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. Msxlair

    US supported these dictators who are now being toppled.

    May 18, 2011 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
    • kurtinco

      The US did what was in our best interests until the Arab peoples were able to rise up and take control of their own destinies. At times, that meant supporting a dictator but we kept due pressure on them to reform. Now it means supporting those people while encouraging them to be more secular and peaceful. Open your mind just a little to consider what I’ve said without being disagreeable...if you can.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. Pericles Greekopoulos

    At this point it seems that war is inevitable. Question is, how deep are we gonna be involved. If we have to fight, we should do it from a distance. Bring our troops home now before it gets worse.

    May 18, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. Walid Akram

    Popeye we kill gay sailor

    May 18, 2011 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
    • popeye

      Walid akram p.o.s troll !

      May 18, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. Chut Pata

    Larry fuc you

    May 18, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • King Fedor

      Larry said for you to get your tail back in the kitchen and cook some waffles. Get, boy.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. Bshotts

    Islam is the root of all evil. Get rid of Islam and all of its' followers and the world will be a happier place. Whenever you read an article or watch a news program and you see or hear the word ISLAM, the other relevant words you will see or hear are....Terrorism, bombings, holy war, jihadists, etc.... As a matter of fact, get rid of all religions and there will be no more issues. Religious followers are always the biggest brainwashed nutjobs out there!

    May 18, 2011 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Questech

      Really? Have you read last 200 years of history. World war I, World War II, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Shock and Awe, Do you need more tips to shake up your memory?

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

      When you follow a religion that requires jihad be the only course for non-believers of Islam, what do you expect? Those people will always be at war for the rest of civilization. I feel no remorse, they bring this upon themselves.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • mebiytsms

      you are right Bshotts, Stalin, Hitler, pol pot, Mao, and Lenin were all very religious guys, that's why they were able to kill so many.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
    • mebiytsms

      Max go read some history, you don't have to go to school or pay for it any more, there's plenty in wikipedia. look up terms like holy war, you'll be surprised.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Max

      @mebiytsms: I gained plenty of knowledge about "holy war" and the religion of Islam during my two tours of duty in Iraq. More than you'll ever know. These people are thugs.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Max

      All that I am trying to say is, stop clinging to terrorism. If countries (or an entire ideology) did not like our foreign policy in the past, they should have confronted us in manner that is peaceful, where two sides can agree in making better policies and working together. Flying planes into buildings and killing innocent civilians will only cause war and no changes in policy.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  6. gung ho

    Can we please nuke them all and have peace

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

      That's an excellent and very peaceful solution. After all we are the only one having experience of nuking others.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. Questech

    If we are really serious about improving US image then we have to come out of our self-righteousness and acknowledge that we do most of police work in the world. We were always very comfortable working with these monarchs in middle east in the first place so what do we expect? Unless we start respecting other countries sovereignty, realizing that all human life is important (not just Americans) and that other countries natural resources are theirs, we shouldn't expect miracles. We can choose to keep living in our denial and self-righteousness but that's our choice and will really not going to help. Then there are those arrogant folks who think why should we even worry about what others think? For them I have two advices. First read history, second stop preaching what you don't practice. Do the same study in Europe and you'll be surprised with same general results (perhaps not as acute but on same lines) – don't take my words for that see Pew's other studies. The whole world mourned for 9-11 and they still do but I have yet to see a single American who feels the same degree of shock thinking about over 100,000 civilians (mostly children, women and seniors) got killed as result of Iraq invasion as he/she feels about 9-11. That's hypocrisy – pure and simple. A loss of innocent civilian human life is same whether it's result of a suicide bomber or a carpet bomber, whether it's the result of someone flying jet into a building or someone dropping bombs from 50,000 ft then calling it collateral damage. Until we come to this common moral consensus and shared understanding, it's mission impossible folks. As one of the Western thinker (I forgot his name) said, "We westerns tend to forget that the main reason we enjoy so much supremacy over rest of the world is because we have mastered the art of killing more than anyone else in history of mankind".

