April 25, 2011
Over the last decade, anti-Americanism has become widespread and reached its peak in the Arab world. The United States’ support for Israel and the Saudi regime, its army’s involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as its unilateralism, have fuelled hatred of America to unprecedented levels.
To be sure, there were a few American foreign policy experts who had warned politicians against supporting unpopular and repressive regimes within the Arab world. Unfortunately, the warnings went unheeded. In the ’90s, US foreign policy makers classed dictatorial states into two categories : “authoritarian” states, led by dictatorial figures friendly to the United States (Yemen, Egypt or Morocco), and “dictatorships”, led by anti-American politicians (Cuba or Libya before 2003 are two such examples). Since the start of the Arab revolts, however, the protesters’ anger stopped being channelled against the United States and erupted against their own countries’ political leadership. As David Kuttab observed as early as 2001,
“when the average Arab citizen tries to reconcile his desire for domestic freedom, his feelings of frustration at home, American support for his government and the increasing presence of Western culture, he’s caught in the middle. It is easier to lash out at a distant America than to risk raising one’s voice against the local dictators […] . Once Arabs are able to voice concerns about their own government without fear of reprisals, their focus will turn inward.”(David Kuttab, “Why Anti-Americanism”, 2001)
The Arab uprisings have proven the assessment right. The Obama Administration’s support of demonstrators’ right to protest against their own regimes, for a change, has further contributed to greatly improving America’s negative image in the Arab world.Florian Pantazi