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

Updated 06 August 2017

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

Can Damascus-Ankara face off in Syria flare up?

Updated 27 min 15 sec ago

Can Damascus-Ankara face off in Syria flare up?

  • An all-out conflict between Syrian regime forces and Turkey is unlikely

BEIRUT: A week-old Turkish invasion of northeast Syria combined with a US withdrawal have redrawn the lines and left Russian-backed Syrian regime troops and Ankara’s forces standing face-to-face.

Experts argue that an all-out conflict between Syrian regime forces and Turkey is unlikely but they do not rule out sporadic clashes.

On Oct. 9, the Turkish army and its Syrian proxies launched a broad offensive against Kurdish forces controlling swathes of northeastern Syria.

The move against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a militia Ankara considers a terrorist group, came after US troops who were deployed along the border as a buffer between the two enemies pulled back.

Turkey and its proxies — mostly Arab and Turkmen former rebels defeated by regime forces earlier in Syria’s eight-year-old conflict — have already conquered territory along 120 km of the border.

In some areas, they have moved some 30 km deep into Syria territory, prompting the Kurds to turn for help to the regime in Damascus.

Government troops responded and rushed north as soon as US troops withdrew from some of their positions, including the strategic city of Manbij.

The Syrian regime’s main backer Russia swiftly sent its own forces to patrol the new contact line between regime forces and the former fighters.

“It is mostly rebel groups linked to Ankara who are on the front lines, Turkish troops are mostly deployed along the border,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The intense ballet of military deployments is redrawing the map of territorial control in a region previously held by the US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Defense Forces.

“There’s a new map. And it’s the regime sweeping almost everything, Turkey is left with a few crumbs along the border,” said Thomas Pierret, from the French National Center for Scientific Research.

Turkey insists it will not stop the offensive until it meets its declared goals of creating a buffer zone all along the border, but it now has limited room for maneuver in the face of the regime surge.

Russia and Iran, both Damascus allies, “will act as intermediaries to ensure everybody stays on the patch they have been allocated,” said geographer and Syria expert Fabrice Balanche.

He said incidents should not be ruled out “due to the unclear nature of the territorial boundaries and the presence on the Turkish side of uncontrollable elements.”

Two Syrian soldiers were killed near Ain Issa in artillery fire from Turkish proxies Tuesday, the Observatory said.

“There could be limited clashes ... but no major battles,” Pierret said. “The Syrian army cannot take on Turkey ... The Turkish army is much better equipped.”

“It isn’t hard to imagine how areas retaken by the regime could be used as a staging ground for YPG guerrilla operations,” he said.

The Kurdish force could be “reinvented as an anti-Turkey force” at Damascus and Moscow’s orders. “It’s a very credible scenario and could give Russia new leverage against Turkey.”

Moscow is keen to avert any escalation, analysts say.

“Russia is working overtime to prevent any type of large scale conflict between Assad’s forces and Turkey and its proxies,” said Nick Heras from the Center for New American Security.

Turkey together with Russia and Iran launched the so-called Astana process which provides a framework for peace talks on Syria.

To win support for its invasion, Turkey will need to make concessions over the Idlib region in Syria’s northwest, Balanche predicted.

“The Russians finally agreed to this Turkish intervention in the north, in exchange for Idlib,” he said, referring to the last opposition bastion in Syria, a region where Ankara has some clout but which Damascus wants to retake.

The strategic relationship between Ankara and Moscow goes far beyond the Syrian conflict. NATO member Turkey has ignored US warnings and acquired Russia’s state-of-the-art S-400 missile defense system.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected in Moscow on Thursday for talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Putin’s office said a prior phone call between the two leaders had emphasized “the need to prevent confrontations between units of the Turkish army and Syrian armed forces.”