WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Algerians' approval of the leadership of the United States sank to 30% in 2012, down from 38% in 2011 and significantly lower than the 49% found in 2009. Although views of U.S. leadership enjoyed a brief lift in Algeria in 2009, the same year President Barack Obama first took office, about as many Algerians now disapprove of U.S. leadership -- 68% -- as did when George W. Bush was president in 2008 (71%).
Algerians' disapproval of U.S. leadership is now among the highest in the world, behind only Pakistan and the Palestinian Territories. As news of the hostage crisis in Algeria -- involving Americans among other foreigners -- continues to unfold, the data show that the U.S. may need to tread carefully in its handling of the situation. While it is unclear at this point how Algerians feel about the terrorists' actions, it is clear that the large majority of Algerians were disgruntled with U.S. leadership before this crisis and thus may be leery of any action the U.S. might take.
The fate of the supposed American hostages remains unclear at this point, after an Algerian-led military operation to free all of the hostages took place Thursday. Armed Islamist extremists claiming to be part of a group Al-Mulathameen, a group linked with al-Qaeda, seized a gas facility in Algeria Wednesday taking hundreds of Algerians hostage as well as foreigners from a number of countries including the United States, France, and Ireland. The attack was apparently a rebuttal to the French-led offensive in Mali, aimed at pushing back against Islamist rebels who have taken over the northern part of the country.
Weighing in on the hostage situation Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta called the act a "terrorist attack" and said the United States will take "all necessary and proper steps that are required to deal with this situation."
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Results are based on 1,000 face-to-face interviews each year with adults, aged 15 and older. Surveys were conducted in October 2012, March 2012, October 2011, March 2011, October 2012, March 2010, September 2009, March 2009, and April 2008.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ranges from a low of ±3.5 percentage points in 2010, ±5.0 percentage points in 2011, and ±5.5 percentage points in 2012. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. 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.
For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.