Arab opinion reflects regional changes.

Byline: Dr James J Zogby

The Arab World has seen a significant juggling of relationships. After the debacle of Iraq and 20 years of dizzying, often incoherent shifts in American policy, the U.S. is no longer the sole dominant player. Russia and China have entered the region's calculus as global powers of influence. And Iran, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and UAE have emerged as local powers. The region faces a number of unsettling challenges, particularly: destabilization from several internal conflicts, threats from Iran's sectarian meddling, and Israel's brutality and acquisitiveness in occupied Palestinian lands.

With the U.S. doing little to calm these troubled waters-or actually roiling them-Arab countries have had to establish their own paths forward to protect or project their interests. In 2020, to forestall a potentially imminent Israeli formal annexation of much of the Palestinian territories, the UAE launched the Abrahamic Accords. Other countries have since joined. Meanwhile, several Arab countries have met with and begun opening up to Iraq and normalizing relations with Syria. While Israel and some U.S. hawks thought Arab ties with Israel would establish a regional bloc against Iran, the UAE and now Saudi Arabia, with help from China, have moved toward normalizing ties with Iran.

These regional shifts and independent Arab initiatives have caught the U.S. off-guard. Its outmoded playbook stars Israel as the region's center of gravity, and Iran and Syria as pariahs to be shunned and confronted. Following Russia's aggression against Ukraine, and China's emergence as a threat to U.S. global hegemony, the U.S. has resurrected the Cold War's cry of 'democracy versus authoritarianism.' To assess Arab views of these developments, Zogby Research Services has, in recent years, conducted polls in over a dozen Arab countries. Here's what we've found:

Long alienated by the U.S. and its policies and despite blaming Russia for Ukraine, Arabs don't want their governments becoming involved or following the U.S. They view the conflict as a European/U.S. matter. In most Arab countries China is seen as the emerging power. Acknowledging that today the U.S. is more powerful, they see the gap closing in the next decade. In 20 years, majorities in every country see China emerging as the world's power.

Important, but often overlooked by U.S. policymakers, is that Arabs see America's strong suit...

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