Saudi Arabia’s Regional Reputation Takes a Hit

New study finds that the country's neighbors look on it with increasing wariness and disapproval

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Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters

Muslim pilgrims walk past pigeons near the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca, ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage, October 12, 2013.

A lack of civil liberties, the funding of Sunni insurgencies and its overpowering regional influence appear to be undercutting the goodwill Saudi Arabia once enjoyed in the Middle East.

According to a study published by the Pew Research Center on Thursday, the kingdom’s stature is plunging among its neighbors. In Lebanon, favorable views of Saudi Arabia plummeted by 31 percentage points in the past five years, with just over half of the country holding positive feelings toward the nation. In Turkey, only a quarter of the population looks kindly towards the Saudi state, a 14% decline during the same period, and in the Palestinian territories about 52 percent of the population approved of Saudi Arabia — a 13% fall since 2007.