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

      thats alot of writing to feeding us bull. 1) americans been preaching and practicing freedoms and rights since France supported the american rebels during the american revolution to become a free nation. 2) it was the Arab Council asking UN to intervene in Libya to prevent the slaughtering of thousands of Libya's citizens against a evil dictator robbing billions. 3) you mentioned "Unless we start respecting other countries sovereignty" after 9-11 we had every right to hunt down bin laden "where-ever he was hiding, and to attack those giving him material support. 4) miracles happened with the birth of Arab Spring, people in Africa demanding freedoms and rights like never seen before. 5) The whole world didn't mourned the deaths of 9-11, palestianians danced in the streets that night. Pakistan people also celebrated with the taliban that aided and harbored bin laden.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • kurtinco

      Yawn. I just don’t know what else to say to this long-winded diatribe laced with distortions and unsupported suppositions.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. Max

    Why should we care what Arab countries think about us?

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

      Really? Then stop preaching what you don't practice.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Max

      @Questech: Stop preaching jihad.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Questech

      Ah. You just demonstrated your open-mindedness.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  9. Fred

    Ahhh, the arab spring. A new open-ended, Congressionally unapproved, unilateral war in Libya costing billions we don't have, Egypt descending into muslim fanaticism with the msulim brotherhood whom Obama invited to his Cairo speech to sit front row, a vicious enemy in Syria slaughtering their subjugated populace and radical islam growing throughout the entire region. It's a shame we didn't have a real leader during this important and historic time, instead we have an anti-American, limp wristed, fool who did exactly the wrong thing in every venue. Community organizing at its finest.

    May 18, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  10. popeye

    Obama is not pulling the wool over my eyes .

    May 18, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  11. Lee S

    Oh, you mean all of those kids tv shows about how America and Israel are the great satan arent helping our image over there? I suggest you go to youtube if you dont know what Im talking about. Its sick. Just youtube "Palestinian kids show" Cant make this stuff up people. After you watch the videos, you decide why they hate us.

    May 18, 2011 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  12. Lee S

    May 18, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Max

      My point exactly. They are bred to preach hate. So like I said before, why should we care what these countries think about us?

      May 18, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. Joey

    Why should America's image in the Muslim world improve? After we needlessly invaded both Iraq and Afghanistan,anyone with half a brain would know that most Muslims consider those actions as an affront agaist them. If I were a Muslim living in the Middle East,i wouldn't like America either!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Jay


      May 18, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Ryan in Michigan

      Joey – "If I were a Muslim living in the Middle East, I wouldn't like America either!!" Sounds like you might be. We invaded Afghanistan to go after the people that attacked us. We invaded Iraq on the basis that they were planning something similar (WMDs were found, just needing assembly before being ready to use against Americans). You probably would've advocated staying out of World War II as well, despite Americans being killed and our allies in Europe like Britain and France being bombed and conquered.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Washington

      Joey – "If I were a Muslim living in the Middle East, I wouldn't like America either
      Then stop taking the BILLIONS in aid!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Lee S

      They sure like all of those American dollars. And they all bash America while wearing blue jeans t shirts and tennis shoes. Imitation is the highest form of flattery. These people only want what they are told to want. Thats what happens when a majority of the population that is uneducated.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Yeah, why go after Al Queda in Afghanistan when all they did was kill thousands of Americans on 9/11?

      May 18, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • karma1959

      @RyaninMichigan – WMD's were found in Iraq?

