Tags: Middle East | Polls | Arab | American | Syria | Assad

Arab American Institute Poll: Syrian President Assad's Support Vanishing

By Jim Meyers   |   Wednesday, 26 Oct 2011 11:27 AM

A new poll the Arab American Institute conducted in six Mideast countries reveals that support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has evaporated in the Arab world.

The survey also offers a “cautionary note” to the United States, showing that Arabs overwhelmingly believe that the United States actually is playing a negative role in Syria.

Just three years ago, an Arab American Institute survey of citizens in 11 Arab nations found that Assad was among the leaders they respected most. In five of those countries, Assad ranked among the top three mentioned, and he was the only Arab leader to be mentioned in more than two nations.

But the new poll was conducted as the Assad regime continues a harsh crackdown on anti-government protesters that reportedly has claimed more than 3,000 lives. And it shows that the vast majority of Arabs in the six nations side with the Syrians demonstrating against the government.

“We never expected that someone could so quickly create this level of regional outrage,” Arab American Institute President James Zogby told Newsmax.

Zogby also said in an executive summary of the survey: “What emerges in 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.”

In Jordan, 100 percent of respondents said their sympathies are more with the demonstrators than with the Syrian government. In Lebanon, 98 percent feel that way, while just 1 percent sympathize with the government and 1 percent say their sympathies are with neither.

In United Arab Emirates (UAE), 94 percent side with the demonstrators; in Saudi Arabia, 92 percent; in Egypt, 91 percent; and in Morocco, 83 percent.

Most telling is the scant support Assad receives in Lebanon, which has had strong ties with neighboring Syria. “The perceived sense was that Lebanon would support Syria under any circumstances,” Zogby said.

The overwhelming majority of respondents also believe that the uprising in Syria is a popular revolt against the regime, rather than the result of a plot by foreign parties and extremists against the government.

In Jordan, 100 percent of respondents agree that the uprising is a popular revolt; in Lebanon, 98 percent; Egypt, 89 percent; Saudi Arabia, 88 percent; Morocco, 86 percent; UAE, 64 percent.

Asked whether they believe that Assad still can govern in Syria, only 1 percent of respondents in Lebanon said yes; in UAE, 4 percent; Saudi Arabia, 7 percent; Jordan, 10 percent; Egypt, 14 percent; and Morocco, 15 percent.

The majority of respondents in all six nations believe that Turkey is playing a positive role in Syria, and Saudi Arabia is viewed as a positive force in all nations except Lebanon.

The United States, on the other hand, is playing a negative role in Syria, according to 79 percent of respondents in Lebanon; 78 percent in Egypt; 74 percent in Saudi Arabia; 73 percent in UAE, 72 percent in Morocco; and 69 percent in Jordan.

Russia also is viewed as playing a negative role. But 62 percent of Lebanese respondents say Iran-backed Hezbollah is playing a positive role, as do 47 percent in UAE and 39 percent in Morocco.

Even Iran, which has been a staunch supporter of Assad, is perceived to be playing more of a positive role than the United States is playing in Syria.

“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. policymakers,” Zogby said. “Despite the appeals of some in the Syrian opposition, Syria appears not to be a place where U.S. interference will ultimately be welcomed.”

Zogby also told Newsmax that the United States would do well to leave the solution to the crisis in Syria to nations in the region.

“Let the Arab League and Turkey deal with this now.”

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