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. Washington

    They danced in the streets on 911 and rioted over the death of Bin Laden..burning the American flag and chanting death to America while we send them BILLIONS of taxpayer money! Stop giving money to people who hate us!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Anthony

      I understand where you're coming from but we pay their government, which I doubt trickles down to the citizens that you see burning flags. Until we leave Afganistan, we need them as millitary ally so that we have access to Afgan

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

      @anthony, Pakistan is not in the middle east. Nor was it mentioned in the countries polled. Turkey has already denied us use of their territory to launch military operations via the ground.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • StatingTheObvious

      "giving money to people" ?

      Mostly we give money and weapons to dictators and oppressors, not people.

      When the oppression becomes too blatant, then we switch sides and pretend to desire democracy.

      This is where the hatred comes from.

      If we truly believed in democracy, we would just stop all interference and support in the middle east, including severing ties with Saudi Arabia and Israel ...

      May 18, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  2. Ast

    Whatever has been done is done cant be changed but i tell you one thing if American troops pull out now,then jihadis will come back real have got to finish what you started. Incapacitate them wholly.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. 9090909909090909090

    They don't like the US? That US doesn't like them either!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Doc

      That about sums it up....unfortunately. Ask yourself , why? It might hurt, but it is a start.

      May 18, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. Elvin

    Some of you sound so naive. Al qeada is a global org funded by our middle eastern allies that secretly hate us.

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

      @Elvin you are right in my opinion . And you better believe they have a army of so called sleepers in this country just waiting to take action , while we fund the very countries they come from , maybe its just me but this makes absolutely no freaking sense .

      May 18, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  5. Not You

    It's Bush's fault.

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

      Clinton could've killed osama back in the 90's with a cruise missle but he didn't. If he had there probably wouldn't be a 9/11 or wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I'm sure there wouldn't be as much hostile sentiment towards us today.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. The Dimension Machine

    If you wish to know the real Future or what is 2012 ...just go to www TheDimensionMachine DOT com

    May 18, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • i cant belive is not butter

      Wow! You mean is the end of the world???....please! You crazy people have been saying all year long that the end of the world is coming......a month ago the end of the world was coming and than april 21 and now may 21....gees give it up allready.....stay of the potttt go to work and pay your dam taxes.....pleaseeeee!

      May 18, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  7. DCB

    That Hilly's doin' a heckuva job!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  8. Doc

    I take away a different conclusion from this data...the only country polled that actually experienced the Arab spring, Egypt, saw improvement. The role we are playing in Libya has drastically improved our standing in the "liberated" cities there, as well as Tunisia. If we just stop trying to impose our preferred leadership and authority with our military in that region, we can stop fueling this obvious hatred. The missing piece here is, why do they hate us? Its a combination of poor leadership/education in Middle east and stupid American foreign policy driven by, sorry to say, oil. This huge change to democracy in Middle East is a chance to solve both of these problems. Its a chance to get on the right side of history there, and support democracy rather than control it.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • kalster65

      Our policies over there are not driven by oil, except in a very few countries. Iraq was not about oil, and our policies in Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Indonesia are certainly not about oil. Which brings up the biggest surprise: Turkey. Turkey, our ally who we are pledged to defend against attack, and who wants in to Europe – 90% of them hate our guts. Why do we want to be allies with countries that hate us? If we pull out out fo the region, we won't need to use airbases in Turkey. We need to pull out of the region, cut off ALL aid to everybody (including Israel), and them them fight it out. I am not worried about oil. Oil is a global commodity. You can buy a tanker-full today in Rotterdam on the spot market. Whoever is in charge of those countries is still going to sell the oil, since it's their only income (unless you count tourism and dates). Let these people adopt Sharia law, go to war with each other and drop dead. I just don;t want one more of my tax dollars to be dumped into a bottomless pit trying to accomplish God-knows-what, only to be left with a region full of people that would love to see America destroyed. Oh yes one more visas to enter the US for anybody from any of those hate us, stay home.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  9. jackson

    That is the majority of the problem...we are too concerned with image, than we are in just doing what we have to, when we have to, and where we have to. 30 plus years of terror, at the least, and that part of the world is still barbaric at it's core, so nothing will ever change. It's not any Presidents fault, it's their own fault for continuing to believe and act upon a religion that is intrerpeted in evil fashion by most of them. When the 'peace-loving' Muslims finally take a stand against those who have hijacked their religion, then, and only then, can true peace and progress come about. Until then, it will continue to be as it has for the last five decades....third world and backwards.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Denise

      Must agree with you!

      May 18, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. Michael, Chapel Hill

    A true Muslim will never like any other nation because they are Kafirs. Islam promotes hates; between themselves & againgst others (Sunni VS Shiite). All Muslim countries hate Israel and they wait for its demise; so they hate the US.
    IEven if the US denounce Israel. Muslim nations may not like the US because it is the superpower. See how they keep quiet when China restraints its Muslims.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  11. T Diddy

    Who cares what those pigs think of us? Nothing they do will change my image of them as sub-human pigs! Islam S U C K S!

    May 18, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. Ben

    My feeling is a big "why should I care?" Time to stop pandering.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. Joey

    I DID NOT POST, "if I were a Muslim living in the Middle East, I wouldn't like America either."

    May 18, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Buzz

      Still, it's a good thought.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. popeye

    Are we aiding terrorists by sending money and weaponry to the middle-east ? Your dam skippy we are .

    May 18, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  15. HOWARD

    ARAB SPRING is just a manufactured public relations 'catch phrase', to justify selling out America, to Muslim factions, who would murder us in our sleep, in a heart beat, to bring about an international caliphate, and sharia law. Obama's overboard sympathies for the Muslim world, are suspect. But, I know that our President's first priority should be what's best for America, not for foreign countries, who have consistently shown that they can't be trusted.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • George Patton

      What I don't understand here HOWARD from your post is that if Barack Obama is so sympathetic toward the Muslims,then why is he having so many of them needlessly butchered,especially by those ungodly drones over in both Afghanistan and Pakistan? It seems to me that Obama is doing everything he can to crush Islam to make way for Western Capitalism!!!

      May 18, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
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