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February 11, 2011

Survey of Egyptian Attitudes Shows Cause for Both Optimism and Concern

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A survey of Egyptian opinions reveals low support for the Muslim Brotherhood and for further imposition of Sharia law, but ambiguous results concerning Egypt's continued maintenance of peace with Israel and alignment with the U.S.

The poll of 343 randomly selected residents of Cairo and Alexandria who own cell phones or landlines was conducted on Feb. 5-8 by Pechter Middle East Polls and directed by David Pollock, a former U.S. official and current fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The Muslim Brotherhood is supported by 15 percent of the respondents. Instituting strict Sharia law and the corresponding need to make Egypt more Islamic are seen as a priority by a similarly small portion of the respondents.

Economic problems and official corruption are far and away the main concern of the respondents. The regime's perceived support for Israel is not a major complaint.

Former IAEA chief, Mohammed Al-Baradei, the object of considerable attention from the Western media, received only 3 percent of the votes in a presidential straw poll. Amr Moussa, former head of the Arab League, received the most votes at 26 percent, followed by Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and exiting President Mubarak with 17 and 16 percent. Mohammed Badi, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, received less than 1 percent.

A plurality of 36 percent to 27 percent support continued close relations with America, but a lopsided majority of 53 percent to 17 percent disapprove of U.S. President Obama's handling of the crisis.

The most positive results from the survey concern the respondents' low support for the Iranian government (19 percent), the Muslim Brotherhood (15 percent) and the Hamas government in Gaza (17 percent). However, the poll contains worrisome ambiguity concerning Egyptian attitudes on foreign policy.

When offered the following four choices:

1) Egypt should maintain its current alignment with the U.S.
2) Egypt should abrogate the peace treaty with Israel and join the "resistance" to it
3) Egypt should distance itself from the U.S. and follow Turkey's example
4) Egypt should restore full relations with Syria and Iran and join its coalition against imperialism and colonialism (ie-the US and Israel)

Only 19 percent selected the first option, the only favorable one to the West and Israel. The other three options were chosen by 18, 16 and 15 percent of the respondents, respectively.

It is important to note that this sample is from city dwellers with telephones. The majority of Egyptians do not live in Cairo or Alexandria and may not have cell phones or landlines. So this sample is representative of only a portion of the Egyptian population.

It is also important to recall that in the elections in the West Bank and Gaza in 2006, Palestinians voting for Hamas most often cited the economy and corruption as the most important factor. Yet, that mattered little in the end. Hamas won the election and did not moderate.


Posted by SS at February 11, 2011 01:43 PM

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Posted by: Liza18 at February 11, 2011 04:43 PM

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