The silver lining here: That 79 percent figure is a slight improvement. Last year, 82 percent viewed the U.S. unfavorably, which was higher than the numbers during the last few years of the Bush presidency. It dipped to 70 percent in 2009 after Obama was inaugurated, and then when the Egyptian public realized that he fully intended to go on supporting Mubarak and had no plan for Israeli/Palestinian peace, it shot up to over 80 in a spurt of disillusionment. But wait, you say — didn’t he earn any goodwill from nudging, then shoving, Mubarak under the bus a few months ago?
Washington’s response to political change in countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and Libya has not won over most Egyptians – 52% disapprove of how President Obama is dealing with calls for political change in the Middle East, compared with 45% who approve…
Among Egyptians who disapprove of the U.S. response to events in the Middle East, 42% believe the U.S. president has shown too little support for those protesting in the streets of Cairo and elsewhere; just 13% believe Washington has shown too much support. Over a third (36%) of those unhappy with the U.S. response do not see the U.S. president as offering either too little or too much backing to advocates of political change…
When it comes to their own country, few Egyptians applaud U.S. handling of recent events. Only 22% say the U.S. response to the political situation in Egypt has had a positive impact on the way things are now going. Many more – 39% – feel the U.S. has had a negative impact.
Turns out 30 years of propping up their oppressor couldn’t be erased by a few weeks of frantic opportunism. Actually, among younger, better-educated Egyptians, 51 percent approve of how Obama’s handled the Arab Spring. But then, that was a frequent realist criticism of the protests in Tahrir Square: The younger and better-educated might be the noisiest and most camera-friendly, but they do not a majority make. In any case, this is a big reason why, I think, he was keen to intervene in Libya. He wanted to show that 42 percent who think he’s not doing enough that he’s willing to commit the mighty U.S. military (for a few days) to knocking out an especially vicious strongman next door in Libya. I wonder what the numbers here would be if he hadn’t made that move. Any difference, or is this cake already baked?
As for Israel, the numbers are gruesome: 54 percent want the Camp David accords annulled versus just 36 percent who want them upheld. And while there is a split between liberals and fundamentalists, it’s not as sharp as you might hope.
That’s dramatically different from the poll I blogged a few weeks ago showing majority support for maintaining relations with Israel, but in that case, the question paired upholding the accords with an Israeli/Palestinian peace settlement. When you ask the question in isolation, the numbers flip.
One more data point for you. The Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t break 20 percent when people are asked which party they support, but … maybe that doesn’t matter so much:
As usual, the best hedge against fanaticism is corruption: The Egyptian military, which is close to the U.S. and heavily invested in making sure no Sunni Khomeinists interfere with its racketeering, retains an 88 percent favorable rating among the public. They’ll have plenty of leverage going forward over the government, and the U.S. will still retain some leverage with them to hold fundies in check. In fact, despite the poor ratings for the U.S. overall, 40 percent of Egyptians want the country to remain as closely allied with America as it was before and another 15 percent want the alliance to grow even closer. That’s surprising. I’m not sure how to explain it, unless they’re worried about keeping the flow of foreign aid going and/or unless fears of Shiite expansionism have started to penetrate in Egypt too. Any theories?