The Middle East Institute and the Arab American Institute are pleased to host a panel discussion about a new poll released by Zogby Research Services. Conducted in eight Middle East and North Africa countries, the poll titled "Today's Middle East: Pressures & Challenges," surveyed regional attitudes on the emergence of ISIS, the role of the Muslim Brotherhood, the growth of sectarianism, the future of Syria and Iraq, Iran's nuclear program, and more. While the poll confirms many prevailing assumptions about regional outlooks, it reveals some surprising shifts in public opinion. A key finding is that despite deep regional antipathy towards ISIS, there is popular opposition to any Western-led intervention and extremely low support for U.S. policies - two factors which may become a significant challenge to the efficacy of the current U.S.-led military campaign against the group.
The poll was conducted in November 2014 by Zogby Research Services for the Sir Bani Yas Forum, an annual event co-hosted by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and surveyed over 7,500 adults across eight countries.
James Zogby (Arab American Institute, Zogby Research Services), Jon Alterman (Center for Strategic and International Studies), and Paul Salem (The Middle East Institute) will discuss the poll results and the implications for U.S. policy in the region in a conversation moderated by Maya Berry (Arab American Institute).
Dr. James J. Zogby co-founded the Arab American Institute in 1985 and continues to serve as its president. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee and was appointed by President Obama the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom in 2013. In addition to writing a weekly column published in 16 countries, Zogby is the creator and host of the award-winning political television show “Viewpoint,” and is frequently featured on national and international media as an expert on Middle East affairs. In 2010, Zogby published the highly-acclaimed book Arab Voices (Palgrave Macmillan Trade, 2012). His 2013 e-book, Looking at Iran: The Rise and Fall of Iran in Arab Public Opinion, is drawn from his extensive polling across the Middle East with Zogby Research Services.
Jon B. Alterman is a senior vice president, holds the Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and is director of the Middle East Program at CSIS. Prior to joining CSIS in 2002, he served as a member of the Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State and as a special assistant to the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. He is a member of the Chief of Naval Operations Executive Panel and served as an expert adviser to the Iraq Study Group (also known as the Baker-Hamilton Commission). In addition to his policy work, he teaches Middle Eastern studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the George Washington University. Before entering government, he was a scholar at the U.S. Institute of Peace and at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. From 1993 to 1997, Alterman was an award-winning teacher at Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. in history. He also worked as a legislative aide to Senator Daniel P. Moynihan (D-NY), responsible for foreign policy and defense.
Paul Salem is vice president for policy and research of the Middle East Institute, where he leads an initiative on Arab transitions. Prior to joining MEI, Salem was the founding director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Lebanon between 2006 and 2013, where he built a regional think tank distinguished by the quality of its policy research and high regional profile. From 1999 to 2006, he was director of the Fares Foundation and in 1989 founded and directed the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, Lebanon's leading public policy think tank. In 2002, Salem served on the senior review committee for the United Nations Development Program's Arab Human Development Report. Salem writes regularly in the Arab and Western press, and is the author of a number of books and reports on the Middle East, including Broken Orders: The Causes and Consequences of the Arab Uprisings (in Arabic, 2013); "Iraq's Tangled Foreign Relations" (2013), "Libya's Troubled Transition" (2012), "Can Lebanon Survive the Syrian Crisis?" (2012); and "The Arab State: Assisting or Obstructing Development" (2010).
Maya Berry (Moderator) is executive director of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a non-profit, nonpartisan national leadership organization created in 1985 to nurture and encourage the direct participation of Arab Americans in political and civic life in the U.S. With a passion for issues that concern Arab Americans and U.S.-Arab relations, Berry previously co-founded her own consulting company (MidAmr Group), served as the legislative director for House minority whip David E. Bonior (D-MI), and started her career in public service working for ACCESS, the nation’s oldest and largest Arab American human services non-profit.