Arab world strongly supports Joe Biden for US president

Survey finds 39% back Democratic candidate while only 12% support Donald Trump

US president Donald Trump  with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (left)   in Riyadh in May 2017. Photograph:   Bandar Al-Jaloud/Saudi Royal Palace/AFP via Getty Images

US president Donald Trump with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (left) in Riyadh in May 2017. Photograph: Bandar Al-Jaloud/Saudi Royal Palace/AFP via Getty Images

 

Arabs strongly back Democratic challenger Joe Biden over incumbent Donald Trump in the race for the White House. A survey of 3,100 people in 18 countries of the Middle East and North Africa conducted by British pollster YouGov for Saudi daily Arab News found 39 per cent backed Biden and only 12 per cent support Trump.

“If the Arab world were choosing the next president, Biden would win by a landslide,” YouGov chief executive Stephan Shakespeare told AFP. “But that’s partly because they don’t know much about Biden – only half say they have heard of him, while nearly everyone has heard of Trump.”

Although Biden is favoured, 49 per cent said neither candidate would be good for the Arab world.

Human rights abuses

The poll highlights the difference between Arabs and some rulers. Trump is preferred by Saudi and Emirati rulers in particular due to his drive to contain Iran, refusal to press them on human rights abuses, and arms sales enabling them to prosecute the war in Yemen.

Overall, more than a third of those polled said Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement for dismantling Iran’s nuclear programme and re-imposing sanctions had had a negative impact on the Middle East, and only 17 per cent believed this has made the region safer.

Trump’s unpopularity stems largely from his shift of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a decision 89 per cent oppose.

Despite close US ties to Israel, 54 per cent of Arabs and Palestinians favour a larger US role in Palestinian-Israeli mediation.

The three main Arab concerns in the context of the US election are youth empowerment, resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict and tackling the coronavirus crisis. Only a quarter call for the US to confront Muslim extremism.

In the US, solid majorities of Arabs and Muslims back Biden. A survey published last Tuesday by the Arab American Institute found that 59 per cent would cast ballots for Biden, and 35 per cent for Trump. More than 80 per cent were “very likely” to vote.

Swing states

The Arabs, numbering 3.6 million, are strong in the swing states of Michigan, where Arabs count for 5 per cent of voters, Minnesota, Ohio, Florida and Texas.

Votes from Muslims are also crucial. A separate poll conducted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations revealed that 71 per cent of Muslims favour Biden, 18 per cent Trump.

There are 13 Arabs and Muslims running for Congress, nine Democrats, three Republicans and one independent.

Palestine is a top foreign policy issue for many Arabs and Muslims. If elected Biden has said he would not reverse Trump’s action on the US embassy.

He has said he would, however, overturn Trump’s anti-Palestinian policies by reverting to the “two state solution” for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, resuming funding for the UN agency caring for Palestinian refugees and other organisations aiding the Palestinians, and reopening the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and the US consulate serving Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

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