Only 4% of Americans see Saudi Arabia as an ally

The apparent murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Turkey last week has changed little – so far – in the way Americans perceive the Saudi Kingdom. The latest Economist/YouGov Poll finds Americans of both parties more likely to view Saudi Arabia as unfriendly or as an enemy of the US than as a friend or ally. 

One year ago, Republicans were closely divided in their views of the Kingdom. Now, they – like the rest of the country – are more likely to see Saudi Arabia negatively than positively.

There is less change in the way Americans view the President’s opinion of Saudi Arabia. A year ago, Americans believed President Trump saw Saudi Arabia as a friend to the US, and they still do. 21% of Democrats say the President views the Kingdom as an ally. Less than half the percentage of Republicans agree.

The President has talked about the value of US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the income they brings to this country as a potential justification for not taking action against that country after Khashoggi’s disappearance last week. He has also said that the Saudi Crown Prince denies any personal involvement. 

The public’s perception of Turkey, where the alleged murder took place, is much like their assessment of Saudi Arabia. More regard Turkey as unfriendly or an enemy than call it a friend or ally. And many say Donald Trump shares that view.

Almost half of those who express an opinion about Turkey say Donald Trump agrees with them.

The countries Americans are most likely to label as “enemies” are North Korea (47%), Iran (42%), and Russia (34%). Half say the President considers Iran an enemy, but only 24% thinks he views North Korea that way. Just 17% believe that’s what President Trump thinks about Russia (the same percentage as say he regards Mexico as an enemy). 

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