Anti-American Sentiment Rising in Arab World

ByABC News
November 20, 2002, 1:56 PM

Nov. 27 -- As a U.S.-led war with Iraq looms dangerously on the horizon, there is a growing concern in the West about the backlash in the Arab World.

Anti-American sentiment has been on the rise within the Arab world in recent months. The tough rhetoric of the Bush administration, combined with the threat of an invasion of Iraq, and the ongoing violence between the Israelis and Palestinians is turning public opinion in the Arab world even farther against the United States.

Sporadic acts of violence in recent weeks against Americans in the region have raised the level of concern for the United States. In the past month alone, there have been several attacks on American soldiers in Kuwait, the murder of an American diplomat in Jordan, and just last week, the killing of an American missionary in Lebanon.

A primary concern to the powers of the Western world is the reaction of the "Arab Street." Most Arab regimes have solid relations with the United States. Though not completely pro-American, these governments realize the benefit of good standing with the world's only superpower.

Arabs See United States as Supporters of Oppressive Regimes

This of course proves the great paradox of the Arab world.

It is no secret that the leaders in the Arab world are far more pro-American than their people are. The anti-Americanism of the Arab populace is directly connected to the idea that they view the United States as supporting the regimes they must live under. These regimes, which can be repressive, are not popular, and in many cases have questionable legitimacy.

Legitimate or not, one thing these regimes are not, is frail. In the modern era, not one of the regimes of the Arab world has been overthrown. They have become masters at retaining power and putting down any attempt to challenge their authority. Though they allow some outlet for discontent, the Arab governments know how to keep a lid on the simmering pot.

"You're free in the Arab world to demonstrate, as long as what you want to demonstrate about is some vast abstract cause like anti-Americanism or anti-Zionism," says Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria. "You're absolutely not free to demonstrate against your rulers."