The majority of Arabs surveyed in 12 out of 13 Middle Eastern countries agree with the statement “It would be better for Syria today if Bashar al Assad stepped down from power,” the Doha-based Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies has found.
Lebanon was the only country in which residents surveyed were divided about the Syrian question, with 44 percent supporting Assad’s ouster while 46 percent did not want him to leave power, according to the 2012 Arab Opinion Index.
The ACRPS polled some 19,500 Arab face-to-face between July 2012 and January of this year, and has a margin of error of 3 percent.
In some countries – Egypt, Kuwait, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Palestine, Jordan, Sudan, Algeria-support for Assad leaving power was nearly unanimous. In Egypt, 91% of the population supported Assad’s downfall, as did 90% of Kuwaiti respondents, 88% of Saudi respondents and 87% of Yemeni respondents.
Qatar, a strong supporter of the revolution, was not included in the poll.
Some of those surveyed proposed solutions to the crisis, which fell along these lines: a change in leadership (66 percent), ending the revolution (3 percent) and establishing a process that includes political reforms (10 percent).
Only one percent of those surveyed did not favor foreign intervention, and 27 percent said the crisis is “the result of a foreign conspiracy against the country.”
Mohammad Al Masri, the ACRPS’s coordinator for the public opinion program, told Doha News that the results stand in stark contrast to the media’s portrayal of the crisis.
“I was very much surprised by the findings. In the media in general there is a debate and a division between those who are supporting the Syrian regime and those who oppose the regime.
(But) this division is not among the Arab people – it’s among maybe a certain segment of the Arab elite, maybe among the intellectuals or journalists. Or the media is trying always to present the two views in order to be balanced – this gives a false image of the Arab street.”
The survey is just one segment of an Arab public opinion that the center expects to release next month. Al Masri said the goal of looking into the Syrian crisis was to help policy-makers and activists make more informed choices.
“They could use it, regardless of whether they agree with it or not. The Arab people’s voice should be heard. It was heard during the revolutions because they took over the streets, but this is another method that we can convey as a research center.”
Credit: Top photo by FreedomHouse2; second image courtesy of ACRPS