on U.S. policy toward the "Arab Spring" uprisings.
May 17th, 2011
09:37 PM ET

Pew: U.S. image largely unimproved in Middle East after 'Arab Spring'

The United States' image in four Middle Eastern nations and the Palestinian territories largely doesn't appear to have improved during anti-government uprisings that have shaken regimes in the region, a survey from the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project found.

Fewer people in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon view the United States favorably now than in 2010, while small gains were seen in Egypt - where an uprising toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak earlier this year - and the Palestinian territories, according to the survey.

Pew said America's image also dipped in the two other predominantly Muslim nations that were surveyed: Pakistan and Indonesia.

The results of the survey, which was taken between March 21 and April 26, come as U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to deliver on Thursday a highly anticipated address on U.S. policy toward the "Arab Spring" uprisings that have shaken autocratic regimes across North Africa and the Middle East.

It also comes as Obama is urging Israel and the Palestinians to restart negotiations on a two-state solution to their decades-long conflict.

"Many of the concerns that have driven animosity toward the U.S. in recent years are still present - a perception that the U.S. acts unilaterally, opposition to the war on terror, and fears of America as a military threat," a Pew report on the survey said.

Thirteen percent of those surveyed in Jordan had a favorable view of the United States, down from 21% last year. U.S. favorability in Turkey (10%, down from 17%), Pakistan (11%, down from 17%), Indonesia (54%, down from 59%) and Lebanon (49%, down from 52%) also saw dips.

U.S. favorability rose in Egypt (20%, up from 17%) and the Palestinian territories (18%, up from 15% in 2009, the last time a survey was done there).

The percentage of people expressing at least some confidence in Obama was up slightly in Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey, but of the nations surveyed, only Indonesia (62%) - where Obama spent some time as a child - had a majority doing so, Pew said.

And majorities in each surveyed nation, expect for Indonesia and Pakistan, said they disapproved how Obama handled calling for political change in the Middle East.

Other findings, according to Pew:

- Most of those surveyed said democracy was preferable to any other kind of government (including more than 70% in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt). The only nation where a majority didn't agree was in Pakistan, where 46% said democracy was preferable.

- Majorities in each surveyed country and territory – except for Egypt, where the questions weren't asked - said economic prosperity, political stability, religious freedom, free elections, free speech and gender equality are very important in a democracy.

- Majorities in Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt believe laws should be based strictly on the teachings of the Quran. This was a minority view in Turkey, Lebanon, Indonesia and the Palestinian territories.

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Filed under: Egypt • Indonesia • Jordan • Lebanon • Pakistan • Palestinians • Politics • Turkey
soundoff (260 Responses)
  1. Cesar

    Ok, now how about a survey of how Americans feel about the Middle East nations that harbor terrorists like Iran and Pakistan. What about a survey there. Maybe : 98% View terrorist nations in a very negative manner. 2% are undecided and stupid.

    May 17, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • WickedNorth

      They believe America is the terrorists since they have killed for more than 3,000 people. (Over 150,00 since 9/11.)

      May 17, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Like

      I wish your post had a like button. This makes sense, lets put this on an Arab Newspapers headline.

      May 17, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. drap

    Thank you Pew for that riveting piece of information..I never would have guessed... .

    May 17, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Indy Dr.Jones

    Good try Obama. I give him credit for trying, at least. No matter what we do the United States will never be embraced or liked by some people. What needs to happen now is strictly pro-american policies and we should only do business with countries that at least don't see us as infidel demon crusaders. This includes a more independent energy policy. Tell our enemies to make it without our money or assistance.

    May 17, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • RealTime

      What exactly did he "try" to do? Stand on the sidelines and watch is now considered "trying"? Your standards are idiotically low.

      May 17, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dont Touch My Junk

      Siding with Libyan rebels for one. Even after is speech in Egypt (which received a standing ovation) the US never saw that much of an approval bump.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  4. Scottish Mama

    They do not like us but they come here for education, they become doctors and lawyers. Make them pay double and no free rides in our country.

    May 17, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • matt

      I agree screw them

      May 17, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Camel Spring

    When staying in middle east hotels..leave "arab spring" soap bars behind, they have a odd musky odor... .

    May 17, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. kristine

    who cares what they think about us, we've tried being nice, giving money we don't have. I think we should just leave then on their own. unless they try to come here and be hateful then it's on.

    May 17, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cesar


    May 17, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kristine

    Maybe if we didn't try to run everything in the world. don't try to take the splinter out of your brother's eye with a beam in your's

    May 17, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cesar

    Muslims smell like rancid camel dung. Sometimes I like to rub rancid camel dung on my face and pretend I'm a commando. I stealthly creep into the gay bar where I gobble wieners.

    May 17, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bobby

    Maybe our standing hasn't improved because instead of protecting civilians, we're bombing Libya and killing more people...

    Not to mention we haven't said a word about the crackdown in Bahrain, who's ruler is even more repressive than Gaddafi. Perhaps they see the contradictory and predatory nature of our foreign policy, supporting dictators and against Democracy when it suits our needs like in Bahrain and the Palestinian territories.

    Maybe we should back up our lip service with words and actually support democracy, but then of course we would never tolerate actual democracy in the Muslim world...

    May 17, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kevin

    Well considering that the West's response to the "Arab Spring" has been to bomb Libya, is it really a surprise that America's image hasn't"t improved?

    May 17, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. RealTime

    What? The Obama administration has been proven wrong again? How many wrong predictions is that now?

    Turned out just like that prediction about unemployment remaining under 8%. But don't worry.... the same error prone clowns predicted that the Muslim Brotherhood wasn't a threat either.

    May 17, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sam

    why should we care what the Arab world thinks? We need to do what's good for us

    May 17, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. skytag is a pvssy

    Duh!! Just because we elect a muslim lover doesn't mean muslims are going to like us more. They don't even like each other. And they certainly don't like black men in control of anything!

    May 17, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Beardsley Mc Turbinhead

    Durka Durka

    May 17, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
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