Barry Rubin comments on Arab polls on Obama and on upcoming elections in Turkey

More Hope from Turkey

A reliable poll shows a dramatic shift in Turkish public opinion. The Sonar company survey shows the left-secular Republican People’s Party (CHP, to use its Turkish initials) narrowly coming in first in elections. The party would get 33 percent compared to 31 percent for the ruling AKP Islamist party. The right-wing Turkish nationalist MHP would get around 19 percent.

The next elections are expected in 2011.

There are two major reasons for this change: a popular new leader for the Republican People’s Party and a bad economic situation. Economic woes were what largely brought the AKP to power in the first place. Back in 2007, the AKP received 47 percent compared to 21 percent for the CHP.

Another poll shows the AKP only very slightly ahead of the CHP.

An interesting question will be how the AKP will try to stay in power. It is going to get dirty.

Unfortunately, I Told You So: Who Says Obama is Popular?; Arabs Think America Too Weak; Iran Wars Against US in Afghanistan

Al-Jazeera magazine runs a long and devastatingly critical article about how America is finished and President Barack Obama is weak. The title is: “The American Century Is So Over.” I cite this piece—much of which is about failures outside the Middle East—only to show the perception in the Arabic-speaking world being one of contempt rather than sympathy.

So far, I haven’t seen a single article in the Arabic media extolling Obama. I saw two articles, Saudi and Egyptian respectively, saying that the Arabic-speaking world should give Obama more support but they both admitted that, despite Obama’s efforts, those countries have done almost nothing to assist him so far.

Meanwhile, public opinion polls in Arabic-speaking countries also show that Obama’s standing is much closer to that of George W. Bush than anyone would have expected. I wrote last year that Obama was only one percentage point higher than Bush in polls taken in Pakistan.

Also, Iran is escalating its war against the United States in Afghanistan, as I pointed out some months ago. The commander of U.S. and NATO forces, General Stanley McChrystal, has publicly announced that Iran is increasing the training given to Taliban forces. I have also noted U.S. officials pointing out Iran’s war on the United States in Iraq and in terms of assisting al-Qaida.

So there is no engagement on Tehran’s part, and it doesn’t need nuclear weapons to attack U.S. forces and interests. Yet this conflict remains largely unrecognized in Washington.

Finally, here’s an article in al-Hayat by the editor explaining that Americans don’t understand the Middle East precisely because of the kind of conventional wisdom displayed by Bush and Obama alike. He sounds like the kind of things I’ve been writing for you.

May 31, 2010 | 5 Comments »

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5 Comments / 5 Comments

  1. Expect Egypt to follow in Turkeys footsteps.

    Only the sick and aging Mubarak is standing in the way of the Muslim Brotherhood from winning a democratic Egyptian presidential election.

    Unlike Iran, Egypt has gone to war against Israel three times in the past 62 years. They have almost a million man Army trained and equiped by

    good old Uncle Sam. A year ago, the Arabs would have been happy to aid Israel and the US in bombing Iranian nuclear facilities. Today, they side

    with the winner.

  2. With Gaza Flotilla, Erdogan Got the International Incident He Was Hoping For. Now He Can Concentrate His Power in Turkey By Using Israel As A Scapegoat

    Erdogan was hoping to cause an international incident with his “Gaza Freedom Flotilla,” and he did.

    It was a win-win for Erdogan. If Israel allowed the flotilla to go through, Erdogan was a hero. If Israel stopped the flotilla, Erdogan would say the right things and show the right indignation, and Erdogan would be a hero.

  3. Yes, we have seen just how they will try to stay in power this morning aboard the flotilla.

    They were only two points down, the anti-Israel propaganda coming out of this may be enough.

  4. An interesting question will be how the AKP will try to stay in power. It is going to get dirty.

    Yes, we have seen just how they will try to stay in power this morning aboard the flotilla.