Invasion of Iraq has heightened mistrust of America, poll shows

By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
The Independent

04 June 2003

The Anglo-American invasion of Iraq has deepened the rift between the US and the rest of the world, with a surge in anti-Americanism among Islamic nations, and heightened American antagonism towards once-trusted allies.

According to a new poll by the Pew Research Centre, which is based in Washington, majorities in seven of eight Muslim countries believe they will be attacked by the US - a fear expressed by more than 70 per cent in Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan. In all 16,000 people were interviewed in 20 countries and the Palestinian Authority between 28 April and 15 May, more than a month after the fall of Baghdad.

The survey also showed a significant loss of trust in two international institutions, the United Nations and Nato. Majorities in both countries which supported and opposed the Iraq war now say the UN had become less relevant.

"The figures show that the European public and our public are feeling that the ties that have bound us together for the last 50 years are weakening, and this is very serious," Madeleine Albright, the former US secretary of state and chairwoman of the Pew project said.

One person who emerges well is Tony Blair, rated along with Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, as the leader who inspires most confidence in the non-Muslim world. Even in the US, the Prime Minister, with an 83 per cent confidence rating, performs better than President George Bush.

Osama bin Laden was chosen by five Muslim publics - in Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan and the Palestinian Authority - as one of the three political leaders they would most trust to "do the right thing" in world affairs. Among Palestinians, the al-Qa'ida leader came first.

In both Indonesia and Turkey, theoretically an ally of the US against Saddam, 83 per cent of the population have an unfavourable view of the US. In Indonesia, that compares with a 75 per cent approval rating only three years ago.

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