Sunday, May 24, 2009

Arabs (except Egyptians) like Obama

Egypt is America's major ally and the recipient of the most US aid among Arab countries, yet Obama is not too popular there. Your tax dollars at work, dear Americans.
Last update - 11:40 24/05/2009       
Arabs like Obama but are still suspicious of U.S.
By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent
President Barack Obama appears to have successfully made inroads with Arab public opinion during his first few months in office, a new poll suggested over the weekend.
A survey by the University of Maryland/Zogby International poll - conducted in the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Morocco - showed that 45 percent of the 4,000 Arabs surveyed view Obama positively. If Egypt is removed from the survey - Egypt's population is larger and more neutral than other countries - Obama's positive rating soars to 60 percent.
About half of the Arabs in six countries said in a recent poll they have a favorable view of Barack Obama and were hopeful about U.S. foreign policy.
A majority - 77 percent - of Arabs said they have a "somewhat unfavorable" or "very unfavorable" attitude toward the United States, down from 83 percent last year. It ranks second only to Israel as the country Arabs view as the world's biggest threat.
Obama will not be presenting an American initiative for Middle East peace during his June 4 speech in Cairo, the White House announced on Friday.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that Obama's speech would address Washington's relationship with Muslims worldwide.
"This will be a broader speech about our relationship with Muslims around the world," said Gibbs at the daily press briefing. "I know there has been some conjecture that included in this speech will be some detailed comprehensive Mideast peace plan, and that is not the intention nor was it ever the intention of this speech."
Gibbs noted that Obama could not address the Muslim world without referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but added that the speech would not focus on it.
The White House announcement comes as no surprise to the Netanyahu government. Israel has long known that President Barack Obama would not present his Middle East peace plan during his upcoming visit to Cairo, a senior Jerusalem official said.
The official said that the U.S. has yet to formulate a cogent diplomatic initiative, and that the administration will not do so until the president completes his first round of meetings with all of the region's leaders, Israel Radio reported.
When asked about Obama's stance on Jerusalem, Gibbs said, "Those are final status issues that the parties themselves have agreed to work out in whatever negotiation would be had. That's not something for the president to intone."
Following Obama's meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, various media reports had speculated that Obama would unveil a new U.S. initiative for achieving peace in the Middle East as part of his upcoming speech meant to improve relations with the Muslim world.
A spokesman for the National Security Council told Haaretz several days ago that Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Nahmoud Abbas - who is scheduled to visit Washington this week - came to the U.S. to clarify their positions on various subjects, but no peace plan is currently on the table "despite rumors to the contrary."

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