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Poll: Nasrallah Most Admired Leader In Arab World Print E-mail

By Khaled Abu Toameh 
The Jerusalem Post 
April 16, 2008

Across the Arab world, Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah is the most admired leader, followed by Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The poll found that a majority of Arabs see the three - Nasrallah, Assad and Ahmadinejad - as the only leaders standing up against US influence in the Middle East.

The poll was carried out by the University of Maryland and Zogby International, covered some 4,000 people in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. It has a margin of error of about 1.6%.

The survey showed that eight out of 10 Arabs have a negative view of the US and Arab governments backed by Washington.

Eighty-three percent had an unfavorable view of the US, while 70% had no confidence in the superpower, the poll found.

More than 80% of respondents identified the Arab-Israeli conflict as a key issue, but just over half - 55% - did not believe there would ever be a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, despite US efforts to broker a deal by the end of this year.

The poll showed that the number of Arabs who support Hamas is larger than those who back its rival Fatah faction.

With regards to the war in Iraq, only 6% of Arabs believe the US military surge has worked. A majority of Arabs believe that if US troops withdraw from Iraq, Iraqis would be able to bridge their differences, the poll showed.

In the Lebanese conflict, a majority of 30% expressed support for political parties and politicians affiliated with Hizbullah, while only 9% backed the US-backed governing coalition.

On the conflict between Iran and moderate Arab countries, many Arabs don't seem to view Iran as a threat. Nearly half of Arabs believe that if "Teheran acquires nuclear weapons the outcome for the region would be more positive than negative," the poll said.

Asked which world leader they disliked most, US President George W. Bush was at the top of the unpopularity poll with 63%, followed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with 39%.

The Arabs were also asked to comment on the next US presidential election. Eighteen percent of respondents believed Democratic contender Barack Obama had the best chance of advancing peace in the Middle East followed by 13% who saw Hillary Clinton as their best hope.

Only 4% chose Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for the election. The remainder said either that US policy would stay the same whoever won or that they were not following election.

 

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