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Arab Opinion Poll Shows Support for US Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton

66 percent of Arabs preferred that Hillary Clinton become the next U.S. president, while just 11 percent preferred Republican Donald Trump

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FILE - Then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pictured with Arab League Ambassador Mohammed Al Hussaini Al Sharif in January 2013. (Credit: Arab League Office) VOA

November 2, 2016: Arabs from Iraq to Tunisia are closely following the U.S. presidential election, and most want Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to win the race, believing she’ll have the most positive impact on U.S. policy toward their region, a new survey indicated.

The survey of eight leading Arab nations conducted by the Arab Center in Washington found 66 percent of Arabs preferred that Clinton become the next U.S. president, while just 11 percent preferred Republican Donald Trump. It polled 400 adults each in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Morocco, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia from Oct. 21 to Oct. 31 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

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Khalil Jahshan, executive director of the Arab Center, told a briefing the findings were representative of public opinion in the 22 predominantly Arab countries in the world.

The poll found that about 60 percent of Arabs followed the U.S. presidential race on a regular or occasional basis, with 56 percent holding positive views of Clinton and 60 percent holding negative views of Trump.

“The United States gets a lot of attention in the Middle East, and in a presidential [election] year, people pay much more attention,” said Imad Harb, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University in Washington.

FILE - Then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is presented flowers as she tours the Red Crescent with then-U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia Gordon Grey, left, in Tunis, March, 17, 2011. VOA
FILE – Then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is presented flowers as she tours the Red Crescent with then-U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia Gordon Grey, left, in Tunis, March, 17, 2011. VOA

Country differences

There were some sharp though not surprising variations from country to country.

In Tunisia, where Clinton is popular for her support of the country’s democratic transition during the 2011 Arab Spring, 65 percent of the public held a positive view of the former secretary of state and 76 percent wanted her to win. On the other hand, Palestinians, who view Clinton as pro-Israel, held the most negative views of her, at 54 percent. Nevertheless, 59 percent of Palestinians preferred her to Trump.

In Tunisia, Clinton is “looked at as someone who really effected some positive democratic changes,” Harb said. However, to the Palestinians, Clinton’s commitment to “their rights” remains in question.

The survey asked respondents whether they thought the U.S. election would have an impact on U.S. foreign policy in general and on U.S. policy in the Arab world. Thirty-five percent said they thought there would be some change to U.S. foreign policy and 33 percent said the same about U.S. policy in the Arab world.

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On U.S. policy toward the region, 55 percent thought Clinton would have the most positive impact, compared with just 14 percent who thought Trump’s policy would be positive.

The survey gauged public expectations of the elections on a range of issues affecting the Arab world, from democratic transition to regional stability.

Forty-three percent thought a Clinton victory would increase support for democracy in Arab countries, while 51 percent said it would contribute somewhat or greatly to increased security and stability in the region.

Forty-seven percent of all poll respondents said a Trump presidency would not contribute either to democratic development or security in the region, while 39 percent said it would lead to increased anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia around the world.

FILE - An Iraqi man, bottom right, watches Cpl. Edward Chin of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines Regiment, cover the face of a statue of Saddam Hussein with an American flag before toppling the statue in downtown in Baghdad, Iraq, April 9, 2003. VOA
FILE – An Iraqi man, bottom right, watches Cpl. Edward Chin of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines Regiment, cover the face of a statue of Saddam Hussein with an American flag before toppling the statue in downtown in Baghdad, Iraq, April 9, 2003. VOA

Critical of U.S. foreign policy

Respondents were asked about issues the next U.S. president should focus on in formulating policy toward the Arab region. Twenty-six percent said the U.S. “should not intervene in the affairs of Arab countries” — a higher percentage than any other question — while 25 percent said combating the Islamic State group should be next president’s priority for the region.

“This is highly significant and reflective of the general sentiment in the Arab world,” Jahshan said of the public preference for U.S. noninterference in Arab affairs. ” ‘Leave us alone’ was the message.”

Mirroring other polls conducted in the Arab world, the survey found that criticism of U.S. foreign policy continued to run deep in the region.

Sixty-seven percent of Arabs held a negative or somewhat negative attitude toward U.S. policy in the region, with Palestinian and Algerian respondents holding the most negative views at 78 percent. Iraqis, Moroccans and Tunisians expressed the most positive views of U.S. foreign policy.

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At the same time, 72 percent of those polled expressed positive views of the American people, with Kuwaitis holding the most positive views at 82 percent.

Harb said the Arab public views U.S. policy toward the region in economic terms.

