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The Changing Arab Public Opinion after October

The latest poll, conducted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, reveals significant political indicators. The survey sampled 8,000 respondents from 16 Arab countries, including the Gulf countries (excluding the UAE and Bahrain), Yemen, the Arab Levant (Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, West Bank Palestinians, excluding Syria), and the North African countries (Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania), Which prompts the question of what were the key results and implications from the survey, that reflect significant and qualitative shifts in Arab public opinion trends?

Firstly, there’s a resurgence in the public’s emotional, symbolic, and political engagement with the Palestinian issue. A striking 92% of respondents affirmed this, marking a significant shift in attitudes in countries like Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Egypt. This represents a notable change from previous years. Additionally, 97% of respondents reported psychological pressure from the Gaza war.

The significance of this finding challenges the theory promoted by many governments and the American administration about the Palestinian issue’s marginalization. It questions the feasibility of normalizing relations between Israel and Arab countries without establishing a Palestinian state. Many Arab discourses have shifted towards terms like “improving the lives of Palestinians,” aligning with the pre-war approach of President Joseph Biden’s administration to prioritize economic and everyday aspects over principal issues. This approach has lost favor, even in America, a trend confirmed by the current poll’s emphasis on the Palestinian issue’s centrality in Arab public opinion.

The second notable result is the drastic decline in the United States’ image in the Arab world. The U.S. is perceived as responsible for supporting Israeli actions in Gaza, ranking it as enemy No. 1, even above Israel. This transformation will likely impact various levels, notably security. It aligns with Al-Qaeda’s viewpoint, which blames the American administration for regional disasters, and mirrors Iran’s traditional stance. The American administration’s adoption of the narrative equating Hamas with Daesh, rejected by the Arab street, has created a state of hostility with a significant portion of the Arab public (the axis of resistance, Sunni political Islam, jihadists), undermining U.S. efforts post-September 11, 2001, to “win hearts and minds.”

The third issue concerns perceptions of Iran and Turkey. There are noticeable changes in Arab public opinion, particularly since the Arab Spring of 2011. Turkey’s image has continuously declined, moving from admiration to a controversial and predominantly negative view. Conversely, the view of Iran has shifted from overwhelmingly negative (post-Arab Spring, with a majority considering Iran a regional threat) to more positive, with half of the sample now viewing Iran favorably and a majority no longer seeing it as a regional threat.

The final point highlights the widespread support for the Hamas movement in the Arab world. A significant majority (67%) considers the Al-Aqsa Flood operation legitimate, with others (19%) seeing it as legitimate but flawed. Nearly two-thirds of respondents express solidarity with the Palestinian people and Hamas, indicating substantial support for Islamic political forces compared to Arab regimes.

Translated by Lina Asaad

Mohammad Abu-Rumman

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