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. Smartest Person in the World

    Please, everyone, open your eyes! There is no god! All of this hatred and killing is for absolutely nothing! You are all mad!

    May 18, 2011 at 7:01 am | Report abuse |
    • tm61

      typical name tag for a typical liberal.

      May 18, 2011 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  2. Ivanhoe

    read novel king of Bat'ha for update on Middle East events.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  3. Peter

    A shame that the Egyptian people did not recognize that the current US administration urged Mubarak to resign and did not back him. I suppose this will take time to turn around tho, since the US backed Mubarak's dictatorship for 30 years.
    So much of these numbers, I suppose, is based prinmarilly on the US's support of Israel. So many hate the Jews by reflex.....just look at this board. Israel is the only real democracy in the Middle East and a tiny country vs. massive Arab states surrounding it. We are right to support Israel. Unconditional Jew hatred is nothing new. Look at this board.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      A Palestinians hatred for Israelis isn't racist. It's a direct result of Israel's behavior towards them. It wouldn't matter if they were Jew, Persian, Spanish, Mexican, or Chinese. They'd still hate them because they steal their land from them, and take away all their dignity as a people. When Israel treats Palestinians as equals, all the hatred will die down.

      May 18, 2011 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
    • popeye

      @Peter your right absolutely right . And another thing look at how this country has fallen apart since it has strayed from the basis of it's foundation , that's in GOD we trust , thats the jointed church and state , that's having prayer before school ! I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America ,for which it stands one nation under god indivisible by liberty and justice for all . You know united we stand divided we fall , well I've never seen a nation so divided as we are presently and we want to push that on others .

      May 18, 2011 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • michaelfury

      May 18, 2011 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. popeye

    We need to just leave these other countries alone ! I mean really how would you like it if a country decided to force it's way of life on you ?

    May 18, 2011 at 7:36 am | Report abuse |
  5. WrapThemInBacon

    How come they dont like us? Cant we all just sit down together and smokem piece pipe?

    May 18, 2011 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
  6. MSL58

    Arab countries – you can't live with them, but you can nuke them!

    May 18, 2011 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      Brilliant remark.

      You are either a kid or an adult with a very low IQ and virtually no understanding of world affairs.

      May 18, 2011 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. JOE

    Voiceinthewind, I believe that the solution to a Palestinian state is very simple. For years we have tried useless and ineffective dialogue to no avail. And the Palestianians have resorted to violence to no avail. Then the Muslim world has consistently blamed the west for not giving the Palestianian a homeland. Every year millions of Muslims from around the world come to Mecca to worship, however the oil rich Arab world is yet to come together to help the Palestian get a homeland. The solution is very simple and it does not involve violence. Let's face it, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran alone control 3/4 of the world's oil. So what if these oil rich countries were to threaten to hault export of their oil to the global market in Europe and other places in exchange for a speedy Palestian state? Don't you think the Palestians would have a homeland overnight? It's just plain common sense. Therefore it's time to stop blaming the west for your problems and use your economic leverage to help the Palestian gain a homeland. I also believe that some of the most intelligent minds are in the Arab world but unfortunately they have failed to put their heads together. It's time to act and stop complaining.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. usa

    Popeye couldnt agree with you more but if we are going to leave them alone then we can keep our money right otherwise we have a rite to say how they live have you ever gotten money with no strings

    May 18, 2011 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
    • popeye

      @usa no there are strings attaching to my butt while I'm busting it to provide for my family , there are strings attached to the money every time I get paid , every time I spend ,every time I think about spending , every time I pay personal property taxes , every time we do anything there are strings involved we are all in a big puppet show !

      May 18, 2011 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. Walid Akram

    You all die dirty pigs;/ SAIF THE GREAT

    May 18, 2011 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  10. shaktakdopulous

    When I look at the foul and child like behavior of arabs (both christian, muslim and jewish) my stomach turns. I do not give a rat's bleeding hole what our image is in the arab world. They do not seem to care about their image is here These people kill each other like sub human animals. Of course America is not perfect, but I don't see Americans blowing up buses, shooting children and firing rockets over some dusty claim of land ownership. Where in the sacred texts does it say these animals are not allowed to live in peace, sharing the land side by side. These people are idiots with too much pride for their own good. screw them all and keep American dollars at home since they hate us so much.

    May 18, 2011 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  11. michaelfury

    May 18, 2011 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  12. Scott H

    That's interesting, because American's image of Arabs probably hasn't been altered by the Arab spring either. And deservedly so. Of course, nobody covers that. The media feels we should be so worried about what they think of us. They are a human rights debacle in just about every country they reside in. They are women's rights disaster. They are also predominantly against freedom of religion. (Ask the Coptic Christians in Egypt how they are treated by the Islamic majority). But...Pew thinks the story is what they think of us, as usual.

