A newly-released survey finds that majorities across the Middle East have positive views about Turkey and its role in the region. This according to the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV), which yesterday released its third annual Perception of Turkey in the Middle East survey.
Out of more than 2,300 respondents TESEV surveyed across the Middle East, 78% reported that they have a somewhat or very favorable view of Turkey – higher than any other country surveyed. TESEV reports the favorability ratings of other countries, as follows: The U.A.E. (70%); Saudi Arabia (64%); China (64%); Egypt (62%); France (46%); Iran (45%); and the U.S. (33%). Only Syrians expressed largely negative views about Turkey: Forty-four percent of Syrians polled said they had positive feelings toward Turkey, while only 30% said they were pleased with Turkey’s reaction to regional developments in 2011. Only 31% said Turkey could serve as model for Syria’s political aspirations. However, 58% said they believe Turkey could contribute positively to peace in the region.
TESEV reports that majorities expressed positive views about Turkey’s role in the Middle East, and many consider Turkey to be a model. The poll found that 71% thought Turkey should play a larger role in the region. Sixty-one % of people in the Middle East said they consider Turkey to be a model, while 22% disagree. Turkey’s democratic regime (32%), economy (25%) and Muslim identity (23%) were listed as reasons why respondents considered Turkey to be a model. Seventeen percent cited secularism as a reason.
The survey found that 60% of respondents feel that the change associated with the Arab Spring has been positive; while 21% think it has been negative. Respondents in Libya (92%), Tunisia (89%) and Egypt (75%) were most enthusiastic about “change,” while Syrians (22%) had the least favorable views. TESEV reports that in light of the the developments in the region over the past year, 62% are more optimistic about the future. Majorities also expressed support for movements that were “peaceful.”
This is the third year that TESEV – a prominent Turkish think tank — has conducted the survey in the Middle East. The report’s authors, Mensur Akgün and Sabiha Senyücel Gündoğar, argue that the positive perceptions of Turkey in the region are becoming increasingly constant, but that as developments in Syria have demonstrated, much of this perception is largely determined by politics.
The survey was conducted between October 19-December 15 in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Tunisia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, Yemen and Libya. The sample size was 2,323.
Baris Ornarli is a journalist for the VOA Turkish Service. He is the anchor of a public policy and news program broadcast live nation-wide in Turkey from studios in Washington, D.C. He focuses on Turkish politics, U.S.-Turkey relations and developments in the Middle East.