Voter poll in Egypt

Here are the results of a poll of 1200 likely voters by the national Al Ahram newspaper:

1. Amr Moussa, former head of the Arab League: 31.5% 

2. Salafi sheikh Hazem Salah Abu Ismail: 22.7%

3. Mubarak-appointed (and short-lived) interim prime minister Ahmad Shafiq: 10.2%

4. Mubarak intelligence chief Omar Suleiman (who has not officially announced his candidacy): 9.3%

5. Former Brotherhood leader and Islamist moderate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh: 8.3%

6. Leftist opposition figure Hamdeen Sabahi: 4.9%

Of course these results have probably already been changed significantly by the entrance into the field of Muslim Brotherhood leader and candidate Khairat El Shater. The poll also notes that 94.5% of respondents said they planned to vote. 

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Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.

Latest Gallup poll on Egypt

Some interesting findings – a strong desire for the military to hand over power to civilians and no further delays in elections, and a sizeable majority against the military being involved in politics after the handover. I feel that this is not emphasized enough: Egyptians seem to be clearly rejecting the last 60 years of military rule and not want to perpetuated the 1952 regime and its successors. Civilian rule is a real desire, even if there is still overwhelming respect for the military (which might be interpreted as no desire to really attack the military but just get it out of power, reflecting a cautious – perhaps wisely so – approach to this momentous change in Egyptian politics). Gallup:
LOS ANGELES -- As Egyptians mark the first anniversary of the revolution that toppled their last president, 82% believe that the military will relinquish power to a civilian government after they elect their next president.

Military hand over power

Despite continued protests in Tahrir Square since former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's overthrow one year ago, 88% of Egyptians still express confidence in the military generally and 89% are confident in the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) specifically. Still, the majority (63%) think it would be bad for the military to remain involved in politics after the presidential election.

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Those angry Iranian women

From a recent RAND poll of Iranians:

  • A majority of respondents view the economy as being “average” or better, though many may have hesitated to express their dismay with the economic situation.
  • In general, gender and education level were important predictors of attitudes. Women and less-educated respondents tended to voice views on security and overall relations that were unfavorable to the United States. Men and those with greater social means tended to be more favorably inclined.
  • A majority of respondents expressing an opinion opposed the reestablishment of ties with the United States. Women and less-educated respondents were least likely to favor the reestablishment of diplomatic relations, but those most comfortable with the survey were more likely to favor such reestablishment.
  • Respondents were divided on the issue of nuclear weapons, with a significant portion favoring their development. Those most comfortable with the survey, men, and those with the highest level of education expressed the most opposition to development of nuclear weapons. The lower classes and those with the lowest level of education supported the development of nuclear weapons. 
  • A majority of respondents did not view sanctions as having a negative effect on the economy, though a significant number viewed sanctions as having a negative impact.Women, poorer respondents, and those most comfortable with the survey rated the impact of sanctions as most negative. 

Like all surveys, take with a grain of salt. It's interesting that the higher the education level, the least in favor Iranians are of developing nuclear weapons. Perhaps it's because they understand better that, officially, Iran is not trying to develop weapons but secure its right (according to the NPT) to enrichment. Of course at the popular level on all sides of this conflict it's become about nukes, even when the real matter at hand is enrichment and inspections. I also don't quite understand why the pollster is making guesses about the willingness of Iranians to criticize the state of the economy (reported by some to be quite dire) and not take them at their word on this issue when they do on the other issues.


Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region,

Links for 09.22.09 to 09.24.09

U.S. to block Goldstone Gaza referral to ICC - Laura Rozen | Great move for credibility on other war crimes! ✪ Iranians Favor Diplomatic Relations With US But Have Little Trust in Obama - World Public Opinion | Iranian poll. ✪ Free Mohammad Othman | Solidarity campaign for Palestinian activist Muhammad Othman, arrested September 22 while crossing the Allenby bridge. ✪ AFP: Egypt press: UNESCO loss shows 'clash of civilisations' | Nationalist backlash in reaction to Farouk Hosni's loss. ✪ The Lucrative Business of Israel-Bashing - Jeffrey Goldberg | Savor the irony of this headline from a professional Palestine-basher sitting on his lucrative perch in American journalism. The content of this post if pure invective, what Goldberg now is professional nastiness (as in his recent attacks on Stephen Walt.) ✪ The Associated Press: Fraud allegations at UNESCO race | Rumors that Egyptian delegates offered $50k bribes going around.
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Egyptian govt poll on Obama's visit

The Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC), a kind of think tank attached to the Prime Minister's office, conducted a poll on the awareness of and reaction to Barack Obama's June 4 speech at Cairo University. Obama's Visit From a quick look, most interesting is that respondents thought the Israel/Palestine segment was the most important, 37% believed what Obama said and 41% partly believed it, and the vast majority thought the speech would improve relations between the US and the Muslim world -- in fact only 1% was negative. The poll has a full breakdown of the people polled according to social class, education and more, with polls conducted before and after the visit. A lot of info to chew down here, as far as polls can tell us anything.
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Marc Lynch | FOREIGN POLICY | Arab public opinion in 2009

