Arabs Like Saddam, Hugo Chavez, More Than Obama

Obama's outreach to Arabs falls flat.

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Despite intense and sustained efforts to woo the Arab world with money and nice words, a newly released survey of the region finds that President Obama is at the bottom of a list Arabs admire most.

Obama is admired by just 4 percent of Middle East Arabs in the new survey  released by the Brookings Institution and University of Maryland.

Above him:

  • 13 percent prefer Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinajad.
  •  6 percent prefer dead Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
  •  5 percent chose Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.
  •  Even 5 percent chose French President Nicolas Sarkozy over Obama.
  • And when asked if there could be just one superpower, who would they like it to be, Arabs snubbed Obama again. The top choice, with 22 percent, was China, followed by Germany (15 percent), Russia (12 percent), France (10 percent) and Pakistan (7 percent). The United States also came in at 7 percent followed by just one country, Britain at 3 percent. [See a collection of political cartoons on Afghanistan.]

    The disrespect of America may be because most Arabs believe that Washington's focus in the region is only on oil and the preservation of Israel.

    The poll did find one bright spot for America. While 59 percent of Arabs in the Middle East view the United States unfavorably, the number of those who look upon us favorably has increased from 10 percent last year to 26 percent. [See a roundup of editorial cartoons about the Mid-East uprisings.]

    • See photos of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
    • Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.
    • See a collection of political cartoons on Afghanistan.