May 22, 2012 2 Comments
By Ari Bildner, Staff Writer
Washington, May 22 – Egypt is GOP country – even though most Egyptians probably know little about the Republican presidential nominee.
A new University of Maryland poll by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution asked Egyptian voters their preference in the U.S. presidential race. Seventy-three percent chose Mitt Romney while only 25 percent chose President Obama.
Yet Shibley Telhami – a Middle East scholar at the University of Maryland who directed the poll – cautioned that the result was largely due to anti-Obama sentiment among Egyptians angered by his embrace of Israeli policy, particularly at the U.N. General Assembly last September.
“It’s essentially an anger-with-Obama indication,” he said at the poll release event in Washington on Monday. “It’s not an embrace of Romney; they know nothing about him.”
Telhami explained that Egyptians have been wrapped up in domestic turmoil ahead of the watershed presidential election Thursday, with little time to follow the U.S race. The numbers supporting Romney, he said, instead show the souring of Egyptian opinion since Obama’s landmark Cairo speech in June 2009. Most Egyptians, he said, believe Obama has been biased against the Palestinians in his dealings with Israel.
“This happened almost entirely because of his position on the Israel-Palestine question; we measured that,” Telhami said, who noted the “zero-sum” irony that Israelis conversely held negative attitudes toward Obama at first and have become positive about incumbent president in the last year.