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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Middle East


Poll: Arab World Disappointed with Obama

August 6, 2010 - 8:42 AM | by: Karen Liel

The election of Barack Obama to the U.S. Presidency in November 2008 sparked the hopes of millions of Muslims around the world. Following the President’s speech in Cairo in June 2009, on America’s relationship with Muslim communities- it seemed as if a new era was about to begin in America’s policy towards the Middle East.

However, a recently released annual Arab public opinion poll, surveying Arabs in six different Arab countries: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, shows that almost two years after his election, the majority of Arabs around the world are disappointed with the US President.

The poll, conducted by Shibley Telhami of the Brookings Saban Center, shows a dramatic shift in the Arab world’s attitudes towards the US President since his election.

Early on in the Obama administration, in April and May 2009, 51 percent of the respondents in the six countries expressed optimism about American policy in the Middle East. But in this year’s poll, only 16 percent say they’re hopeful, while a majority – 63 percent say they’re discouraged.

Another striking shift of opinion was found in attitudes towards Iran’s potential nuclear weapons status. In 2009, only 29 percent of those polled said that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would be “positive” for the Middle East. Now  a majority of 57 percent say that such an outcome would be “positive” for the Middle East.

One stable surprise is that Arab views on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the prospects of its resolution have stayed remarkably the same.

The vast majority of the Arab world, at least 85 percent, still agree that the idea of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, including Jerusalem, would be acceptable. However, 55 percent of the Arab world polled doesn’t trust Israel to agree to give up the necessary land to secure such a deal.

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