> Disapproval rating: 56.0%
> GDP per capita: $13,699
> Unemployment rate: 18.5%
> Life expectancy: 75.5 years
Less than two decades after a war with the United States, 56% of Serbians disapprove of U.S. leadership. The Kosovo War began in 1998 as conflict between Serbian forces in the region and the largely Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army erupted. At the time, Kosovo was a contested region constituting 15% of Serbia and the counterinsurgency measures used against the Albanian minority community were severe.
With escalating violence, the United States and NATO forces got involved. Then President Bill Clinton authorized troop deployments to Yugoslavia in 1998, and the U.S. took part in a NATO-led bombing campaign of the region that resulted in the deaths of at least 200 Serbian civilians. When the United States recognized Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008, widespread protests broke out and the U.S. embassy in Serbia was attacked. While only 16% of Serbians approve of U.S. leadership, 85% of the Kosovo population does, the highest of any country.
> Disapproval rating: 57.0%
> GDP per capita: $15,186
> Unemployment rate: N/A
> Life expectancy: 69.4 years
One reason for the anti-American sentiment throughout the Middle East and around the world is the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Today, 57% of Iraqi citizens disapprove of U.S. leadership, a larger share than in all but 10 other countries. Iraq, however, is no different than most nations — American approval rating has increased worldwide with the inauguration of Obama in 2009. Similarly, Iraqis’ current approval rating, although low, is an improvement from eight years ago, when 76% of Iraqi citizens disapproved of the United States under then President George W. Bush.
Still, U.S. leadership approval has waned in Iraq over the last year. Public opinion may have been sullied by the rise of Daesh, which some experts believe was facilitated by the U.S. withdrawal from the region.
> Disapproval rating: 59.0%
> GDP per capita: N/A
> Unemployment rate: N/A
> Life expectancy: 70.1 years
A few of the countries with the highest U.S. disapproval ratings are new to this list, but not Syria. Syrian perception of the United States has been persistently poor for years. Even so, recent events have not improved approval of U.S. leadership in the Middle Eastern nation.
Some Syrians likely disapprove of the U.S. support — or insufficient support or lack of involvement in the country’s civil war and the ongoing refugee crisis. With extremist groups such as Daesh operating in the region, many Syrians also likely have first-hand experience of U.S. military operations against the group. For example, the United States and several Arab nations launched airstrikes in September 2014 in Aleppo, Raqqa, and other areas in the region. Based on reports from the Pentagon, the numerous U.S. airstrikes targeting Daesh in recent years have resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties. According to nonprofit transparency project Airwars, over 1,000 civilians have been killed in U.S. attacks in the region.