Soft Power, Religion and Anti-Americanism in the Middle East
Foreign Policy Analysis, Forthcoming
43 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2014
Date Written: November 1, 2014
This study presents the first systematic analysis of the public opinion dimension of soft power competition in the contemporary Middle East. Building on the scholarship on perceptions of foreign states and Arab public opinion, it proposes a series of hypotheses about sectarian identity, religious worldviews, and anti-Americanism as determinants of attitudes toward Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia in the context of regional rivalry. It then presents multivariate probit estimations utilizing Pew Global Attitudes Survey to test these hypotheses. The findings suggest that religious identity and worldviews directly affect favorability ratings of these three powers in the Arab Middle East. While Sunnis favor Saudi Arabia and Turkey over Iran, religious individuals demanding Islamic law favor the Islamic Republic. Furthermore, anti-Americanism translates into lower support for Saudi Arabia and Turkey, but greater support for Iran. Democratic attitudes have no influence over perceptions of these three powers indicating the limits of democracy promotion as a foreign policy tool.
Keywords: soft power, Middle East, anti-Americanism, Islam
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