The Iraq Linchpin

by Patrick Appel

Marc Lynch looks at a new Zogby study on public opinion in six Arab countries:

Iraq was the single most important issue influencing Arab attitudes towards the Obama administration.  Asked what issue would be most central to their assessment of the Obama administration's Middle East policy, 42% said Iraq, 26% said the Arab-Israeli conflict, and 16% said "attitudes towards Arab/Muslim world" (i.e. showing respect).  Asked what two issues would improve views of the U.S. the most, 51% named "withdrawal from Iraq", while 41% said "Israel-Palestine peace agreement."  Oddly, however, 50% said "withdrawal from Arabian peninsula" -- make of that what you will.  Only 6% say that Iraqis are better off after the war (up from 3% last year), and only 21% think that civil war will expand rapidly after the U.S. withdraws. It's interesting to compare that with the findings of the recent ABC News survey of Iraqi public opinion, where 35% support current timetable for U.S. withdrawal, 46% want U.S. to leave sooner, and only 16% want U.S. to stay longer.