NEW YORK : US drone strikes, one of the key features of President Barack Obama’s national security policy, are widely opposed across the world, with 31 of 39 nations surveyed, at least half disapproving the anti-extremists drone campaign in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, according to a poll released Thursday. In 12 countries, eight-in-ten or more hold this view, a 39-nation study by the Pew Research Center found. The only countries in which a majority supports American drone strikes are Israel (64%), the U.S. itself (61%), and Kenya (56%), it said.
The poll also said the world increasingly believes China will become the top superpower but the United States enjoys a better image in most regions.
It found that the United States is still enjoying the boost to its reputation that followed the election of President Obama except in a number of Islamic nations where Washington remains widely disliked.
As has been the case in recent years, the Poll said, America’s image is the most negative in parts of the Muslim world, especially Pakistan (11% favourable), Jordan (14%), Egypt (16%), and the Palestinian territories (16%). Only 21% of Turks see the U.S. positively, although this is actually a slight improvement from last year’s 15%. But the Muslim world is hardly monolithic, and America receives largely positive ratings in predominantly Muslim nations such as Senegal in West Africa and Indonesia and Malaysia in Southeast Asia, it said.
Elsewhere in the Asia/Pacific region, the U.S. receives particularly favourable reviews in the Philippines, South Korea and Japan, and a majority or plurality in all three countries say it is more important to have strong ties with the U.S. than with China.
In three predominantly Muslim Asian nations surveyed “Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan” large majorities express a positive overall view of China. Additionally, many Pakistanis and Malaysians welcome China’s growing military power.
The Obama administration publicly acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that U.S. drone strikes have killed four American citizens since 2009, including the previously undisclosed death of a North Carolina resident who left the United States for Pakistan and was later indicted on federal terrorism charges.
Attorney General Eric Holder, in a letter to congressional leaders and chairman of key congressional committees made public on the eve of what was billed as a major counter terrorism speech by President Barack Obama, also confirmed the deaths in drone attacks in Yemen of three other Americans that already had been widely reported: those of radical cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki , his teenage son, Abd al-Rahmn Anwar al-Awlaki; and Samir Khan, the American who ran al Qaeda’s web-based propaganda magazine Inspire. Previously the Obama administration had only acknowledged the senior Awlaki’s killing and refused to publicly confirm or deny reports of the other deaths. The letter also confirmed that U.S. drones had killed Jude Kenan Mohammed of Raleigh, N.C., more than a year after a local news report quoted a friend as saying he had died in an attack in Pakistan in November 2011.
Holder said in the letter that the senior Awlaki was the only U.S. citizen targeted in a drone strike.