Support for Al Assad hits Iran’s popularity among Arab states

Dubai: After winning the support of Arabs seven years ago for its stand against Israel and the West, Iran’s popularity is now at its lowest point following its support for the Syrian regime of Bashar Al Assad, a poll revealed.

The results of the poll, titled ‘Looking at Iran: the Rise and Fall of Iran in Public Opinion’, are based on interviews with nearly 20,000 citizens in 17 Arab and three Muslim countries — Turkey, Azerbaijan and Pakistan.

Iran’s support for Al Assad — deemed the “nail in the coffin” of its popularity — was one of the key findings of the poll conducted by Zogby Research Services (ZRS).

Iran’s popularity among Arabs started falling after Tehran’s heavy-handed handling of protests following Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election in 2009. It continued to fall following “Iran’s involvement in Iraq [and] Bahrain”, the poll noted.

“To put it in simple words, Iran’s position vis-a-vis Syria brought back to [Arab] minds the sectarian face of Iran, which Iran was trying to erase in the past few years, and attempting to present itself and [its ally in Lebanon] Hezbollah that they are open to the other,” said Mahjoub Zweiri, an expert in Iranian affairs, and political science professor at Qatar University.

He added that Iran’s position on Syria and Iraq “brought back the image that [the] country [is] acting according to sectarian bases.”

By Gulf News


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