Poll: Iran Unpopular in Arab and Muslim Eyes

Iran is now viewed unfavorably in 14 out of 20 Arab and Muslim countries, according to a new poll by Zogby Research Services. The survey results show a growing antipathy towards Tehran. Majorities in all but four countries agree that Iran is contributing to sectarian division in the Arab world. Only majorities in Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and Yemen think “Iran is working to promote peace and stability in the region.”

Zogby Research Services asked participants if they identified with the Green Movement demonstrators or Iran’s government after the 2009 presidential election. Majorities in all countries except Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and Yemen identified with the Green Movement.

Tehran’s unfavorable ratings “appear to be driven by its policies in Iraq, Syria, the Arab Gulf region, in general, and by its nuclear program,” according to the report.

In 2006, Zogby Research Services surveyed opinion on Iran’s nuclear intentions. Majorities in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates thought Iran’s program was for peaceful purposes.

But public opinion has flipped. Majorities in those same countries now say Iran intends to build a nuclear weapon. Majorities in 14 countries support economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic. But no majority in any surveyed country supports a military strike on Iran’s program.

The following are excerpts from the survey report, with a link to the full text at the end.


 The Bottom Line
1. There is a growing antipathy toward Iran across the Arab World and among Iran’s non-Arab neighbors.

2. Iran’s unfavorable ratings appear to be driven by its policies in Iraq, Syria, the Arab Gulf region, in general, and by its nuclear program.

3. Most Arab Muslims, of all sects, see their Arab culture as superior to the culture of Iran. They see themselves as more generous and knowledgeable, less violent, and as having made a more significant contribution to Islamic civilization.

4. Iran has made serious inroads into the region’s Shia population, especially in Bahrain, Iraq, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia.

5. There is near consensus that the region should be a “nuclear free zone” and deep concern with Iran’s nuclear program. There is strong support in most countries for internationally imposed sanctions to deter Iran’s program. While majorities everywhere but Turkey oppose any military strikes against Iran should they continue to develop a nuclear capacity, 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.

Read complete report


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