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Who will be the next US president according to the Arab world?

posted on: Nov 4, 2016

Who will be the next US president according to the Arab world!
Image Credit: MintPress News

BY: Hala Atirah/Contributing Writer

Countless polls have been issued that ask Americans what they think about the presidential elections that are only four days away. But what do Arabs, nearly 9,000 miles away, think about the U.S. election?

Arab perceptions of the 2016 U.S. presidential election was a survey conducted and published by the Arab Center Washington DC in cooperation with the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Qatar.

The survey addresses questions regarding Arabs’ views on U.S. foreign policy, the presidential candidates, perceived impact of the elections on foreign policy, and post-election expectations. The survey covers a randomly selected sample of 3,200 people residing in nine Arab countries (Algeria, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco, and the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank) for the period of Oct. 21-31, 2016.

Respondents had to express their opinions by choosing one of the following options for each question: positive, negative, neutral, or no answer.

Who will be the next US president according to the Arab world!
Khalil Jahshan – Executive director of the Arab Center Washington DC

Arab Opinions on U.S. Presidential Candidates

In regards to the U.S. presidential election, the vast majority of the surveyed Arabs support Clinton. The Democratic nominee received 56 percent support overall. The highest positive rate for Clinton was found in Tunisia (65%), while the highest negative rate for Clinton was in Palestine (54%).

As for the Republican nominee Donald Trump, the majority of Arabs have a negative opinion of him. Of those surveyed, 60 percent would oppose his presidency if he wins on November 8. The highest negative rate of Trump was found in Kuwait (69%), while the highest positive rate, surprisingly, was among Iraqis (34%).

Many Arabs (40%) agree that Donald Trump will contribute to global anti-Arab and Islamophobic sentiment if elected. Arabs also have little faith in Trump’s ability to contribute to democratic transitions in Arab countries, with 47 percent believing he will not contribute at all. Furthermore, 47 percent of Arabs also believe that Donald Trump will contribute to instability in the Arab world.

Post-Election: How optimistic are Arabs about the U.S. changing its policy toward the Arab world?

The survey found that 30 percent of Arabs are pessimistic and have less faith that there will be any changes in U.S. policy toward the Arab world. However, another 33 percent believe that there will be a slight change in U.S. foreign policy toward the region.

Palestinian and Algerian respondents have the least amount of faith on any prospected change in U.S. policy toward their countries. Of the Palestinians and Algerian respondents, 38 percent are pessimistic of U.S. policy change.

When asked about U.S. policy on a global level, 34 percent of all respondents believe that U.S. policy will change positively, while 35 percent believe there will be no changes at all after the election.

Regarding the Arab world specifically, the vast majority of Arabs believe that the U.S. should not intervene in Arab affairs. Of everyone surveyed from all nine countries, 24 percent think that the U.S. should put defeating ISIL at the top of the country’s agenda. Of those surveyed, 45 percent of Iraqis and 46 percent of Tunisians agree that ISIL should be the next U.S. president’s top priority. Meanwhile, 45 percent of Palestinians say their cause should be the top priority for the next president.

Which candidate do Arabs have more faith in?

There is a consensus among 70 percent of the Arab respondents that a Clinton presidency will be more effective in changing U.S. foreign policy towards the Arab world. Only 13 percent of Arabs believe that Trump will bring any positive changes to the region.

Tunisians expressed the most positive belief in Clinton’s ability to change foreign policies with 72 percent agreeing she can. Once more, Palestinians have the most negative view, with only 34 percent believing Clinton will positively change their country.

Surprisingly again, among the nine countries surveyed, Iraq showed the highest faith in Trump, with 19 percent believing that he will act positively towards Iraq.

Who will be the next US president according to the Arab world!
Image Credit: Al Jazeera

Arab Opinions of U.S. Citizens and Policies in General

When people in the Arab world were asked about their attitudes toward the United States and its people, the survey found a significant distrust in U.S. foreign policy, but not in the country itself or its population. This suggests that the Arab world can fairly distinguish between U.S. policy makers and its ordinary citizens.

Statistically, 67 percent of Arabs have a negative or somewhat negative attitude towards U.S. policy. However, 72 percent of those surveyed have a positive view of American people.

Palestine and Algeria have the most negative opinion towards U.S. policy (78% unfavorable), whereas Iraq, Morocco, and Tunisia have the least negative opinion of U.S. policy out of all nine Arab countries. Only 33 percent of Iraqis, 33 percent of Moroccans, and 31 percent of Tunisians have negative opinions of U.S. policies.

Arabs believe that the most influential entities in the U.S. foreign policy are Congress, the president, and the pro-Israel lobby, in that order.

Analysis

The Arab world holds negative opinion regarding the U.S. policy toward their countries, but not the American people. The survey suggests that Arab people see a large difference between U.S. policymakers and average citizens. However, there is a general idea that Arabs hold little power in influencing U.S. foreign policy in the Arab world, as indicated by the list of the most powerful entities, which includes the pro-Israel lobby.

The Arab world feels very connected to the U.S., and this survey suggests that the next president of the U.S. will have an impact on the daily lives of Arabs. The lack of hope for a more positive U.S. foreign policy in the region indicates a loss of confidence in the U.S. government, and the Obama Administration in particular. At the beginning of his presidency, Obama was revered in the Arab world as a figure for real change because of his anti-Iraq War approach and past relationship with Arab Americans. Now, and after his presidency is over, Arabs feel that Obama did not play a significant role in changing the reality in the Arab world.

For 2016 elections, candidates, voters, and Arabs themselves are prioritizing the situation in the Middle East and placing it on the top of the next president’s agenda. The Arab world is looking for the candidate that will ease their lives and contribute positively to their political, and therefore economic, situations that were arguably severely deterred in the past two decades by American foreign policy.