Gulf attitudes towards Iran nosedive, poll shows

Islamic Republic’s nuclear plans and regional aspirations spur fear in Arab states
Gulf attitudes towards Iran nosedive, poll shows
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Persian states political ambitions have been met with concern by Arab states
By Ed Attwood
Thu 28 Jul 2011 12:29 PM

Iran’s plans for nuclear power and regional dominance have been met with concern by most Arab countries, according to the results of a new survey.

The poll, conducted by the Arab American Institute, surveyed six Arab nations – the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan – showed that tolerance towards Iranian behaviour has dropped consistently over the past five years.

The survey showed that in the UAE, not one Arab surveyed said that Iran played a positive role in the region and all but three said it had a negative role. Views are generally the most negative in the Gulf, followed by Morocco and Egypt.

Positive impressions of Iran have nosedived since 2006, when most Arab countries surveyed gave the Islamic Republic an approval rating of between 90 and 65 percent.

In every country apart from Lebanon, Iran has a net unfavourable rating. By comparison, the US received the lowest rating in every country apart from Saudi Arabia.

For the six countries surveyed, in every country except for Lebanon, significant majorities felt that Iran did not contribute to peace and stability in the Arab world, with Saudi Arabia and Turkey ranking highest.

When questioned as to whether the Middle East would be safer if it was a nuclear-free region, every country – except Lebanon – were in strong agreement.

A majority of respondents from Lebanon indicated that the Middle East would be more secure if Iran was a nuclear power.

In addition, the majority of respondents from Arab nations surveyed – again aside from Lebanon – agreed with the assessment that the Gulf states are right to be concerned with Iran’s nuclear problem.

“In previous polls, when Arabs were asked questions about Iran or its nuclear program, and the US and its threats of sanctions or military action were a part of the question, Arabs would indicate strong support for Iran and its defiance on nuclear issues,” said James Zogby, whose firm, Zogby International, conducted the poll on behalf of the Arab American Institute. 

“The more negative attitudes toward Iran reflected here may be accounted for by the fact that in this survey Arabs are being asked to state their attitudes toward Iran without reference to the U.S. and/or that Iran's regional behaviour has succeeded in alienating Arab opinion.”

Other than Jordan, a majority of respondents from other Arab countries agreed with the assessment that the Gulf states were right to send Peninsula Shield forces to Bahrain during the recent unrest there.

For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.