walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
Feed
Features
Reviews
Podcast
Al-Qaeda Widely Disliked Across Middle East

One year has passed since American commandos raided a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killing Osama bin Laden. On this anniversary, the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project released a study, conducted over the past month or so, that found that across the Middle East’s Muslim populations Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda are hugely unpopular.

The poll asked Muslims in various countries whether they were favorably or unfavorably disposed toward al-Qaeda. The statistics are striking. Below are the percentages of respondents who view the terrorist organization unfavorably:

Egypt: 71 percent
Jordan: 77 percent
Pakistan: 55 percent
Turkey: 73 percent
Lebanon: 98 percent

Over the past few years, support for OBL and AQ has plummeted across the Middle East:

Before his death, support for bin Laden had waned considerably among Muslims around the world.  Perhaps the most striking decline occurred in Jordan, where in 2005 61% had expressed confidence in bin Laden to do the right thing in world affairs.  The next year, this number plummeted to 24% following al-Qaeda suicide attacks in the nation’s capital, Amman.  By 2011, only 13% expressed confidence in him.

This, of couse, is fantastic news.

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • Jetzer Tigue

    Al-Qaeda is still viewed favorably in the Philippine south. Muslims there view him as a martyr. Of course, any muslim killed by Americans is regarded as a martyr by Filipino muslims even if he or she is a genocidal maniac.

  • http://thepencilofnature.net Lorenz Gude

    Al Qaeda and Middle Easterners know something most Americans don’t. General Patraeus inflicted a devastating defeat on al Qaeda in Anbar province with the very significant help of the Anbar Sunni Muslims. The mistreatment of Anbar Sunnis by al Qaeda opened the door and Petraeus walked through it with a lot of good tactics, a lot of money and a lot of courage. It turns out that jihadis are often moral degenerates who use drugs and prostitute the women while sprouting a fanatical islamic puritanism. No one likes a moral hypocrite – especially if he insists on cutting off your hand for smoking a cigarette and dishonors your sister. It all goes to show that doing Allah’s will can tank approval ratings.

  • ROA

    Mollie Hemingway at the blog “Ricochet” pointed out that there are still over 47 million people in these countries that support Al-Qaeda.

  • EvilBuzzard

    They are no longer seen as the stronger horse. Muslims only dislike them because they failed in Iraq. If they get control in Libya, everyone in the ME will root for them again.

  • http://facingzionwards.blogspot.com/ Luke Lea

    It becomes fantastic news when support for Al Quaeda drops below 1 or 2 percent. It will take a full generation (half gone already) before radical Islam burns itself out. Then, hopefully, we can move on to more constructive solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict in particular and relations between Islam and the West more generally. Time — and the futility of it all — is the only solution.

  • http://knownofold.blogspot.com J R Yankovic

    “This, of couse, is fantastic news.”

    No doubt about that. A pity, though, that they weren’t able to get the same figures for that inconsequential backwater of country, Saudi Arabia. It would be especially interesting to get some sense of HIGH-LEVEL opinion among the Saudis (not that they could be trusted to answer honestly either way, of course).

  • Cunctator

    Fantastic news? OK, but what does it mean? So nearly 3/4s of Egyptians dislike AQ, but we will soon see an Islamist government in that country, backed by Salafists. Tell the Copts that their countrymen who are advancing an Islamist agenda hate AQ. And does anyone think that hatred of AQ is likely to make an Islamist government in Egypt more inclined to support peace with Israel? Really, we ought not to get too excited about rather meaningless “facts”.

  • Peter

    I don’t think it’s fantastic at all that the dynamic of support for AQ (as evidenced by the Jordanian numbers) goes something like:

    “AQ is bombing and killing other people. We support them.

    Wait, they’re bombing us?

    We don’t support them.”

    That’s not reassuring at all. It’s disturbing. If AQ’s support is dependent upon their tactical decisions, then the low ebb right now is potentially only momentary. Where’s the normative rejection of AQ? It’ll be fantastic news when we start to see that.

  • Mrs. Davis

    People are always unfavorably disposed to losers, even if they are on the same side. Ask Husband E. Kimmell or Walter Short.

  • Kris

    I didn’t need this last Pew study; I realized how low Al-Qaeda had sunk when some Muslims started describing it as a Mossad front and claiming that Bin Laden was actually Jewish.

    Luke@5, declining support for Al-Qaeda is a good thing, but as Cunctator@7 and Peter@8 point out, that is not necessarily correlated with declining support for radical Islam.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    While I like the way opinion has moved, it begs the question.

    Why did the opinion change?

  • John Burke

    I would hold the champagne. That support for murderous mass killers has dropped to “only” say 25 percent of a billion people, or some 250 million, leaves a lot to be desired.

    Anyway, the decline of support among Muslims is almost certainly a function of al Qaeda’s willy nilly blowing up other Muslims, conspicuously almost every day for years in Iraq. According to recent reports based on Abbottobad intel, bin Laden himself was worried about this.

  • Walter Sobchak

    It would be more interesting if all of those countries were not about to install islamist governments.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2014 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service