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Polls show anti-American feelings at all time high in Muslim countries

By Tom / February 22, 2007

Two new polls, conducted separately in 2005 and 2006, show that anti-American feeling in Arab nations is at an all-time high.

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The surveys, carried out by Zogby International and the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, show that it's not just that feelings are running against the US, it's that Arabs and Muslims are "giving up on [the US] – on our ability to make good decisions, to solve problems, to play the role of honest broker."

David Ignatius, of The Washington Post, writes that as bad as you think it may be from watching TV, "it's actually worse." In his column, Mr. Ignatius refers to a poll presented by Shibley Telhami – a University of Maryland professor and a fellow of the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution – at a conference on America's relations with the Muslim world held in Doha, Qatar this past weekend. The survey, by Zogby International, was done in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In these six "friendly" countries, only 12 percent of those surveyed expressed favorable attitudes toward the United States. America's leaders have surpassed Israel's as objects of anger. Asked which foreign leader they disliked most, 38 percent named George Bush; Ariel Sharon was a distant second at 11 percent; and Ehud Olmert was third with 7 percent.

The poll data show a deep suspicion of American motives: 65 percent of those surveyed said they didn't think democracy was a real US objective in the Middle East. Asked to name two countries that had the most freedom and democracy, only 14 percent said America, putting it far behind France and Germany.

The Gulf Times of Qatar reports that 84 percent of those surveyed in the Zogby poll believe that the war in Iraq has created more, not fewer, terrorists, while 86 percent believe that there has been "less peace" in the region since the removal of Saddam Hussein.

The Cybercast News Service reports that Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa told the conference that most Arabs do not hate the United States but oppose its double standards.

"Muslims cannot accept the US policy of supporting Israel and its occupation of Arab and Muslim territories," he said, adding that Arabs could also not understand Washington's opposition to Iran's nuclear program while Israel's was ignored.

Reuters reports that the good news in the report is that 67 percent of those surveyed said that the US could substantially repair its image if it brokered peace in the region.

But commentators in the region doubt that the US will do this. Rami Khouri – editor of The Daily Star of Lebanon and described by Ignatius as "one of most balanced journalists in the Arab world" – says that you only need to listen to American officials speak at an international gathering to understand why four out of five Arabs have an unfavorable view of the US and its policies.

This year, the task of further lowering Arab-Islamic esteem for the US government fell to David Satterfield, the senior adviser and coordinator for Iraq in the office of the US secretary of state. The gist of his remarks was that the US public and government have limited patience in Iraq, and it was up to Iraqis now to take change of their future by acting in a national rather than a sectarian fashion ...