      May 18, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Asim

      @ Washington – Then please stop giving AID to our corrupt rulers

      May 18, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      WMD found in pieces???!!! You have to be one of the most ignorant people of the decade. As for billions in aid, Americans make the "aid" part of the invasion plan. Iraq and Afghanistan didn't ask for any aid, American's pumped billions after the invasion. there was no threat from Iraq, if there was how pathetic are we that after ten years of control of iraq they could still attack us??!! Afghanistan had nothing to do with Iraq or 9/11 just that fact that they have trillions in lithium (main material for batteries). two illegal wars, endless killings of innocent people, we've killed more innocent civilians over there than died on 9/11. who's the bigger terrorist now?? !!!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert Posey

      No useful WMD's were found in Iraq, and there are plenty of hostile countries with well functioning WMD's so the WMD excuse for invading Iraq is totally and utterly discredited. In fact its about the most discredited excuse for world in world history. However, the invasion of Iraq might now be justified in that we brought democracy and saved the majority Shias from oppression at the hands of the majority. Life for the Iraqi Kurds and Swamp Arabs is certainly dramatically better now. If you believe the numbers given for those killed by Saddam and those that died due to sanctions, we greatly reduced the rate of people dying, despite the efforts of our foes to kill as many civilians as possible.

      However, to say invading Afghanistan was unjustified is right up there as with Bush's WMD excuse as total BS. A group very closely aligned with the government the Taliban attacks US civilians in a massive way, they were trying to kill upwards of 20,000 people when they killed 3000. The USA could have justified large scale carpet bombing of Afghanistan back to stone age. Instead, we worked with locals to install a democratic government.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • jack

      Way to stay on top of things joey. Did you awaken from a coma this past year or is your memory really that bad?

      May 18, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Shane

      Sanity still pervails. Moreover, it is insulting to treat human emotions like some stock market index that changes by the hour. A bit arrogant o our part, to think we can throw a happy meal at some kid and hope he forgets we killed his parent.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • popeye

      Why go after Al Queda over sea's they probably got a whole army of recruits over here ! Dam some people are blind in one eye and just can't see out of the other .

      May 18, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  14. Muhammad


    May 18, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
    • i cant belive is not butter

      We are coming for youuuuuuuu!...........ahhhhh hhhhaaaaa haaaa!! vvvviiiiiirrrrgiiiinnnnnsss for you!!!!!!!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • i cant belive is not butter

      Biggg brother is watching you!!!!!!! Be affraid be vvvery very affraiddd!................

      May 18, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Lee S

      NO god at all buddy. sorry.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
    • i cant belive is not butter

      Israel is coming for you tooooooooo!.......they stole your vviiirrgggins....ahhhhhh haaaaaa ha ha cough cough,ah ha ha ha

      May 18, 2011 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
    • i cant belive is not butter

      Onessss virrrginsss go Israely they never go back.....ha ha ha!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Asim

      LOL I cant believe its are an idiot

      May 18, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Deathstalker

      God is Allah – Allah is God.. The thing we disagree on is what God/Allah wants us to do. God/Allah from what I can tell does not want us to kill people because we dont agree with what they think or what they do. In fact I do not think God/Allah wants us to kill or murder anyone ever.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  15. stop the aide

    You want to shut the Paki's up...stop all aid now! The 30billion we have giving them...for what? So they can hide Bin Laden in plain sight? So they can be inept and incompetent at stopping terrorism on their home land?

    Stop the flow of AMERICAN MONEY to these insulate ignorant desert dwellers who offer the USA nothing!!! I'm certain there are school districts in AMERICA that could use 3.4billion dollars a year!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • mario

      Including Israel (90 billion a year)

      May 18, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Lee S

      @mario in 2010 we gave Israel 2.7 billion in military and promise them about 3 bllion ayear in grants over the next three years. Where do you extrapolate 90 billion a year from that?
      Where are your sources?

      May 18, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • i cant belive is not butter

      I think mario gets his sources from wwwfullofshiitt .com.....

      May 18, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert Posey

      Israel only gets around 6 billion a year, a lot of which is used to buy US weapons, and thus it is really more US Corp aide.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • jack

      stupid post...........israel's money is mostly in the form of loan guarantees. They then turn around and spend a lot of the money with US defense contractors. Its nothing like the gifts we give other countries like pakistan and iraq.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
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