The Arab world realises that Barack Obama is George W. Bush with a better speech-writer:
A new poll of Arab public opinion finds a significant drop in Arab world views of President Obama from a year ago.
The 2010 Arab Public Opinion poll will be released Thursday at the Brookings Institution by Shibley Telhami, of the University of Maryland and Brookings’ Saban Center for Middle East Policy. The annual survey, conducted in conjunction with Zogby International, polled 3,976 people in six countries — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates — in June and July.
The most striking finding is that while early in the Obama administration, in April and May 2009, some 51 percent of those polled expressed optimism about American policy in the Middle East; in the 2010 poll, only 16 percent were hopeful, while a majority, 64 percent, were discouraged.
Hopes in the Arab world about how much Obama might transform U.S. foreign policy may have been unrealistically high as he came into office, and considerable disappointment has set in as the administration encounters difficulties in making significant progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, among other issues.
“The data leaves little doubt that the deciding factor in the shift of opinion toward the Obama administration is disappointment on the Israeli-Palestinian issue,” Telhami said by e-mail.
“Basically, Arabs have concluded that he can’t deliver on his promises at best, or that he’s just like Bush at worst,” George Washington University Middle East specialist and ForeignPolicy.com writer Marc Lynch said. “But there’s still considerable residual hope at this point that they’re wrong and that he’ll come through in the end.”