#Iran vs #Saudi Arabia: how favorably are they viewed in the Middle East?

24 Jan

Pew Research Center recently carried out a poll in a number of countries in the Middle East measuring the favorable views of the local population towards Saudi Arabia and Iran. Here are some interesting findings.

In Palestine: (Gaza and West Bank):

about half (51%) have a favorable view of Saudi Arabia. Here, there is a split by location. Among Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, 60% have a positive opinion of Saudi Arabia, compared with 46% among West Bank residents. Meanwhile, only 34% in the Palestinian territories express a positive opinion of Iran, with more support coming from the West Bank (40%) than from Gaza (24%).

My take: although Iran overall does badly v Saudi Arabia in Palestine (lets remember that Palestine is predominantly Sunni), what is interesting is that it does better in the West Bank (40%) than Gaza (24%). Logically speaking it should be the other way around. The PLO which rules the West Bank has historically had a very difficult and sometimes bad relations with the Iranian regime, whereas in Gaza Hamas and Islamic Jihad have both had far better relations with Tehran. The Gaza numbers also show that Iran’s Palestine policy has been a failure, because thats where Iran invested most of its money, yet its losing in terms of favorability to the Saudis .

What about Israel? The research finds:

in Israel, even fewer like Riyadh (14%) or Tehran (5%). In Israel, the Arab population is about as positive toward Saudi Arabia (37% favorable) as it is Iran (34%), despite the fact that the Israeli Muslim population is predominantly Sunni. Jews in Israel, however, have little regard for Saudi Arabia (10% favorable) or for Iran – for which there is 0% favorability among Israeli Jews.

My take: Known mainly for its Holocaust denial and calls for the elimination of the state of Israel, its little surprise that the Iranian regime has 0% favorability among Israeli Jews. But what is surprising is that among Israeli Arabs which are predominantly Sunni, Saudi Arabia’s favorability rating is only 3% higher. Only. Here again, much like in the West Bank, Iran has done better than expected.

You can read the survey’s results from other countries such as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon here

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