Marc Lynch | FOREIGN POLICY | Arab public opinion in 2009
Marc Lynch analyses poll on Arab attitudes towards US, other political issues, finds skepticism on Obama, shockingly Bashar al-Assad most popular leader (arguably he deserves it in terms of competence at completely turning around Syria's isolation in recent years, and now making people believe Hizbullah killed Hariri rather than himself or his minions.)
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Israeli Jewish perceptions of the IP conflict

From a study conducted by Rafi Nets-Zehngut (Teachers College, Columbia University) and Daniel Bar-Tal (Tel Aviv University), Summer 2008, "Israeli Jewish perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," polling data that shows that many old Zionist myths still endure -- as well as some new ones. I've picked out a few of those outlined that struck me.
Teachers College - Columbia University: News-annotated.png
Mostly shared responsibility, but also a large number that believes the Arabs were primarily responsible, presumably because they rejected the UN Partition Plan. Of course there should have never been a UN Partition Plan or a colonial project in Palestine, but that goes over the heads of most people.
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It's still staggering to see the 6% of Israelis believed that Arabs were a minority in the late 19th century, when Zionist immigration began. Obviously the "land without a people for people without a land" myth endures. In fact, Arabs amounted to 94% of the population in 1880. Even in 1948 they accounted for over 70%.
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Despite Benny Morris and the historical revisionists of Zionism, most Israelis still believe the Arab refugees left of their own free will rather than because of massacres and ethnic cleansing.
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They simply don't get "occupation."
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While the largest group finds responsibility on both sides, a majority see it primarily or entirely on the Palestinian side. Considering the Israelis were vastly more powerful and underwent a change of government in 1996 that led to Benyamin Netanyahu's butchering of the Oslo process (with his pals in the Clinton administration), this is pretty rich. On the other hand, it may reflect the impact of Palestinian suicide bombing campaigns during that time - esp. the (mostly) Hamas bus bombings of 1993-1996.
Teachers College - Columbia University: News-annotated.png
Another strange one reflecting Israeli propaganda about Egypt's cold peace. But what obligations have the Egyptians actually failed to implement? And why not ask if Israel has failed to implement the parts of Camp David having to do with making peace with Palestinians?
Teachers College - Columbia University: News-annotated.png
Most blame for Palestinians, despite several counter-narratives to the Clinton-Barak-Ross explanation (more on this below). There is more info on the poll in this press release, in which the authors say:
“Typically, societies involved in intractable conflicts like the Israeli-Arab/Palestinian conflict adopt a collective memory of the conflict that is biased to a large degree and self-serving, as is part of the Zionist narrative,” says Nets-Zehngut. “If such study had been conducted between the 1950s and the 1970s, surely a much higher percentage of Israeli Jews would have held the Zionist narrative. The fact that we found this memory of the conflict to be somewhat critical (even though the conflict is still going on) is encouraging. It suggests that the Israeli-Jewish society has changed to become more critical, open and self-reflective, allowing it to adopt less biased narratives.” However, Daniel Bar-Tal believes that the Israeli-Jewish society still has a significant way to go in changing its collective memory to become less biased and self serving. Many Israeli Jews still believe a Zionist narrative of many issues in the history of the conflict – a simplistic memory of the conflict which portrays Israel in a positive light and the Arabs/Palestinians in a negative one. “Holding such a Zionist narrative serves as an obstacle to peace since it promotes negative emotions, mistrust, de-legitimization and negative stereotypes of Arabs and Palestinians,” Bar-Tal said. For example, regarding a more recent event – the failure of the Summer 2000 peace negotiations between then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat – Israeli Jews took a harder line. Fifty six percent believe that Arafat declined a very generous peace offer by Barak because he did not want peace with Israel, versus only 25% who believe both parties were responsible for the failure and 3% who believed that Barak was responsible. Likewise, 60% replied that in the 1947 United Nations' partition plan of the Land of Israel/Palestine the Palestinians received an equal or larger part of the territory, relative to their percentage of its population. However, the facts are that the partition plan, which was rejected by the Palestinians, offered them (about 2/3 of the total population then) a smaller part of the territory (only 44%). The study found older people, and the more religious ones to be more likely to believe the Zionist narrative. Further more, those supporting the Zionist narrative were significantly less likely to support peace agreements with the Palestinians and Syria – pointing to the important role of collective memory in conflicts. In addition, a strong connection was found between the collective memory of "past Jewish persecution" (regarding anti-Semitism and the Holocaust) and the diagnosed collective memory of the conflict. People holding a significant memory of Jewish persecution are much more likely to adopt a Zionist narrative. This memory of persecution is discussed as one of the determinants of Israel's conduct along the conflict – and this study provides support for its impact.
I'd love to see a similar study for Arab Israelis, non-Jewish residents of the West Bank and Gaza as well as in the Palestinian diaspora.
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