Saturday, November 26, 2011

New Brookings poll of some Arab countries

There are some interesting results. The people of the Middle East are aware of the destructive role the US plays in their region.

More people in the Middle East think the US is primarily motivated by controlling oil than by protecting Israel. This continues a trend over the last two years and is the first of the last three years that controlling oil has overtaken Israel.

The US oil lobby has directly attempted to oppose the Israel lobby and was humiliated.
A lot of the oil companies realized, 'We're not gonna beat these guys in Congress, so we might as well try to tailor their activities, where we at least have some room to work.'
So I hold that many Arabs mistaken impression of US motivation. But the numbers show that impression:

Which TWO of the following factors do you
believe are most important in driving
American policy in the Middle East?
2011 2010 2009
Controlling oil 53 47 39
Protecting Israel 44 50 52
Weakening the Muslim world 32 34 38
Preserving regional and global dominance 29 36 25
Promoting peace and stability 8 6 8
Fighting terrorism 8 5 4

I encourage anyone to scroll through the released results for yourself.

What two countries pose the biggest threat to you?
Israel 71%
US 59%
Iran 18%

There is international pressure on Iran to curtail its nuclear program. What is your opinion?
Iran has a right to its program 64% (53% in 2009)
Iran should be pressured to stop its nuclear program 25% (40% in 2009)

I also note that Brookings was careful not to ask directly what the respondents think about Israel’s legitimacy as a enforced Jewish majority state.

Instead it asks if Israel returns all 1967 territory, which is not even on the table, would the respondents accept Israel. The results were still not positive for Israel, but more positive than a relevant question would have yielded.


lysander1 said...

I would add that the numbers re: Iran are quite impressive since so much Arab media is Saudi owned or influenced and is quite anti-Iranian, as was Egyptian state media under Mubarak. It coincides with discussions I've had with Egyptians. The anti-Iranian media campaign has not born fruit.

As for oil vs Israel, the two are not entirely unrelated. To say that the US is invading Iraq or Libya "because of oil" implies that the US intends to simply take the oil by force, which is not really the case. More accurately, it wants the oil controlled by regional satraps and not in the hands of any independent actor. So, to ask if the US is involved in the middle east because of Israel OR because of oil, implies that the two possible answers are mutually exclusive when in fact they are closely related. The same is true in regards to weakening the Muslim world or protecting their global dominance.

My point being that those who answered something other than "protecting Israel" are not necessarily mistaken about the root causes. If there had been a follow up question such as "Do you think the US wants to control oil or weaken Islam in order to benefit Israel?" my guess is a vast majority would have answered "yes."

Arnold Evans said...

Very good point. George Bush said that the US had to occupy Iraq to prevent terrorists from using Iraq's oil revenues to "fund their ambitions".

That is pretty close to explicitly saying that the US is working to keep oil revenues out of anti-Zionist hands.

I've always discounted that explanation for Libya because Gaddafi was already not particularly hostile against the West or Israel recently.  I hear chatter about military bases in Libya which, if they come true, will mean that there was some objective other than Obama and Europe emotionally wanting to feel powerful after losing Mubarak.  But we'll see if the bases actually happen.

Lidia said...

Dear Arnold, I never took such reasons as "emotionally wanting" seriously :) There is not such thing. Politics are about power, and in Libya, never mind other reasons, it was also  about China getting too much influence in former Western colonies.  Of course, if you meant the rape of Libya as a "lesson" to other potentially not too submissive regimes, it is right too. 

Lidia said...

About Saudi prop - my thoughts exactly. There is almost no anti-Saudi media Arabic , and Qatar is now on the same side.

The other interesting point is the body to which the researcher belongs - it is a very Zionist one. So, I would took their finding with a ton of salt, but even them had to admit that Arabs do not like and trust USA too much, and the same regarding Israel. I suppose the reality is even "worse" from their POV.