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With Arabs, Obama never had a honeymoon

Two recent polls show that Arab nations have not embraced the president the way other areas of the world have.

Rich Clabaugh

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As President Obama prepares for the highly anticipated speech he will deliver to the Muslim world from Cairo in early June, new polling from Arab countries suggests he has his work cut out for him.

Only a small percentage of Arabs appear to have been won over by Barack Obama. There has been some slight improvement in US standing during the past year, based in part on the departure of President Bush and in part on Obama's policies, such as announcing a withdrawal from Iraq and a desire to shutter the Guantánamo detention facility. But one new poll suggests that America's "negatives" remain high in Egypt and Jordan in particular, as well as Saudi Arabia.

And when Arabs are asked to name the world leader they most admire, the new American president with "Hussein" for a middle name does not even figure on their list, according to a second poll. By contrast, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a renowned anti-American iconoclast, sits atop that list.


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