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Arab Attitudes Toward Syria: 2011

Arab American Institute

October 30, 2011

Executive Summary

What emerges is stark relief from the results of this poll is the degree to which the Syrian government of Bashar Al Assad has become isolated and is looked on with near universal disfavor across the entire Arab world. Just three years ago, we polled in 11 Arab countries asking respondents to name a leader they most respected. In five of these countries, Bashar Al Assad ranked among the top three mentioned - the only Arab leader to be mentioned in more than two states. As the results presented below make clear today, support for Al Assad has virtually dried up.

The overwhelming majority of Arabs in the six nations covered in the survey side with those Syrians demonstrating against the government (from 83% in Morocco to 100% in Jordan). And when asked whether Bashar Al Assad can continue to govern, the highest affirmative ratings he receives are 15% in Morocco and 14% in Egypt.

Most telling is the scant support the Syrian leader receives in Lebanon. From other results in the same poll, we can see that the Lebanese haven't stopped giving Hizbollah a net favorable rating and more than one-half of Lebanese Shia have a favorable view of the role played by Iran in Syria. But in questions dealing with the Syrian leader, it is clear that whatever support he might have commanded in the past is now gone.

There are policy implications to these results. First and foremost is the fact that Turkey's interventions with Syria to date have won majority support in every Arab country. Saudi Arabia's role is viewed positively in every country but Lebanon, which is an important consideration, given that country's fragile political situation. The country receiving the lowest rating for its role in Syria is the United States, which should serve as a cautionary note for U.S. policy-makers. Despite the appeals of some in the Syrian opposition, Syria appears not to be a place where U.S. interference will ultimately be welcomed - especially in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

With the Arab League sending a mission to Syria this week to give the regime one final opportunity to end its violence and begin a national dialogue leading to reform and transition, they must know that their people have given up on the Syrian leader. Still, regional efforts to resolve the crisis, and not external intervention (which the poll suggests may not be welcome), may be the only way to avoid making this bad situation worse.

Download the poll Poll: Arab Attitudes Toward Syria

Video: Poll Release

 








Arab Attitudes Toward Syria: 2011

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