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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Arabs feel the love from Obama except for... the 'Palestinians'?

President Obama's bowing to Arab leaders has had an effect on the Arab countries' perception of the US, according to a Gallup poll released on Monday. While the poll shows that the US is still perceived negatively in all Arab countries, there has been marked improvement in how negative that perception is. There are two places, however, where things have gotten worse. One is in Lebanon, where Hezbullah has already rejected President Obama's efforts to resolve the 'Palestinian problem.' The other - surprisingly - is among the 'Palestinians.'
In the poll, conducted in February and March through interviews with some 1,000 Arab adults in ten Arab countries and the West Bank, Arabs outside of Lebanon or the West Bank showed a sharp spike in approval for America's leaders.

The Gallup Corporation released the poll with findings from previous polls in the various countries. It found the most dramatic increase in North Africa. Between June 2008 and March 2009, Tunisians' approval rose from 14 percent to 37%, and Algerians' from 25% to 47%.

Egypt, a key US partner from whose capital US President Barack Obama will deliver a "speech to the Muslim world" on Thursday, saw approval ratings soar from a measly 6% in May 2008 to 25% in March 2009.

Appreciation of the new administration also rose among key oil-producing countries in the Persian Gulf. In Saudi Arabia, a May 2008 approval rating of 12% turned into 29% in the new poll. In Qatar, approval rose in just two months, from January 2009 to March, from 8% to 22%.

Even Syria, which is engaged in a stand-off with US diplomats over its ties to Iran, saw approval rise from 4% in August 2008 to 15% in the new poll.

Yet this rise in approval leaves much to be desired, as "approval of US leadership remains generally low," Gallup researchers noted.

Indeed, among Palestinians and Lebanese, it has taken a turn for the worse from the Bush administration to the Obama administration, dropping by 3% in Lebanon (25% in May 2008 to 22% in March 2009) and 6% among West Bank Arabs (13% in August 2008 to just 7%).
You have to wonder why the US has been spending so much money on foreign aid to these countries for so many years if the perceptions are so negative. Egypt is the third largest recipient of US foreign aid after Iraq and Israel. And if the 'Palestinians' end up getting the $900 million that President Obama and Secretary Clinton promised them a few months ago, they will be pretty high up that recipient list as well.

Gallup notes that the drop in Lebanon is not statistically significant (it's within the poll's margin of error) while the drop among the 'Palestinians' is statistically significant.

Look at this:
It is unclear if this drop is the result of these Arab populations' concerns over Israel's January 2009 Operation Cast Lead, which enjoyed American political support and silence from then-president-elect Obama, or if it is related to the profound culture wars taking place in these two societies between radical Muslim forces and relative moderates or even liberals.

Gallup researchers noted that while approval dropped into the single digits, disapproval "remained steady at about 80%... It's important to note that when Gallup asked Palestinians in 2008 whether it would make a difference who was elected president of the United States, a substantial majority (72%) said it would not," they wrote.
I don't believe it has anything to do with Operation Cast Lead - which ended before Obama took office at his request. I believe that the drop is caused by the general negative perception the 'Palestinians' always have of the United States (note the part I highlighted) together with the possibility Obama is presenting of 'solving' the 'Palestinian problem,' which may be making the 'Palestinians' fearful that they might have to grow up and earn a living instead of living off charity. Kind of like how your kid reacts when you tell them to go use their babysitting money to buy that skirt instead of you paying for it.

You don't really think the 'Palestinians' want to do things like keep the streets clean and the schools operating, do you?


The full numbers are available here.


At 11:37 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Its significant all the suck-up, bending over and butt-kissing by the US hasn't wowed the Arabs. Majorities of Arabs still hate America even though its led by the most pro-Arab President in its history. And its worth noting in passing that all the US pressure on Israel still hasn't significantly improved American standing in the Arab World. In short, while the Arabs may feel the love from Obama, its not one they show for the country he leads.



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