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Why They Hate Us, Pt. 76
Surveying Arab Resentment

Arabs in five countries were asked how they primarily identified themselves—as Muslims (blue), citizens of their own country (pink) or Arabs (green), over three years. Even the Arab world has its resurgent religious right.
From Brookings: “A new poll conducted by Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Shibley Telhami finds that for the first time, President George W. Bush is the most disliked leader in the Arab world. Additionally, although a majority of public opinion believes that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, a majority of the respondents from the six-nation poll (Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates) believe Iran has the right to its nuclear program and should not be pressured to stop its activities.” The survey is long and revealing, at least to Americans, to the degree that it demolishes the assumption that Americans are admired in that part of the world. Thanks to Bush, they're as reviled as they've ever been. For example, when the survey asked respondents in each country to name who, among world leaders, they admire most, outside their own country, Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was first in ever country except Saudi Arabia, where France's Chirac was admired most (Saudi Arabia is predominantly Sunni, Nasrallah is predominantly Shiite; Arabs, when it comes to matters of race and sectarianiam, are predominantly bigoted, although Egypt and Jordan, too, are Sunni nations, and Hezbollah tops the hit parade there). The survey also demolishes the assumption that Osama bin laden is a big GI-Joe-like hero among the masses. He garneres little to no admiration higher than two or one percent, except in Egypt where he has five percent. Lebanon? Zero. And his native Saudi Arabia: two percent. Iran Ahmadinijad is much preferred. Asked in those same countries which leader respondents disliked most, Bush was the outright winner (38 percent) followed by the dead or dying Sharon (11 percent), Olmert (7) and Blair (3). Simon Cowell doesn't rate. Oddly, it's Jordanians who dispise Bush most among those Arab countries: 57 percent of their erspondents rank Bush atop their “dislike” list—still less than the proportion of Americans who do so, incidentally, where the latest Gallup poll has 59 percent disapproving of Bush. To this question: "In a world where there is only one superpower, which of the following countries would you prefer more than the others to be that superpower?" 19 percent gave the nod to France, followed by China (16), Pakistan (14), Germany (10) and the United States (8). You have to ask yourself: what people would willingly vote for China or Pakistan as prospective rulers? Because when asked to name two countries that afford the most freedom and democracy to their people, China and Pakistan don;t appear anywhere, but France, Germany, the U.S. and Britain do. Those are also the four nations, in that order, where respondents would most prefer to live. That tells you to what little extent freedom and democracy plays a role in people's thinking in the Middle East (a lesson neocons have not learned), and to what extent ideology and creed plays a disproportionate role. Across the board, the two countries that are seen as the biggest threats are Israel and the United States (in that order), with Iran either a distant or an insignificant threat. What would improve respondents' view of the US? Israel withdrawing to the 1967 borders, the U.S. withdrawing from Iraq. Questions were also focused on the Iraq war and the latest Lebanon war. In Iraq's case, the overwhelming majority opf respondents say the war made the region less secure. And 68 percent of respondents said the Israel-Lebanon war left them with a more positive view of Hezbollah, as opposed to just 17 percent who said their views remained unchanged and 8 percent declaring themselves more negatively inclined. One last, very telling finding: when asked what defined their identity, respondents ranked being a Muslim first, by far, although that was not the case before 2004, wne being a citizen of one's country ranked highest (and being an Arab last). 3,850 individuals were interviewed for the survey, in the six countries. Have a look. It's a flood of charts.
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