Arabs Consider US as Threat to Middle East, Poll Reveals

A recently released poll shows that Arabs generally believe that the United States poses a threat to regional stability. The findings were contained in a 2016 Arab Opinion Index conducted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) in Doha, Qatar, and were released Tuesday, April 11, in Washington, D.C.

REUTERS/Alaa Al-MarjaniAmerican soldiers are seen at the U.S. army base in Qayyara, south of Mosul.

According to the poll, 82 percent of respondents view the United States as a threat while its foreign policy across the Middle East is viewed negatively. Some 77 percent have a negative perception of U.S. policy towards Syria, 80 percent for Palestine, 78 percent in for Iraq, 71 percent for Yemen and 72 percent for Libya.

The survey was done in 2016 and asked 18,310 respondents in 12 Arab countries namely Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Tunisia. The poll couldn't predict the regional opinion on the recent bombing by the United States of Syria and its use of chemical weapons.

Other countries that are seen to contribute to regional instability are Israel as perceived by 89 percent of respondents, Iran by 73 percent and Russia by 69 percent. The Islamic State (ISIS) also received a poor perception from 89 percent while 2 percent had "very positive" views on the terror group.

On the reason ISIS' rise, U.S. News reported that 58 percent attribute it to the policies of foreign powers, 29 percent to the Middle East conflict, 43 percent blame it on "religious extremism and fanaticism in the Middle East" while 35 percent say it is a product of Arab governments' policies.

On democracy and religion, 77 percent agree that democracy is the most appropriate system in their countries compared to 34 percent who prefer that their laws be built on Shariah law. A relatively high 70 percent think democracy is incompatible with Islam while 53 percent believe it best to separate religion from politics.