The Journal of North African Studies
Drawing on Arab Barometer data, this article provides the backdrop for understanding continuity and change since the Arab Spring in national-level public opinion attitudes toward economic and political foreign policy issues in North Africa, inclusive of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia. The article leverages the concepts of differentiation and diffusion to understand how international affairs shape public opinion in North Africa since the Arab Spring. Three findings emerge. First, public opinion about domestic and international issues are linked in the minds of North African citizens and foreign policy issues are more important factors underlying pre- and post-Arab Spring politics than are often recognised. Especially in the post-Arab Spring era, Arab citizens widely see external interference as a problem and this perception increased in every North African country between 2013 and 2016. Moreover, there is considerable variation across and within North African states in attitudes toward economic and political foreign policy issues, including the Arab-Israeli conflict and attitudes about economic and security relationships with Israel. Anti-Israeli sentiment increased substantially in the years leading up to and following the Arab Spring. Finally, since the Arab Spring, anti-Americanism, as measured by negative perceptions of U.S. culture, has declined in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, but risen slightly in Egypt, even as North Africans demonstrate increased support for a U.S. role in resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict during this same time period. These trends suggest that anti-Americanism is highly dependent on specific domestic and international developments and is highly complex in the Arab world.
Published as: Benstead, L. J. (2019). Differentiation and diffusion: shifting public opinion attitudes toward foreign policy in North Africa. Journal of North African Studies, 24(4), 618–639.