The Muslim world, spanning from North Africa to Indonesia, is watching the electoral process in the United States with a gross indifference.
Still, the outcome is anticipated to further complicate the situation in large swathes of the global community. Apart from the dire situation in Afghanistan and the Syrian carnage, there is a concern in the Muslim World about the future. The elections will thus dictate the future course of interaction between the U.S. and the Muslim world.
In Pakistan, according to Uri Friedman of Foreign Policy, people might favor former GOP presidential candidate and libertarian Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) given his pacifist policies. A GlobeScan poll, which was sponsored by BBC, found that more Pakistanis (14%) favored Mitt Romney than Barack Obama (11%). A whooping 75% did not express their opinion.
Friedman says they support Paul but the ground situation is different. Hardly a few Pakistanis have heard of Ron Paul. He thus has no support whatsoever. A large number of Pakistanis didn't respond because they have little belief that the new American president will be a friend to them.
In the Middle East, Obama fares better than Romney. In a UPI-CVoter global poll, citizens of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Turkey showed a tilt towards Obama. Romney's stance on Israel-Palestine conflict seems to be a major cause of alienation. There is a confusion about Libya and concern about the possible outcome of the proposed intervention in Mali. The situation in Syria, however, takes precedence over everything else.
There was a golden opportunity for Obama to woo the Arabs by taking a strong stance on Syria. There is widespread anger on the Arab Street that is almost equally targeted towards their own governments as well as towards Obama. After initial encouraging statements and some help, the Syrian situation has entered a quagmire with no visible end in sight.
The outcome of the Nov.6 election will deeply affect the Islamic world. It is but a tragedy that both candidates failed to reach out to Muslims in their campaign. There was talk about the conflicts as well as discussions on Libya and the Iranian nuclear issue but no broader policy contours were discussed on the future American policy viz a viz the Muslim world.
Aside from the general apathy to American elections in Pakistan, at least one aspect has caught some attention. Pakistanis are curious about the early voting sytem. A number of people asked me if the voting was transparent. Pakistan, like other Asian countries, has a history of electoral rigging and they find it surprising to see Americans voting well in advance of the actual election date. A transparent electoral process (though some Americans would disagree with me) is what makes the U.S. elections a guiding light for people in countries where democracy is still a novel concept.