Only 27% of Americans see Qatar as ‘US friend or ally’: Arab News / YouGov poll

Updated 06 August 2017
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Only 27% of Americans see Qatar as ‘US friend or ally’: Arab News / YouGov poll

LONDON: Just 27 percent of Americans consider Qatar a friend or ally to the US, while many associate Doha with accusations of terror financing, an Arab News/YouGov poll has found.
The survey of 2,263 US citizens, conducted in July, also found that 31 percent of Americans consider Qatar to be unfriendly toward or an enemy of their country, while 43 percent either do not know or are unsure about how to classify the relationship with Doha.  
The Arab News/YouGov poll on how the US views the Qatar crisis was carried out to mark the 60 days since the start of the diplomatic rift between Doha and its Arab neighbors Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.
It found that 71 percent of Americans are aware, to various extents, of the diplomatic row. It also found that those who are aware have a good understanding of the reasons behind the crisis, with 67 percent correctly identifying that Qatar had been accused of supporting terror groups and meddling with the internal affairs of regional countries.
“Two months into the crisis, and given the US government’s keenness to mediate, it was important to gauge the sentiment of the American people with regard to this issue,” said Faisal J. Abbas, editor in chief of Arab News.
Stephan Shakespeare, CEO of YouGov — the globally renowned online polling company — noted that the American public “is not usually characterized by its high interest in foreign affairs, rather the opposite. However, this latest poll shows the current tensions between Qatar and its neighbors is gaining some significant attention.”
The poll also sought to measure public opinion regarding the US military base in Qatar. The Al-Udeid air base currently hosts more than 11,000 American soldiers. However, 49 percent of Americans say they are unsure if it is best for the base to remain there, while 20 percent thought that it should be moved somewhere else. Only 31 percent said the base should remain in Qatar.
The study also revealed several findings regarding the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera news network. At one point during the crisis the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt — called for a shutdown of the network over its editorial guidelines, which allegedly permitted terror-related content.
According to the Arab News/YouGov poll, more than six in 10 Americans are aware of Al Jazeera — but many of those have negative perceptions of it. Half believe that Al Jazeera has a negative influence on the US image abroad. A majority of those with an opinion on the matter also believe the network gives a platform to terror groups linked to Osama bin Laden — with 44 percent agreeing with that statement, and only 18 percent saying the opposite. The rest of the US respondents — 38 percent — were unsure.
When asked about their general perceptions of Qatar, the poll found that 50 percent did not have enough information.
Of those who did, the greatest proportion of US citizens — 34 percent — associate Qatar with accusations of terror financing, compared to just 16 percent who cited the Gulf state’s controversial hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

• For full report and related articles please visit : YouGov Qatar Poll


US-backed fighters closing in on Daesh gunmen in eastern Syria

Updated 34 min 21 sec ago
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US-backed fighters closing in on Daesh gunmen in eastern Syria

  • President Donald Trump said the White House will make an announcement about Syria on Saturday
  • Groups said that some 200 Daesh gunmen surrendered Friday

BAGHOUZ, Syria: A US-backed force in Syria is closing in on Daesh militants in a tiny area less than a square kilometer (square mile) in eastern Syria, and will soon declare the defeat of the militant group, a commander with the group said Saturday.
The capture of the last pocket still held by Daesh fighters in the village of Baghouz would mark the end of a devastating four-year global campaign to end the extremist group’s hold on territory in Syria and Iraq — their so-called “caliphate” that at the height of the group’s power in 2014 controlled nearly a third of both Iraq and Syria.
“We will very soon bring good news to the whole world,” said Ciya Furat, a commander with the Kurdish-led force known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, speaking at a news conference at the Al-Omar Oil Field Base in the Deir Ezzor province.
President Donald Trump said the White House will make an announcement about Syria and the fight against Daesh by the end of Saturday.
“We have a lot of great announcements having to do with Syria and our success with the eradication of the caliphate and that will be announced over the next 24 hours,” Trump told journalists at the White House on Friday.
An Associated Press team in Baghouz Saturday, hundreds of meters away from the last speck of land where Daesh militants were holed up, saw several aircraft overhead and two airstrikes hit the area. SDF fighters said were fired by the US-led coalition.
The Syrian Democratic Forces declared the final push to capture the village a week ago after more than 20,000 civilians, many of them the wives and families of foreign fighters, were evacuated.
Since then, SDF commanders say they have been surprised to discover that there were hundreds more civilians in the enclave, after they were brought up by the militants from underground tunnels. Their presence has slowed down the SDF advance.
Furat, the SDF commander, said Daesh fighters are now besieged in an area that is about 700 square meters (840 square yards). He said that SDF fighters were able to liberate 10 of their colleagues that were held by Daesh.
Furat’s comments were carried by Kurdish news agencies, including Hawar News.
“We are dealing with this small pocket with patience and caution. It is militarily fallen but civilians are used as human shields,” SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali told The Associated Press. Bali added that the SDF believes that Daesh gunmen are also holding previously kidnapped Syrians in the area.
Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said SDF fighters are almost in full control of the area once controlled by extremists, adding that there might still be Daesh fighters hiding in a network of underground tunnels.
The Observatory said that some 200 Daesh gunmen surrendered Friday, days after about 240 others surrendered and were taken by SDF fighters and members of the US-led coalition.
“The defeat of Daesh will come within days,” Furat said. He added that after the physical defeat of Daesh, the SDF “will continue in its fight against Daesh sleepers cells.”
Despite the expected defeat on the ground, activists and residents say Daesh still has sleeper cells in Syria and Iraq and is laying the groundwork for an insurgency. The group has claimed responsibility in recent months for deadly attacks, mostly in Iraq, more than a year after the Iraqi government said the extremists have been defeated after losing the northern city of Mosul in 2017, the largest they held.