Iran’s favorable ratings are in a "freefall" across the Arab World, with Iran’s behavior in Iraq, Bahrain, and the Arab Gulf region being viewed negatively by most Arabs. These are a few of the key findings of an Arab American Institute poll conducted by Zogby International during the first three weeks of June, 2011. The poll surveyed over 4,000 Arabs from Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and UAE, and has a margin of error of 3.5% (in Morocco, Egypt and Saudi Arabia) and 4.5% (in Lebanon, Jordan, and UAE).
Back in 2006, Iran was viewed favorably in every one of these Arab countries–”and in five of the six Iran received a greater than 80% positive rating. Since then, the decline has been steady and sharp. For example, in 2006, Iran was rated favorably by 85% of Saudis and 82% of Moroccans. By 2008, that had dropped to 72% in Saudi Arabia and 65% in Morocco. By 2009, only 35% of Saudis and 57% of Moroccans had a favorable view of Iran. And in our 2011 poll positive views of Iran have plummeted further to a scant 6% in Saudi Arabia and 14% in Morocco.
The poll further demonstrates widespread Arab concern with Iran’s behavior in the region, with strong majorities in every country but Lebanon saying that Iran threatens the peace and stability of the Arab world. Special concern is expressed for Iran’s role in Iraq and Bahrain, and with Iran’s nuclear aspirations.
In most Arab countries (again, all but Lebanon) the overwhelming preference is for the Middle East to be a nuclear free zone. But when asked "if they had to choose one country, other than Israel, to be a nuclear power in the Middle East", the preferred choice, by a wide margin, is Egypt. Turkey is a distant second, followed by Saudi Arabia and UAE. Iran is dead last, receiving little or no support from the publics in almost every Arab country.
Because there is widespread Arab concern with Iran’s quest to be the region’s dominant power and because its role in Iraq and elsewhere in the Gulf is viewed negatively, pluralities in most countries express support for the GCC’s new assertiveness, wanting the GCC to reject Iran’s push for regional dominance. Pluralities also give positive grades to the GCC’s role in Bahrain and its efforts in trying to hasten an end to the conflict in Yemen and transition to a new government.