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IRI Poll: Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Desire New Government, Democracy

July 25, 2012

Washington, DC – IRI today released its public opinion survey of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.  Due to the complex political and security situation inside Syria at present, it is not possible to conduct a single representative survey of the Syrian population.  The survey, fielded May 10-June 10, 2012, polled Syrian refugees living in Lebanon’s Akkar, Tripoli and Baalbeck districts located in the Bekka and North governorates.

This survey reflects the opinions of a specific and important segment of the Syrian population, as the overwhelming majority (87 percent) claimed Syria’s Homs Governorate, the site of some of the most serious unrest since the start of the uprising, as their permanent place of residence. 

Key findings of the poll are:

  • An overwhelming majority (90 percent) of respondents said they had heard about former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s plan to end the conflict in Syria.  A majority (66 percent) of those respondents do not support the plan.
  • An overwhelming majority (87 percent) of respondents support the aims of the opposition, as defined generally.  However, 78 percent believe opposition groups have not made their aims clear to the public. 
  • A majority (66 percent) believe the opposition should not enter into dialogue with the Bashar al-Assad regime, and 71 percent said the regime is not sincere about dialogue.
  • When asked about the main problems Syria is facing at the moment, in an open-ended question more than half (54 percent) answered the current regime.  Additionally, 90 percent of respondents believe a change of government or president would have a positive impact on the situation in Syria today. 
  • When asked in an open-ended question, 83 percent of respondents named the Free Syrian Army as a leading opposition group.  Additionally, 96 percent of respondents supported the objectives of the leading opposition group they selected.
  • When presented with a list of options the international community has debated taking to end the situation in Syria and ranking those options on a five point scale, 96 percent of respondents listed the enforcement of safe humanitarian corridors and safe zones as five, the highest ranking.  Other options for the international community to take included foreign intervention to protect civilians (79 percent), a no-fly zone over the country (74 percent) and the provision of arms and training to the opposition (68 percent). 
  • When asked specifically about the Syrian National Council (SNC), 67 percent of respondents view the SNC as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people and 57 percent are satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the performance of the SNC. 
  • Forty-four percent said the SNC should lead a transitional government in the future, while 40 percent rejected the SNC leading a transitional government and 14 percent responded don’t know. 
  • Among the respondents, 43 percent support immediate elections after a change in government and a further 39 percent support a transitional government leading to elections. 
  • When asked if the current crisis is a struggle for power or human rights, more than half (56 percent) responded both.
  • An overwhelming 93 percent of respondents indicated in an open-ended question that they would like to see a democracy in Syria’s future.
  • When presented with a list of countries and asked whether the countries are playing a positive or negative role in resolving Syria’s current challenges, Saudi Arabia (94 percent positive), Turkey (91 percent positive) and Jordan (89 percent positive) were viewed most favorably.  Iran (95 percent negative), Russia (74 percent negative) and China (70 percent negative) were viewed least favorably. 
The survey was conducted by face-to-face interview and utilized a skip pattern to identify respondents.  After mapping locations and buildings in which the refugees were residing, field workers interviewed 1,188 respondents, 59 percent of which were male and 41 percent female.  The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 percent.  The sample was drawn from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) statistics with additional variation accounting for refugees not registered with UNHCR.