When President Obama came into office in 2008, positive opinion about the United States in the Arab world was on the rise. In some places favorable attitudes more than doubled, after Obama took power. But a new poll conducted by Zogby International for the Arab American Institute Foundation finds that favorable ratings have plummeted in the two years following Obama's landmark speech to the Arab world in Cairo.
Here's how the Arab American Institute Foundation wraps up its findings:
In five out of the six countries surveyed, the U.S. was viewed less favorably than Turkey, China, France — or Iran. Far from seeing the U.S. as a leader in the post-Arab Spring environment, the countries surveyed viewed "U.S. interference in the Arab world" as the greatest obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East, second only to the continued Palestinian occupation.
The poll also found that the U.S.'s role in establishing a no-fly zone over Libya scored positively in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, but it was the issue of lowest priority. The killing of Osama bin Laden, the poll found, "worsened attitudes toward the U.S."
As for how the Arab world feels about Obama, "most Arabs believe that the expectations President Obama created in his 2009 Cairo speech have not been met."
The poll is not entirely surprising, because a Pew poll in 2010 found that U.S. favorability ratings were plummeting in the Arab world.
The Washington Post reports that James Zogby, the president and founder of the Arab American Institute, did find one thing surprising:
Zogby said that he was surprised that favorable attitudes toward the United States had actually dropped to levels below where they were in 2008. By the same token, he said, Obama has been burdened by the fact that "every one of the issues that he's inherited has been more difficult than he or anyone else expected."
Obama, for instance, has had to make difficult decisions on Iraq and on Afghanistan, and try to set down new markers for progress among Israelis and Palestinians.