Interesting Ipsos/McClatchy poll shows that Barack Obama is fairly popular in key Arab states:
Obama scored highest in Jordan, where 58 percent of its citizens have a favorable opinion of him, 29 percent have an unfavorable view, 6 percent had no opinion and 7 percent didn’t know. Saudi Arabians have a 53 percent favorable opinion of Obama, followed by 52 percent in the United Arab Emirates. From there, Obama’s popularity dips below 50 percent with a 47 percent favorability rating in Kuwait, 43 percent in Lebanon and 35 percent in Egypt. In none of these countries, however, was Obama’s unfavorable rating higher than his favorable one. In contrast, only 38 percent of Saudis have a favorable view of the United States, followed by 36 percent of Jordanians, 34 percent of UAE residents, 31 percent of Lebanese and 22 percent of Egyptians.
I think the right way to interpret this Obama/USA opinion gap is that the Arab public realizes Obama is a secret Muslim is hopeful that some of Obama’s campaign rhetoric will translate into real change on the ground. If we follow through on Obama’s promises to end the occupation of Iraq, and to get serious about the pursuit of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, then we’ll start seeing America’s image drifting up.