Poll Takes the Pulse of the Middle East

Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, has just published a poll conducted with Zogby International. The polls as people in seven countries — Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — about their perceptions of the United States, Israel, Iran and the Iraq war.

- An average of 61 percent of the respondents thought Iran has the right to its nuclear program, yet 51 percent believe Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon.

- Of the countries polled, Lebanon seemed the most divided over Iran, with 51 percent saying Iran has a right to develop nuclear power and 43 percent saying it should be pressured to stop. On the other end of the spectrum, 77 percent of Moroccans said Iran has the right to nuclear power and only 9 percent opposed. Telhami says that sympathy for Iran falls along sectarian lines; he says the vast majority of the Shia support the Iranian nuclear effort, and that most Sunnis do not.

- When asked to name the countries that pose the biggest threat, 85 percent said Israel, 72 percent said the United States and 11percent said Iran. Half the respondents think Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon, but only one-tenth of them think of Iran as a threat.

- 62 percent said that brokering a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians would improve their views of the U.S.; 33 percent said that the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq would improve their view of the United States.

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