By Benjamin Birnbaum-The Washington Times
A new poll shows that the percentage of the Arab world that thinks a nuclear-armed Iran would be good for the Middle East has doubled since last year and now makes up the majority.
The 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll found that 57 percent of respondents not only believe that Iran’s nuclear program aims to build a bomb but also view that goal positively — nearly double the 29 percent who thought so in 2009. The percentage of those who view an Iranian nuclear bomb negatively fell by more than half, from 46 percent to 21 percent.
The survey, conducted by University of Maryland professor Shibley Telhami in conjunction with the polling firm Zogby International, also found rapidly diminishing support among Arabs for President Obama, who has made an outreach to the Muslim world a key focus of his foreign policy. Those findings have been reflected in other recent polls.
But the Arab Public Opinion Poll’s findings on Iran stand in marked contrast to the stances of most Sunni Arab leaders, who fear the regional implications of an Iranian bomb.
â€œIn my view, the Arab public position on Iran is largely a defiance vote or an ‘enemy of my enemy’ vote,â€ Mr. Telhami told the Washington Times.
Last month, The Times reported on unusually blunt remarks from the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the U.S., who said he favored airstrikes on Iran’s nuclear sites by U.S. or Israeli forces despite the consequences for the region.
â€œIf you are asking me, ‘Am I willing to live with [the fallout from military action] versus living with a nuclear Iran,’ my answer is still the same: ‘We cannot live with a nuclear Iran,’â€œ Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba said during a conference in Aspen, Colo.
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