Posted by Arab American Institute on November 30, 2017 in Blog
Between August 24 and September 19, 2017, Zogby Research Services conducted face-to-face polls, surveying 7,800 adults in seven Arab countries (Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE), Iran and Turkey. We had been commissioned by the Sir Bani Yas Forum to explore attitudes toward a range of issues including the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, U.S. policies under the Trump Administration, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iran Deal, refugees, and political Islam. We also surveyed Palestinians, Iranians, and Turks about developments within their countries. What follows is a summary of the findings.
1. Importance of Relations with Other Countries:
In almost every country the percentages of those who say it is important to have good relations with the United States and Russia are higher than they were in 2016. The importance of relations with the United States has dramatically increased among Egyptians, Iraqis, and Turks, while Russia’s importance has grown significantly for Emiratis and Turks.
Iranians are the only respondents who view relations with the United States and Saudi Arabia as unimportant.
Saudis and Emiratis overwhelmingly see relations with Iran as not important.
2. Role in Syria:
Overall, there is mostly dissatisfaction with the role other countries have played in the Syrian conflict.
Russia’s and Iran’s roles are seen as negative everywhere except in Iran.
The U.S. role is only seen positively in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Turkey.
The Saudi role is only seen as positive in Jordan and the UAE.
Turkey fares well in Jordan and the UAE.
For their part, Egyptians see all of the countries involved as playing a very negative role in Syria.
Respondents in every country except Iraq say that they believe that their government should play an active role in shaping the outcome of the conflict in Syria.
Across the board, majorities say that there is no solution to the conflict in Syria that leaves Bashar al-Assad in power. This is true even in Iran.
3. Role in Iraq:
Once again there is mostly dissatisfaction with the role other countries have played in Iraq. Only the United States gets positive scores anywhere, with these coming from Emiratis and Saudis.
Overall, Iran’s role in Iraq is judged very harshly, including by Iraqis themselves.
Iraqis are disapproving of almost everyone’s role in their country, except that of the United States where Iraqi opinion is divided.
When asked for their opinion as to the best outcome for Iraq, the most favored option in Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Turkey is an Iraqi government in Baghdad that represents all Iraqis and can pursue national reconciliation to keep the country unified. Everywhere else (i.e., Jordan, Palestine, Iran, and Iraq itself), opinion is divided between this option and maintaining unity through a federation of autonomous regions.
The establishment of an independent Kurdish state is opposed by majorities everywhere, including by all groups in Iraq.
4. Concern for Yemen:
The two most frequently cited concerns posed by the Yemen conflict are the presence of al Qaeda and the threat posed by Iran. These are most strongly felt by Saudis and Emiratis. The humanitarian crisis facing the country is cited by about one-quarter of respondents in five countries.
5. U.S. Policies Under Trump:
The policies of the new Trump Administration toward any area of the Middle East are seen as positive only in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Turkey. Emiratis and Turks favor his policies toward Syria and Iraq; Emiratis and Saudis support his policies toward Iran.
Egyptians and Palestinians are the most negatively inclined toward the Trump policies, with the attitudes of the Lebanese, Jordanians, and Iraqis mixed. Egyptians and Turks are the most opposed to the Trump policy toward Iran.
Strong majorities in every country except Turkey have no confidence that the Trump Admini-stration will be able to achieve an Israeli/Palestinian peace. Turks are divided on this matter.
A two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is strongly supported only by Egyptians, Saudis, and Emiratis.
A one-state solution only receives strong support in Iraq.
A high two in five respondents in Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan express the concern that no solution may be possible to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As to whether the Arab states and Israel should build an alliance to confront Iran and extremism, slight majorities in Egypt, Iraq, and Turkey agree, but only if Israel first ends its occupation of Palestinian lands. Majorities in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE would still oppose such an alliance even if Israel were to withdraw from the occupied territories.
6b. Palestinian Attitudes:
Over two-thirds of Palestinians are prepared to accept peace with Israel on the terms of the Arab Peace Initiative, but over one-quarter of Palestinians don’t believe that Israel will agree to the terms of the API.
There is a growing sense of despair among Palestinians, with two in five saying they no longer believe that a peace agreement is possible.
Majorities of Palestinians are dissatisfied with both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, with a significantly greater number dissatisfied with Hamas.
While about two-thirds of Palestinians say unity among the Palestinian parties is important and want the Palestinian Authority to make a determined effort to reach that goal, just about two-thirds are not confident that unity will occur.
In 50 years of occupation, more than one-third of Palestinians report that they or members of their immediate family have suffered violence from the Israeli military and/or settlers. The percentages for Palestinians in Jerusalem are staggering: 54% from the military, 69% from settlers.
7a. Iran Deal:
Attitudes are deeply divided as to how to move forward with the JCPOA. A slight majority in the UAE, and slight pluralities in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Iraq are in support of canceling the deal. The only country where a majority is in favor of enforcing the JCPOA is Turkey.
A slight plurality in Egypt and Lebanon favor pressing Iran to participate in a regional framework to bring peace to the region.
7b. Iranian Attitudes:
There is an increase in Iranian satisfaction with the performance of their government in improving the economy, supporting regional allies, and advancing rights although a majority are still dissatisfied with this last area.
Three-quarters of Iranians believe that while their country has met its obligations under the terms of JCPOA, the West has not lived up to its end of the deal.
Possibly owing to this feeling that the JCPOA hasn’t met their expectations, Iranians have increased their support for their government’s involvement in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen. After a significant and steady decline in support for all of these involvements over the past two years, support for each of them is now back up to pre-JCPOA 2014 levels.
8. Turkish Attitudes:
Turkish respondents report being pleased with their government’s role in improving their country’s economy, but majorities are not satisfied with its performance in protecting their rights and improving ties with the United States and the West.
9. Attitudes Toward Refugees:
The negative impact of Syrian refugees continues to weigh on Lebanese, Jordanians, and Turks. The percentages of Lebanese and Jordanians who now feel that the refugees pose a security threat to their countries have somewhat declined since 2014. But while fewer Jordanians are concerned with the economic impact, the percentage of Lebanese with this concern has slightly increased. Overall, it is the Turks who say they have the greatest concern with the refugees’ impact on their security and economy.
10. Political Islam:
Majorities in almost every country (except Palestine and Iran) believe that religious movements should restrict themselves to matters of “faith and guidance” and stay out of politics.
Only Iranians believe that when religious movements have taken power, they make countries stronger and improve the lives of citizens. Significant majorities in Egypt, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iraq, and Turkey believe that governing religious movements make countries weaker and worse off. Jordanians and Lebanese are divided.
Despite mixed or negative feelings toward religious movements in government, respondents give higher grades to the AKP in Turkey and Tunisia’s Ennahda for having been effective in governance than they give to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Palestine’s Hamas.