Arab Public Ranks China, Turkey, Iran's Ahmadinejad Ahead of U.S., Obama

Iran's Ahmadinejad among most favorable leaders, Obama near bottom.

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Also, compared with only 19 percent who said Obama administration's foreign policy was discouraging in 2009, this year's survey reports that over 50 percent of respondents are now discouraged by the administration's policies.

The United States also ranks behind France, Germany, Britain, and China as the country—besides their own—where most respondents in the Arab world would want to live. And a majority of people in the region also view the United States, along with Israel, as one of the two countries that pose the biggest personal threat. Only 18 percent thought Iran posed a bigger threat, though that percentage has increased since 2010.

The poll also indicates that 55 percent of the populations in these countries are more optimistic about the future of the region after this year's Arab Spring events, while 16 percent are more pessimistic and 23 percent don't feel a change. It's important to note that people in countries like Libya, Syria, and Yemen, where the Arab Spring has been more violent, were not polled.

[Read: How U.S. Could Encourage Peace in Syria.]

"There is still a substantial degree of skepticism within Arab societies about the purposes, the intent, and the direction of change that these Arab Spring uprisings represent," he said.

  • Read: Politicians 'Insulted' by Foreign Aid to China.
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  • See a collection of political cartoons on the Arab Spring.