Arab countries have warmed to Obama, poll finds

Arabs living in the Middle East have warmed to President Obama’s policies in recent years, according to a comprehensive survey released Wednesday by Zogby Research Services.

Zogby polled people living in seven Arab countries including Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Palestinian territories. 

Since 2011, opinions of Obama’s policies have grown exponentially in Egypt (from 3 percent to 34 percent), in Jordan (from 3 percent to 25 percent) and in the UAE (from 8 percent to 38 percent).

Views of Obama in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Lebanon have also increased between 7 and 24 percentage points.

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Saudis, Emiratis and Egyptians gave the administration the highest scores, but ratings in each country remain well below 50 percent. 

Those surveyed said the Obama administration has been the most effective in ending the U.S. presence in Iraq, after troops pulled out in 2011, and working to end Iran’s nuclear program.

The administration has been the least effective in improving relations with the Muslim world and handling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Arab Spring, according to the poll.

Former President Clinton is viewed as having the most positive relationship with Arab countries, the poll suggests. Former President George W. Bush was the most negative. The opinion of Obama was divided. 

Strong majorities in each country support U.S. policies to spur a negotiated solution to the civil war in Syria, and favor the U.S. providing more assistance to its refugees. Majorities in all countries oppose any form of U.S. military engagement in Syria.

Most of the countries strongly support U.S.-led negotiations to curb Iran’s nuclear program, but they have little confidence the talks will succeed. 

On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, strong majorities in every Arab country surveyed said they aren’t confident the U.S. has been even-handed in its approach to negotiating peace. More than half of Palestinians, for instance, felt that way.

The survey comes nearly five years after Obama reached out to the Muslim world in a major speech in Cairo, Egypt.

After the speech, Zogby found majorities in the Arab countries surveyed were hopeful Obama was launching a “new beginning” with the Muslim world.

The survey polled between 811 and 1,031 people in each country from May 1 to 23. The polls had a margin of error of either 3.1 or 3.5 percentage points.