    May 18, 2011 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  13. George

    Before 9/11/01 Americans didn't care about Arabs, didn't even think about em...but now, we hate you, and that's not good for you.

    May 18, 2011 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Chut Pata

      Really? The only reason 9/11 happened was because we went into Arab land and bombed millions of Arab civilians. Are you that young that you never saw Bush Sr. invasion of Iraq?

      May 18, 2011 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike D

      Im sorry was that before or after Saddam tried to "Annex" Kuwait?

      May 18, 2011 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      @Chut Pata – are you actually that STUPID? Read a little history and check facts before posting. The first Gulf War was initiated by Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait. The biggest mistake of the entire conflict was letting Saddam stay in power.

      May 18, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Bornamerican

      Enough with the "americans kill innocent arabs" crap....arabs are mostly uneducated tribal people inflamed with hatred towards the world for their own misfortunes. We should help educate, feed, and encourage their freedoms.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Max

      @Chut Pata: Millions is an extremely inflated number.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      I thought Barrack was going to make the world love us, what happened to that?

      May 18, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Is everyone named George an idiot? You were f#%@ them long before 9/11 you imbecile.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
    • mebiytsms

      go back a little earlier children, US helped saddam for many years to fight Iran, US helped Osama and his mujahedeen buddies during the soviet invasion of Afghanistan. US has been the number one supporter of Israel for many decades. that's just the tip of the iceberg. the US has been embroiled in the middle east for a very long time..... and each time Americans had to do some thinking. the difference is, before 9/11 Americans didn't think about Islam/Muslims, now the whole focus is on religion, which I think misses the point of some of the conflicts.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • u2stupid

      Brian, you are a moron...I mean really.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • kurtinco

      Arabs have always been a thorn in the side of the U.S. (and many others) dating back to before we were an independent nation and indeed dating back for millennia. Google: Barbary Pirates, for example. Arabs like to pretend they have long memories. The truth is that, like many of us, they tend to remember things in a way that places them in a superior moral position. They are the war mongering lovers of violence and hatred. The United States of America has, on the whole, been a force of good for the world. You tell me…what “good” have the Arab nations been to the world, on the whole?

      May 18, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Peacefrog

      Chut Pata, if you truly believe that, that was the motivation behind 9/11 then you have very little knowledge or understanding of Middle Eastern politics and history.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Ok everyone.....a thought for all and each one of you reading this post:

      Who cares if saddam invaded Kuwait?

      Who cares if qadafi kills his own people?

      Who cares what regime rules where?

      Does America want anyone interfering with her business? If the answer is no, than why are we interfering with other ppl's business?

      It's a cliches, but oil and money and power is the road for our destruction folks.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Name*Buzz

      US Gov, Inc. Has been sticking its nose in Arab affairs for more than 100 years, covertly, of course, so that American citizens are largely unaware of it. Most notable was the 1953 overthrow of a duly elected government in Iran by the CIA on behalf of BP so the Shah, (friendy toward western interests, of course), could be installed. All you Arab haters need to catch up on your reading.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  14. John Mark

    killing bin laden sure improved Obama ratings, but as for the middle east countries supporting the terrorist, poll ratings are quite down, no surprise

    May 18, 2011 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • rlupin81

      Killing bin Laden had nothing to do with perception considering this survey was done between March 21 and April 26, and he was killed on May 2nd. So we really have no clue what effect that had on poll ratings yet.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • John Mark

      rlupin81- got common sense?

      May 18, 2011 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. Willie12345

    Obaba's speeches and bowing have done little to improve our image. We need to behave like Americans, act consistently with our core values and stop worrying about image.

    May 18, 2011 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Mexican

      U mean go to third world countries and bomb the crap out of them yea thats america all right

      May 18, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • John Mark

      Mexican – you seem to leave out alot, like that KaDaffy was on the verge of slaughtering thousands as a direct result of Libyans peaceful protest of a evil dictator robbing the country of billions. Libyans finally got to courage to stand up to this evil dictator as a result of Arab Spring. Please correct yourself.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      @ Mexican we need to consider Mexico as the next third world hell hole we need to bomb

      May 18, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • gill

      @brian LOL yes especially being from central texas ! I agree ! Wait....that means even MORE would flee not a good idea after all

      May 18, 2011 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
    • i cant belive is not butter

      Agree ...mexico is next fnnnnn mexican!

      May 18, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
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