Looking at Iran
In 2012 ZRS conducted our most extensive survey of attitudes toward Iran. In all, we covered 20 countries: 17 Arab countries (Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia) and three non-Arab countries (Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Pakistan). The study covered four principal areas of inquiry:
I. General Attitudes toward Iran and the Iranian Revolution
II. Attitudes toward Iranian policies in several Arab countries and a comparison of Iran’s regional role with that of other important international actors
III. Attitudes toward the Iranian people, Iran’s culture and its contributions to Islamic civilization
IV.Attitudes toward Iran’s nuclear program
THE BOTTOM LINE
• There is a growing antipathy toward Iran across the Arab World and among Iran’s non-Arab neighbors.
• Iran’s unfavorable ratings appear to be driven by its policies in Iraq, Syria, the Arab Gulf region, in general, and by its nuclear program.
• Most Arab Muslims, of all sects, see their Arab culture as superior to the culture of Iran. They see themselves as more generous and knowledgeable, less violent, and as having made a more significant contribution to Islamic civilization.
• Iran has made serious inroads into the region’s Shia population, especially in Bahrain, Iraq, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia.
• There is near consensus that the region should be a “nuclear free zone” and deep concern with Iran’s nuclear program. There is strong support in most countries for internationally imposed sanctions to deter Iran’s program. While majorities everywhere but Turkey oppose any military strikes against Iran should they continue to develop a nuclear capacity, the percentage of those who would support military strikes has increased since 2006, with a deep division among Sunni and Shia communities on this question. A majority of Sunnis in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Azerbaijan would support the military option.