Qatar cannot buy love in the Middle East: Sir John Jenkins



Sat, 05 Aug 2017 - 11:24 GMT


Sat, 05 Aug 2017 - 11:24 GMT

Sir John Jenkins – Courtesy of International Speakers Bureau

Sir John Jenkins – Courtesy of International Speakers Bureau

CAIRO – 6 August 2017: A poll that got conducted in July showed that only 27 percent of U.S. citizens consider Qatar an ally to the United States. The poll aimed at exploring America’s familiarity with and perception of Arab states, in particular which countries they consider to be an enemy or ally.

The Arab News/YouGiv poll asked citizens about their degree of knowledge and understanding of the conflict between the four Arab countries currently boycotting Qatar for terrorism financing and meddling with internal affairs of other countries.

Sir John Jenkins, corresponding director at the International Institute for Strategic Studies shed the light on how significant opinion polling is, citing the Tamarod polling in Egypt that revealed how rapidly support for the Freedom and Justice Party and the Muslim Brotherhood regime fell off a cliff between early 2012 and 2013.

Sir Jenkins


the poll is both interesting and complex at the same time.

First, there is a surprising level of awareness of the core problem — security, stability and counter-terrorism. This has been widely covered in the serious US press — the New York Times, the Washington Post and so forth." Jenkins said. "But their readerships tend to be elite and liberal. The poll suggests that anyone who follows the news has a relatively high level of awareness not just of the dispute but of wider factors including Syria and Iraq. And that in turn suggests that the Middle East is becoming a more pressing concern for a significant number of Americans."

"That is perhaps hardly surprising given the viciousness and persistence of armed conflict in the region. But it shows a relatively high level of sophistication to link these conflicts to wider political disputes between individual states over the future of the region."

He also pointed at a high level of support for the view that Egypt and the UAE are friends of the United States. He said Saudi Arabia has ground to make up here, which is an important policy point for decision-makers in Riyadh: Reputation matters in the modern world and you do not improve that without a smart, targeted and sustained communications strategy.

But Qatar, on the other hand, comes off worst, with strongly negative views associated with the country over issues such as terror financing and Al Jazeera’s news reporting. Qatar’s humanitarian, educational and development efforts are unrecognized. That is almost certainly not the case in parts of the wider Middle East: Qatar has long been a generous donor to Gaza, for example.

Therefore, Sir John Jenkins see that simply spending money doesn’t guarantee popularity.

"We have seen that in various forms in Egypt, in Libya, in Tunisia, in Iraq and in the Gulf over the last seven years," he said. "You can’t buy that. And you shouldn’t want to."



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