James Zogby's Arab American Institute has some bad news for the Obama administration regarding its outreach to the Muslim world, finding that the U.S.' approval is " lower than at the end of the Bush Administration, and lower than Iran's favorable ratings." Across the board in the countries surveyed, respondents cited "continuing occupation of Palestinian lands" as an obstacle to peace and stability in the region, even above "U.S. interference in the Arab world," which came second. The poll measured opinions in Morocco, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan.
In response to the question " Do you agree or disagree that Barack Obama has met the expectations he set in his speech at Cairo University in June 2009?" the affirmative responses were in single or low double digits. Then there's this:
Arabs see the Obama Administration's handling of most Middle East policy issues as having made no contribution to improving U.S.-Arab relations. Only on the issue of the "no-fly zone over Libya" do a majority of Saudis and a plurality of Lebanese see a positive contribution.
It is noteworthy that the two issues on which the Administration has invested considerable energy—"the Palestinian issue" and "engagement with the Muslim world"—receive the lowest approval ratings - less than 9% across the board.
Two things--this is particularly bad given that part of the administration's underlying rationale for intervening in Libya was to shift the regional narrative that the U.S. only supports brutal dictators and not the democratic aspirations of Arabs. The latter point highlights the bizarro worldview of the American right, much of which seems to believe that the administration is overly sympathetic to the Palestinian plight and is covertly supportive of Islamists.
UPDATE: Just so it's clear, I'm not arguing that intervention in Libya made things worse, just that it didn't shift regional attitudes regarding the U.S. in a positive direction.
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