In contrast to Turkey, much of the Arab countries surveyed don’t view Iranian or Saudi influence in the region positively.

According to an Arab Barometer poll, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan remains one of the most popular leaders in the Arab world.

When asked what they thought of Turkey's foreign policies amongst the six surveyed countries, which included Morocco, Jordan, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Lebanon, 42 percent of respondents said it was good or very good.

Breaking down the individual results gave the Turkish leader a majority in Morocco (57 percent), Jordan (54 percent), and Algeria (52 percent).

There was a sizable minority in Tunisia in favour, whereas in Lebanon (25 percent) and Libya (23 percent) viewed the country's foreign policy favourably.

The results reflect a general perception that even as regional countries vie for power, Turkish foreign policy is generally well regarded, particularly when compared to other regional players like Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Turkish regional policies, whether supporting the Palestinian cause, calling out Israeli aggression, supporting the Arab Spring and backing Syrians against the Assad regime - are policies that reflect the aspirations and politics of much of the region's youth.

The Arab Barometer poll also cited Erdogan's electoral legitimacy as another prime reason for the leader's regional popularity.

Turkey's economic and political rise in the region has been in stark contrast to its neighbours mired in crumbling political institutions that broadly don't reflect the people's will.

Erdogan's willingness to speak out against European and US leaders on matters of concern for many Muslims has likely also played a role in endearing Turkey's president to the Arab masses.

In contrast, the poll found that Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS), the de facto ruler in the Kingdom, is less well regarded amongst the surveyed countries.

Jordan had the lowest poll ratings for MBS, with only 13 percent evaluating the crown prince's foreign policy gambits positively.

Libya, perhaps surprisingly, had the highest approval numbers for MBS at 45 percent, followed by Morocco (39 percent), Algeria (31 percent), Lebanon (24 percent) Tunisia (22 percent).

Likely reasons for MBS' low numbers could be a whole host of reasons, including the war in Yemen, which he escalated in 2015 when he was the country's defence minister.

The war in Yemen has left millions on the brink of starvation and resulted in thousands being killed.

Another possible explanation is that as Saudi Arabia has slowly drifted into Israel's regional orbit while putting the Palestinian cause on the back burner, it has likely damaged perceptions of MBS.

The murder and dismemberment of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consulate - the blame for which the CIA lays at Khashoggi's feet - did no favours for his reputation.

The Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is still a potent and visceral political cause in the region - one that leaders ignore at their peril.

Saudi Arabia's role in rolling back the Arab Spring and helping resurgent dictators consolidate power at the expense of the region's youth could be another explanation for the low numbers.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, however, was the least well regarded among regional leaders.

Only 16 percent said that his foreign policies were very good or good for the region.

Morocco was the Arab country with the highest approval rating for Khamenei, where 23 percent supported Iran's regional policy.

Elsewhere, views on Khamenei's regional foreign police were decidedly more negative in Lebanon (20 percent), Libya (19 percent), Algeria (15 percent), Tunisia (14 percent), and Jordan (5 percent), thought that his foreign policy was good for the region.

Iran's involvement in the region, particularly in Syria and Iraq, has damaged its regional standing, even as it has backed the Palestinian cause.

The Arab Barometer, a research network that has received significant funding from the US Department of State, concluded that Turkey under Erdogan was more popular because the country has become much more accessible to regional citizens.

Turkey has become an important destination for Arab political dissidents, students, activists, business people and tourists.

"Turkey remains one of the few countries in the world that is open and accessible to Arab citizens. That Turkey under Erdogan has opened up to this degree towards Arab countries and citizens is reflective in the increasingly higher commercial, cultural and touristic exchange between Turkey and Arab countries," said the report.

The Arab Barometer, which regularly measures the social, political, and economic attitudes and values of ordinary citizens across the Arab world, also noted that from much of the rest of the Arab world, neither Iran nor Saudi Arabia is an open and easily accessible place suggesting that Turkey's soft power is significantly more potent. 

Source: TRT World