Egypt: Friend or Foe?

November 08, 2013, 5:30 PM GMT+0

Americans are split on whether or not Egypt is a friend of the United States, but most doubt Egypt will become a stable, democratic country in the short-term.

In October the Obama administration announced that it would be 'recalibrating' its military and financial aid to Egypt, a move that involved suspending certain arms shipments to Egypt. The administration cited concerns over the the military government in the country as well as long-term priorities of how best to secure American interests in a region. The move has proved controversial, however, and not just among Egyptians. A number of US lawmakers, including some who had called for limited responses to the military crackdown in Egypt, have called the move potentially damaging for US counter-terror efforts and detrimental to the US-Egyptian strategic relationship. The US government has repeatedly said that its main focus in Egypt is to help the country form a stable, democratic government and has criticized certain acts of the new military government, including a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.

The latest research from YouGov shows, however, that Americans now narrowly lean towards thinking that Egypt is now an unfriendly country. 34% say that Egypt is either 'unfriendly' (28%) towards the United States or is an 'enemy' (6%) of our country. 29% believe that Egypt is either an 'ally' (7%) or acts in a 'friendly' (22%) way.

This conceals something of a partisan split, however, as Democrats are the only political group more likely to say that Egypt is friendly (36%) towards us than unfriendly (25%). 40% of Republicans say that Egypt is either an enemy or acts in an unfriendly way, with 28% saying that Egypt is a friend or ally.

When asked whether Egypt will have a stable government, most are skeptical that it will happen any time soon, with only 8% saying that the government will stabilize in the next year or two. 38% say that a stable government is the most likely end result in Egypt, but not for some time, while 28% say that Egypt will never have a stable government.

Out of the 46% of Americans who said that Egypt would, at some point, have a stable government most (66%) are optimistic that Egypt will have a democratic government, after a couple of years. 20% predict that Egypt will have a stable government, but that it will not be democratic, reflecting concerns that the Egyptian military is set to prolong its rule over a country that had been under military rule from the 1953 coup to the election of Mohammed Morsi, the deposed Islamist President.

Asked whether the United States should give preference towards pro-American countries who might not be democratic or democratic states that might not be pro-American, there is a significant partisan divide. Democrats (38%) tend to say that the US should support democratic states, while nearly half of Republicans (48%) think that preference should be given to pro-American states regardless of their internal politics. Independents are generally unsure (45%), though are more likely to want to support pro-American allies (35%) than democratic states (19%).

Full poll results can be found here.

Image: Google.

Join YouGov today! Your views can shape the news...