53% Say Obama Has No Clear Plan for the Middle East

May 20, 2011, 5:00 PM GMT+0

For the most part, Americans are generally pessimistic about the end results of recent uprisings and protests in the Middle East — with one exception. The latest Economist/YouGov Poll suggests Americans remain hopeful about the prospects for democracy in Egypt.

Part of the problem may be that the public doesn’t see a clear plan for the Americans response in the region. By more than two to one, they say the President doesn’t have one. And while they approve of the United States joining NATO in taking military action in Libya by 45% to 25%, they are politically divided on whether they approve of how Barack Obama has responded to the protests in the Middle East. 

Just as they don’t think the President has a clear plan for the region, many Americans are unclear about the goals of the NATO actions in Libya. By 33% to 51%, they say those goals are unclear. Americans actually support more aggressive action in that country. If the opportunity arises, 52% think the U.S. and its allies should target Muammar Gaddafi. Just 23% would not do that.

As far as the end result in Libya, Americans narrowly believe the rebels will win (34% say they will, 26% believe Gaddafi will remain in power). But as for Libya becoming a stable democracy, fewer than one in four thinks that will ever happen.

There is also little hope for democracy in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, and Tunisia, other countries which have seen protests in recent weeks and months. Americans view all those countries as more unfriendly to the United States than not. They view the people in these countries as not liking Americans. Egypt remains the exception. Although Americans also believe Egyptians have unfavorable views of the United States, by 46% to 25%, Americans think a stable democracy will eventually emerge there. 

Egypt and Jordan were the only two Muslim Middle East countries that Americans were more likely to see as allies or friends of the United States than as unfriendly countries or enemies.

The prospects for future American support from the Muslim world are still poor, according to many Americans. 37% say U.S. relationships in the Muslim world are getting worse; only 10% see them as improving. 

Full datasets for Economist/YouGov polls can be found here.

Photo source: Press Association

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