Poll: Arabs Less Supportive of Iran

Iran losing ground? New poll finds that less Arabs support the Islamic Republic today and do not want to see it developing nuclear weapons.

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Elad Benari,

Iranian Protests (2009)
Iranian Protests (2009)

After a few years of supporting Iran for its defiant stance towards Washington, Arabs today have a different position and are less supportive of Tehran, Gulf News reported Tuesday.

The report cites a recently released poll by the Arab-American Institute (AAI) in six Arab countries. The poll showed a significant decrease in Iran’s favorable ratings since 2006 and 2008.

James Zogby, founder and president of AAI, told Gulf News that while in previous polls the Arab public opinion was supportive of Iran’s nuclear program and looked at it as “active defiance to the West,” many things have since changed.

One of these changes can be attributed to the Arab Spring.

“I think also the Arab Spring has changed the psychology of the region,” Zogby said. “The region is now looking at a different direction. They are looking inwards and not looking who is defying the U.S. the most. The U.S. has become almost irrelevant in this period.”

He added that Arab people now come to see Iran’s behavior “in its own light, so their interference in Iraq, or in Bahrain, or in Kuwait or in Lebanon, all those things have become more of a nuisance and a threat than as a challenge to the West.”

The AAI poll included 4,000 Arabs and covered Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan and the UAE. According to Zogby, the results found that Arabs now have a “strong regional support for the GCC’s new and more assertive role protecting their regional interest.”

As an example of the dwindling support to Iran, the percentage of Moroccans who have positive views toward Iran has dropped from 82 percent in 2006 to a mere 14 percent in 2011. In Egypt, 89 percent supported Iran in 2006, compared to 37 percent today. Saudis recorded the lowest percentage of positive views towards Iran with 6 percent, and on the other end Lebanon recorded the highest percentage, with 63.

The main conclusion of the poll, said Zogby, is that “None [of the Arabs] believe that the region would be safer if Iran became a nuclear power.”

The poll also found that when asked if they had to choose one nation other than Israel to be a nuclear power in the Middle East, Egypt came in first. It was followed by Turkey, which received the highest favorable ratings in most Arab countries, mainly due to its recent positions on the Arab-Israeli conflict.