“The issue of change or not change is not quite there yet,” he said. “[Arabs] are trying to see if there is going to be a change, whether it’s only going to be reflecting American economic interests or it’s going to reflect a change in American foreign policy towards an understanding of other people and understanding of other nations.” (VOA)

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Global Concerns Regarding American Foreign-Policy Before Trump’s Speech

he United States must use all of its economic and political tools to continue supporting the restoration of democracy in Venezuela," New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee.

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The U.S. Capitol Building as seen Nov., 19, 2011. VOA

From Russia to Venezuela, U.S. lawmakers highlighted weighty global concerns and American foreign-policy challenges on the eve of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address to Congress.

A top Democrat on Monday savaged Trump’s handing of matters on the world stage.

“Tomorrow, the president will say, predictably, that the state of our union is strong,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said. “But the truth is … the state of the president’s foreign policy is incoherent, inconsistent, cynical in the extreme, and has undermined American power and our national interest.”

Schumer added, “Russia, China, North Korea — three of the worst and least democratic countries on Earth, the countries that pose the greatest threat to America — they are treated with kid gloves, while our allies, like those in NATO, get harsh words from this president. It’s inside-out, it’s topsy-turvy.”

Not so, according to Nebraska Republican Sen. Deb Fischer, who pointed to the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw the United States from the 1980s-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with the former Soviet Union, calling it a “tough but correct” decision.

FILE - Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, April 8, 2014.
Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, April 8, 2014.

“The administration is right to leave the agreement, and responsibility for the failure of the INF Treaty lies squarely with Russia,” Fischer said. “The United States must now take additional steps to ensure that Russia derives no military advantage from its blatant violation of this accord. We must impose costs on Russia. Again, they are building banned weapons systems. We are not.”

Trump’s decision, which he is likely to highlight in the foreign policy portion of Tuesday’s address, has sparked grave concerns from Democrats.

“I have no doubt that Russia is in violation of the INF Treaty,” Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said in a statement. “I am concerned, though, that the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the treaty without a clear plan for bringing Russia back into compliance will lead to a new arms race and endanger the people of the United States and Europe.”

Troops in Syria

Trump is preparing his speech weeks after announcing a planned U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria, hailing progress in the fight against Islamic State.

On Monday, the Senate continued to debate a Middle East policy bill, including a Republican amendment expressing concern over precipitous military withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan.

“We simply cannot afford to leave a vacuum in places where terrorists … can lodge, grow, train, and then export their terrorist attacks,” Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said, urging the administration “not to take our foot off the gas pedal” in the fight against violent extremists.

FILE - Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, takes questions during a TV news interview on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 26, 2018.
Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, takes questions during a TV news interview on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 26, 2018. VOA

But another Republican, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, applauded Trump’s announcement.

“We stand with you @realDonaldTrump! Time to declare victory, end these wars and focus on rebuilding our own homeland. Don’t listen to the naysayers in the swamp, you are making the right decision!” Paul tweeted.

Democrat Chris Murphy also opposes the amendment, but for very different reasons. On Twitter, the Connecticut senator urged his colleagues to “read every word of the amendment,” adding that he fears open-ended troop commitments in the Islamic world will lay the groundwork “for an unauthorized war with Iran.”

Venezuela crisis

Turmoil in Venezuela is also on lawmakers’ minds, with members of both parties broadly standing behind the Trump administration’s embrace of opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio wants the administration to go further.

“(Thirteen) European nations now recognize Interim President @jguaido as legitimate leader of #Venezuela. Next logical steps: – seize #MaduroRegime assets in their respective countries & place at the disposal of the legitimate govt; and – contribute to intl humanitarian relief efforts,” Rubio tweeted.

Many Democrats are satisfied with Trump’s steps regarding Venezuela, but add a note of caution.

FILE - Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., speaks to members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 28, 2018.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., speaks to members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 28, 2018. VOA
Also Read: Magnetic North Pole Is Moving Towards Russia! Crosses The International Date Line In 2017 And Is Leaving The Canadian Arctic On Its Way To Siberia

“The United States must use all of its economic and political tools to continue supporting the restoration of democracy in Venezuela,” New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, wrote in an opinion piece for the Miami Herald newspaper. “However, it would be a huge mistake for the Trump administration to miscalculate in any way, leading to a military intervention involving U.S. troops.”

Menendez added, “Such a move, while Trumpesque in its fire and fury, would be a death blow to the very credibility of Venezuela’s burgeoning democratic movement. The freedom of the Venezuelan people can only come from their own hands.” (VOA)