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Insight into post Arab Spring...

      By JAMAL KANJ ,  Posted on » Thursday, March 29, 2012

THE results of a 2011 polling study by the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies in Doha offer a great insight into post-Arab Spring.

Covering 12 Arab countries, the centre interviewed 16,173 citizens, with margin of error plus or minus 3.5 per cent.

The broad survey stretched from Western Asia (Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iraq,) to Al Sham area (Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan) traversing to most of the North African Arab countries.

The citizens demonstrated profound understanding of the underlining cause leading to the Arab Spring. The survey revealed that democratic values were not alien notion to mainstream Arab citizens as 81pc articulated the requisites for successful democracy.

A majority of the surveyed emphasised on political aspects defining democracy as civil freedom, pluralism, egalitarianism and rotational elected government. Even with its potential pitfalls, more than two-thirds of the respondents deemed democracy to be an ideal form of government, while 15pc rejected it.

Another revealing insight: While most Arabs consider themselves moderates to very religious, 71pc felt religion had no bearing on whom they associate with socially, economically or politically. Two-thirds rejected the interference of the clergy in politics or election.

On their views of government, 83pc felt corruption was rampant in their countries. In clear disconnect, less than 50pc were satisfied with their governments, and even less percentage approved of their legislatures' performance. Only one-third approved of the performance of their governments' foreign policies.

On questions related to Arab identity and national security, the results were overwhelmingly in unison. For a large margin, 71pc believed that Arabs have shared collective identity, while 17pc disagreed.

The collective identity hypothesis was corroborated as the vast majority of the respondents - 81pc were able to recognise the same common challenges facing the Arab world.

A large sample, 84pc opined that the problem of Palestine is a shared cause for all Arabs, not just for the Palestinians. Reflecting on Arab resentment towards US support for Israel, 73pc lumped US with Israel as a major threat to regional security. While 5pc felt Iran was a threat.

Regarding nuclear weapons, 55pc supported a Middle East nuclear free zone. They also believed nuclear Israel justifies for other nations to seek similar technology.

The survey reaffirmed two facts.

First, it refuted much of the American (Israeli) think tanks' disingenuous assertions that the conflict with Israel was not a collective Arab issue, but rather limited to Palestinians and other small number of Arab antagonists.

Secondly, it showed that the Arab Spring has flung the clad of fear and intimidation while revealing serious disconnect between the perception of Arab populous and their leaders, especially when dealing with perceived outside threats and lack of internal justice.

Internationally, the US has much convincing for the two-thirds of Arabs who support democracy but can't decipher daylight between Israel's villainous policies and the US image in the region.

As governments will become more attuned to the sentiments of their voters, the US must decide whether its national interests lie in its relation with new Arab democracies, or else continue to surrender its values - "blackwhite" - to its most powerful parochial foreign lobby.