Tuesday, April 15, 2008

U.S. MIDDLE EAST POLICY INCREASING ARAB DISLIKE OF AMERICA & ISRAEL

JIM LOBE, ANTI-WAR Despite renewed U.S. efforts to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement this year, popular views of the United States in the Arab world have actually worsened since 2006, according to a major new survey [.pdf] of public opinion in six Arab states.

Nearly two-thirds, or 64 percent, of more than 4,000 respondents in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said they held a "very unfavorable" attitude of the United States, up from 57 percent in late 2006, while 19 percent more said their views were "somewhat unfavorable" – roughly comparable to the results of 17 months ago.

At the same time, support for Iran and its nuclear program appears to have risen over the same period, according to the new survey, the sixth in a series designed by University of Maryland Prof. Shibley Telhami and carried out by Zogby International since 2002.

The poll found that two-thirds of the Arab public (67 percent) believes Tehran has the right to pursue its nuclear program and that international pressure to freeze it should cease. That compares to 61 percent who took the same position in 2006. . .

Asked to name two countries that, in their view, posed the "biggest threat" to them, a whopping 95 percent and 88 percent of respondents named Israel and the U.S., respectively. That compared to 85 percent and 72 percent, respectively, in late 2006.

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