James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

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Egyptians Frown on the United States and the Peace Treaty with Israel

by James M. Lindsay
April 25, 2011

Anti-government protesters carry a placard and celebrate Mubarak's departure in Tahrir square on February 11, 2011.

Anti-government protesters carry a placard and celebrate Mubarak's departure in Tahrir square on February 11, 2011. (Yannis Behrakis/courtesy Reuters)

The Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project is out with a new poll on what Egyptians are thinking about the dramatic political changes they are experiencing. Egyptians are upbeat about their future, but they don’t look too kindly on the United States or the now three-decades-old peace treaty with Israel.

Some highlights:

  • Nearly eight in ten Egyptians (77 percent) think that Hosni Mubarak’s resignation was a “good thing.”
  • More than seven out of ten Egyptians have a “very favorable” (37 percent) or “somewhat favorable” (38 percent) view of  the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Nearly nine in ten Egyptians think that the Egyptian military has had a “very good influence” (53 percent) or “somewhat good influence” (35 percent) on the the way things are going.
  • Only 20 percent of Egyptians hold a “favorable” opinion of the United States. That’s just three percentage points higher than what Pew found in its polling a year ago. Roughly two out of three Egyptians have “not too much” or no confidence in Barack Obama. So the White House has won few political benefits from urging Mubarak to step down.
  • A majority of Egyptians (54 percent) want to annul Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. The poll doesn’t indicate how those who want to annul the treaty would change Egypt’s policy toward Israel.

The survey covers a lot more terrain, including insights into what Egyptians hope will come out of the ongoing political change. Not surprisingly, better economic conditions top the list. No matter the country, jobs come first.

The poll holds one bit of good news for the United States. Although Egyptians might not think highly of Washington or Barack Obama, most value having a relationship with the United States. Only a minority of Egyptians (43 percent) say they want U.S.-Egyptian relations to become “less close.” In comparison, 40 percent say they want relations to remain “as close” as they have been and 15 percent want them to be “closer.” Whether Washington can take advantage of this support will depend on what it has to offer Cairo as well as how the January 25 revolution eventually plays out.

Post a Comment 3 Comments

  • Posted by Bill

    What’s the difference between annulling a peace treaty and declaring war? Legally, historically, etc?

    What might the Egyptians mean? Clearly, they’re not indicating to a pollster a nuanced view dependent on sophisticated attitudes towards international law (ahem, like me, they don’t know what the nuances look like). Does this mean, “they want back Gaza”? “They want more (less) trade”? “They would like money from the Israelis”?

    And what would they like to see happen (expect to see happen) if they don’t get the thing they want?

    I don’t understand.

  • Posted by Chris

    There is a huge difference between annulling a peace treaty and declaring war. Canceling the treaty is a kind of rebuke, an insult, or a demarche, saying “we are not happy with you”.

    I doubt they want anything from the Israelis, but it is possible that there will be more pressure on the Egyptian government to end Egypt’s side of the blockade of Gaza. I am quite sure they do not want it back. No one wants Gaza but the Palestinians.

  • Posted by Sadie

    75% have a favorable to somewhat favorable view of the MB.

    More than half want a ‘divorce’ from Israel. Call it anything you want, but they would prefer that the relationship end.

    Cairo has already extended a hand to Iran.

    Nothing will end well. Mubarek was a bully, but at least a bully we could depend on. Obama’s urgency to usher him out of office was a huge error in judgment. What else is knew.

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