Poll: Iran Unpopular in Arab and Muslim World

Mar 06, 2013

            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, especially in Sunni countries. Majorities in all but four countries agreed 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.”

            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 the report. “Syria is the nail in the coffin of Iran’s favorable rating in the region,” said Jim Zogby at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on March 5.

            In 2006, Zogby Research Services surveyed opinion on Iran’s nuclear intentions. The 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.

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Overview

The Islamists Are Coming is the first book to survey the rise of Islamist groups in the wake of the Arab Spring.  Often lumped together, the more than 50 Islamist parties with millions of followers now constitute a whole new spectrum—separate from either militants or secular parties.  They will shape the new order in the world’s most volatile region more than any other political bloc. Yet they have diverse goals and different constituencies. Sometimes they are even rivals.

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