Mohammad Ben Hussein
The Jordan Times
December 16, 2008 - 1:00am

Around 77 per cent of Jordan’s public believe US president-elect Barack Obama should tackle the Arab-Israeli conflict and end the American occupation of Iraq if he wishes to improve his country’s image in the region, a study revealed on Monday.

Meanwhile, 10 per cent said that changing the current American policy related to the “war on terror” would subsequently change the US’ image in the region, according to the findings of a poll conducted by the Centre for Strategic Studies (CSS) at the University of Jordan.

Meanwhile, public opinion leaders’ expectations concerning the impact of Obama’s election on Jordanian-American political relations surpassed their expectations regarding all other issues with 58 per cent of respondents saying that these ties would be impacted positively by Obama’s win, while 51 per cent of the elite sample expected US aid extended to Jordan would improve with the coming of the new administration.

“The next US administration is at a crossroads with regard to Jordanian, and perhaps Arab public opinion. There exists a historic opportunity to address the negative viewpoints of the US that resulted from its policies,” said CSS researcher Mohammad Masri.

He also noted that even though the Jordanian public was deeply interested in the US election and its outcome and despite the public’s relative optimism, their viewpoints are highly dependent on the administration’s engagement with the major issues in the region, especially Palestine and Iraq.

“This finding provides a historic opportunity to create a new image for the US based on a roadmap that begins in Palestine, goes through Iraq and ends with the war on terror,” he added.

The study also showed that around 57 per cent of the public followed the election, while 41 per cent said they did not follow the polls. However, nearly 95 per cent of opinion leaders said they closely followed the process.

According to the survey, the greater interest in US election is attributed to several factors, including the fact that major internal political developments in the US are of great importance to the Arab world. Another reason is that the US is very influential when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, given its strong relationship with Israel and its position throughout the various phases and developments of the conflict, whether military or political, said the report, adding that the engagement of the US in the region over the past eight years came in an unprecedented fashion.

Moreover, nearly 45 per cent of respondents said Obama’s election will have a positive impact on the image of the US in the Arab region while 55 per cent said they did not believe so.

The national sample included 1,152 respondents out of 1,200, with 48 refusing to participate (the participation rate stood at 96 per cent), between November 25 and December 6, according to the report.


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