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

    Whooo, I need to get my fondue set back out.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. jared

    wake up dumb people there is one god one creator why treat religion like football teams

    May 18, 2011 at 3:43 am | Report abuse |
    • lol

      Wake up- there is no God.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:48 am | Report abuse |
  3. d

    i'm not so sure about how much we should be supporting the arab spring protesters....most of them are radicals that are talking about nationalising everything including some ventures that united states businesses are involved in. the current leaders might not be perfect but they are friendly to our interests at least. we need to tread very carefully here.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:01 am | Report abuse |
    • haremettle

      "Most of the are radicals" They are radical in the sense that they are fighting against oppressive regimes and that really hasn't been done with any effectiveness in the modern era in that region of the world. And as far as the nationalization of "ventures the United States is involved in." This is at the root of the problem. The dictators that were there were supported by the US so that the US businesses could keep the status quo. How would you like it if the leader of the US was in power only because China's businesses knew he would support their interest, even at the expense of us the US citizens, and it remained that way for as much as 30 years? So if we truly believe in democracy and human rights then we should support those people in thought, prayer and otherwise. They exemplify what this country supposedly stands for.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
  4. ADiff

    The 'democracy' activists don't like us? This is a surprise? This is bad news? Good. If they don't like us, we must be doing something right.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:43 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    Why did you EXCLUDE EGYPT from your study?? CNN ugly bias!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:04 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mito

    90% of humans hate 80% of other people, so this survey results are typical.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. Avd

    These countries that we r involved with-like Pakistan, for example, don't deserve for us to be in Their land. Most of them r evil, have great hatred towards others with different beliefs; they even kill amongst each other. These Muslims need to recognize they serve a dark god which is a demon, n recognize Jesus Christ is the only way, truth, n life. When they think they r doing a service for their god, by killing others or dying themselves for a cause, lil do they know their going straight to hell. God gives us a free will, he allows us to choose n this day life or death spiritually speaking. Why does man think they have the right to take lives? Murders.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:41 am | Report abuse |
  8. frankwright

    Quite a joke there. They cannot support both true democracy and Muslim law, Sharia. True democracy is based upon absolute equality and intellectual and civil freedom for all.
    If the masses there vote in Sharia, that becomes a simple tyranny of the majority, like 9 families on a block voting to take away the possessions of the 10th.
    Sharia, as practiced from Iran to Saudi Arabia to Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan, allows, generally, for equal voting only by Muslims and it tortures and executes for non-violent victimless "crime" like badmouthing Muhammad, suspected fornication and cross dressing, and irreversibly punishes petty crime by lopping off hands, feet, ears, noses, eyes and teeth. That is anything but the Western notion of democracy...

    May 18, 2011 at 5:47 am | Report abuse |
  9. Avd

    N ill be praying for ur soul Walid Akrim. Don't be ignorant! I pray the Lord of Lords have mercy on ur soul. Open ur spiritual eyes, n ears to see the light. N know that God so lived the world n gave His only son, so that whoever believes n him , shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

    May 18, 2011 at 5:49 am | Report abuse |
  10. Avd

    God so loved the world......
    Love, what is it? What does it mean to love thy neighbor? N who is thy neighbor?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. Joey

    It is not necessary for everybody to like us.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. OneSmartAmerican

    Well then we need to give them more money then if they dont like us enough. You would think someone some where would attempt to grow a brain in our Government one Day. Ive come to the conclusion that it will never happen.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:29 am | Report abuse |
  13. TampaMel

    Why do the uprisings in some of the countries in the Middle East have anything to do with the US except as a media story? The US is not participating in any way greater than any other non-middle easter country. The media needs to write about something of substance and not be making itself completely into a supermarket tabloid.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:41 am | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      You have got to be kidding me. Nothing to do with the US? Have you been living in a cave for the last 50 years? You think these events are totally isolated and unrelated to US policy? Mubarak alone was a total US puppet!

      May 18, 2011 at 7:06 am | Report abuse |
    • michael

      I agree with you. The U.S. has enough problems of our own right now. Granted those countries do supply our oil and they are the hot bed for extremest, which does impact us. But lets be realistic, there will never be a strong friendship between our country and the middle east, the religious differences are to extreme, as are the cultural differences. We need to focus on our problems, such as Congresses inability to get their collective head out of their collective a___.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  14. Voiceinthewind

    Is anyone surprised with America denying Palestine a state while backing teh Zionists Jews? American politicians and thier foreign policy are nothing but Hypocrits with thier own self serving greed at intrest and any person with a brain can see this, so who would want lying and cheating politicks around. No surprises here as people wake up to thier own freedom and free thinking and free speech. America, land of Hypocrits.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:51 am | Report abuse |
    • kay

      Sure because all Americans are hypocrites. That's like saying all Arabs want to kill everybody.

      May 18, 2011 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
    • michaelfury

      http://michaelfury.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/investor-relations/

      May 18, 2011 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. Rick

    CNN could you tell them all for me that I hate them too.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
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