WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Motives behind the attack on the U.S. consulate Wednesday in Istanbul, Turkey, are still unknown, but the terrorist act, allegedly carried out by several Turkish nationals, emphasizes the negative image U.S. leadership has in Turkey and elsewhere around the globe.
Turks' low approval rating of U.S. leadership provides evidence of the strain the Iraq war and U.S. reluctance to assist Turkey's fight against Kurdish rebels have placed on relations between the two longtime allies. Further reflecting the situation at the time of the survey, majorities of Turks also say they dislike President Bush and perceive the United States as hostile to their country.
Since Gallup's May 2007 survey, the United States has provided intelligence to Turkey for strikes against rebels inside Iraq and pledged more support. However, a recent Pew survey in Turkey suggests this has failed to improve the United States' image there. The percentage of Turks having a favorable opinion of the United States rose from 9% in the Pew survey last year to only 12% this year.
Although Turks' rating of U.S. leadership is poor, the 16% approval is actually higher than what Gallup has measured among other key partners in the Middle East and Europe. In fact, counter to what many Americans might expect, key U.S. allies in Europe dominate the list of countries where citizens' approval of U.S. leadership is lowest.
It's also important to note that few Turks view the leaderships of other Western nations positively. Roughly one in six Turks say they approve of the leadership of France and the United Kingdom, which are similar ratings to the one Turks give the United States. Germany's leadership fares some better, with 30% saying they approve.
Results are based on telephone interviews with approximately 1,001 adults living in Turkey, aged 15 and older, conducted in May 2007. For results based on the total sample of adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.