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March 8, 2013 4:39 pm

Report Reveals Overwhelmingly Negative Attitudes Towards Iran Among its Neighbors

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Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Photo: wiki commons.

“There is a growing antipathy toward Iran across the Arab World and among Iran’s non-Arab neighbors,” a new report from James Zogby states succinctly. Titled “Looking at Iran: How 20 Arab Nations and Muslim Nations View Iran and its Policies,” and touted by Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute, as his most comprehensive report on attitudes towards Iran to-date, it reveals startling opinions of the Islamic state among its neighbors. “Iran is now viewed unfavorably in 14 of the 20 countries covered in this study. It is only viewed favorably in Yemen, Kuwait, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, and Libya,” the report states.

The report queries residents of 20 countries: 17 Arab countries (Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia) and three non-Arab countries (Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Pakistan), asking a comprehensive list of questions regarding a range of issues, from Iran’s cultural stature to its nuclear program to the effectiveness of its political structure.

For example, one question,”Does Iran provide a ‘good model’ to follow? In only three countries do majorities say ‘yes’: Lebanon, Pakistan, and Iraq,” reveals that very few countries envy Iran’s current political system. Another shows that most countries believe the 1979 Islamic Revolution made the region “less stable” with only Lebanon and Iraq saying that revolutionary Iran contributed to making the region “more stable.”

Perhaps the most immediate topic of concern regarding Iran is its nuclear program. On this topic the report finds that “Almost all agree that the Arab Gulf region states are right to be concerned with Iran’s nuclear program. Only Lebanese and Iraqis disagree.”

However, “less than a third of respondents in all Gulf region countries surveyed agree that the international community should authorize military action if Iran continues to resist. When asked if the international community should do nothing in the face of Iranian resistance to efforts to curb its nuclear program, only a majority in Yemen (81%) agree definitively.
Majorities in every country except Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, and Libya support economic sanctions against Iran. There is no country in which a strong majority supports military action against Iran to stop its nuclear program.”
The report, which runs to 68 pages,  concludes that “Most Arab Muslims, of all sects, see their Arab culture as superior to the culture of Iran. They see themselves as more generous and knowledgeable, less violent, and as having made a more significant contribution to Islamic civilization,” and it chalks the current criticism lobbed at Iran up to “its policies in Iraq, Syria, the Arab Gulf region” as well as the intransigence it has shown with its nuclear program.

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