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The decline of Iran in Muslim eyes

by Mohamed Elshinnawi
Source: VOA News

Filed under: Analysis,Featured,Opinion |

The Decline of Iran in Muslim Eyes

By: Mohamed Elshinnawi

Source: VOA News

WASHINGTON — Iran, once admired by many many in the Middle East for resisting U.S. influence in the region, is rapidly losing support among the Arab and Muslim public, according to a new public poll.

The survey was conducted by the Zogby Research Service of Washington D.C., for the Arab American Institute. It measured public attitudes about Iran and its nuclear program in 20 Arab and Muslim countries.

According to the data, there was a collapse of support for Iran in most Arab countries in 2012 compared to 2006. In previous polls, Iran was admired by the “Arab street” for its opposition to the United States and Israel. In only six countries — Yemen, Kuwait, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria and Libya — did a majority view Iran favorably.

The most negative views of Iran were held in Saudi Arabia (84 percent), Qatar (79 percent), Turkey (77 percent), Azerbaijan (75 percent), Jordan (74 percent) and Pakistan (71percent) as well as Palestinians (70 percent), according to the poll.

“Syria is the nail in the coffin of Iran’s favorable rating in the region, but also the Iranian involvement in Bahrain and Iraq played a role,” said pollster James Zogby. “Iran used to be seen as a resistance to the West, but now is looked at as a provocative meddlesome noise.”

Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East program at the Wilson Center, where the polling results were made public, said the findings are bad news for the Iranian regime.

“These numbers will have a sobering effect on the Iranian government,” said Esfandiari. She said a turning point in the of support for Iran came in 2009, when Tehran harshly put down pro-democracy demonstrators who accused the government of rigging that year’s presidential elections.


Iran’s Nuclear Program

On the question of Iran’s nuclear program, the Zogby poll found that more than three-quarters of respondents in Bahrain (78 percent), the United Arab Emirates (80 percent), Oman (80 percent), Saudi Arabia (89 percent), Qatar (92 percent) and Kuwait (97 percent) agreed that “the Middle East would be more secure if it were a nuclear free zone.” Non-Arab Muslim nations registered similar attitudes: Azerbaijan (86 percent), Pakistan (85 percent) and Turkey (82 percent).

The only countries in which respondents said the Middle East would be more secure if Iran had nuclear weapons were Yemen and Libya.

Zogby said the polling results could be useful for U.S. policy-makers.

“The U.S. should focus on the fact that the Iranian threat is not to Israel, it is to the entire region,” he said. “The degree to which the story becomes about Israel, the Iranian regime wins; the degree to which it becomes about Iran and the region, the Iranian regime loses.”

Sanctions or Military Action

The Zogby poll showed there is a widespread support for sanctions to stop Iran should it persist in advancing its nuclear program.

“There is no country in which a strong majority supports military action against Iran to stop its nuclear program,” Zogby said. He added, however, that “the percentage of those who would support military strikes has increased since 2006, with a deep division among Sunni and Shia communities on this question. A majority of Sunnis in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Azerbaijan would support the military option.”

But Marc Lynch, a Middle East scholar at George Washington University, said the numbers should not be interpreted as a “green light for military intervention.”
Zogby agreed, saying that any U.S. strike on Iran would dramatically increase support for Tehran and opposition to the United States.

“Military action would be fatal in terms of the isolation that Iran is experiencing right now,” he said. “It will undo the growing isolation that took place over the last five years.”

The Zogby survey covered 20,000 people over a period of several weeks beginning last September. The new polling included Turkey, Pakistan and Azerbaijan as well as the Gulf states, Egypt, Sudan and the nations of the Maghreb.

For more details:
http://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/iranpollresultsreport.pdf

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of MuslimVillage.com.

9 comments
iQ
iQ

None of these polls should be trusted - they are all part of the same group that told us Iraq had WMDs!!

Anum Ahmed
Anum Ahmed

"Shia" means "follower". Shias follow the family of the Prophet; and what greater leaders are there to be followed?

bani aadam
bani aadam

This is quiet a propaganda piece. (Discussing the ramifications of a nuclear Iran, when the IAEA and other mechanisms have already stated that they dont have Nuclear weapons, nor a weaponised programme.) Why poll Muslims on Iran about the Nuclear question, then publish the results as if they do?

Elena Porcelli
Elena Porcelli

So you are calling Shia's Muslim? I thought people like you believed them to be kafir as well..

Amber Rauf
Amber Rauf

Iran is the prime sponsor of terrer..m in the middle east.

Ali Noorbakhsh
Ali Noorbakhsh

Is it a surprise a Washington poll is giving these results. Should we believe it? Or does it make more sense to stand with Iran against western aggression no matter our disputes within Islam. This is I think a good time to remember the verses of the Quran were Allah (SWT says ,O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as 'Auliya' (friends, protectors, helpers etc.), they are but 'Auliya' to one another. And if any amongst you takes them as 'Auliya' then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers and unjust)."

Syed Hamid Mukhtar Shah
Syed Hamid Mukhtar Shah

btw who carried out the surveys....im Pakistani and to be honest i dont think that a whopping 71% of us hold a wholly negative view of Iran. on a few issues yes we do but on a whole host of others we dont

Syed Hamid Mukhtar Shah
Syed Hamid Mukhtar Shah

interesting article.....i guess alot of the negative criticism its getting would have to come from the broader shia sunni conflict rather than just regional politics.

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